This year at Summer Sonic we got the chance to sit down with legendary sound engineers Bruce Danz and Dave “Shirt” Nicholls We love sharing knowledge from industry veterans, so check out part one of our interview with these guys below!
First of all, what show are you involved with? What do you do for the show? Give us a little bit of your backstory.
Bruce: I’m Bruce Danz, the monitor engineer for Avenged Sevenfold. We’re here for Summer Sonic. I worked with Audio-Technica for some time and then had a working relationship with Gary. I’ve also worked with Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Anthrax, Testament, some of that stuff. We’re here rocking a whole lot of Audio-Technica mics!
Shirt: I’m Dave “Shirt” Nicholls. I do front-of-house for Avenged. I also worked for Slipknot, and been known to do Thin Lizzy, Marilyn Manson, along with Bruce, and there’s too many to mention.
It seems like you’ve traveled together with a lot of the same bands. Does that help having a working relationship like that?
Bruce: Certainly it helps. We kind of know what each other expects or wants, so it makes it easier. You’re not up against somebody who’s fresh, who you have not worked with before and you don’t know what they expect. So it definitely helps, yeah. We’ve done Manson, Slipknot, Stone Sour together, and Avenged, of course, since probably 2004. But it definitely helps to know the other person from the other end of the hose that you’re working with because it smooths things out.
Shirt: I just have the knowledge that if anything goes wrong on stage, I’ve worked with Bruce for so long that if I look at a channel and go, Oh it’s not working, I reach to pick the microphone up to tell Bruce, he’s already walking across the stage. That’s priceless to me. I always feel confident that everything’s going to work because I know Bruce is down there. He’s really pedantic about his gig, which makes it easier for me, really.
Who has the harder job?
Shirt: Definitely me. (Laughter.)
Bruce: Yes. Catering is tough to find some days. (More laughter.)
Shirt: Bruce doesn’t use any onstage speakers – it’s all in-ears. I am the only one with speakers. Matt [of Avenged] is not the loudest singer and his microphone technique, although he’s much better now, he does sing away from the mic a lot, which can be a challenge. I don’t have a problem with it very often, but some days, depending on how the PA is flown, it can be a bit noisy and squirrely.
Bruce: Neither of us has an easier job. Each end of the snake poses its own obstacles on any given day. Like he said, with this band it’s all in-ear monitors so I don’t have to deal with speakers and feedback issues, which is an ideal situation for a monitor guy, it’s almost as close to a studio as you can get, everything is in [isolation] cabinets with the exception of the drum kit and the three vocal mics out there. It’s pretty isolated and contained. Like he said, on an average day when the PA is flown correctly and not over the stage or angled improperly, then it’s not too bad.
How’s working in a festival environment like this as opposed to doing your own tour? Is it a pain or do you just kind of deal with it?
Bruce: You deal with it, but it is a pain compared to if we’re just doing our own headline tour; we’d set up line checks. We haven’t done any line checks here and we’re not going to until changeover time. We have an assistant with us here who has worked with us quite often that we brought over. He is also Japanese, which helps with the language barrier. He can interpret for us. Between that we should have all the bugs worked out through the line check, as long as all their lines are working for us. We brought our own looms and we brought our own mics, which are mostly Audio-Technica mics. As long as all their lines work we’ll be golden, we’ll knock out the line check and get ’er done.
Shirt: For me, I just have to basically deal with the desk. Again, it comes back to having Bruce downstage knowing that he’s going to make it right, which again makes it easier for me.
To Be Continued!
Interested in learning more from Danz and “Shirt”? Check back soon for Part 2 of the Bruce and Shirt interview!