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[PODCAST EP03] Mixing Audio for Live Shows w/ Steve Mitchell

Mixing Audio for Live Shows - Ep03- steve mitchell
Mixing Audio for Live Shows - Ep03- steve mitchell

In Episode 3, we talk about mixing audio for live shows with Steve Mitchell, seasoned audio designer from The Audio Distillery. Located near Nashville, Tennessee, The Audio Distillery provides refined audio consultation, design and production for all types of live shows and events.

 

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Steve started out as a musician with rock star dreams but became interested in studio work after realizing that “keeping a band together was like herding cats.” He began developing his audio chops in a music store studio, and he also started recording band demos for his friends in high school with his father’s hoard of music equipment. Just after college, Steve got his first job with a large company when his roommate dared him to interview with Walt Disney World representatives on campus. Months later he got the call to move to Orlando, Florida and continue his professional career.

“The biggest experience I got from working at Disney is what it feels like to work in a company that is so huge and you just feel like small fish in the pond.” Steve expresses how working in a large operation has its pros and cons. While the stepping-stone experience of Disney exposed him to big productions and high-end gear, he quickly learned that the standard operating procedures were sometimes inflexible. He said that he often heard, “You know, it doesn’t make sense that we do it that way, it’s just how we do it. I’ve learned to accept that.”

After a few years working for The Mouse, Steve moved on to LMG, a smaller gear and production company in Orlando who had recently hired some great audio technicians he met at Walt Disney World. He says working for LMG helped him expand his horizons as an audio designer because he had more free reign. “I think a lot of these big companies, you see them bogged down in the big corporate aspect of things…I think it’s a breath of fresh air that we’re not bogged down in that, and we think outside the box.” As an audio lead, he talks about how he became more familiar with the non-technical side of production such as working with labor unions, labor companies and the important aspect of risk management.

Currently producing live shows with The Audio Distillery proves to be a constant learning experience when working with different generations, like millennials, for example. They changed his frame of mind. “They’re skilled at what they do, it’s just that they approach it a bit different.” At any level, exposure to new and innovative ideas is important. Steve claims, “I love working with other people and being able to pick up on what they know and what they do. I learned something. If you’re not learning something, then it gets boring, right?”

Listen in as Steve gives Stephen and Clem his feedback on the importance of down time, “growing his brain” by learning about new technology, and doing the projects that are “better for your soul.”

“The definition of making it in the business is making a living doing what you love to do.”

–Steve Mitchell

 

Full Podcast Transcript

 

Stephen Bowles:
Steve just a little bit of background. He is 20 years audio engineer. A1, A2, A3, A1, A2, A4. All of them. He’s worked with really a wide range of parts of the industry. Everything from doing music and a little bit of stuff on his own, but also with Disney doing really big events with them back in the day. Then LMG and now even broke out freelance and now working for The Audio Distillery. With that Clem get us started with Steve.

Clem Harrod:
Hey everybody, we’re here with Steve Mitchell, number one audio guy in the nation …

Stephen Bowles:
That’s right.

Clem Harrod:
… so I’ve been told.

Steve Mitchell:
Oh boy, oh boy.

Clem Harrod:
Or I guess so he’s told us.

Steve Mitchell:
Oh no.

Stephen Bowles:
I saw him tweet it the other day.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Steve Mitchell:
Oh my goodness. I’m not even on Twitter.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah, because Steve Mitchell is a Twitter guy.

Clem Harrod:
Twitter. Steve man, just give us some background on how you became interested in this industry. How did you get your start?

Steve Mitchell:
Well, funny story. I guess it’s when I was really little. My dad was a musician and I was running around the studio, and I wanted to be a rock star you know. I wanted to play guitar and stuff like that. My mother with a worried head didn’t want me to go that route, because she had to witness what was going on. It’s tough to be a musician, and I remember her saying, “Look at this guy over here. He’s moving these faders and that’s cool too you know.” I ignored her all the way up into my teenage years trying to still be a rock star and …

Clem Harrod:
Did you have long hair back then Steve?

Steve Mitchell:
Oh yeah man, I did.

