Jesse Malin to hit the Web tomorrow LIVE from TRI Studios

Live Webcast This Wednesday + West Coast Tour Dates!
Details on tonight @BobWeir @TRI_Studios thanks to @RelixMag!
Latest TweetsSound check for the @TRI_Studios broadcast tonight (6:30pmPST / 9:30pmEST)…sounding great!
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Jesse has landed in California and is getting ready to hit the web tomorrow LIVE from TRI Studios! Join us for a…

Live Webcast This Wednesday + West Coast Tour Dates!

Mercury Retrograde – Live In New York City
Jesse Malin

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Singer/songwriter Jesse Malin was the face of the glam/hard rock band D Generation for eight years, following the dissolution of Heart Attack, the hardcore punk act he fronted as a teenager in the ’80s. They weren’t a metal band, but critics quickly dismissed D Generation as Johnny Thunders copycats. Their teased hair and glossy wardrobe were just a part of the act, but substance and song structure were there. As one of New York City’s more talented acts of the 1990s, the band released three albums before disbanding in April 1999. Malin, who’s a punk with a soft heart, didn’t stop writing music. His love for Neil Young, Tom Waits, and Steve Earle affected his work; he spent the next two years working on a fresh, countrified sound.

Ex-Whiskeytown frontman Ryan Adams, who’d been a friend of Malin since the D Generation days, was impressed with Malin’s new approach. Adams offered to produce Malin’s debut album even though he’d never produced a record. The two headed into Lo-Ho Studios in New York in January 2001 and made an album in just six days. A deal with Artemis soon followed. The Fine Art of Self Destruction appeared in the U.K. in October 2002; first single “Queen of the Underworld” was a moderate hit and the British press quickly hailed Malin’s debut as one of the year’s best. Stateside fans finally got their hands on The Fine Art of Self Destruction in January 2003. Road dates followed, both in America and the U.K. Malin contributed a version of “Hungry Heart” to the benefit album Light of Day: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen; he also picked up a nomination for the Shortlist Music Prize. By November he was back in the studio, laying down tracks for Self Destruction’s follow-up. The Heat appeared in June 2004, accompanied by a string of tour dates on both sides of the pond.

Malin’s third album was recorded in Los Angeles during the summer/fall of 2006, which marked his first time making a record outside of New York (or even above 14th Street) during his career. Featuring guest spots by Bruce Springsteen and Jakob Dylan, among others, Glitter in the Gutter eventually surfaced in March 2007 via Billie Joe Armstrong’s Adeline Records label. Malin spent most the year on the road with his backing band, the Heat. That group released Mercury Retrograde in 2008, which was recorded live in New York City. The same year Malin followed up with the One Little Indian release On Your Sleeve, a gusty set of covers that featured imaginative readings of songs by the Bad Brains, the Rolling Stones, Fred Neil, Paul Simon, and others. In 2009 he founded a new band called St. Mark’s Social, which released Love It to Life in 2010 on the Side One Dummy label.

Q&A: Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe on Imprisonment and Freedom

‘If I’m called to return to Prague, I will’

Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. Rex / Rex USA

By Rolling Stone
August 10, 2012

When Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe arrived at the Prague Ruzyně Airport on June 27th, what should have been an exciting time – the group was to play the Czech Republic for the first time in two years the next night – quickly took a nightmarish turn. Blythe was immediately arrested by Czech police due to a 2010 concert incident that resulted in a fan’s death.

From June 27th through August 2nd, Blythe was held in Pankrác Prison. Although his initial bail was met, he was not immediately set free, leading to questions being asked beyond just Lamb of God fans about the U.S. government’s efforts (or lack thereof) to aid American citizens arrested abroad. Now back home in Virginia, Blythe discussed his recent experiences, and also the thought of having to return to the Czech Republic to stand trial.

Did you have any memories of the incident at that show in 2010?
There were a lot of people on stage. There’s a lot of questions as to what happened with this young man – that’s all still to come out in trial.

