Remember those columns we were talking about when we founded PLUG-IN in the first place? Well things are currently materializing and we’re really excited about that. As previously mentioned, we noticed that many young people we met at some point were either curious about the other side of the picture, or willing to ‘make it’ in this world. Therefore, we thought we could go behind the scenes, hosting every once in a while a guest who works in the industry to discuss their path, work and/or thoughts about their jobs with us.
For this first feature, we have the pleasure to host Regan Richards, who we met a few months ago while he was on tour with Circles (supporting The Dillinger Escape Plan in Europe). He kindly gave us some of his time to answer to our question and share his story as a sound engineer.
- Could you first introduce yourself and briefly sum up what does your job consists of?
Hello! My name is Regan Richards and I mix FOH for various acts locally in Australia, interstate and international acts touring Australia. My job consists of putting mics on instruments and turning them up!
- How did you become a sound engineer? Is it your primary occupation?
Well how I got my start was me harassing a music studio for 6 months. Calling every week until I annoyed them enough and they finally said I could come down and sit in a session. From there is was about 4 months of unpaid work until I became useful and got paid! It has been my primary occupation for 3 years however I have taken a step back and am currently working for a select few bands.
- Where did your 10-year-old self see Regan Richards 10 years later?
I don’t think I was really looking to the future when I was ten years old! I think I started getting into music around the start of highschool. I originally wanted to be in a band touring playing drums…. But I wasn’t very good haha.
- What do you like most about your job as a sound engineer? What is the hardest part of this job?
I love mixing FOH because of the magic that takes place at a live show. It gives punters an experience they will most likely not forget. Especially because live shows because every night is different. We can all remember one show that blew us away. I like being apart of the reason you felt that way.
Hardest part of the job is constantly having to perform at 110% and having to be able to think on your feet and find solutions quickly. If something is wrong and the crowd notices, you will have the whole crowd turn around and look at you and instantly blame you. But I love that feeling of control.
- What are the pros and cons of working in the music industry?
Pros – You are able to travel the world and see some amazing sites, meet amazing people and share experiences you would never have at any other job.
Cons – Music business never takes a holiday. You miss birthdays, weddings and other family get togethers. The days/nights are long and you are usually working off 2-6 hours sleep. But at the end of the day, you’re not stuck in a 9-5 job you hate.
- What would you like to change about the music industry in Australia in order to make it better?
One thing I noticed while touring Europe was the time the crowd rocked up to a venue. In Melbourne if the headline artist is not due to start until 12pm the majority of people will not get to the venue until about 11pm to see the headline band and maybe the main support. In Europe we noticed punters lining up at the venue before doors and by the time the first band went on stage the room was packed! That was a shock.
- Do you have any advice for young people willing to make a career as sound engineers?
Be prepared for A LOT of hard work. Whilst looking to get your foot in the door do not take no for an answer. Harass anyone and everyone you can. Sending a group email to a bunch of studios will not achieve anything. Studios are not looking to employ you for doing nothing. They need to see your want and drive to basically do anything you can to be allowed to sit in a session. Once you have your foot in the door, its up to you to work your ass off until you’re useful (Sounds tough but its true). Whilst you’re doing all this go out to live shows, ask the engineer if you can watch (from a distance) what they are doing. Join a local committee that puts on live shows and see if you can help. It is the only way to get experience and experience is everything.
I personally would not waste time and money on audio courses. I feel the experience you get in 3 years on your own outweighs the knowledge you can get from studying for 3 years. The best study is to go out there and do it. (Also courses cost a lot of money!!)
In saying all of the above the hard work absolutely pays off and you will have multiple instances where you sit back and think ‘damn it was all worth it’
- What are your next goals with this job?
Just continue what I have been doing. I have never really wanted to work for a huge production company and do various acts I don’t necessarily enjoy. I’ve always had a few nichè bands I mix and I’m happy with that. I like mixing bands I enjoy and working with people I enjoy. I would hate to be touring with a band when I did not enjoy their music. There is nothing better than touring with bands you are a fan of because you get to watch them every night!
- 2013 just came to an end, what was your favorite music released this year?
Circles – Infinitas. …. (Its ridiculous)
Trivium – Vengance Falls.
Stonesour – House of Gold and Bones pt 2
I’m not to sure if I have a bad memory or I wasn’t a fan of much music released this year haha.
- Who is your favorite artist of all time?
It’s a tough one! I would have to say Corey Taylor (Stonesour/Slipknot) would be my favourite artist. Slipknot originally got me into liking ‘heavier’ music and his voice is un rivalled in metal today… But I also have a huge soft spot for MIKA.
- Is there anything else you would like to add to finish?
“Your only limitations are the effort you put in.”
(Words of Wisdom by Regan Richards)
Also, thank you to Plug In Mag for the interview and being very accommodating when we were in France!