Clem Harrod:
Did you really? I have to see that photo.

Steve Mitchell:
I have to get you a picture. It’s pretty tragic but yeah, had a lot of fun. Realized keeping a band together is like herding cats, so I quickly started doing studio work. My dad I’ve always joked he’s like the Sanford and son of musical equipment. He’s always had recording stuff. It’s almost like borderline hoarding, but it is pretty cool stuff he’s got. He had some old reel to reels and stuff like that, and that’s what I would record band demos on for the guys in high school.

Clem Harrod:
That’s awesome.

Steve Mitchell:
It’s all I’ve ever really done. I worked in music store, I worked in a studio in the back and stuff like that. It’s pretty much all I’ve ever done.

Clem Harrod:
Then how’d you get into the live side of it? Into the actual show side of it.

Steve Mitchell:
That was weird too. I went to school for a recording industry and I thought I want to work …

Clem Harrod:
Where did you go?

Steve Mitchell:
Middle Tennessee State, so there’s a lot of guys that have gone there. Shane Smith and Brian Tee. A lot of great audio guys who come out of there. Ironically enough I didn’t know these guys when we were going there. We didn’t know each other until later.

Clem Harrod:
Were you there around the same time?

Steve Mitchell out giggin a show

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah we were, that’s the crazy part.

Stephen Bowles:
Small industry.

Steve Mitchell:
I know, and so we all went there and we went to school for working in a recording studio. By the time we got out I don’t know about them, but I was so tired of going in the studio when the sun went down and coming out when the sun came out that I said, “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.” It’s sad to come out of spending all money in college and saying, “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.” There was a hard road ahead there too, because even though you come out college you’re going to go spend a couple of years as an intern. Just making coffee for anybody and everybody to go any further with it.

Finally, as a bet or a dare from a roommate of mine Disney came into town and was doing interviews. He said, “That’d be funny if you interviewed.” I was like, “Why would that be funny?” He’s like, “Because you’ve got long hair and they would never hire you.” He’s like, “I’ll buy the beers later at the bar if you go.” He’s like, “It’ll be entertaining for me to see you interview.” I went, and I guess I had a car too so that’s why.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, you’re the one with the car.

Steve Mitchell:
He just needed a ride is what it was.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Steve Mitchell:
I interviewed and forgot all about it. About six months later they called and said, “Hey you want to come down to Orlando and work for Disney?” That was pretty crazy. Then start …

Clem Harrod:
How long were you there?

Steve Mitchell:
I was only in Disney for four years as a lot of us came from that same department in that area. There were so many of us and they were all great guys. It was a great time and met so many great people, but I was only there for four years because I think they were in the process of dissolving the department. The biggest experience I say I got from working at Disney is what it feels like to work for a company that is so huge, and just feel like a small fish in the pond. When somebody says, “You know, it doesn’t make sense that we do it that way, it’s just how we do it.” I’ve learned to accept that.

Stephen Bowles:
The goods and the bads.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, and that makes me question at what point or have you changed that mindset of the whole, this is how we do things? Because not just in our industry, so many different industries the same mentality is just that’s just the way things are done. Then it seems like nowadays a lot of people are beginning to question that. Well, why is it done that way? Is there a more efficient way? Is that something that you still believe in that this is just the way things are done?

Steve Mitchell:
I’m able to spot somebody when they’re in a bind and they’re working for a big company as far as our clients and stuff like that. When they feel like I can see that their hands and you can tell they want to make a difference. They want to change some stuff but they can’t. When they turn to you and in the heat of the battle they’re just like, “Man, that’s just the way we do things” I’m able to say, “Okay, I understand. I’ll help you out and we’ll do whatever we can.” As far as me and working for myself I think that was one of the blessings of it all, is to be able to ask why.

If there’s ever a question you ever use in life is to ask why about a lot of stuff. It’s one of the things I try and teach my daughter. It’s like, it’s okay to ask why and if we can’t explain it maybe we need to be doing a better job. Anyway, I try not to get bogged down in that mentality. I don’t have to as far as what I do personally, but I do have to recognize that with some of these bigger companies that we work for they’re just like, “That’s just the way it goes. That’s the way we do it.” It’s easier to accept it instead of getting really frustrated. I don’t know if that answers the question.

