Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dave Rat non-porta blog Rememories

I'll start with a shout out to our Peruvian surf friends Thank you and cant wait to see ya next time!

So I started thinking. Wow, have I been with Peppers a long time. Maybe 21 years and I still enjoy it. And then I started thinking, Hey, what was I doing 20 years ago this month? And then I realized that one of the things I was not doing was taking pictures but.... 10 years ago I was so, here is quick run down of this month a decade ago:

My shorties, Sammy and Maddie were 5, both playing on the same soccer team and both blond at the same time.

I stayed at that darn frogger hotel in London and walked over to Princess Di's memorial

I was in London mixing sound for the Bangles, whom I really enjoyed hanging out with

And they played the now defunct Top of the Pops show

And finally, my sister Tiffany took Jen and I rock climbing and as usual, she put me on something way more advanced than my skill level, and as usual, I used pure fear and hardheadedness to scramble up and try and not look scared or hardheaded.

So on to sound world.  It is near 8 pm and getting ready to head over to the Rock in Rio gig in a few.  It is the last show of the South America tour and I am torn between not wanting the adventure to end and being very ready to get home and pretend i am a normal human for a few days.

Though I have not shared much outside of tour mode, I have had a lot going on, primarily, Rat Sound is finally purchasing a building just over 30 years since the company started. It is a 21,000 square foot industrial space in Camarillo and we should be moving over by mid November at the latest.  I'll take some pictures when I am back on the same continent.

Ok, off to the rock show! Fun fun fun!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Noise Makers

I remember being in high school with long hair and the joy of being able to hide behind it. Watching the world I felt so disconnected from without its ability to watch me.
I've learned since not to be uncomfortable feeling disconnected yet still enjoy the disconnection.
Day off in Sao Paulo, Peppers tour surf trip #3 and rolling large. I love simplicity and freedom and also have no problem embracing adventures I love to remember. So a helicopter ride to a surf spot was an easy yes. Too cool, too fun and now fast forward back to the practical world of proffesional speaker wiggling, I am going to take a stab at a budget opinion tour of the popular sound systems I run into.
How do I ike this or that system I am quite often asked. Well, they each have their assets and issues. So in the least technical word I can find:
Meyer's Milo sounds solid and the top end holds together well. It has a processed sound so transients sound subdued. I like the sonic consistency rig to rig and like that I know the sound I'll be getting. I guess it drives like compact town car, a bit corporate, soft-ish shocks, but not a full limo plush.
JBL Vertec is tough to get not to sound raw and boxy. Midrange resonance as you can hear the composite construction overlay a cardboard like sound with splashy HF, yet it gets loud and works. Though they vary from company to company sonically due to amp and processor variation, they are strong utility systems. Also being able to hang more boxes due to the light weight can be crucial in some scenarios. To me Vertec is the "Ford Explorer of sound systems" a roughish but toughish ride and they are everywhere.
Adamson Y10 gets loud too and has a solid and rigid push. I also find it a bit raw, unwieldy and unforgiving. I would say it could use a more refined processor but would rather see the finesse in the actual box and component designs. I find myself chasing EQ as it sort of handles like a stock muscle car. Neither is it small nor light and is a real watt guzzler.
And on that thought I have decided I really do not like 21" subs. They sound heavy, slow and boomy, take tons of power and seem to spend most of theiir effort just getting out of their own way.
21" subs are kind of like building a race car and startiing with a steel semi-truck frame. So big and heavy you need a giant motor just to hit the same volume as more finesse-fully built race cars, and when all is said and done, they just don't handle all that well at all.
D&B J rigs bump it all up a notch. Well behaved, powerful almost in an alien way compared to their size and weight competitors. Crisp top end yet edgy. The partially horn loaded design makes it jumpy, especially in the mids. If it was an eq thing, it would be easy to fix. If I wanted a more aggressive sound I could see that jumpiness as useful. When was 16, my dad bought a used Porsche 912 and he let me drive. I remember the lurching forward and touchiness of the clutch, stiff shocks and power. Mixing the J rig reminds me of driving that car. Fun for the driver but can be a bit tough on the passengers so ya really have to stay on your toes.
And then their are the brown boxes. Maybe just my exposure, time spent and familiarity or perhaps that same reason I bet the bank and future of Rat Sound on them, twice, based on what I heard in the way those L-Acoustics cabinets sound. Finesse. Tame emough to hold a tonal balance at lower and louder volumes, yet dynamic enough to sound natural. I don't find myself starving for compression like I often do on other systems. When pushing the rig, V-dosc tend to run out of juice in the mids at higher levels while the K1 deals quite well with volume abuse. Its not just being able to get a tonal balance, its being able to hold a tonal balance throughout the volume range that sets it apart. Ahh, its almost not fair and oh so much less work.
And on that note, oh! I can't wait for the cool K1/Kara rig I'll be seeing for the euro Peppers tour!
And all my system opinions aside, I really have enjoyed all the techs that have been doimg all they can to get things rocking. Thank you sound humans!
Oh, oit took me two days two peck this into my blackberry between adventures and rock shows, Sao Paulo show was a blast, hello Rio two days off!
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Monday, September 19, 2011

