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Vintage Trouble: a club tour with a twist

Vintage Trouble are a promising band that hail from Los Angeles and have just completed a UK club tour a little different from the norm. Paul Watson speaks to their tour manager and FOH engineer Pete Freeman to find out all the details...

L.A band Vintage Trouble have been making waves in the US for some time now, and recently hopped across the pond to have a crack at the UK club circuit. They are tour managed by Pete Freeman, who is also their FOH engineer. PSNE spoke to Freeman six months ago about his work with Gibson; now Paul Watson finds out from him what it’s like looking after a band on the road that play to a couple of hundred people – oh, and then another 50,000 – on the same night… How did you get involved with the band? PF: I got the gig through the management company – they asked me to do the show, and that’s it really; it’s all connected to Gibson. So, you’re back on the road again? But you’re no stranger to that, or tour managing, come to think of it… Yeah that’s right, I’ve had a lot of tour management experience and of course FOH has been my mainstay for a long time now. This tour’s been sporadic for the last six months, and the band is now planning to come back to the UK for another stint in October. Do you find being a TM brings more stress to the FOH role? Yeah, a little, but once you get things organised and everyone knowing what they’re expected to do, it becomes easy enough to handle. It’s also quite good fun at times – slotting everything into place as well as playing behind a mixing console! [Laughs] Talking of consoles, what are you using on the tour? I’ve got a Soundcraft Si Compact for the smaller shows; and we’re also running four sets of IEMs as well. Most of the time it’s just so easy to slot it in at a venue. It’s the right size, and people always have space for it, and of course it’s also not very heavy either. You have an Si3 down at Gibson, so I guess that helped you make your decision? Yeah, and a Vi1 now, actually. That’s also compact, but not as compact as the Si Compact [Laughs]. At the moment, we might have a tiny 150-capacity room to play one night, and then suddenly we find ourselves on stage with Bon Jovi playing to 50,000 people! That’s bizarre. It happened in Dublin; we played the huge stadium show and then a tiny club on the same night. That must keep you all grounded! [Laughs] Very much so, and when they play the smaller clubs, they play for at least two hours, so it can be a long day – and night! It keeps me on my toes too; and I find that the equipment that is inside these 3-400-capacity venues, which is for most part the kind of venue we’re playing, is just not very good, so I like to at least have a desk that I can trust. It helps. 
So no Si Compact on stage at the stadium then…? No – although I’d like to try it! We worked from a Yamaha PM5D at the stadiums shows. We played Dublin, Edinburgh, Bristol, Hard Rock Calling and Old Trafford Cricket Ground with Bon Jovi – it was an amazing experience for the band. It must be odd switching from a huge venue, to a small one, to a tiny one… all in a matter of days…?! It is a bit bizarre, yeah. You have different things to worry about: on the bigger shows you’re worried about keeping the noise police happy, and at the smaller ones it’s a case of fighting to get the sound balanced with a tiny little PA and keeping the vocals above the noise of the room. You cover the whole spectrum, that’s for sure! Do you use the same kit all the time? We’re not touring a PA yet, but microphone-wise, yes. I mostly use Sennheiser; and I have a Neumann KM 105 on the lead vocal, then 935s on BVs, a 901 on the kick, and 606s on guitars, plus some 604s on the toms – they do a good job. Sometimes set-ups vary for smaller shows as you’re often working with such a condensed channel list though. So you’re not at Gibson so much – for the time being, anyway? Not as much, but we have engineers to cover there, and a great working relationship with them; we do some sponsorship with Gibson, and other than the console, it’s my gear in the studio that sits there. Sounds like you’re having a great time of it… Yep – we’re having a lot of fun at the moment.