What do you remember about the day you were arrested?
I walked off the plane, and coming up the middle of the ramp there was a woman with some sort of badge around her neck, and she was taking people’s passports. We gave her our passports, and they directed us to the right while other people were going to the left. I walked in, and there were four or five large men with masks, machine guns, knives – the full-on SWAT team. They looked like they were there to apprehend a terrorist. And three large plainclothes officers. I remember looking at my bass player, and I started singing some Kool & the Gang to him – “There’s a party going on right here.” My bass player looked and me, and was [like], “Nooo, this is not a party right here. This is not good.”

This woman comes up and says, “Mr. Blythe,” and she handed me this piece of paper, stating that I was to be charged with manslaughter due to an incident that had occurred at the concert two years earlier. I quickly looked through my carry-on bag to grab my cell phone, a notebook, and a couple of extra packs of cigarettes – but I could only find one – and then they took me away.

Did the Czech government try and contact you prior to the arrest?
The Czech authority sent a letter to the Justice Department, and our government told them basically where they can get off. They said, “No, we won’t cooperate.” I don’t know if the American government thought there was not enough basis for them to pursue an investigation. Regardless, what I’m a little bit steamed about is the fact that they didn’t have the courtesy to contact me – in any way, shape or form – and say, “Hey, you’re wanted for manslaughter in a foreign country.”

Do you feel the U.S. government should have gotten involved in getting you released?
That’s a sticky question, because the Czech legal system is different, and from what I understand, I was given due process. I was not imprisoned in America. That was the first thing that I had to realize and keep in mind – “We’re playing by different rules here.” I certainly would have appreciated a little bit more concern on my part. I saw one person from the [U.S.] Embassy. One. And they didn’t really do much for me. They were just like, “Are they torturing you?” “No.” “OK, goodbye.” I didn’t hear anything from them.

What was a typical day like in Pankrác Prison?
Except for Saturday or Sunday, when you get to sleep in until 7, I’d wake up at 6 o’clock, make my bed, brush my teeth, drop and do some push-ups, meditate some and then talk with my cell mates until breakfast arrived. Ate some breakfast, which is just bread and some sort of meat spread or cheese. One time they had this cheese from Moravia, and it smelled like the bottom of a dumpster in an alleyway on a hot August day.

I’d divide my day into serious reading and writing, and relaxing reading. After breakfast I would start serious reading. At 10:30, they would bring us hot water for instant coffee, then read until lunch. Lunch is the big meal of the day in the Czech prison – it was always soup accompanied by stew. Not exactly the finest of cuisines, but it will keep you alive.

I’d work out with my cellmates after lunch – push-ups, knee bends, and we lifted our metal stools as dumbbells. Probably around 1 o’clock, we’d go outside to walk in the yard, and I would talk to whoever was there that spoke a smattering of English. We’d come back, and for about an hour, I would teach my roommates English – I had two Mongolian cellmates. It’s really hard to be in prison and not be able to talk to anyone.

Then we’d have more hot water for coffee, and then I’d write. I wrote from about 2:30 until dinner – letters, poetry, lyrics for songs. I wrote a song for my friend Hank Williams III – I’ve been wanting to write a song for him for years, and what better place to do it than prison? I started the outline of a novel set in Pankrác, and a journal, because I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of book out of this experience.

Then dinner would come, and that was a single bowl of some sort of stew. I got really sick of stew by the end of it. Then after dinner, I would write some more. Lights were out at 9, so by 8 o’clock, I tried to stop writing and reading serious stuff and let the brain take a break and read something light. At 9 o’clock, lights out.

I’d lay in my bed, and people around me in the cells would start yelling across the yard. There was a couple of Vietnamese guys who loved to yell, and some Ukranian guys. And they would yell back and forth for about an hour. When I was arrested, luckily I had some earplugs, so I shoved them in every night. Then I’d blow my wife a kiss goodnight into the air and listen to the Ukranians and the Vietnamese yell.

I understand it was touch-and-go when you finally got released.
I remember sitting at the gate and really sweating it pretty hard, until the plane was in the air. I left the country entirely legally – I had my passport – but I was kind of fleeing the country at the same time. Because if the prosecutor had found out that I was out and had time, he could have requested my incarceration on some different grounds. I just sat at the terminal and was texting my friend, London May, from Samhain, and was just like, “Keep your fingers crossed – I’m leaving!” And [then] I was in the air.

