Richard Nicholson and Sonnox on the same page for The Script
Based in Liverpool, UK Sound/Systems Engineer Richard Nicholson has spent the last decade making bands sound good. Fresh off a three year run doing FOH with The Script, he's out on the road in Europe once again with Adlib Audio Ltd. We caught up with him recently to discuss the recent Script tour and to hear about his fresh use of Sonnox plug-ins.
How did you get started in the business?
I got started in this wonderful business pretty soon after I finished school at 18, but I'd been involved with music long before then. I was brought up studying music and playing various instruments, which continued all through school. I met a lot of cool people, joined a couple of bands, had a great time playing gigs, and eventually developed an interest in live sound. This pursuit was assisted by a company in Liverpool called Adlib Audio, who came in and supplied equipment for the various musical / theatrical / band events at the school. Over a few years, I'd help out where I could (usually just pushing boxes and making tea...). Eventually, I was offered a chance to work for Adlib and see if live sound was something I actually did want to get into. A decade or so down the line, I'm still enjoying it!
Tell us a bit about your recent tours
The Script actually just finished touring for the year, and currently I'm on a two-month tour for Adlib looking after a monitor rig around Europe (analogue almost all the way, it's very refreshing!). I believe The Script are off writing some new tunes for another release. We started the year off in Europe and UK Arenas, and then shifted over to Australia before coming back to Europe for festival season. We then finished off in the US supporting Train, before getting back to the UK just in time for V Festival at the end of August.
What inspired your turn to the Avid Profile console for these shows?
The Profile for me is really easy and quick to use. I come across a lot of people that really can't get familiar with the operation of the board but I find everything I need on the console is really fast to get to and adjust. I'm all about making a ton of changes, and it's important that I can get around a console quickly and keep on top of the things that are happening on stage. The Script boys are very dynamic and active in their live shows, so there's always stuff to be getting on with on my end while the lads are playing. We'll see how things play out for next year - there's a bunch of newer technology and processing techniques out there now, so it might bring in some changes for me perhaps. Actually, it was these last two Script tours that I starting getting a look in to some Sonnox plug-ins.
Which Sonnox are you running and why?
I had been on the look out for a new reverb, and the Oxford Reverb was the first Sonnox plug in I tried out. I got hooked straight away and got it going on all of my vocal inputs. Compared to what I'd used previously, it had more body and warmth to it, which meant it sat better within a mix, rather than sticking out like a sore thumb.I use the Reverb Mix feature quite a bit to blend between Early Reflections and Tail. For vocals I'd lean towards the tail side of things, but when I tried it out on my drums I was getting some really cool sounds with the early reflections.
I then moved on to the Oxford Dynamics. I'd been looking at a few different compressors for bass guitar, so thought I'd give it a go. Once I got it dialed in, it totally changed my idea of what I could achieve. I find that a bass guitar is a hard thing to keep control of while keeping it present within a mix. I just wound the ratio up to 6:1 and brought the Threshold in until I started seeing it work. I was able to use quite a lot of compression without creating any kind of pumping effect in the low end. Like I said, it just seemed to even everything out, up and down the instrument really well, and the Dynamics keeps everything on an even keel, so I'm able to keep it up in the mix without totally over-powering everything else that's going on.
Sonnox plug-ins have given me a valuable element of control with my live mixes. They allow me to keep elements the band have worked on in the studio, while keeping the energy needed for their live show. From what I've heard, there are a few more plug-ins on offer from Sonnox that I'm sure I'll be able to put to good use. I look forward to working with them.
Interview and editorial provided by Rich Tozzoli