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A-T web interview with Hoobastank FOH Brendan Brown

We caught up with Brendon Brown, Hoobastank tour manager and FOH mixer, at Summer Sonic 2009.

We caught up with Brendon Brown, Hoobastank tour manager and FOH mixer, at Summer Sonic 2009.

Audio-Technica: How did you get your start in audio?

Brendon Brown: A long time ago, I actually worked at a music store in Sacramento, California. I was born and raised in New York, but I moved to California, and lived with an uncle. I lived in Sacramento when I was 21, and I started working in a music store. From there, I started working at a nightclub in town and I played in bands at the time. One of the bands got signed and I was doing sound at the club at that time. And from that point on, I’ve been pretty much on the road.

Audio-Technica: How did you get started doing sound at the club?

Brendon Brown: Well, I sold PA equipment at a music store.

Audio-Technica: Oh, so you had to be the expert.

Brendon Brown: I was faking my way through it. I actually helped install the PA in the nightclub.

Audio-Technica: What club was this?

Brendon Brown: It’s a place called Harlow’s in Sacramento. It’s still there. It doesn’t sound nearly as good as it did when I was there.

Audio-Technica: And I guess you actually interfaced somehow with John Hood out there? [Editor’s Note: John Hood owns The Farm, a manufacturer’s representative company that represents Audio-Technica microphones in Northern California.]

Brendon Brown: He was my boss at the music store; he was the one who hired me. Actually, to tell you the truth, I owe everything to John Hood, because if he didn’t hire me I’d probably still be doing siding by Sears. He actually hired me as a keyboard salesman. I lied on my resume, I didn’t know shit about keyboards.

Audio-Technica: So ultimately everything that you’ve done has been on-the-job training.

Brendon Brown: Yes. Baptism by fire. I got in and got my feet wet, and for some reason I figured out kind of what I needed to do, and I didn’t really have any mentors until I was working, I was on the road in an arena tour with an opening act –

Audio-Technica: Who was that?

Brendon Brown: Bill Chappelle, he’s a good friend of mine. He was front of house for Foreigner at the time, and I was working with Papa Roach.

Audio-Technica: Okay, another A-T band right now.

Brendon Brown: Are they?

Audio-Technica: Yeah.

Brendon Brown: And then Bill took me under his wing and kind of showed me what to do and what not to do, and here I am.

Audio-Technica: Do you have any suggestions for new engineers getting started?

Brendon Brown: Like find another job? Run. Run, run, run.

Audio-Technica: But for those people who can’t be dissuaded?

Brendon Brown: You mean to be successful?

Audio-Technica: Or just what do you need to take it to the next level, because you obviously took it to the next level.

Brendon Brown: Obviously, if you want to take it to the next level you need to attach yourself to a band. You need to listen to other bands and listen to what sounds good, and interpret that in your own [way].

Audio-Technica: We worked together for quite some time now, any particular Audio-Technica microphones that stand out?

Brendon Brown: I love the 2500 [AE2500 Dual-element Instrument Microphone]. I was skeptical at first, I was like, there’s no way this can sound as good as a 91 and a 52, there’s no way. I will not do a show without that thing, I love it. I like the 2500s and of course the 4050s [AT4050 Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone], I think are my favorites.

Audio-Technica: What do you use the 4050s on?

Brendon Brown: The 4050s I use for overheads and for half of my guitar channels because I have four mics set up on my guitars. So I use those to get the real fat, booming guitar tone, and then mix that with something a little thinner. I think as of now those are my three favorite mics.

Audio-Technica: And you’re using AE3000s on toms –

Brendon Brown: Yeah, on toms and also on my snare top. I moved it over to the snare top too because there’s a lot of times I wasn’t getting that crack and that pop note. If you look at my mics they’re beaten to shit –

Audio-Technica: They’ve gotten hit a few times.

Brendon Brown: You can do some field maintenance on them, you can take the windscreen off and pop them back out and they do fine. They can take a beating.

Audio-Technica: Which is a pretty cool for a large diaphragm condenser.

Brendon Brown: Yeah, and those mics, I’ve had them for what four or five years now. And they all still work.

Audio-Technica: Excellent. Any other tips you have for engineers, whether it’s miking, signal chain, how you like to run things?

Brendon Brown: That’s a tough one. I’m a big fan of the D-Show console, and there’s some great tools in that. There are a lot of people that don’t know it, but you can really get in there and play. There’s a fine knob on that thing where you can get in there and you can really dial in your EQ and your gain and your compressors, not just thrown up because the regular knobs they’re just throw and go. There’s a fine button that makes the micro steps even smaller. And then you get into all the plug-ins that the D-Show has—it’s a fun board to have.

Audio-Technica: So ultimately how did you get hooked up with Hoobastank? You’ve been with them for how long?

Brendon Brown: I’ve been with them for seven years. I got hired because they heard me mix a show in L.A. and they were managed by the same management that was managing Papa Roach at the time. They had come to a K-Rock event in L.A. and were just guests at the show, and Papa Roach was playing and they heard the show and they said we want to sound like that. Rex said, “I can get him,” they made me an offer, and I went with them.

Audio-Technica: What are the challenges? Because you’re tour managing this band as well.

Brendon Brown: There’s just not enough hours in the day. The best thing is, I have an assistant who can handle all the press. The guys are really responsible, so it’s a lot on the table.

Audio-Technica: I know Hoobastank has done Summer Sonic four times, and as you know, it’s the 10th anniversary of Summer Sonic. Do the guys like this show?

Brendon Brown: They look forward to this all year and they love it. Of course it’s just as hot as it always is here. And I think every year it gets bigger and bigger. Obviously, CreativeMan takes very good care of their artists and stuff like that. The technology—every time there’s new consoles and new technology that’s provided, all the new A-T stuff is out there, all the new D-Show stuff. The band looks forward to it all year.

Audio-Technica: Cool. I appreciate your taking the time.