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A weekend at Summer Sonic ‘07

Links to Audio-Technica interviews with front-of-house engineers and artists at Tokyo’s 2007 Summer Sonic music festival.

Links to Audio-Technica interviews with front-of-house engineers and artists at Tokyo’s 2007 Summer Sonic music festival.

We were lucky enough to make the trip again this year to Tokyo’s 2007 Summer Sonic music festival. We're on site to interview front-of-house engineers and artists at the Audio-Technica sponsored event, boasting the likes of Gwen Stefani, Hinder, Sum 41, Cyndi Lauper, Interpol, and the innovative Blue Man Group’s first-ever public performance in Japan.

We find ourselves again in the midst of an astonishingly polite and benevolent crowd. The fine print on a don’t-mosh warning has it right: “Summer Sonic is a happy and peaceful festival.” There is also an amazing mix of great artists and technical experts behind the scenes making the whole thing work. And a fair number of Audio-Technica endorsers and friends who take time out to talk with us on an incredibly busy weekend. Listen in…

Sammy Merendino, drummer for Cyndi Lauper
“I love Audio-Technica. For live, I love the Artist Series and the Artist Elite microphones. … In the studio, I’ve got a pair of AT4060’s that I use a lot of times either as overheads, or sometimes I’ll use them as rooms. I haven’t had any problems with any of them. I’ve been using the same mics on the road, because I carry my own, since 2002. The only change has been adding the ATM450's for hi-hat. But I haven’t had a problem—not with one mic.” Read more.

Michelle Sabolchick, FOH engineer for Gwen Stefani
“Gwen’s mic is an Audio-Technica 5000 Series wireless with a T6100 handheld. …It’s great. It’s got a great tight pattern with good rejection, so it’s ideal for her not feeding back—more so than using another mic. It helps me actually have her out there and have her vocal up when she’s in front of the PA.” Read more.

John Kerns, front-of-house engineer for Sum 41
“My newest favorite would be the ATM650. Everything I’ve put it on it’s been great. It’s been fantastic. I’m using it for dirty guitars, clean guitars, snares. It does a lot of things. In my opinion, it sounds a lot better than the other industry standard that it may or may not be modeled after. Much more consistent, and it doesn’t have that proximity effect that the other one has. That’s probably my favorite new find, although I like the ATM350 also. The side-address is great—I can get it where I want it.” Read more.

Matt Koenig, Minster of Audio Intent (a.k.a. Production Sound Supervisor) for Blue Man Group
“You guys make a great product! They’re durable. They sound great. They even look good!” Read more.

Harley Zinker, front-of-house engineer for Interpol
“All the [Audio-Technica] stuff is so robust; I’ve never called you with a repair issue. I’ve got a couple of backups which I periodically rotate just to see—did something change here? Nothing changes. The stuff is just so rock solid. I sing its praises to everybody, to be quite honest. I can use any thing I want to use, and this is what I choose to use.” Read more.

Fabrizio Del Monte, front-of-house engineer for Hinder
“When I tried out the AT2010, and I was just so floored at how much gain I could get out of it before feedback, and just how good it sounded! And then Gary [Boss, A-T Marketing Director] goes, ‘Yeah, we’re going to sell it for $99.’ I was just like—‘Yeah right, sure.’ And that’s what you’ve done! It’s remarkable just how good that thing sounds. … What’s really funny is, every time we have a discussion about something on the stage, about microphones or something, somebody will bring up another manufacturer, and I’ll go, ‘Well, yes, but Audio-Technica has this in their line.’ One of them said once, ‘Dude, I could ask for a thermos and you’d tell me Audio-Technica makes one!’” Read more.

Between interviews
In spare moments between interviews, we have the good fortune to take in a handful of performances. We listen in on the dark, brooding sound of Interpol with a look to match: cones of white light cut across the stage not so much to illuminate as to push around the darkness. Sum 41 offers a mix that manages to blend clarity and intelligibility with the intensity of in-your-face punk/pop. It’s a rare treat to take in Cyndi Lauper’s classic songs; listening to True Colors and Time after Time, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely at home so very far from my street address. Then there’s the cutting-edge Japanese band Cornelius (named for the ''Planet of the Apes'' character) offering beautiful, strange tunes with riveting videos in which everyday objects take on a life of their own.

A moment on a train
The train ride to Summer Sonic offered unexpected gifts, too. In the disorienting swirl of day one in the opposite time zone, we’re making our way to Chiba (concert venue). Rice paddies flip by; I crane to get a better look, but soon become absorbed with in-car scenery, watching a young boy open yen-sized toys that came attached to his and his mother’s bottled tea. The child focuses intently on opening the packets while keeping his balance as the crowded train speeds along. It never occurs to me that he has noticed his audience until the boy approaches with outstretched hand and presents me with his prizes: a pair of tiny plastic pandas. I restrain my wish to take him up on the offer—I know a six-year-old will make best use of such a find. The memory will be souvenir enough…one of many treasures from our second trip to Summer Sonic.