Remember about oh, I don't know, 8 or 9 years ago, when the Exit/In was *the* place to play and see shows, because it was hands down the best sounding club in town? The reason was street-smart New York native Frank Sass, who's been running sound, booking, mixing and producing music here since way before they put in that naked people statue at the end of Music Row. Frank eventually left his full-timing at Exit/In, and for awhile, he could be seen running sound at clubs like Mercy Lounge. He's since opened a new venue, The Rutledge
(formerly Blue Sky Court). We asked Sass a few questions he could answer easily from behind the soundboard.
Unlike some sound guys, I've never heard a band sound bad with you running the board—when did you realize you had the gift of making bands sound so kickass live?Sass:
I wouldn't call it a gift, and the rest is a matter of opinion.Cream:
Why does my band sound like shit?Sass:
There are many answers to this question: because you suck, or a lack of forethought, thinking about the parameters of your performing environment, understanding that a blend amongst the band must be achieved for it to be presented in its best possible way, a lack of listening to each other and the layering of the instruments in the song, letting personal ego get in the way of the music, competing with each other volume wise, not keeping things in proportion to each other. There are a million other reasons too like chemistry between and (use there of by) players in the group, listening experience, or depth of listening experience. It also helps to be in tune and on key, pitch, time. I don't have the time or the typing skills to list all the possibilities, but I am open for discussions after soundcheck up to showtime Tuesday through Saturday at The Rutledge 410 4th Ave. South (shameless promotion plug). (Good setup for question 3.)Cream:
For our readers who haven't been by yet, can you tell us why the Rutledge is the best new club in Nashville?Sass:
No, you have to come and check it out for yourselves. All I can say is we have great food, great bar (love the stools and foot rail), non-smoking inside, courtyard with a shelter for the smokers, (can't wait for spring and summer to have frozen drinks on the patio,) P.A. and lights are way cool, and a lot of people think it sounds real good so far. I just got some mics from Bob Heil and they are killer. I have been getting a lot of questions and positive comments about them and that has been exciting that people notice the difference.Cream:
Our bass player is pulling the van up to the back door of the club. Should we load in the kick drum first or what?Sass:
That depends on the weather. That depends on the pack, but mostly the load in and what's already on stage. Again I hope that people can be smart enough and logical enough to figure out that if (this is only an example) the bass rig is going to be on the side where the load in/out is don't block the thoroughfare and if it is closest to it it should go out first. I try and encourage being smart about these things.Cream:
Can you tell if a band is going to suck just by looking at their gear? What are some of the signs?Sass:
No. gear is not usually the issue. Good gear, cheap gear, as long as it works. Sometimes you get some noodler during setup, or the slacker, prima-donna, or the whispering vocalist, those are signs that it might not be a fun night.Cream:
And finally, what's the secret to making the magic in this town?Sass:
(Magic is only science beyond our understanding) It helps to have the stars line up correctly, the right amount of incantations, prayer, sacrifice, crystals, candles, talismans, potions and a little luck pressing the correct voodoo buttons and mojo knobs. Once you have all that then maybe, just maybe you have a chance and I mean just a chance, for something special to happen and in that one moment (even if it goes no farther) you might be able to affect the life of one person and inspire that person in such a way that it changes their life in some profound way. I have not figured out the right combination of these ingredients and continue to try so I don't really know.