Touring and other animals. Day 2
To check out more about Faustus go to www.faustusband.com
Wow I made it to breakfast! That doesn't happen very often. There is a long day ahead and I’m not sure when I will get to eat again, so had to make the effort.
Faustus have a radio interview and a folk music workshop before we head on to tonight's show. So we dose up on coffee and fried breakfast before jumping in the cars to make our way from Lincoln to Oxford.
The first stop is BBC Radio Oxford where the guys are doing a pre record of two and songs and an interview. We are greeted by some friendly staff and shown to a studio where there are already a few mics set up for us. The tea and coffee orders are made and the guys quickly start getting instruments out to crack on. As is always the case in these situations the station doesn’t have the correct information of the bands technical requirements, we realise we are several microphones short to record this properly. Luckily there is a cupboard somewhere with all the extra bits we need and before long it's all here plumbed in and ready to go. A quick soundcheck and then record. The guys play two new songs straight through one take each. Then they sit down with the presenter for an informal 10 minute chat and it's all done.
We will be long gone by the time this gets broadcasted and we are quickly back in the cars driving across town to the workshop. It's at a school very close to town and near the University area. I leave the boys to do their thing and head off into town with some local knowledge from Paul that there is a good record store nearby. It's been a while since I saw a record store. Since the world got into digital downloading they have all but disappeared. Even the great shop local to me The Rock Box in Camberley has recently closed it's doors for the last time. These places are getting as rare as rocking horse shit so it’s a good find. The shop doesn’t just do cd’s either, they sell guitars, books, violins and more so I pick up a couple of albums along with guitar strings and head out to a late lunch.
After my sushi I meet up with the guys again and we shoot off towards Nettlebed for tonights show. Nettlebed is a small village in Oxfordshire that houses a folk club that is a regular stop on the folk circuit. It’s in the village hall which is a beautiful old timber framed building with a slightly strange stage. The roof of the stage is domed which although looks quite nice, is terrible for sound. Domes like this create what I call a flutter echo. It pings the sound around randomly creating all sorts of strange delays which make it very difficult to keep time properly when playing and also create a strange mess in the sound out front.
Luckily we have all been here many times and know what its like, plus the in house tech Paul has been working here for years and knows how to set his P.A. system up to get the best out of the room. We soundcheck and I’m left with the usual two options you get in this room. You can either keep it quiet and in-offensive which leaves it dull and lifeless or you can mix it offensively loud. This room doesn’t have a sweet spot between those two points when it's empty. I elect for offensively loud as I know when it is full of people most of the reflections in the room will be soaked up by the bodies and it won’t be offensively loud any more.
We start the first half and the room has gotten better. I’m still not happy with the sound though. I try several different things with both volume and E.Q. to get it sounding better and better but I can’t quite get it the way I want it. It doesn’t sound bad but I’m never happy if a gig doesn’t sound great. The guys on stage are coping well with the echo from the roof and keep pretty tight all the way through even though they are still learning how to perform the songs. At half time a woman from the audience has a chat and remarks that the vocals are too bright down the front. Normally a sound engineer gets a bit pissed off with comments like this but in this case I knew she was right. I usually sit in the middle of the audience and mix on an iPad for this show but because this place is full I’m right at the back where the sound isn’t as bright. I guess on a couple of E.Q. changes based on what the woman described and hit the jackpot. The second half sounds great, fatter, rounder, more powerful yet very clear. It was just a couple of small cuts at 2 or 3 frequencies and its all come to life.
I get a few comments about a great sound at the end of the night which is always nice to hear and we pack up knowing we had another successful show. Now we have three days off before the tour properly begins. Ten days straight up and down the country. It should be a great adventure.