Some of heavy metal’s top names supported you.
It’s pretty humbling for me to see this level of support. I knew my good friends in the music industry would stand by me, but a bunch of legends really spoke up for me. Ozzy and Sharon wrote a letter to the judge. It’s really overwhelming, because to think someone like Ozzy Osbourne, who was in Black Sabbath, which is kind of the reason why I have a job today, even knows that I exist – much less say something on my behalf – is extremely humbling.

Any idea when the trial is supposed to begin?
That’s still being set up. We’ve heard tentatively sometime in December.

Is there a chance it can be settled out of court?
There is a chance of that. It’s not definite. The Czech legal system works differently. From what I understand, the police have charged me, but the prosecuting attorney hasn’t yet. There’s different stages to being charged, just like there’s different stages of bail. From what I understand, it could get settled out of court, but I doubt it will, especially with the kind of intensity that the prosecuting attorney pursued my continual incarceration with. If I’m called to return to Prague, I will.

Do you have any trepidation about going back to the Czech Republic and standing trial?
They want to give me five to 10 years, so naturally, there’s some trepidation. But the way I feel about possibly going to prison for five to 10 years really has nothing to do with the fact of the matter that it’s the right thing for me to do. It’s the right thing for me to do and stand trial if called – if only from the ethical viewpoint that this young man’s family is sitting there with a lot of questions still.


Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe criticises US government for failing to warn him of arrest

Singer lashes out at the Justice Department for not informing him about manslaughter charges

Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe

August 12, 2012
By Rolling Stone

Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe has criticized the US government for failing to warn him that he would face arrest in the Czech Republic for alleged manslaughter.

The singer was originally arrested on June 27 at Prague airport over an incident that took place on May 24, 2010 at the band’s show at Club Abaton in Prague. He then spent 38 days behind bars before being released on August 3.

According to reports, a fan jumped up onstage where a tussle ensued in which the fan, known only as Daniel N, was injured. The victim, who fell from the stage and hit his head on the venue’s concrete floor, later died, reportedly as a result of those injuries.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Blythe lashed out at the US Justice Department for not warning him about entering the Czech Republic and of the manslaughter charge.

He said: “The Czech authority sent a letter to the Justice Department, and our government told them basically where they can get off. They said, ‘No, we won’t cooperate’. I don’t know if the American government thought there was not enough basis for them to pursue an investigation.

“Regardless, what I’m a little bit steamed about is the fact that they didn’t have the courtesy to contact me – in any way, shape or form – and say, ‘Hey, you’re wanted for manslaughter in a foreign country’.”

The singer also feels aggrieved that more wasn’t done to help him while he was in prison, saying: “I certainly would have appreciated a little bit more concern on my part. I saw one person from the US Embassy. One. And they didn’t really do much for me. They were just like, ‘Are they torturing you?’ ‘No’. ‘OK, goodbye’. I didn’t hear anything from them.”

Blythe faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Lamb Of God have been forced to cancel the rest of their tour as a result of Blythe’s arrest.


How rock concerts work – Tech Hive

Mark Sullivan
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How rock concerts work

Chances are, you’ll find yourself at some kind of big-venue music show this summer, whether it’s Radiohead at an outdoor festival or Fiona Apple at an intimate, medium-sized music hall. We’ve all been there. We expect to be dazzled (or dizzied, or blinded) by the light show, and rumbled deep in our guts by the subwoofers.

The people who produce rock concerts are always looking for new ways to thrill and surprise us, and they’re increasingly turning to technology to do it. Here’s how some of the major components of the “big show” work.

The mixing engineer: the real star

To you and me, the star of the show is usually the singer onstage, but the most important person at a rock show is really the sound engineer who mixes the live audio. As former house big-concert mixing engineer Jon Graves tells me, the mixing engineer makes very good money, gets some star treatment on tour, often has a bit of an ego, and tends to bark orders to the other engineers and techs around him.

Graves, who now works as a concert applications specialist for the PA speaker company QSC, had such a role for ages. He toured with Metallica and Guns N’ Roses (among many other major acts), and mixed the sound at the Us Festival in the ’80s. Graves says that if the mixing engineer has a bad night, “everybody has a bad night.”

