7 months ago


GORILLAZ Production

GORILLAZ Production Rigger Jerry Hough; Camera Director Dylan Etherington; Monitor Engineer Dave Guerin; RF Tech Ben Shapiro of Brown Note Productions. per channel and therefore freeing up more air space for the IEM systems. I’ve been extremely happy with the results.” The Humanz tour has been yet another exciting chapter in Entec’s long history with Gorillaz’ band leader and the company’s support is valued highly by crew and production management alike. “It’s great having [head of sound] Jonny Clark at Entec; we’re clearly all on the same side… he’s one of us,” Guerin pointed out. “I had a problem a couple of days ago and texted Jonny. He was immediately on the case and had someone here with me this morning to solve the issue without the slightest fuss.” Guerin stated: “Damon is still on wedges. It was mostly to clean the sound up on stage. The more wedges you have on stage, the more sound sources there are on stage. Some of the band had done it before the ones who hadn’t got used to it in rehearsals. The only one not on click, again, is Damon, who is actually singing. “We’re using Shure transmitters as we found them to be the best, so we use Shure radio mics too. We had about 47 channels and it was easier to go to the newer, digital radio mics because they have narrower bandwidths and you get more within the same frequency range. Shapiro added: “The whole band is running on IEMs apart from Damon. There’s 26 channels of our stereo, we also have 20 channels of the Shure Axient wireless system. We adopted that for the UK tour because we had a large increase in channel count so it made sense to use a new system. You can fit more frequencies into a small space, so it was a no-brainer. We’re running 20 channels on mics and guitars and the whole thing is tied together with Waves LV1’s. PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM! Andrew Hamwee, Playback Tech, is the man looking after all the backing tracks, which in Gorillaz world, is a mighty task done via the SD11i. “I deal with the programming and compiling of new songs, mainly. There’s a lot of new songs on the road and a lot of the time, we rework a old ones too. All of Gorillaz songs are quite complex; there’s a number of sounds and samples that come along with their unique sound. We’ve spent a lot of time with Damon, and a lot of the time with the studio engineers who have recorded it and mixed the album. Chopping up sounds, sampling keyboards, getting sounds off the album, recreating them live, so the whole production and live repertoire sounds as like the album as possible, and even better, that extra 10% in the flesh,” he smiled. Hamwee is monitoring over 60 channels. To keep the audio quality true, a digital signal path runs through all the samples, tracks and keyboard sounds, as well as the triggered drum sounds. Analogue back-ups are switched in via a Macro, the main inputs being MADI via an Orange Box to the Optocore. While Andy has direct control of the SD11i, I control it via an iPad app. Andy also has a FOH mix into the SD11i and he’s able to check that everything on the tracks is audible in the FOH mix and advise on any levels that may need to be adjusted. “By moving all the shout inputs and outputs to the SD11i, it means I’m not quite fully maxed out on the SD7, which is why I’m able to fit some additional performers on there like the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Having spare resources on the SD11i means we can split the shout system so that Andy and another tech can line check all the keys and their MIDI, while at the same time I can line check everything else with [Entec’s] James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge, our stage tech, without talking over each other. “In fact, Kedge has been a great ally in all of this. As well as mixing monitors for the support act, Little Simz [who collaborated on the song Garage Palace], he is on a headset throughout the show and looks after the cables. He will often relay stage instructions back to me for mix adjustments.” Entec’s package also included DiGiCo SD12’s for the support’s FOH and monitor mixes. The audio team was completed by James Kerridge, Head of Stage; Chris Speirs RF2, Monitor Tech; Colin Woodward, Stage Left PA Tech, Kev Smith and Stage Right PA Tech. Production Manager, Joel Stanley, joined the conversation: “Working with Entec has been really good and it’s a pleasure to be dealing with Jonny. No request has ever been too big. Whenever we have identified a 28

