Robbie Adams, Recording and Monitoring Engineer
Title on the Road
Recording and Monitor Engineer
Day to Day Role
Recording every show and mixing Bono's in-ear monitor mix. That means I record all the instruments individually for mixing at a future date.
First Time I saw U2
That would be 1979 at the Dandelion Market in Dublin with the Virgin Prunes. It cost fifty pence to get in and it was at three o clock in the afternoon. I was just getting into music at that point and because it was a gig that was not in a club they were one of the first bands I saw live, so it made a huge impact on me. It was kind of scary, actually being fourteen and surrounded by so many people - particularly the Virgin Prunes!
The stage was about a foot off the ground and they played I Will Follow and Out Of Control, I immediately ran out and bought the Out Of Control 12". There were about 150 people there and I remember I went over and talked to Adam after the gig.
How I Ended up Working With U2
I worked with Joe O'Herlihy on the set of the film The Commitments
and subsequently pestered him with telephone calls until they started recording the album Achtung Baby - about half way through I became an assistant in the studio.
I worked with bands like The Waterboys and Hothouse Flowers and with Elvis Costello but with U2 it's been on and off ever since. I did two records, Achtung Baby and Zooropa as well as the ZOO TV and Zooropa tours on the front of house mix with Joe.
Favourite memory of life on the road with U2
Possibly seeing Stuart playing bass in Sydney that one time, just such an unusual event, the only time this has ever happened, being U2 without the four of them. He was trembling but he did a great job.
Generally doing front of house there was a buzz every single night when the crowd got louder than the PA system - I remember that. Not that you can't hear the PA, but the Sound Register registers its biggest noise when Streets comes on and you are standing right in the middle of all that.
What Are You Doing During the Show?
I am mixing all the instruments together to provide Bono with the best musical basis to sing to. I follow his vocal around with echoes to give him a good playful inspiring mix - what he hears are the levels I create.
You get nervous before the show, it's like a football match and you do stretching before the band come on, limbering up for what is to come. It's vital that you are physically calm, so you have to keep lose. We chat of course, we support each other, if someone is having a problem you offer advice and help. And when it is going well we have a great laugh - less so, when it is not going so well!
There is a standard that the band expects of us and it is very high. Sometimes it may all sound fine but the feel might not quite be there.. something is missing and you know it. You become so tuned in that the only time you have to concentrate is when it is not feeling good and then you have to find out why it is not working. When it is just right
it is like you don't even have control over it. It's like driving a car, you can feel that sometimes it is driving itself.
And if you are feeling it is really working - or not quite working - you know that Bono will be feeling it too. Not least because he will be talking to Phil (his guitar tech) and he will be conveying the message. Bono has signs that he uses to tell me what the wants during a show - he signs to Phil but by then I will have seen it on camera and usually have dealt with it by the time I get the message.
Best Thing About Touring
Getting to see all the places around the world is quite a buzz for me because I don't tour that much . I like to go to parks and hang around trees, and also botanic gardens because you spend so much time in concrete structures within steel and darkness and dust.
Worst Thing About Touring
You have no control over your own life. Where you stay, what you eat, when you get up or go to bed, it is in someone else's control. It is really hard to pay bills or actually to do anything else apart from the tour - it takes over your life. For a year I have moved out of my apartment, put my stuff in storage, the car in someone else's garage, I've got no telephone number - this is my home!
The Kaiser Chiefs, great, loved them.
Also Worked With
Smashing Pumpkins, Moby - in the studio, working out of LA where I'm a producer. I wouldn't have come on the tour if it was just doing monitors, it is the recording part of it that excites me, that's the carrot. I'm recording the sound for the DVD's that are coming out, also for different b-sides and there are some other ideas for music from the live shows too.
Highlight of the Show
I have never actually seen the show, ever. I have never even seen a whole song from the front - I would kind of like to wander down there. I have no idea what the lights or visuals are like or anything.. I believe there are flags coming down during One! And I often run out to see the cellphones, I love that...especially in the big stadiums.
There are two things I really like - Love and Peace, which again I just get to hear on the audio, and also Miss Sarajevo, when Bono gets to that high note, it kills you. It was written for Pavarottit but I think Bono does it better.
Currently listening to
I bought the Kaiser Chiefs record, the new White Stripes album, been listening to Neil Young's Harvest and also a record I produced Vic Thrills' CE5 - one of my faviourte records ever.
Would Love U2 to Play
Out of Control because it brings back so many memories
That I might damage my own hearing because it is pretty loud on the road and I have to do it every night. As all I want to do is make records damaging your hearing would make that difficult.
Who has the easiest job on the road?
Jack Heaslip. (His boss is very forgiving)
Whose job on tour would you most like ?
Sandi ,because I love to cook.