The mixing engineer is the guy who sits at a small booth “at the front of the house” (facing the middle of the stage from the floor in the center of the venue) in front of the huge mixing board. He controls and mixes all of the sounds coming from the stage—every piece of sound-creating equipment onstage and in the production booth runs through the main board, which is often big enough to handle more than 100 tracks.

At the mixing board, the engineer has all the instruments laid out on separate tracks. The 12 microphones placed around the drum kit, for instance, might use tracks 1 through 12 on the mixing board. Once all the instruments are mapped to a track, the engineer can then meticulously mix a live sound that is perfect for the venue.

The monitor mix

But that’s just the mix that the audience hears. The musicians on the stage need a completely different mix so that they can hear their own sounds in the context of the sounds that their fellow musicians are making. Creating such a mix is a big job, so a separate engineer with a dedicated (monitor) mixing board is installed at the side of the stage.

A pair of Shure in-ear monitors.

Graves tells me that the onstage monitor mix used to issue from a set of wedge-shaped speakers on the stage, pointed up at the musicians. But these days, many performers wear wireless in-ear monitors, which present their own challenges for the engineer. The monitor engineer, Graves explains, can be required to create as many as 15 different stereo mixes—complete with effects—to match the monitoring taste of each individual musician.

The usual scenario is that some of the musicians will prefer a stage monitor mix, while others will prefer an in-ear headphone mix, and still others will prefer a mix combining both.

Backing tracks are commonplace

Take the case of Sleigh Bells, the Brooklyn-based two-person act that appeared on Saturday Night Live recently. Sleigh Bells has no drummer or bass player—just a female vocalist (Alexis Krauss) and a single guitarist (Derek Miller). The backing vocal parts, beats, bass, synth patches, and samples in the live set are all preprogrammed in a digital audio workstation (DAW) software product called Ableton Live.

An arrangement in Ableton Live.

Miller writes and records many of the beats and guitar loops on a laptop running Ableton Live, and Krauss performs the backing tracks and vocal loops that crop up in many Sleigh Bells songs. For live shows, an offstage engineer plays the backing tracks on a computer running Ableton Live. Krauss and Miller prefer not to wear in-ear monitors onstage, relying on (very loud) onstage monitors to hear the mix. 

Many musicians, especially drummers, must wear in-ear monitors that play the backing tracks. The drummer, in fact, is sometimes the person who decides when the next backing-tracks “song” will start. At Sleigh Bells shows, an engineer at the side of the stage watches the show closely and starts the song in Ableton Live at the correct moment. But some other musicians can start the tracks from the stage using a foot pedal that triggers the audio software.

Laptops on the stage

In Sleigh Bells’ case, the backing tracks are run from offstage, but more and more musicians are hauling their laptops onstage to do all kinds of things. Many keyboardists run Logic or Ableton on their laptops, and trigger patches from the software libraries using a MIDI controller (a keyboard that generates no sound of its own but instead triggers sounds in other devices).

Other musicians hate using laptops onstage (I’m one of them), preferring to trigger sounds from physical MIDI keyboard modules. The advantage of using DAW samples is that the library of sounds is much more easily expanded.

Public address

The speakers used in rock shows have changed significantly over the years, and concert sound has gotten a lot better. Concert engineers used to stack loads of large speakers on top of one another to get the volume they needed. But the sound that all those speakers created was not unified, so the music could turn out radically different in various spots around the hall.

Without a sound system, you don’t have much of a rock concert.

At most medium to large shows you attend these days, you’re likely to see a big vertical bank of speakers hanging high up on each side of the stage. This is called a line array. Each of the identical PA speakers in the line array contains high-, medium- and low-frequency drivers (speakers). When the speakers are stacked close together and exactly on top of one another, all the low-frequency speakers in the array line up; the same thing goes for the mid- and high-frequency speakers. 

This arrangement allows the speakers in the line to work together to make a single, unified sound. When the lines of low-, medium- and high-frequency speakers are working together, they collectively fill out the entire frequency range of the music being created on the stage, and deliver it to large areas of the room. 

The number and placement of the speakers in the array depend on the unique design of the venue. A smaller array of PA speakers might be appropriate for a medium-size hall, while a much larger array might be suitable for a big outdoor festival. 

