Radiohead, Mike Prowda and the Money Channel!
The fifth Beatle, is a phrase that’s often used to describe Sir George’s less public but vital contributions to the Fab Four.
There are many examples of significant though unsung collaborations in our industry. A monitor mixer is just one; responsible for what the band hears live on stage and therefore integral to the performance that we all enjoy from front of house. Get the monitor mix wrong and both band and audience suffer the consequences. This is plainly a job with some pressure.
The way in which a band chooses to showcase their work on tour also has a profound effect on the team that supports them. Some artists choose to replicate their songs as they were recorded, often involving NASA-like planning and - some might argue - a consequential loss of spontaneity. Others prefer a more organic approach, letting each show evolve into a unique set of performances.
Radiohead and their live team fit into the latter of these two approaches. Since no show in their current sell-out tour has yet happened the same way twice, surely this must be a nightmare gig for their monitor mix engineer, Michael Prowda?
We put this question directly to him after having watched Radiohead’s recent sell-out show at London’s Roundhouse.
It turns out that the combination of experience and reliable technology is key:
Michael has no doubt that the credits he’s earned in his 30 year career inspired Radiohead to choose him, initially for their 2012 world tour. Artists as diverse as David Bowie, Prince and Nine Inch Nails all having previously benefited from his skills on the road.
Whether a set is planned to the nth degree or left to find its own way on the night, unpredictable things do happen. And when they do, having immediate access to reliable tools is essential.
Given the connection between a bands comfort on stage and the quality of their performance, Michael does all he can to make artists feel settled. Part of this process involves getting the right amount of ambience into their in-ear monitors. Reverb level being of particular importance to vocalists like Thom Yorke. We’re proud that Michael chooses to use our own HDX Reverb plugin, working at 96kHz, for this purpose - favouring a 2.2 second plate setting and intuitively tweaking the balance of early reflections and reverb tail using its dedicated control. Michael and his clients are so pleased with the result that he’s named the Reverb return strip on his Avid S6L as the money channel!
Its always great for us to hear that our friends and customers rely on and enjoy using the fruits of our work, but that thrill is always increased - as it was on May 28th at the Roundhouse - when the music shines through.
Whether you’re at home, in the studio or out on the road we hope that the uncompromising precision, transparency and usability of our stuff can help you feel the same way.