Clem Harrod:
No, it does. I tend to work with one specific company and when I work with other people who have experience working with other companies, other production companies it’s nice to learn new techniques. New ways to do things, because it may be more efficient, it may be more effective. Then that becomes part of your setup or your process and being able to share that with other people. Just interesting.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of these big companies you see them bogged down in the big corporate aspect of things. I think when I they get to work with you or myself or a lot of the guys in the industry I think it’s a breath of fresh air that we’re not bogged down in that, and we think outside of the box. We’re able to laugh and joke and bring a little more fun to that cubicle, stuck in a cubicle mentality.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. It’s not a cubicle but it is at the same time.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, right.

Stephen Bowles:
Steve you recently went freelance, right? In terms of your professional career.

Steve Mitchell:
I guess it’s been about five years now. Four/five years.

Stephen Bowles:
Okay.

Steve Mitchell:
Something like that, so yeah. I guess relatively speaking recently, yeah.

Steve working with Boeing Boeing gig with Tom Brokaw

Stephen Bowles:
Well, I guess just in the spectrum your whole thing … Well actually here, let me take that again actually because you’re right. I was totally thinking jay when I just said that.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
[crosstalk 00:10:10] ask you that question. I was totally thinking jay.

Clem Harrod:
No, but yeah, it’s been a while.

Stephen Bowles:
It’s been a long while. I’m going to take that one round again. Here we go. Steve you’ve been basically freelance for the last five years, but before that you had had experience working for a larger rental and [inaudible 00:10:27] production company, LMG. I actually used to work for them so I love the company, I love everybody that works there. Talk to me about that. You went from Disney, right? Where you were a part of the massive machine and you almost had no ability. Then you had LMG where there’s room to apply your own processes. It’s a smaller, more nimble team, but then also LMG grew a lot while you were there.

Now you’re on your own where you’re either working directly with clients or receiving gigs through groups like LMG and others like that. Just talk to us a little bit about that change from one to the other.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, I’d say overall it was a really great experience. I guess Disney, and this is not news to a lot of people that are in the industry, but Disney was the breeding ground for a lot of the LMG employees. They were able to cut their teeth and learn a lot there. Work with a lot of high-end gear, and when they were ready LMG would offer them definitely a better deal. That wasn’t hard to do but they could. For me it wasn’t just about the money, it was also about following a lot of those great guys I worked with at Disney. They were already over there working at LMG. Guys like Kevin Bridges, Bryce Hershner, those guys.

I just wanted to stay working with those guys. We all had a lot of laughs, we had a lot of fun. We always learned from each other and those guys were always pushing themselves to do more stuff and learn more stuff as well. Bryce Hershner is just one of the most motivated guys I’ve ever worked for and worked with. It was like, “Hey come work with your friends.” I said, “Yeah.” I was also freelancing with some other companies but finally took the dive into the full-time job with LMG. I was there for almost 10 years. You got to watch the company grow. Then everything was done on a handshake and small-time, more boutique type of mentality.

Then as they grew things weren’t a handshake anymore. There was more paperwork involved and stuff like that. It’s a great company, and they’re growing in leaps and bounds for sure and doing amazing things. I think it got to certain point I just said, “You know what, I think I still like that small-time mentality.” The more stuff you get into where you’re just doing it because that’s just the way things are. You’re able to get away from that little bit and do your own thing. I think it was just time for me, but that’s great because I still get to work with those guys. They have great gear.

There’s a lot of companies that have great gear and now I’m also able to work with all different companies that have great gear and great guys. I’d say that’s a benefit.

Clem Harrod:
Sorry, as you were speaking about great gear with LMG, they have a lot things coming in and going out and a lot of changing equipment and staying abreast on technology. How do you as a freelancer or independent contractor stay abreast with gear changing and technology? Do you take classes or do you just learn on site? What do you do for that?

