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The Wrong Side of the Microphone

Before I sweep up the tail end of some straggling Coachella shots, I want to share a bit of a different adventure. As you most likely realize by now, I try and dedicate a percentage of my time sharing back bits of info. Part of the motivation is rooted in the desire to offer glimpses into the touring and sound world that I wish I had when I was getting started while the other part is me trying to capture the memories in a way that wont fade into the abyss of the falling away past. Anyway, though it does not phase me to stand behind a mix board with 100,000 humans dependant on every knob twist, the thought of standing solo on stage and being on the band side of the microphone when the show starts, scares the shit out me. Sooo, what better adventure to partake in than exactly that?

I have been trying to fit it in to my schedule for a while now and finally a gap formed large enough for me to run out of legitimate excuses. "Yes, Gene, I would love to come out to Full Sail University and speak to the students." "Did you say 250 will be attending? Four hour time slot available?" Yikes! Perfect, all good, I am on my way and off to Orlando I headed.

I need a plan, an approach, a way to figure what to say. So my plan was not to have a rigid plan. Since I am headed to a stage, I will approach it a band, minus the whole rehearsal part. My set list will be a folder on my laptop with some pictures that look interesting and have some background. More importantly, what better way to figure out what to talk about than to ask? None better.

I really enjoyed the whole experience, and though I do not have any comparative reference, I am told it went well. Four hours of chatting with and to 250 of my new best friends I felt nothing but welcome from everyone.

Oh, so at the end I tried to take a picture of everyone before they left but the lights were pointed the wrong way and all on me. Since I could not put the lights where the people are, why not put the people where the lights are! "Hey everyone, come up on stage!" I have always wanted to do that, seen so many punk bands do it, never thought I would get the chance!

Thank you Gene and Kristi and Dana and especially everyone that came to hang out with me! Rock on Full Sailers and good luck in your adventures ahead.

That was fun, I could definitely do that again. While I am thinking about it and on the subject of learning and getting into the business, I may as well cover a question I was asked:

"Is it better to go to a school such as Full Sail or learn another way?"

And the answer in my opinion is

"if you are asking the question, you most likely will do better in a more structured learning environment." For me it was not an option, I barely made it through high school and I tend to learn the most through trial and error and in dependant research. I also am really good at doing things the hardest way possible and taking twice as long to get there. But we are not talking about me when the question is asked. The inquiry is based in someone wanting to know, "which path do I recommend they take to insure the highest probability of success in realizing their goals. Of course the answer to that is only known by the asker and my opinion is that any path they choose will end in success if they do not give up till they accomplish what they set out to do.

All that mind swirly aside, the facts are that Rat Sound not only hires both school learned and self taught techs, we purposely do our best to maintain a balance of both. Each personality type is driven to seek out an optimum learning path. If the desire to learn and reach dreams exists, the method of learning is not as important as the amount learned, retained and applied.

And moving on back, here are a few clean up shots from Coachella and a few from Stagecoach as well. I mentioned the Roger Waters was the best all around show, sound, production I have seen, well, how about some props for Trip Khalaf, not only an amazing sound engineer but the tour manager as well!

And yep, that is a Midas XL4.

Some things are scarier than others and having a trench digger come in after the snakes are run is one of those moments.

A bit of truck art in the field.

Oh!!! Check these out! Made by a company named Bindi, these are fruit sorbet's that come inside the actual real shell of whatever fruit they are made from.

Peach, Orange, Mango, Lemon, Coconut and Pineapple. I can not begin to describe how darn good these are! What cool idea, super tasty and excellent packaging! Speaking of excellent packaging, The Eagles bring in the legacy Clair 12AM wedges with matching blocks of wood.

I know, that was a bit of low blow at the big boys over at Clair, but hey, they can handle it, we do like them over there and even work together. I especially want to thank JD for letting us Rats supply the PA for the Eagles at Stagecoach. A band of Eagles stature can get whatever they wish and being a long time and happy Clair account, they could easily have bumped us Rat's.

Finally, say hey to Mike Ness. I missed a hello but I have not forgotten that one of the very early shows Rat Sound ever did, maybe 1981-ish, was Social Distortion playing in the bowl of a skateboard park.

It also just happened to be the first time Mike ever sang for the band cause they had just ditched their original lead singer. All I had was a cassette deck, two mics, an amp and two wedges for the main PA. I used the cassette deck as a mixer with a "Y"cord on the outputs and put a tape in and hit record to turn on the PA. All went well till the tape ended and the PA shut off. So I run over, flip the tape, hit record and finish the show. Oh for the good old days! Glad to have them don't want them back.

On that note, I am going to go work on some good new days,

Dave Rat


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Andrew Curtin on :

Thank you for your comments on Full Sail. I have been trying to make up my mind about it ever since I finished high school last summer. I will put your thoughts into my decision making. Andrew.

Patrick Carrillo on :

Hey Andrew, if you are thinking about Full Sail, and have any questions, hit me up, in a current student that graduated from show pro and am in the music business program. my email is

andy craig on :

The 12AM wedges. How tall is Roy Clair? Did he sign off the final wedge design? andy.

Teresa on :

I don't think there is anything that you cannot achieve Dave. With all your sound experience I would say a great new adventure is one that you could add to all College students futures in education. Compile all your own learned knowledge and add it in an educational book and on that note I would say you are for sure on the RIGHT side of the microphone!

João Santos on :

Hi rat! I have a question. What's the best approach when i have a PA system too powerful for the venue. Is better to turn down the Master Volume of the console, attenuate the input on the crossover, or turn down the volume on the amps to a comfortable level? thank you best regards from Portugal João

Dave Rat on :

The best thing is to use less boxes, too much PA tends to be jumpy sounding, like a small car with a big motor: powerful, hard to control and a jolty ride. Turning down amps is a post limiiter solution that can work well if the system limiters are well set. I find the best way is to put limiters on the drums, bass, guit and vox subgroups so they soften the system levels over a certain volume and then adjust your post group limiter L-R masters to the desired level. That approach is more forgiving than an L-R limiter that acts like a squashing governor.

Jew Mike on :

Hey Dave, I have been in the punk rock scene for a while now. With 6 Warped tours under my belt, now currently on Mayhem Fest. All I know is Rat Sound. I have been on both sides of the fence, Playing in a band for the first 9 years of my career them jumped to TMing and FOH. I touched my first board a year ago a PM5D. This voyage has taken me to so many places and I am excited to learn more through trial and error. I love the drive and integrity of your company. I live in LA and would love to help with local shows, I can use the knowledge and experience. Thanks for creating a legacy. Mike Rosenthal

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