Video production

Video has become a huge part of the concert experience, often making the onstage performance seem like just one component of a music video being presented live. In fact, the video system usually consumes more electricity than the light show or the sound system do. Editors piece together video footage of all kinds (pretty much anything you can imagine) to correspond to the assorted songs, sections, moods, or moments in the band’s set. The video you see above the stage can sync up to the backing tracks and the lighting system via MIDI or SMPTE code.

Celt-rockers U2 have pushed the live rock video concept further than any other major act. Instead of preparing all the video beforehand, U2’s video team shoots live video at the concert itself. During every show of the band’s 2009 “360” tour, the U2 video design group created original visual graphics using live video footage shot on 15 cameras positioned throughout the stadium. They also brought 120GB of prerendered video to intersperse with the live video during each show.

But U2 wanted more. Dell provided some powerful laptops that the U2 video team used to create original video on the fly, on the road, much of it related to current news events, or to local news in the city where they were playing.

Dell’s Chris Ratcliffe, director of solutions and services marketing, accompanied U2 for many dates in the “360” tour, and worked closely with the tour’s video director, a man called “Smasher.” Ratcliffe hooked Smasher up with an M6400 (later an M6500), on which he created original video using Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Maya, and other programs.

Ratcliffe says Smasher was able to create new video while sitting at a coffee shop in the morning, and then dump it onto a thumb drive and transfer it to the show’s video servers for presentation on the big screen that night. Those video servers—a set of three Dell Precision R5400 rack-mounted workstations—were also provided by Dell.

 During the “360” tour, the band played underneath a huge circular video screen designed by British engineering firm Buro Happold. The screen weighed 54 tons, measured 4300 square feet when closed, and expanded to over 14,000 square feet and 7 stories tall when opened.

The light show

In modern rock shows, the lights on the stage move around and point at different places on the stage. Older PAR64 “light cans” are sometimes used in concert with electromechanical lights. An engineer controls the movement of the lights, as well as the light colors and levels, from a lighting board that is usually located near the main mixing board out in front of the stage.

Older light boards were little more than a box with a bunch of dimmer switches united in one place. But modern lighting consoles (such as Jands Vista models) are powered by computer chips and are fully programmable and automated. They can control the projection of LED light images, all stage lighting, video, and even pyrotechnic effects. Many boards have faders, as well, so that the operator can control all lighting effects in real time. 

More often, however, the lighting for a concert is all preprogrammed in the light board by the light-board operator and the lighting designer. This lighting program is programmed onto a timeline that displays on the lighting console or on an external monitor.

The timeline on the light console adheres to the same MIDI Show Control (MSC) or timecode (SMPTE timecode) that the soundboard runs, so the two systems can easily link together and synchronize, along with the digital audio workstation (usually Pro Tools) that might be playing the backing tracks. For instance, a sudden flash of brilliant light can be programmed to coincide perfectly with a sudden, dramatic crescendo in the music, creating an exciting sensory experience for the audience.

Of course, the mixing engineer, the monitor engineer, the video director, and the lighting engineer must all communicate with one another before, during, and after the show. Usually they accomplish this through walkie-talkies, via a hardwired intercom system, or by way of a mini wireless network custom-designed by one of the wireless carriers.


For those interested in getting a job as a sound mixing engineer in the U.S., here are some comments:

1. You have a few options. To go to a technical school for sound engineering and specialize in live sound engineering. Many major universities have very nice sound engineering degrees. The least likely option is to have friends in high places.

2. There are other ways to get into the business, here are some of the biggies:

– Do whatever it takes to get into a stage hand union local (this pays very well, so its hard to get in) They are in or close to every city or town with a few venues.

– Work for or volunteer for local bands and local and regional sound and light companies as a grunt to learn. They are in every city and town.

– Study technical theatre for stage lighting at a university, or work or volunteer at a local theatre

– Trade schools sometimes have audio/recording engineer programs

– There are a few specialised schools, but I don’t know how good they are

– Get lucky like me. Unfortunately, the way it usually happens is the business chooses you, not the other way around, so be careful about getting your hopes up, just like if your were in a band

– Above all, if you are serious, be prepared for when the opportunity does arise, if ever, because it probably wont happen twice because so many people want to do this stuff.