Q&A interview with Megadeth audio engineer Doug Short

Doug Short

I have worked with Doug Short on many tours, including Megadeth and Testament. He’s an audio engineer (FOH and monitors) and has also worked as tour manager and production manager. He’s one of the best, and much can be learned from him.

How did you get your start as an audio engineer, and how long have you been doing the job on the road?

I was a drummer in the glam days of Hollywood hair bands. The band I was playing for was recording a record that would never be heard. It was my first encounter with an audio console. I realized that it was my calling, 26 years ago. I haven’t gotten any better but my clients have!

Do you ever perform any other jobs on the road such as tour manager or production manager?

I have done both of those tasks for David Lee Roth and Cyndi Lauper. It is important to be multifaceted these days.

How much longer do you think you’ll continue working on the road?

Until Hell freezes over.

What will you do for a living after your life on the road is over?

Sell long underwear to Satan, attorneys, and managers. The message is to have an escape plan to exit the music business when it is time.

What is your best memory of your job on the road?

So many great memories—how about being hired to do the Van Halen 2007 reunion tour and meeting Alex and Ed Van Halen.

What is your worst memory of your job on the road?

Dealing with Eddie Van Halen and quitting the tour.

What do you like most about your job on the road?

I am still addicted to the adrenaline rush of a great performance in front of a festival crowd, traveling the world, and getting paid is a bonus. New friends and contacts without Facebook is damn cool.

What do you hate most about your job on the road?

Incompetency in management folks who treat the crew as a commodity that can never be cheap enough, and promoters who sign off on rider specs that they have no intention of meeting or even reading, for that matter.

What is the most challenging aspect of working with road managers and production managers?

Some tour managers and production managers have their own “posse” that they want to take on every tour they can. These power-hungry wankers will overlook the abilities of someone who has already been with the artist for years and even instigate friction between loyal, competent crew members and the artist. You know who you are!

If you could work with any artist in the world, which one would you like to work with most?

I would love to work with Prince or David Lee Roth again.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of your job as an audio engineer?

Sometimes it is just performance; sometimes it is the gear. Sometimes I just cannot find my groove. In reality, ear fatigue is really our nemesis.

What advice do you have for young people hoping to work on the road in any capacity?

Be dedicated to and educated in the gig that you want to pursue. Be nice. Your ego is second to the artist’s ego. If you have a “difficult” artist, realize that they are under more pressure than you are and do not usually possess the tech talk to communicate to you in a manner you might find useful. At the end of the day, it was their name on the marquee, not yours or your audio company. Have some understanding and pay attention to the artist. They respond hugely in a major way to that. Win their confidence. Have bus etiquette. Respect old dogs. We were you once. We did not have computers to assist in doing our jobs. We had things called two ears and that’s what we counted on for success. Learn from us. Rethink finishing college! Ha! Never limit yourself to one artist or job.

Who do you feel made the audio world what it is today?

Bob Heil; he is the father of concert audio. He understood the electronics and physics from playing and working on pipe organs early in his career.

If there were a telephone to the afterlife and you could call anyone no longer with us, who would you call and what would you say to them?

I would call Nikola Tesla and say to him, “Why did you stand for Thomas Edison taking the glory. He was mediocre in comparison.

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About Mark Workman

Author Mark Workman has been a successful lighting designer and tour manager in the music business for thirty years. His list of past and present clients includes Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Machine Head, Devildriver, Mudvayne, Dio, Queens of the Stone Age, Soulfly, Sepultura, Keel, Steeler and many others. As a lighting designer, Mark Workman has designed high-impact lighting performances for many music tours, including the infamous Clash of the Titans (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Alice In Chains & Suicidal Tendencies) in 1990/1991 and American Carnage 2010 (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax & Testament), as well as for many music videos and live DVDs such as Machine Head’s Elegies DVD filmed at Brixton Academy in London. Mark Workman’s second music industry book, One for the Road: How to Be a Concert Lighting Designer, will be released in 2013. Mark Workman is also a boxing writer whose feature articles have appeared on BoxingScene.com and FoxSports.com.
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