We don't get all our cool toys till Peppers hit Cologne in October when the full K1 sound system, lighting and custom stage setups all come together. In the mean time I've been messing with more of an assortment of hardware than a tuckstop trollop. The downside is that even though these are mostly our own shows, I start from scratch every gig with a different PA type, brand, size and configuration, festival style. The upside is I get to meet local vendors in each city and tune up my chops on a variety of rigs. I like puzzles, I like a killer perfect sound system even more.
So far I have had Meyer Milo rigs in Columbia and Peru, a JBL Vertec rig in Chile, an Adamson Y10 in Costa Rica and today in Argentina I am doing a Double Hung mixture with a D&B J and JBl Vertec bananas per side. Next I have a single hung V-Dosc in Sao Paulo followed by Double hung Vertec for Rocking Rio festival.
It's a patching and routing paradise, switching between hung and double hung. The way I deal with double hung is I return my sub group compressors into two sets of groups for each instrument. One set of suibgroups sends to the inner system hangs and the other set to outer. This allows me to put vocals or any instrument in either system on the fly.
Since I ran out of subgroups, I have vocals, guit, bass and kick/snare doubled up so in can hit either, while, toms, and cymbals hit the inner d&b rig and percussion and keyboards are dialed into the outer JBL rig.
Rocking Rio will be the first time I have mixed on a Double Hung PA that I did not specify. The PA vendor, Gabison has been running with that setup ever since 2008 or so, not long after Peppers rolled with what I believe to be the first worldwide version of the configuration.
If you want to know more about the theory and implementation of the double hung setup, do search in for "double hung"

Ok, and the photo run down in a guessing game order:
A blue Peru 3 wheeler
Scotty looking for his set list in Chile
Hugging Salt and Pepper ghosts rule!
The empty gig in Chile
Happy birthday to fearless leader Gage!
For hot sauce fans, the Peruvian Ahí salsa is awesome.
A couple flight pics of the Andes
Our cool support band the Foals
Josh's gutar tech Ian, knees after every gig.
The massive Peru venue from the outside
And finally happy birthday Clara all growed up to be an amazingly cool, smart and vibrant gal and cheers to her talented, inspirational and truly wonderful dad I have had the great honor to know and call a friend for many many years!
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dave Rat Blog - Peppers Peru, The Decision Triangle

I used to find way more stress in making life directional decisions. Oh, what to do and how to navigate all the choices? I remember the anxiety of deciding to forgo a conventional career for the uncertainty of what led to self employed and life on the road. Over time using retrospective happiness as a guide, I distilled a formula that works well for me.

There are three primary variables forming a triangle that resembles a three cornered pyramid viewed from above. The three poInts are: enjoyment, education and enrichment, with the center-point being healthiness connecting them all. Whenever facing a decision on how or whether to expend a portion of my life in one direction or another, I ask myself "will I learn new and exciting things? Will I have fun and enjoy remembering the adventure? Will I return with enhanced life stability?"

The more "yes's" or "no's" I answer and the more powerful they are, the easier the decision becomes. What I seek is balance, a well rounded mix of 'yes' is better than a huge 'yes' and three solid 'no's.' For example: for me, I have no interest in doing something that pays massive money yet is miserable, mundane and unhealthy.

So to that end, one of the aspects I am embracing on this tour is to try and surf as many countries as possible between airports, hotels and rock shows.

Thank you Paulo, Juano and Harold for the awesome surf adventure in Peru and thank you Joe Ryan for lining it up!

I am a few days behind but next bloggery stop is peru and chile gigs while we get ready to rock Buenos Aires in reality time.
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