Steve Mitchell:
That’s one thing I want to get better at. It’s taken more time. You have to take more of a conscious effort to book your own flight to go to a class. Or to take that time out in your downtime in the summer to go do those classes and learn those things. Or going to a gig a day early because you know it’s in a city where one of the companies is. You’re able to go in their shop and check out their new consoles or whatever they are. It takes a lot more of a conscious effort to do that as opposed to when I was working for a company, they would just schedule a training. I lived close by to the shop and I would just be able to go in and check stuff out.

Now, granted there’s shops here too, here in Nashville so that I’ve been able to do that as well, but I need to make a more conscious effort to do it. It’s just downtime when you have a family you want to soak in all that downtime with your family. It’s hard to say, “Oh yeah I’ve got to go grow my brain” so to speak.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
Well, one of the things too and I actually want to jump back to that family stuff in a little bit. When I used to work at LMG I think one of the craziest parts when you work for a group that’s large, and has that many different events going all the time is you get this wide spectrum of roles. Not in the sense of like, “I’m an A1 or an A2. I’m a video director, a video engineer from show to show.” That certainly happens. It’s more of the gig and the size of the event or the show has such a wide range, right? You might be one week the A1 or for me directing some really massive arena show.

Then literally the next week you’re in the back of some breakout room doing a video screen control switch or something like that. [inaudible 00:16:04] Vintech and you’re just going between playback and graphics and whatever it is. Talk to me about that because for you when you entered into LMG or came out of Disney had you even done those sort of large arena level shows? What growth did you find in yourself during that period of time? Then since you went freelance what is your show of preference? What do you like to do more? Do you like to do big shows that are hard and complex or would you rather do smaller ones but hang with your friends in a really cool spot in Tahoe? The more niche events. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah. Well, let’s see I’ll start with I was doing some arena stuff, big stuff with Disney before I left. Then with some of the freelance companies I was working with as well, because I was able to moonlight and take time off and go do other stuff. Yeah, I was doing a lot of that stuff. There’s a lot of things there at LMG that made me grow as far as you had to be super responsible for making sure all the gear gets back. It’s not like it’s just going right down the road. It’s going in a tractor trailer and it’s going across the county. They held you responsible. Dealing with the unions.

I had a crazy story in Boston with the Teamsters. It’s was funny. I’m sure everybody’s got a story like that, but it’s challenging. There’s other parts about it that have no technical aspect to them but just really dealing with people. Making sure everybody is happy and that you’re able to just get the gear from one place to another and get the gig done. As far as …

Stephen Bowles:
Real quick, do you feel that at LMG or working for a company like that there was more of this manager part to the job as opposed to just being the lead audio guy? Really focusing on the rig and loading in and getting your stuff set up, getting your stuff set up. Do you feel like that was different than Disney and different than freelance?

Steve Mitchell mixing some live music

Steve Mitchell:
Different than Disney, not different than freelance. I definitely experience some of that freelance world. It’s still about dealing with the labor unions or the labor companies that are there, making sure and stuff. Yeah, it’s a lot of management. Speaking of which one of the things that I’ve always said to a lot of people it’s not … I think it goes with all your guys’ industry as well. Correct me if I’m wrong. A lot of what we do isn’t just the technical side of our shows. A lot of what we do is managing risk. It’s whether managing risk of a machine failing, a projector failing, a playback machine failing, a microphone failing.

It’s managing that risk because we all know how bad it goes if you don’t have something to back it up with. It’s definitely a shift in mentality. There’s a lot of guys who get caught up in the artistic side of it and they’re like, “Well this is what I do. I mix and that’s all I do and I want to make it sound the best.” It’s like, “Well that microphone is the best but you don’t have a backup to it that sounds just as good. You might have to dumb it down a little bit just to make sure that everything is covered.” To go back to another question you had as far as doing different things all the time. I found it was interesting.

You can get pigeonholed into certain seats. That can be hard because it makes you rusty in the other seats. I got pigeonholed doing more front of house stuff. I guess it came easier for me in dealing with a client and making stage managers feel good or comfortable. I tell you what, it made it hard to stay up on my chops as far as A2 work and stuff like that. I do enjoy the smaller shows because they pay the same and they’re a lot less headache.

