Stitched Up Heart Tour – Prep

I was recently asked to join the band Stitched Up Heart as their “FOH” (Front Of House) sound guy for their winter North American tour. I was floored, to say the least (and humbled, and honored), but I couldn’t say no. It has been a life-long goal of mine to tour with a band, so when this opportunity presented itself, I had to do it.

Before we get into the gritty-details of daily touring life, let’s take a step back and talk about the prep work that went into getting ready for the tour… and let’s also talk about the people to whom I owe many, many thanks!!

My good friend Jeremy contacted me sometime in early April to ask a few questions about a certain live sound product. He couldn’t give me specifics about who or what it was for, but I was able to get him sorted out. A few weeks later, he called to tell me that the help was for Stitched Up Heart, and that he was heading out on a tour with them, opening for Godsmack and Volbeat. CRAZY!

While the bands were in Milwaukee playing the FiServ arena, we got invited backstage to meet Stitched Up Heart (“SUH”). It was pretty cool to meet everyone and to watch Godsmack from backstage. A few months later, SUH found themselves on a summer tour, and I had the opportunity to mix a few of their shows while they were in the Midwest region.

Everything apparently went well, because they then asked if I’d like to tour with them this winter – 2 countries, 28 cities, 29 shows, 34 days. I agreed to do the tour, and we set about preparation. I worked with Merritt (lead guitarist) to identify their specific needs and to figure out which gear we could use of each other’s.

SUH had been using In Ear Monitors (“IEM”) but had issues with drop-outs. They also use some supporting tracks (for effects, certain harmonies, etc), so we needed to incorporate those into FOH and IEM mixes. They use wireless vocal mics, wireless instrument packs, and have a pretty standard drum kit. Their goal was to be 100% self-contained (meaning they wouldn’t need to use any stage gear other than their own), and to improve their overall experience.

After a lot of planing, diagramming, texting, talking, and so on, we landed on the following tour package:

  • Midas DL32 Stage Box – serves as the primary input for all stage sources and then splits the signals to both the IEM and FOH mixers
  • Midas M32R Live FOH mixer – the console I use to produce the sound the audience hears
  • Behringer X32 Rack IEM mixer – the system the band uses to control their in-ear mixes
  • Shure Axient AD4D – the microphones that Mixi and Guest use
  • Shure PSM1000 – the in-ear transmitters and receivers for the band
  • Shure SBRC system – provides rechargeable batteries for all Shure gear
  • RF Venue COMBINE4 – the antenna system for the PSM1000 systems
  • RF Venue CPBEAM – the collapsable antenna for the COMBINE4
  • Ubiquiti – Wireless Access Points for both IEM and FOH control
  • Waves Sound Grid system – Provides world-class plugins for the mix
  • Various networking components – to provide wireless control via iPads, phones, and MacBooks during the show

Everything fits into a handful of road cases, which makes for a quick load-in, set-up and tear-down. It also minimizes the amount of cabling on stage, which is an added bonus.

With the gear sorted out, all that remained was the hard stuff – figuring out how to take a leave of absence from work and how to make sure Jenny and I could stay in contact and be supportive during the tour.

The work stuff went from a “sure thing, no worries” to “eh, we don’t think we can grant you a leave” over the course of a few days. So, I had a hard decision to make. (Since you’re reading this blog, I think you’ll gather how my decision went)

Jenny is “mostly” OK with me going on the tour, but I completely understand how difficult it will be for her while I’m gone. I’m usually pretty annoying so I figured she’d appreciate the “break” but 34 days on the road is a long time, no matter how you slice it. I’m super grateful that she agreed to let me pursue this adventure.

And finally, there’s the Flea… with Jenny working 12-14 hour shifts, we didn’t want to have Flea stay home alone for long periods of time. So Amy graciously agreed to watch Flea for a bit.

So there you have it… the history, the background, and the many people that I need to thank for this wonderful opportunity. Much love to you all.