When Paul McCartney goes on the road, it’s never just a tour — it’s an event. His recent U.S. dates wrapped up in late November after 36 shows in the States and Canada. Mix caught up with McCartney’s longtime monitor engineer, John Roden, when he was handling the two final dates at the Staples Center in L.A.
What are some favorite artists with whom you’ve worked in the past?
The Stranglers (the fun), Annie Lennox (the music), Michael Jackson (the mix), AC/DC (the volume) and Paul McCartney (the challenge).
After 16 years of working with Sir Paul, is there a “routine” day?
No. The basic format of the band and the instruments Paul plays hasn’t changed in years. Every McCartney tour presents its own set of audio challenges, but the fun is rising above them. The stage — comprising a horizontal video wall — caused us a few problems, mainly due to the amount of RF that is generated. Also, the design of the stage is a half-pipe that rises at the rear of the stage. This tends to fling the high end out toward the vocal mics and the FOH position, causing a few problems for [house mixer Pab Boothroyd].
Do you prefer to mix wedges or in-ears?
I have no preference — both have their upsides and downsides — but given a choice, I prefer the traditional way.
Any advice for monitor engineers, particularly those just starting out?
Find another career, unless you feel very passionate about onstage sound. Mixing monitors usually ends in tears and more often than not is a thankless task.
What are some of your favorite venues?
I haven’t got any. They all have their downsides, even the good ones.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not on the road?
Being with my children and partner and hiding out from them in my shed.