Top 15 Things That Annoy the Shit Out of Your Local Sound Guy

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Doug Siebum

Imagine for a moment that your job's sole requirement was to make live bands sound great every night. Pretty awesome right? Late nights, live music, and an endless supply of nightlife encapsulate a typical day at the office. Then after actually doing it for a few minutes you start to realize something: being a sound guy, even a good one, is typically the most thankless job in the entertainment industry. Just ask Doug Siebum, a local aural engineer at Harvelle's in downtown Long Beach. Honing his craft since 2001, the Sacramento native has done sound for some pretty big names, including Katy Perry and Coachella. But he still makes clubs like the Whiskey A Go Go and Harvelle's his bread and butter. And for every night when things run like a dream, there's a night when he probably wishes he could strangle a band with their own ill-functioning guitar cables.

"Sometimes when a band walks in and they're being super demanding, they start requesting stuff and they aren't using the right terminology, you know pretty quickly if they haven't been around. And at that point you're like let me just deal with this and get the night over with," he says. But often times the band is only a slice of the chaos that can really irk a sound man, whether he's working behind the booth or trying to live life a lot more quietly off the clock. With that in mind, Siebum was kind enough to share with us a list of the top 15 things that will definitely annoy the shit out of your local sound guy.

15. When a drunk person I don't know wants to stand next to me and talk to me the
whole time I'm working. I have a job to do which requires concentration and me
paying attention to what's going on and it's a lot harder for me to hear what's
going on in the room when someone is constantly jabbering into one of my ears.

14. When people ask me for a table or try to place a drink order with me. You're
talking to the wrong guy.

13. When people expect me to be as excited to be there as they are. Where this might be their every once-in-a-while night on the town, I do this 3 to 7 nights a week every week. Forgive me if I look bored.

12. When people expect me to want to go to a club on my night off. Can we just go
someplace quiet and peaceful instead?

11. When random people want to tell me how they think it should sound. They don't
know the sound of the room, what the band wants, what the club management or
owners want, or about potential noise complaints from neighbors. And really, I
do this for a living. If you're not the sound guy that's traveling with the band,
keep your amateur opinion to yourself.

10. When people touch my mixing board or audio gear. You can blow up a speaker
or amp or potentially damage someone's hearing. This is expensive equipment so
if you don't own it, don't touch it and keep your drinks away from it.

9. When bands ask me to turn the monitor up. Each monitor is a separate mix. Tell me what instrument or vocal you want to hear in the monitor and I will turn that up for you.

8. When bands tell me they want to hear everything in the monitor. If I put everything in the monitor it's just going to sound like mud because it's a mono mix and everything is on top of each other. How about you tell me the two or three things that are most important for you to hear and we'll start there.


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7 comments
aaron2012
aaron2012

Utter rubbish....this list only applies when the sound man is a professional which is virtually never....going off to have a spliff after doing a semi efficient sound check is not doing the job properly. Dealing with feedback with a missing sound man is hell for the band!

Nam Luu
Nam Luu

I am a professional audio technician. 50/50 on the band and sound guy. Then it also breaks down to 50/50 between which guys "sound guy sucks." The Touring Guy or The House Guy. Usually if the house guys get a nice monitor mix then his FOH mix sounds great, because the is happy. If the monitors are blowing out the band and the band can't hear shit. The band is not happy, therefore everything will sound like shit. Then you got the touring guys who are super picky, and bitch and whine about what they want and what is required for them to put out a decent mix, and if they don't get it they can't make a basic Mix work. Which is complete bullshit. I am a Audio Systems Tech. I put the system up, tune it, and then watch the as drama unfolds between the people who use the system, and the band.

markspencer_17
markspencer_17

This article is a joke.

This guys is the exact example of why some people should not be live sound engineers. It's all about the atitude you take. 

"When people call or text me before 10 a.m". WTF ? 

"When people expect me to want to go to a club on my night off." WHAT ????

What the hell is wrong with you? If you don't like getting a phone call before 10am then maybe turn your phone  on silent? Just a suggestion. 

Being a pro musician, producer in LA.  I experienced idiot sound engineers on a weekly basis. Guys that are DJ friends of the club owner.  I've come across so many aggressive arsehole sound guys it's not funny. Guys that roll their eyes when you ask them for more than 4 mics. Guys that are nowhere to be seen after turning up 4 microphones then if you go anywhere near the mixing board and they come running back from nowhere telling you not to touch it. Sound guys that are completely judemental and automatically assume that you don't know anything. LA is particularly bad for this. I usually ask to do the sound myself. I can't bothered dealing some uptight guy on the desk. 



BiggusDikkus
BiggusDikkus

Ha. Peter Murphy gave the sound guy crap a couple weeks ago at the observatory small room....constellation? anyway,...he was quite patient. .....but it did sound like crap. that room is not meant for people standing at the front or the entrance......there's probably a sweet spot in there somewhere....


anyway....it's a thankless job....

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