photo: Kristy Jo Haima
Southern California-based punk/pop quartet Sugarcult kicked off its Take Action tour in early February before moving on to a series of Japanese dates with Green Day in mid-March. Front-of-house mixer Scott Ralston describes himself as simply a “sound engineer,” as he divides his time between live gigs and studio work with bands 311 and Shuvel. Mix caught up with Ralston as he was setting up for a Sugarcult show at The Quest in Minneapolis on March 2, 2005.
What's your approach to live mixing?
I try to bring the studio aspect into the live world, and tuning the room is probably the most important factor in live sound. I play a DAT of dry, raw drum tracks that we made in the studio to tune the house. I've found that if you can get the drums sounding good, then everything else falls into place.
How much gear are you carrying on this tour?
We're hardly carrying anything. I do have some dbx 166 compressors and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer and two old [DeltaLab] Effectron analog delays that I'm absolutely in love with. And we carry our own mics — the Sennheiser e935s sound really good on vocals, and we're using the 900 Series instrument mics. We're also carrying in-ear monitors. It's helpful to have at least a few things that are consistent. But every day, it's a new console, new speakers, new everything — it's kind of like mixing without a net.
What do you like to do when you're not on the road?
After four years out with 311, I couldn't be stationary anymore, so I bought a motorhome, put a Pro Tools rig in it and spent time visiting every beach on the West Coast. Lately, I've been producing a new album for Shuvel. I'm also obsessed with disc golf, which — believe it or not — has become a real sport.