We've found another worthy subject for the Audio Pro InternationalRising Stars section, our regular focus on the best young industry talent from around the world.
Michael Fitzsimons is an audio engineer from Sunderland, UK, currently mixing FOH for English alternative rock band Dinosaur Pile Up. Here, he explains how he went from doing small jobs with local rental companies to working with bands supporting the likes of Bon Jovi and Red Hot Chili Peppers...
Where did you study?
I studied Live Music and Touring Production at Newcastle Performing Arts Academy, although the course was actually ran by Leeds Metropolitan University. This was a foundation degree, which i followed up with a BA in Music Enterprise before moving to Huddersfield to start my first job at Innovation Productions as head of audio.
Where are you based?
When I'm not in a Splitter van or tour bus i mostly reside in Sunderland!
What made you decide to pursue a career in audio?
Good Question. I did my high school work placement at a recording studio aged 15, and i just fell in love with the place. Whilst i was at college i started working for a couple of local hire firms as a patch/stage technician, as all of the studios were impossible to get into.
I'd see FOH guys come through with some of my favourite bands, and I would think 'that should be me'. I actually now work for one of them so maybe I'm doing something right.
How are you enjoying your current FOH role with Dinosaur Pile Up? Do the job's requirements differ a lot from what you're used to?
They're certainly the heaviest of the artists i work for, so i do a couple of things differently. First off i use triggers to open/close the gates on the toms because the stage levels with these guys are pretty loud and we were getting a lot of bleed through the tom mics. For smaller shows in particular i use Radial JDXs on the guitar channels to tighten up the FOH mix. The guys are on IEMs too, so using the Radials creates less bleed in their IEM mix.
Tell us about your experiences working at stadium shows with the likes of Bon Jovi and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Are they the achievements you're most proud of so far?
I think that they probably are, although there have been some festival shows I've done recently which are up there, Hyde Park being the most recent.
Im really fortunate to work with a band like the Futureheads, who supported these absolute giants! To have shows of this level under my belt at 24 is great and it gives me an excellent platform to build on.
Which console are you currently using, and what is your opinion on it?
For me, the Digidesign profile is the one. Wherever possible i like to use it. I like the flexibility of the racks and the ability to use third party plug-ins is great. The built in stuff is brilliant, too – SMACK! and D-Verb are top quality, man! Its kind of became a bit horses for courses really though, because the Vis, PROs and Digicos all sound great. I guess its down to user interface for a lot of guys now.
Do you use any outboard FX/EQ? If so, what are they used on and why?
I do like to use a dynamic EQ, I think the BSS DPR901 sounds great on vocals, and I'm no stranger to the SPL stuff – the frontliner is amazing.
What is your favourite ever piece of audio equipment?
Tough one! Think its got to be the Midas Heritage 3000.
Which band/artist would you most like to work with and why?
Muse. I'm a big fan of the band, and they sound absolutely phenomenal live. Marc Carolan would leave some shoes to fill if they ever did ring me!
To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Pro International editor Adam Savage on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)1992 535646.
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