Zak Glynn is currently in the second year of our BSc (Hons) Studio & Live Music Production course and is already finding employment on the live sound circuit.

In 2015 Zak joined the band Gloryhammer on a European tour. As a bit of a change from our usual format for these pages we decided to interview Zak to find out all about the tour and his experiences at SSR so far.

Well done Zak, and thank you for answering our questions and supplying the images!

Hi Zak... So, we hear you went on a European tour with Gloryhammer last year…awesome! How was it?
"It was incredible! It was amazing to finally get out on the road, especially with Gloryhammer, I’ve been a massive fan of theirs since the first demos surfaced on YouTube in 2010."

What job role(s) did you do on the tour?
"I was originally taken on as an FOH (Front of House) engineer, but I ended up with a lot of responsibilities overall. I was the sole crew member for the support bands. I was responsible for loading in and loading out our trailer and both support bands' gear (Gloryhammer and Divine Ascension)... I took inventory every night to make sure nothing was lost and led the pack.

I also started doing stage catering at some point, distributing water and beers across the stage for the guys during changeover; we had consistent 20 minute changeovers and we were often ready 10 minutes early, so I found an extra thing to help make life a bit better on stage. I became Ben’s assistant drum tech at some points, collaborating on tuning choices for the best result for FOH.

Gloryhammer also asked if I could dress up in a similar nature to the rest of the band live, which is a fantasy/sci-fi theme. So I may have been one of the first FOH engineers in Europe who wore a wizard cloak for every single show of the tour!"

Zak the wizard!

How did landing a job on the tour come about?
"The job came about in a very strange way, Ben Turk (Drums) had been following me on various social media for quite a while, and we’d met each other once or twice in real life at Gloryhammer’s Manchester gig and at a Jaldaboath gig in York. We weren’t much more than acquaintances.

However, in mid June last year I got a couple of messages from Ben asking how my course was going and how I’ve been enjoying live sound work, which led to him posing the offer for me to do FOH for the EU tour. It was surreal for me, I spent a decent amount of time in shock that an opportunity like this was offered to me of all people."

Where did the tour take you?
"In show order: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France, UK, Belgium and the Netherlands, The tour included a full tour of Germany and the last gig took place in Kufstein, Austria."

Any Big Surprises?
"Vienna had an Amek desk! A Langley Amek Recall to be specific, very strange board for a first timer! Reminded me a bit of the old Einstein board that the Audient desk took the place of in SSR. Sounded quite amazing though. Vienna was also the first time I’ve ever had to climb across the roof of a venue to get to the FOH position which wasn’t the easiest while dressed in full wizard regalia! 

While in Switzerland, I got the chance to see a Midas XL4 being repaired at Z7, a truly legendary desk that I had to pay my respects to."

What was the best gig of the tour, and why?
"Hamburg was probably my favourite, Avid D Show Profile in a decent room, I got all the tour favourite mic on the night as well, Beyer 201 Snare top, AKG 414 Overheads, MD421 Guitar Microphones and a Neumann KM184 on Hi-hats.

This was the 28th show of the tour, so at this point I was drilled in the set and had every cue perfected. It was one of my favourite sounding gigs. In attendance was Gloryhammer’s studio engineer Lasse Lammert; he apparently really enjoyed the sound and I can’t think of a better set of ears to impress."

Crowd shot in Milan, Italy

What was the most difficult/problematic gig of the tour, and why? How did you/the crew overcome these issues?
"Eindhoven in the Netherlands had a pretty catastrophic error. During soundcheck, the house engineer had not saved my scene on the Soundcraft Vi6, He’d based his file for Divine Ascension on my Gloryhammer scene however, thanks to the back line share, the only things that needed changing level wise were guitar, bass and lead vocals.

There’s a video on YouTube where the first 10 seconds of Rise Of The Chaos Wizards has insanely loud bass and inaudible guitar, but we got it back in as quickly as we could. The Vi6 really aided with that, it’s a fantastic desk which let me save multiple channels at once rather than having to switch between multiple channels like I would on other digital desks. I think this one of my worst moments but also one of my proudest, It’s a severe thing going on with no soundcheck and your levels all over the place. So to make the gig happen without any show stopping problems was a big thing for me."

What’s the biggest lesson you learnt while on the tour?
"A good first impression dictates the rest of the night."

How did life on the road live up to your expectations
"Better than I expected, surprisingly comfortable and incredibly enjoyable. My mental image of a tour before this was 6 weeks of hell in confined spaces of a van, so to be on a full tour bus is a completely different experience."

How did your SSR training help you perform the roles expected of you? Anything that sticks out as a valuable lesson learnt at SSR that helped you on the tour?
"Jay Beard (SSR Head of Live Sound) once told me social skills are 75% of an engineers job, and it really stuck with me on the road. I tried to be the nicest person I could to every engineer I met. It actually surprised me that a few times I was met with a tinge of hostility. The rumour of the grumpy sound engineer has all but died in reality, but you still get the odd few.

The load in/load out assignment I had in first year was incredibly useful across the tour too, constantly reminding myself to not throw my back out lifting cabs and assorted equipment."

Eindhoven FOH

What advice would you give to students who might be going out on the road themselves in the future?
"The minute you get in the venue, find the house engineers, introduce yourself, let them know who you are, who you’re working with and what you’ll require in the friendliest manner you can. Getting in an engineer's good books is incredibly important.

The more things you can do, the better. Become the most valuable person to your clients. Have the answers, have the know-how and drive to make sure the gig always goes ahead.

I’d also like to tell the story of the monitor engineer in Paris; she impressed Gloryhammer by coming up and introducing herself to the members of the band without prompting; she was one of the best monitor engineers on the tour. We hadn’t had any other engineer do that before or since; they normally waited for me to introduce myself and never got on name terms with the band.

Her extended effort to work with us was incredibly appreciated and her actions left me with a great impression of her and the venue. If I get to go back there again, I’ll thank her. So, if you’re going to be a house engineer, be like her!"

Any more work on the horizon that you can tell us about?
"I made a promise to Stratovarius (headliner) that I would see them at Wacken Festival backstage the next time they were there as a fully fledged engineer; I aim to make good that promise."

How are you enjoying your time at SSR/on the course?
"I’ve enjoyed it quite a lot, the course is taught by very memorable people. I’ve met some incredible engineers here at SSR who’ve inspired my work ever since, I’ve met future colleagues and I’ve met people I’ll be waving to across festival stages in 5 years."

End of tour group picture

Any shout outs/thanks?
"Thanks to Gloryhammer for being genuinely insane enough to take me on tour, thanks to Bob Cooper, Joe Clayton, Alex Bowie and Max Worthington for talking me into accepting the tour.

Shout out to Tom Broeck for driving us to Europe, turns out he’d worked with former SSR student Stefano Cassese a few weeks earlier, and was very impressed with his work. Shout out to Jukka, Paavo, Martin and Sasha of the Stratovarius crew for putting up with the enthusiastic greenhorn who asked way too many questions. Shoutout to Divine Ascension for living it up in Europe, we’re all glad you had so much fun over here and we hope you come back!

A final shout out to Patrick Hernandez, 'Born To Be Alive' was the official anthem of the Eternal 2015 tour for me."