Clem Harrod:
It’s a lot less risk to manage.

Steve Mitchell:
Right. When I was younger that was exciting. I’m going to put in this, I’m going to go into an arena and put this rig in and around. It’s going to be incredible and all that, but I tell you what after a while sometimes you get paid the same to do even a smaller gig too.

Clem Harrod:
I noticed for me sometimes I do the smaller shows and I enjoy doing the smaller shows, but sometimes it’s nice to get in there and do that arena show just to be like, “Yeah I still got it.”

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah. Well, yeah. Absolutely, because you wonder like, “Man, it’s been a while since I’ve been in an arena.” Exactly. Then you go back in the arena you’re like, “Okay. Yeah.” It’s like riding a bike. I saw that show you did Clem, that looked awesome. You were able to actually probably get a little more fulfillment out of …

Clem Harrod:
Oh definitely.

Steve Mitchell:
… the artistic side of it when you were able to do the projection stuff that you were doing. That’s cool. When you’re able to take advantage of that and feel good about that side of it that’s great, because there’s a lot of times where the artistic side gets sucked out of it with the corporate thing.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
One thing I learned too from that show was when you do bigger shows you get an opportunity to work with people who are on your same level too. Because just the demand, the project, the scale of it is so much larger than your smaller rooms where you might be by yourself and just have some stage hands helping you out. Where I was working on that arena show and the gentleman I was working with he was somewhat impresses by my ability to work and managing the tool set. As we were having our conversation I was impressed by his knowledge of the different lamps that the brands of projectors use.

His ability to understand the light temperature or the color temperature that each lamp produces. It was just like when you’re working around other techs on some of those larger scales, shows it’s just that opportunity to grow and the exchange of knowledge is beautiful.

 

 

Steve Mitchell working for MacklemoreSteve Mitchell:
Yeah, absolutely. To take it a step further I’ve learned working with different generations started up in my mind a little bit how to think about things. The younger generations, the millennial guys and stuff like that I think at first I’d get frustrated with how they would work and stuff like that. Then I started realizing, “Man, they just think about it differently than I do and there’s some things that are pretty cool how they think about this.” They’re still very skilled at what they do, it’s just they approach it a little bit different. Not to go too deep into that, but yeah I totally agree with you.

I love working with other people and being able to pick up on what they know and what they do. I learned something. If you’re not learning something then it gets boring, right?

Clem Harrod:
Right. Yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
Well, and I think that the reality of it is, is that once you get established in the industry enough people know about you. The right either production companies and rental houses know about you and they’re just booking you on gigs all the time. Then you’ve got your regular client list and they’re filling a good percentage of your book. That repetition game comes into play. I guess the question to you Steve or something to think about really for all three of us, but when you get bored and that’s what we’re talking about, how do you stretch yourself or how do you entertain yourself?

I think for me personally when I was directing cameras I actually got highly, just totally bored because every gig is the same. For me it was just another CEO or another VP of whatever up the stage and I’ve got to put a tight shot, a head to toe shot and a wide shot. Go around the bases and that’s pretty much the same thing every single time. For me whether it is an arena show or not that actually didn’t change too much what was going on in terms of what I had to do. It would be though when I had music or bands that’s fun.

Clem Harrod:
[crosstalk 00:24:50]

Steve Mitchell with his family

Stephen Bowles:
Right? For video in particular.

Clem Harrod:
Didn’t you do the Essence Music Festival once?

Stephen Bowles:
Heck yeah, I’ve done the Essence. Honestly the way I measure …

Clem Harrod:
Final Four.

Stephen Bowles:
Final Four. The way I measure a lot of my value in terms of dinner table conversation with my friends and my family is never around, “Oh my gosh, I shot the CEO of IBM the other day” or anything like that.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. No doubt.

