Live Sound

On the Road

Jonathan Byrd Washington-based band Death Cab for Cutie (DCFC) has a reputation for melancholic, reflective lyrics, doing their best to dodge being labeled 10/01/2004 8:00 AM Eastern
Jonathan Byrd

Washington-based band Death Cab for Cutie (DCFC) has a reputation for melancholic, reflective lyrics, doing their best to dodge being labeled indie rockers. We checked in with front-of-house engineer Jonathan Byrd.

What challenges do you face with the band?

This summer, we've been doing festival shows and one-offs, so it's been rental backlines and minimal or no soundchecks at outdoor venues with eight other bands.

What do you try to bring to the show?

I try to make what I'm doing unnoticeable to the audience. I like things clean, well proportioned and not too loud. I want to eliminate the impression that there is a big P.A. up there. And if all of that is too much to ask, I just make sure that everyone can hear Ben [Gibbard, also guitarist] sing.

Any interesting pieces of gear that you can't live without on tour?

I'm a big fan of Audix OM7s and the RNC compressor. I've got a great idea for mounting four of them in an ammo case like the Daking or API Lunchboxes.

Do you have any favorite venues?

I'll go ahead and represent my hometown: the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. I saw my first rock shows there and spent many years working there before I started touring, so I've got a pretty good handle on the room. The Showbox in Seattle is my home away from home, and the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta is a favorite because of the great crew.

What do you like to do when you're off the road?

Music and audio occupy almost all of my time. I'm learning how to be a studio engineer so that I have at least one other marketable skill. I play music, repair equipment, go to shows. Oh, and I go to the farmers' market every chance I get. Support your local growers!