GAIN11

The Art & Science of Audio & Video

Mick Hughes

“‘Big” Mick Hughes is the live audio engineer for Metallica, a position he has held since 1984. He is also currently sitting in the FOH seat for Led Zepplin!

He was born in 1960 and grew up in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. While an apprentice at British Steel, he studied electronics at a local technical college and also gained experience on the thriving Midlands music scene. In the early 1980s, he engineered for bands including UB40, Dennis Brown, Yellow Man, and Jungle Man before becoming the touring sound engineer for The Armoury Show, who featured ex-The Skids singer Richard Jobson (television presenter) and ex Siouxsie & The Banshees guitarist John McGeogh.

The Armoury Show’s management company QPrime then asked Mick to engineer a band they had just signed called Metallica (prompting Mick to ask “What’s heavy metal?” when told the genre of music they played [1]) starting a relationship that has lasted over 20 years.

Big Mick has mixed Metallica at every one of the more than 1500 shows they have performed since then, gets a dedicated mixing console, and is to be called by his moniker according to his contract.

The live mixing technique he is often credited with is adding a high mid “click” to bass drums, which evolved early on with Metallica as a means of lifting Lars Ulrich’s bass drums out of the bottom heavy sound. A more recent crusade is to encourage engineers to start soundchecks with ambient mikes (such as vocal mikes) working through to close miked or gated instruments (such as drums). This is in direct opposition to the usual soundcheck which starts with the kick drum and ends with the vocals, but actually makes a lot of sense.

When not busy with Metallica, he has also worked with Def Leppard, Slipknot [2] and Steve Vai amongst others. He loves his toys

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March 3, 2008 - Posted by | Pioneers in Audio | , , , , , , ,

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