Stephen Bowles:
It’s always, “I had Fall Out Boy or I had this Aerosmith or whatever.” To you Steve, and this is maybe even pressing a little sensitive button. Often from what I’ve seen that the A1 brought in to mix the corporate event doesn’t necessarily get to mix the rock and roll often. How have you navigated that? How much does that suck or not suck I guess is the question.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, it can be tough sometimes. Like I’ve joked, I say sometimes it sucks the soul out of you. There’s times I get to do a lot of that too. Then on my own I started mixing bands and stuff like that. Getting back into that off moonlighting so to speak and doing other things. It’s hard because we spend so much time working in the corporate industry. When you come home like I said with your family to say, “I want to go out and do this.” You know it’s not going to pay as well as the corporate stuff, and so that’s more time away but you know that it’s better for your soul. It’s better for you to branch out.

To go back to your original question of how do you stretch yourself and how do you do those things, it’s a lot of people are self-motivated. Steve you’ve branched out with Shoflo and things of that nature to keep things interesting. I remember I had a high school music director one time. I told him, “Man, I’m just bored with this. I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” That was in high school and he put it in perspective for me. He had been a music director for 40 years. 30 years, something like that. He said, “Do you think at one point in time I didn’t get bored in that 30 years with what I was doing?”

Even though he was a high school music’s director he was known throughout the country as one of the best. I think every time he got bored he said, “It’s on me to figure out how to challenge myself, to figure out a new way to grow myself.” He says, “Nobody else is going to do that for you.” If you’re not doing it for yourself and if you’re not stretching yourself and challenging yourself and figuring out how to make it not boring anymore then you’re cutting your legs off. You’re really selling yourself short.” That stuck with me ever since high school. I’ve never forgotten that. Teachers have a lot of influence over kids in the things they say.

That really stuck with me and he helped me out throughout my early stages of doing audio and stuff, of how to motivate and get busy and get on it and don’t slack and stay motivated. I give a lot of credit to him. Anyway, yeah it makes it tough. You have to do it. You have to whether you do less or have a little less money. Do a little less corporate to push yourself to do some of these other projects that you want to do. I think it’s well worth keeping your longevity in the business or surviving in the business. The definition of making it in the business is making a living doing what you love to do.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, in another way thinking about that monotony and how not to be bored I’ve thought about that myself and tried to figure out how … That’s one of the reasons why I left my career shooting sports. I shot Magic Games for 15 seasons but I was just getting bored with it. I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled in that. One thing that I’ve started to do is when we’re out on these shows and when we’re gone from our family I’m trying to take time to get to know the people that I’m working with more. Stop having that surface relationship.

Steve Mitchell:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
Let’s get deep. Tell me about your background. How did you get here? The whole purpose of the Production Channel in a way for us to reach out and try to get to know each other better. Understand the struggles that we go through in this industry and how we can support one another. How can we help each other to have that work-like balance, or to push through a challenging situation and not get stressed out and to feel that sense of fulfillment? I started a Facebook group for video projectionist just so that we can have somewhere to go to support one another, help each other.

When we’re trying to figure out a new piece of gear we might be stuck or even the classes that I’m beginning to start teaching, projection 101. Just to help that next generation come up and have a sense of, “I’m doing it but I don’t know why I’m doing it but it seems to work out at the end.” You know, but it’s just …

Steve Mitchell:
No, it’s super awesome. I think it’s so smart. You know what the younger generation coming up wanting to do this stuff they’ve got to be so thankful, because a lot of us didn’t have a lot of that.

Clem Harrod:
Right. Exactly.

Steve Mitchell:
Good on you for that. That’s just amazing. I think yeah, that sense of community it is a small industry relatively speaking, right? I think if we’re all taking care of one another it’s a good thing. There’s some unwritten rules. There’s some respect on people’s clientele and things of that nature that is always important. If you don’t show the younger the generation the benefits of that and the unwritten rules how else are they going to know it, right? How else are they going to appreciate it?

