Pasi Hara has mixed monitors for System of A Down during their latest tours and he was nominated for the 2010 Top Dog Monitor Engineer of the Year award at the Tour Link Conference. (Tater won again though:) He is well versed in all major professional sound systems used in live music applications today.
Pasi has been the Production Manager and Monitor Engineer for HIM for over 12 years. They have headlined shows worldwide in Europe, US, Australia and Japan and supported festival tours with likes of Metallica and Linkin Park (ProjectRevolution) in both Europe and US.
Photo Credit to Kenneth McDowell
We recently caught up with Pasi Hara and had the chance to talk about what he’s using out on the System of a Down tour, about how he broke into the business and about how to be a better monitor engineer in general. Here’s a quick excerpt.
Hi Pasi – thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Who are you out with currently and what are your daily responsibilities?
My pleasure, I am actually in Russia right now setting up a new monitor and IEM rig for a local band D’Black. I am doing a bunch of short jobs while waiting for System Of A Down tour to continue in Australia early 2012.
What type of systems are you using and why?
I am a big fan of both Shure and Sennheiser IEM systems. They both offer great audio quality, solid RF, IR sync, etc. They both have systems that can be controlled and monitored via ethernet and pre-programmed offline to suit the current RF environment. I find these features to be very useful on festivals and other events with harsh RF conditions.
I’ve seen plenty of S.O.A.D shows and they are all very loud. Has this presented any unique challenges for you from the monitor desk?
SOAD is pretty loud rock band, but not “stupid loud” onstage. Believe me, I’ve seen worse. Nevertheless, it creates challenges of keeping everything confined to where they want it loud. The singer is on IEM and tries to keep his levels reasonable, while guitar & bass (on both sides of him) like it pretty loud in the wedges. I concentrate a lot on the directivity and time alignment of the speakers and try to keep things as phase coherent as possible. This gives me more gain where needed and less uncontrolled sound bouncing around the stage.
Do in-ears make your job easier or do they add new levels of complications for you to deal with?
In-Ears definitely made my life easier over the years. I have recommended them to many artist I’ve worked with. It might not be a the solution for everyone out there, but in hands of a competent engineer, they can really help the artist tremendously and bring down excessive stage volumes. The problem is still those who want to have both IEM and wedges running on full. It creates another dimension of time alignment issues and is virtually impossible to completely monitor from engineer’s point of view. There are still too many “monitor”consoles out there that don’t have dual cue busses for wedges and IEM and have no capability of delaying Ins and Outs.
What are some of your secrets for keeping your artists happy?
You need to find your way inside your artist’s head and ensure them that you can give them what they need. Once you’ve built that trust with your artist, the rest is executing that plan technically. It doesn’t hurt if you know your rig inside out.
How did you break into the business? I know that you are friends with the band HIM. Did you all come up together?
I was a partner in a small 2 man PA business when the HIM guys started doing shows outside their home area. So they needed the cheapest and shittiest gear to make these gigs and we had just that(!). Somehow I stayed in the picture when things started picking up for them and haven’t missed more than a handful of shows in the last 12+ years. I owe them big time for carrying me all this way and I’ve learned so much about the business on the road with them.
And lastly, are there any lessons can you share with engineers who are just cutting their teeth out on their first big tour?
Learn something new every day. A new piece of gear, a new way to coil a cable, a new way to stack a box, anything. If you think you know it all, you’re history. It’s that simple. It’s a fast evolving business and only those who keep up survive. (Hmm, that came out pretty dramatic in the end, cheers guys, see you out there…)