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For the Love of Rock and Roll

Adam Stuart, FOH Mix Engineer for the iconic rock band KISS, spoke to us about about working on the bands 'End of the Road World Tour' and what it is like being FOH for the band and the challenges a world tour brings. Stuart has worked with the likes of Alice in Chains, Papa Roach, SIXX:A.M and Motley Crue. 


Stuart always knew he wanted to work in the live entertainment business, especially sound. Following his studies at Full Sail University he was quickly hired by Clare Global as touring tech. Stuart found himself doing FOH for the End of the Road World Tour after the band asked him to move from monitors to FOH and he stayed there. "I prefer FOH for the specific challenges it brings" said Stuart. "There is also more creative freedom, which I enjoy. I have learn't a ton and still have a ton to learn. One thing I have learn't is that pleasing everyone is almost impossible!"


The role of FOH has changed over the years and one of the changes has been the ability to deliver more to the audience. "As technology has progressed we have had to step up our standards. There are more inputs, more outputs and a more discerning audience and band." 


Touring the world, Stuart works in many venues from stadia to cruise ships which present different challenges. "To me the number one challenge has and always will be acoustics. Venues just sound different and some sound really bad. I would say the hardest, but one of my favourite challenges, is keeping consistency night to night in different venues. The relationship with my systems engineer is a very important key in this as well. He does a great job of adapting our system to all of the different venues we play. We also spend a lot of time thinking about the packaging for our gear. The systems engineer does alot of advanced work with prediction software. He has plan before we arrive so we know what we need for the venues we are playing."


Stuarts favourite console is the Digico SD7. "We switched to Quantum Engines this year and have been extremely happy with them. The flexibility and processing it has makes it my number one choice. It also sounds great." As for what features he would like to see on future consoles. "This is a tough question! Right now I am pretty satisfied with the feature set modern consoles have to offer. Water proof, zero weight and zero boot time would be nice." Experiencing different consoles when on tour can be a challenge but there is one thing that remains the same and that is his rak of plug-ins. "I use Waves for a huge range of processing, I seem to find something for every situation I run into."


On tour the band use a variety of mics. "We us the Kick-Telefunken M82. This mic has a great punch for kick. We did a shoot-out and ultimately liked it over the others we tried.  We also have a Beta91A, primary used for monitors. We use a Snare Top Telefunken M80, I really like the low-mids with this mic, for the body of the snare. The Snare Bot-Neuman TLM102, I love a large diaphragm on a snare bottom, this mic sounds incredible and handles the SPL of the snare great. High Hat/Ride KSM137 Toms- Sennhieser e904s- great sounding Tom Mic. We actually had a batch custom chromed to match Erics Mirror Ball Kit, so they look great too! The base is all direct. Pauls guitar is a Universal Audio OX. We switched to it after a special event we did and the Guitar Tech and I loved it. It sounds awesome and is a solid consitent tone every day. Tommys guitar is AT 4050s. we have listened to a lot of mics on Tommys guitar and ultimately we always came back to the 4050s. They just have a great response for a guitar. Down stage vocals are SM58s. Eric (drummer vocal) is a Telefunken M80. This mic has nice rejection for him and has a nice high-end presence."  


As for monitors the band use AJ Audio Roxanne's as IEM's. "They sound incredible and have the volume they need. We use PSM1000s, which are obviously solid and an industry standard. The few wedges we have (for the drummer and Paul when he flies to FOH) are Clair CM14s. They sound incredible!"


Doing a world tour brings the typical challenges of a large production. "Like many other tours, time management is always difficult with large productions. There are a lot of moving pieces and getting the job done in the fluid amount of time we have is often challenging." There is also that potential crisis of gear getting fried. "We try to avoid a crisis at all costs! First step in that is redundancy. We try to have a back up plan for anything that might happen. With that said, things happen....its important to remember to stay calm and safe and that things happen that we can't control."


'Me time' on tour is pretty non exisitent and touring is exhausting so protecting your mental health is important. "I still really enjoy the travelling. I get to travel the world. Anytime I can, I get out and golf. If Im not playing golf then I am finding food and drinks. I spend very little time in the hotel room".


As for advice for anyone thinking about a career as a FOH sound engineer Stuart says "Patience and perseverance is important. Protect your ears! Good communication and people skills are a must as you are working with different artists and tact and diplomacy are essential."