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A-T interview with FOH engineer Mo Russell

We caught up with Mo Russellówhose FOH experience includes Shadows Fall, Kitty, Hawthorne Heights, Poison the Well, and Damageplanóon a busy afternoon at 2006 Summer Sonic.

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We caught up with Mo Russellówhose FOH experience includes Shadows Fall, Kitty, Hawthorne Heights, Poison the Well, and Damageplanóon a busy afternoon at 2006 Summer Sonic.

Audio-Technica: How did you get in the business?

Mo Russell: I went to school [Full Sail] and had a friend who was a drum tech for Kitty, the metal all-girl group. In 2001, I ended up going out and doing monitors for them, and Iíve been out on the road ever since.

What has your experience been with Audio-Technica microphones?
Great. Easy, less EQing. I like them on both sides of the stage, whether Iím out front or on monitors. In particular the vocals. They just cut so well. I donít have to touch them. Just turn it up, thatís all you have to do. I like that.

Another thing I really like about the Audio-Technica mics is that pretty much the entire line, you could put it on anything if you wanted to. Theyíre real versatile. I could use four different Audio-Technica mics on a snare drum and be happy with all of them. You know what I mean?

Any A-T microphones particularly stand out for you?
I love the AE4100 for vocals. Itís simple, I know, but I love it. I think it sounds great. And I love the AE2500 on guitars.

What do you like about it?
I like it because everybody uses the dynamic and the condenser on guitars, and with the AE2500 theyíre perfectly phase-aligned. You never have to worry about phase, so your toneís always right there and up front. I definitely like them.

Any other equipment that you work with that stands out?
I like the TC Electronics. Clair Brothers has always been really goodótheyíve always taken great care of me. I love the TC effects units; the D-Two is definitely the delay for me. The M-One, you can do anything with it. If youíre stuck, you can have just one M-One and be all right, get through a show. I love the Empirical Distressor, Iíd put it on every channel if I could.

What bands have you worked with?
Shadows Fall, Kitty, Hawthorne Heights, Poison the Well, Damageplan. Thatís pretty much the big ones Iíve done.

One thing I like to do with my bands, I tell them, I just turn you up, Iím not going to fix you. Iím not going to bend over backwards trying to make something thatís not going to happen. I turn them up. Thatís what I do. Itís up to them to have good tones and tune the drums right. Once you have that there, all I have to do is turn it up.

Whatís your impression of Japan?
Itís real cool, I like it. Iíve hardly been here, but everybodyís super nice. Itís so organized, you know what I mean? The day was so easy; it could have been a total nightmare, because of how big the festival is and all the bands coming through. They had everything Iíd emailed in advance, everything was right there ready and waiting. So it was easy.

It seems like you have had a good ride so far. Do you have any advice to someone starting out?
Just keep your ears and eyes open. Pay attention, and try to learn something from everyone. Everyone has something to offerójust figure out what it is and incorporate it into your style. Be there constantly and seeing whatís going on, what everybodyís doing. Pick up a little from this person and a little from that person.

There are a lot of engineers out there. The ones that succeed seem to be the most reasonable, level-headed, and easy to work with.
I try to be. You have to be flexible.

How did you get started in music?
When I was a kid I used to play drums. I went to a high school that didnít have a music program, so I ended up picking up bass because I was tired of playing drums by myself. I was into Metallica, of course, listening to And Justice For All, and Iím wondering whereís the bass, I wanted to hear more bass. Well, who does that? Whoís in charge of making sure I can hear the bass? I saw Bob Rock and Randy Staub making the Blackout videos, [and I realized] thatís what I want to doóI want to be that guy. So I set out to do it, and here I am

Whatís it like being on the road all the time? Does that get to you?
Yeah, it gets a little old for sure. Not being in one spot for more than two days. But itís exciting. Iíve always wanted to travel and Iíve always loved music, and now Iím getting paid to do both those things, so I canít really complain. You know what I mean? Iím very lucky. This is exactly what I want to do and Iím doing it. Itís awesome.