Interview with Brad Madix – FOH Engineer
How did you get started working in the music industry?
When I was a kid, my dad played guitar in a band. They were in a studio recording a „Quadraphonic“ record when I was about ten, and I hung out there. In fact, I fell asleep there on many a night. The record never really went anywhere, but I was hooked. I took organ lessons, and went to music school as a pianist, but I was always really interested in the sound part of things. Towards the end of college, I got a gig with a local sound company in Massachusetts and never looked back.
Who were some influential people to you in the early part of your career?
The first large tour I did was the Def Leppard Hysteria tour, which Robert Scovill was mixing. At the time, they had stuck the guitar amps in cases and were mic‘ing them in isolati on that way. Ted Leamy (later of JBL and then ProMedia) was the system tech, and he was a big influence as well. They both had a great work ethic. Along with that, the isolated guitar thing was something that stuck with me.
As we’ve spoken to many engineers about Palmer products, your name always seems to pop up as the guy who has introduced many other engineers to Palmer. As you were one of the early adopters, how did you originally become familiar with the product line?
I took over Leppard from Robert on the Adrenalize tour. They were rehearsing in Ibiza and the Palmers were pretty new then. I don‘t know who actually discovered them. It might have been Robert or one of the backline guys. It‘s the kind of thing Phil Collen would have found also. It was the first time I had ever seen one and I was a bit skeptical.
What was it that got your attention right away about their speaker simulators?
I set up the desk so that each guitarist had stereo inputs of Palmer and we put up two mics to get the mics sounding as good as the Palmers! It became a kind of mission. I tried different mics. I tried different positions. I could make them sound pretty good, but whatever I did the Palmers always sounded clearer and sat better in the mix. I finally just shut the mics off!
What are some of the bands you’ve worked with (and used Palmer with)?
I‘ve used Palmers with Def Leppard, Queensryche, Marilyn Manson, Rush, & Shania Twain. With regards to Manson in particular, one of the advantages of the Palmers was that there was no mic stand to knock over!
You’ve certainly worked with many bands over the years. You’ve had many years with RUSH for which you’ve received a great deal of acclaim. As RUSH is a band whose concerts are well known for having such pristine audio (as well as musicianship), were there characteristics of the Palmer products that allowed you to deliver this pristine audio on tour with Rush night after night?
First of all, the Palmers just sound really natural. Like the sound right out of the cabinet. When rehearsing with Rush, Alex tweaks his sound around listening to his in-ear monitors. It was apparent very early on in the first set of rehearsals when I was there that we would have had huge issues with him tweaking his sound and then me moving a mic, then him re-tweaking, then me re-moving, etc. It just took that element out of the equation and allowed him to get on with getting his tone. Further, the Palmers deliver a real clarity. I‘m not opposed to mic‘ing a cabinet, and I‘ve done it any number of times, but it‘s hard to capture the entire guitar sound without it sounding smeared. It requires at least two mics per cabinet, in my opinion, and I‘d say four mics per cabinet can be even better. They have to be phase aligned, which is time consuming and the placement is critical. If one mic is knocked out of position, there goes your guitar sound. That mic moving issue has been an experience for me in a festival situation where they just roll your band out there. I was up on the stage, got all the mics out and in position – you know, lining everything up with the grease pencil marks on the cabinets. Everything was perfect, then I did the five minute walk to FOH and did line check. Still everything sounded good. Then the band started. I don‘t know what happened, but one of the guitar mics moved a bit, and the guitar sound was dramatically affected. Horrible! It was a few songs before I could communicate to someone to get out there and reposition it, and even then it wasn‘t quite right. Amazing how moving one mic out of three can make such a huge difference.
Would like to share in regards to using Palmer gear?
Use one on Bass! I often take a bass input, run it through an amp and distort it beyond all reason. Capture that with a Palmer and mix it back in with the clean clear bass sound. Yummy!
Who are you working with now or is there something coming up for you on the horizon that you can tell us about?
Back out with Rush this April.
Read more about the Palmer products:http://www.palmer-germany.com/mi/en.htm