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Steve Mitchell:
I think it’s awesome. It’s definitely a smart thing to do. Also like you said, a little more fulfillment as far as when it comes to people and not just this technical side we do.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. If you invest in people you’ll be a lot more wealthier than investing in gear.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah. I’m going to put it in perspective. I’ve had other friends that work desk jobs and they say, “Oh man, I wish my job was as cool as your job.” I hear that. I’m sure you guys hear that sometimes too. I’ve said and I can’t take credit for this quote. Actually I’ve got to give Kevin Bridges credit for this quote. He said, “I don’t want it to say on tombstone here lies the greatest audio guy ever.” That puts in perspective sometimes it’s what you do to make a living and pay for your family and your kids, because ultimately it’s a job. It’s important no doubt about it, but it’s a job. Family and people are more important and friends are more important at the end of the day than just what we do for a living, right?

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. Definitely.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s cool man. Tell us a little bit about just Steve Mitchell. Where you’re based at, talk to us a little bit about your family. You just mentioned you have a little girl. How’s the whole work-life world? How do you make all that work?

Steve Mitchell's family

Steve Mitchell:
Well, thankfully I’ve got to say I have a very, very understanding wide that that’s a blessing all on itself, is having somebody with you that understands and is okay with the business and being travelling and stuff like that. From the outsider perspective looking in it looks like we’re gone all the time, but that’s not always the case. There’s times where we’re home for a month at a time or a couple of weeks at a time. That’s quality time like when I’m home, home. We’re doing whatever my daughter wants to do, whatever my family wants to do. We’re trying to take advantage of that time.

It might not be technically in the vacation season but we may go take a vacation on a week here or there. To answer where we’re at we’re just outside of Nashville, Hendersonville, Galeton area. Since we’ve moved here things are a little more slower paced than Orlando. We were living in Orlando for 15 years. Schools are a little bit smaller and things of that nature, and I think it just fits my wife’s lifestyle and mine as well. It’s just a little more laid back. A little less fast-paced, because we’re always working in cities that are fast-paced anyway so.

Clem Harrod:
It allows you to downshift when you get home.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, exactly. We’re able to see some wildlife outside and stuff like that, and that’s fun. Exactly, just roll it back a few notches and so it works out.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s a common thing you hear where our industry we’re travelling to Vegas, right? Whatever, eight times a year or to Manhattan or to Orlando. Then we’re coming home to these quieter smaller places. I think people like friends of ours that are in Montana.

Steve Mitchell:
Right.

Stephen Bowles:
Or Tommy who used to have a cabin up in North Carolina. I think he’s in Georgia. Point being that whole approach of I go to the busy to go work but then I retreat to the quiet and to my home and to my family. I think that’s fascinating. Anytime I think about some of these production companies like the agency ones in New York City, the idea of chaos in the city or the business of that even in your office. Then you’re going to the show or it’s another type of busy frantic chaos. Then when you come home you’re still coming home but you’re going to the office and working inside this … a place.

Again, we need those production companies to exist because those are the ones who book the gigs and then we get to [inaudible 00:35:34] on them. Particularly on this call the three of us where it’s more of either show operators or vendors we don’t have to do that, right? We get to just go and then be off and then go and then be off. Which is that is I think one of the more beautiful parts of this industry to an extent we’re almost like performers or talent where you’re on and then you’re off.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah.

Steve working for Daughtry

Stephen Bowles:
In a nutshell say that we juggle balls and then we come back, but it is to an extent. We have these on periods and then we have off. We were doing a call with Richard Dunn and I’m sure this applies to you too Steve, where when you’re home even though you’re off you still are on.

Steve Mitchell:
Sure, yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
You’re emailing or you’re doing conference calls, things like that. The on in relation to I’m a producer on staff at the production company. When I come home I actually go back to the office where there’s 50 people doing conference meetings all the time, and preparing for the next 20 gigs this year. It’s just a very different type of off. Does that make sense?

Steve Mitchell:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Steve Mitchell:
I’m still working on drawings and paperwork and stuff like that for my next gig, but I can pick and choose when I want to do that. When my daughter goes to bed and I can take advantage of that time at night. During the day I can spend all the time with her. We’ve found a way to balance it and my wife thankfully is very accepting of it. She’s been so great about it. She’s very familiar with the business, so when you find somebody else who’s okay with it you can make it work, you know?

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Steve, does your wife work?