GORILLAZ Stage Manager Ethan Merfy with PM Joel Stanley; Automation Engineer Blaine Dracup. piece of equipment that we desperately need, Entec has ensured that if they don’t have it in stock, they will purchase it without hesitation. They’ve been solid and I feel like we consistently have their complete attention.” The sentiment was echoed by Monitor Engineer Dave Guerin: “Entec are great, I wouldn’t go anywhere without them!” STAGE HANDS “I was an economics major and took a semester off to build these stages in Asia… here I am 26 years later!” laughed Stage Manager, Ethan Merfy. “I guess I’m not a behind-the-desk sort of person and I feel very fortunate to do what I do.” Merfy was drafted into the Gorillaz camp when the ill-fated Linkin Park One More Light tour was cut short due to the tragic passing of singer Chester Bennington. He continued: “I enjoy this camp, it’s made up of a bunch of really good people. I knew the rigger so I reached out to him and he told me how welcoming everyone was, so it was a no-brainer. I’m the only American on this tour, but he was right, everyone was very welcoming. Joel had wanted to work with me for some time, and vice versa, and for one reason or another, this time it worked - and it’s been a great experience.” Merfy’s day-to-day duties include being in control of the floor from when the first truck door is opened. A lot of the stuff I deal with on a show of this size actually has nothing to do with being on the stage, but rather facilitating the end of goal of making the stage come together correctly. Managing the gear from the trucks, to making sure everyone has a safe space to work in, to making sure we have storage readily available should we need it. There’s a lot of equipment and a lot of people involved in this production, and I believe a lot of my time is spent ensuring that I stay one step ahead of any problems before they potentially arise.” HOME COMFORTS AND FAMILY VIBES Orla Clarke, Tour Director Assistant, has been with the band since their Return To Plastic Beach tour 7 years ago, and describes it having been like Wacky Races in the years that have followed. “We went around the world with Gorillaz, then we did the blur reunion tour before this production, so we’re sort of like family at this point,” Clark told TPi. She first entered into the lifestyle via the kitchen, and is now clearly a mainstay for a lot of her touring family, who rightly told me Orla would make me laugh throughout our interview. [“It’s Orla, don’t let spell checker change my name to Oral; that happens too often!”]. Her love for home comforts while not in fact being at home has led here… “I love baking and travelling, and I was trying to figure out how to bake my around the world. I ended up helping my friend’s mum cater one year at Glastonbury, and the rest is history. I actually think catering is one of the hardest jobs on the road; the hours are so long, but it’s also the job where you get to know everybody and you hear everything. You’re literally at the heart of it all, like any good kitchen,” she smiled. “My first ever tour was with Michael Bublé, it was so much fun; I just used to feed the Canadians cake and they loved me for it!” she laughed. “I met Craig Duffy during a Russell Watson tour, and he then asked me to come and work for him.” These days, although Clark enjoys the culinary delights of tour caterers’ The Pantry Maid, she’ll typically be found looking after hotel accommodation for the band. “I love hotels, I’m probably a hotel nerd… I just get so into it. I like finding like cool places for them to stay, and it becomes a real challenge when the numbers are this big, but I definitely seek out the little gems.” Clarke was a gem in her own right when, upon finishing a Duran Duran tour as a Production Coordinator, she moved to New York after accepting a job with the band’s management firm. “I missed the road. I just love being in different cities and meeting new people all the time. I don’t like being behind a desk, unless the desk is in a different city every day, and then I can cope with it!” she noted. “Holly Sandeman, our Production Assistant and I have basically been in each other’s shadows for 3 years now; we spend most of our time together. I love working with her, she’s the best. I think most people will tell you that they have solid pal on every tour… I have just happened to have toured the world for 3 years with mine.” Home for the bands on the tarmac came courtesy of Richard PriceDeer, of tour bus supplier Jumbo Cruiser. He stated: “It was a great tour for us to be involved in, with 6 of our newest vehicles on the road with them. Gorillaz tour & production management are a great team, and Craig and Joel have been a pleasure to work with. Logistically there were some long and hard drives for our drivers, so a lot of planning was involved on our side to ensure our busses ran to precision; at one stage there were 18 drivers working on this one tour for us! It all went smoothly, the band and crew reached every destination ahead of scheduled arrival times, and we were immensely proud to be a part of such a well-executed tour.” It seems the sentiment is felt unanimously… The Humanz tour heads to Mexico for the first stop on its South American run until the end of March, before beginning the festival circuit with Rock Am Ring & Rock Im Park. TPi Photos: Andrew Benge, Tony Woolliscroft & TPi 29