Steve Mitchell:
She did for a long, long time when we were in Orlando. Since we’ve moved to Nashville we just haven’t had a chance to get to know as many businesses and stuff like that so she hasn’t been working. She’s been at home, but it’s been great. It’s been a blessing for our daughter because she’s able to concentrate more on helping her with school and stuff like that. We’ve watched her really just thrive on it. She’s just eating it up. It seems like a good time of her to be doing that right now. She misses working and she misses being a career woman but she also loves this too. I always tell her it’s up to her.

Whatever she wants to do I’m fine with it, but I think we both know that our daughter is just eating it up right now that she’s home so.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s cool. Well, hey Steve so just kind of a fun last one, do you have any good war stories or anything like that? Rig fell out of the sky or a CEO’s mic dropped out? Do you have to any go-to war stories?

Steve Mitchell:
Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to pick one.

Stephen Bowles:
There’s too many.

Steve Mitchell:
I guess if I go back far enough then we’re not legally bound to anything, any kind of trouble.

Stephen Bowles:
The statute of limitations.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, there’s some kind of statute of limitation. If I go back to Disney days or something like that I think I’ll tell a story about that. We talked about IBM, it was a high exec of IBM and they wanted to do this big … what they called a magic mirror reveal. It’s funny, if anybody listens to this they’re going to be like, “Don’t tell that story.” There was this technician that their job was to pull the magic mirror and there was this flash pot that was supposed to go off. Then that technician was supposed to tell them, “Okay, now it’s okay to step through this magic mirror.”

Then once they stepped through and the smoke cleared the mirror would be closed and magically he appears, right? They were always about this gimmicky stuff, Disney. They were all about it. The problem was is I think they were a little understaffed, and so the technician in order to just pull this big sliding mirror it was all they could do. They had to muscle into it. The cue came, they heard it on the headset and they pulled the mirror. Then he went back to tell the CEO or executive when to walk forward, the CEO walked forward as soon as the mirror moved. Nonetheless, he walked right through a flash pot and singed this knot out of his suit.

Stephen Bowles:
Oh no.

Steve Mitchell:
His eyebrows, everything, right?

Stephen Bowles:
Oh my gosh.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, within minutes they had suits from all over, probably the legal team probably flew in from California or something like that really fast to, “Please don’t sue us.”

Stephen Bowles:
Oh my goodness.

Steve Mitchell:
It was funny. Thankfully the guy he was okay and he had a really good sense of humor about it. The next day when he came out on stage he brought a fire extinguisher with him and set it down next to the podium. I was like, “That guy is a good sport.” Of course he’s probably got lifelong Disney tickets from here on out but …

Stephen Bowles:
Right.

Steve Mitchell:
Anyway.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s a good one.

Steve Mitchell:
That has nothing to do with audio either.

Stephen Bowles:
Most of them though that’s the funny thing.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, it was like, “Not my department.”

Stephen Bowles:
Right.

Steve Mitchell:
Exactly.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s cool man. Well, Steve I really appreciate you joining us today man. This was awesome.

Set up while giggin

Steve Mitchell:
No, I appreciate it. It’s an honor to talk to you guys. I love seeing you guys and working with you guys, and I’m sure I’ll see Clem here before too long.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s right.

Steve Mitchell:
Hopefully I come back in Orlando I’ll visit you in your office there Steve.

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah, you should. I know I don’t get to gig as much anymore but hey I get to go to a normal nine to five job, only it’s way more fun and interesting so.

Steve Mitchell:
Yeah, that’s cool man. You’ve got a great gig man. I love it. Well, thank you guys very much for having me. I appreciate it.

Steve Mitchell's set up

Stephen Bowles:
Yeah, thanks Steve. Well, hey again you guys have been listening to the Production Channel. This is the kind of stuff you get. This is real stories from real people around our industry. We really just appreciate you today Steve. For everybody else out there if you have a great idea or a great war story or something you want to share, please do reach out to Clem or I. We’d love to get you on here. With that said we’ll catch you guys next week on the Production Channel.

Clem Harrod:
Chatter.


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