Rockford Rocked Interviews: Sound engineer Paul Edler
By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
RRI: What was it that made you want to be an audio engineer instead of say a drummer or a bass player?
PE: First of all, I am as graceful as a Hippo in orthopedic tennis shoes, so drumming was out of the question! Seriously though…When I was a kid, rock and roll music was a big no-no at the Edler house. My parents would not let me or my siblings listen to it for their personal reasons. I managed to sneak some 8-track cassettes into the house and my mother eventually gave in. There were stipulations though.
RRI: Being the sound engineer you are the guy that makes the band sound good. How many people don’t get that concept and make the mistake of pissing you off before the show?
PE: You know, that used to be a factor for me back in the day. I used to take that stuff personally. Now, I may still get ticked off, but I still give them the best mix that I can. I realized that any horrible audio coming out of the PA system was a reflection on myself. I would never give a band a bad mix on purpose. No matter how bad they upset me.
RRI: Technology has come a long way in the last 25 years. Is it difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest gadgets, processors and effects?
PE: You know, sometimes it really is! With the digital age now upon us, there are so many digital consoles to keep up with. They all basically work the same just with different working surfaces. I am fortunate enough to know some cool cats in the biz that have a warehouse full of cool toys and they show me the ropes.
RRI: Murphy’s Law is sometimes expressed as “Anything that can go wrong, will – at the worst possible moment.” Give us an example of one of your worst engineering nightmare moments.
PE: Boy, there are a few that stand out, but one in particular probably tops them all! The last year for On The Waterfront I was mixing a band called The Hamilton Loomis Band from Texas. We had gone through sound check and we were all ready to go. The radio personality was ready to go up and announce the band, but the drummer had to take a moment to relieve himself of the festival chow. I was showing the house engineer the mix on the digital console and I went to save the mix for the next day when I must have hit the wrong combination of buttons! Completely erased my mix as well as all of the console settings! Took it back to the factory settings! The system went silent with 3-4000 people sitting waiting for the show! I had to bring the mix back as close as possible to the sound check!
RRI: You were voted into the RAMI “Hall of fame” a couple of years ago for your uncanny ability to make even the worst bands sound good. Are outdoor gigs more difficult to dial up a good sound than indoor venues?
PE: Man, outdoor shows are what I live for. No low ceilings or walls to reflect off of. Fresh air and the atmosphere are my rush! Nothing like a crowd of people outdoors having a great time and jamming to a great band! Country, rock, metal, orchestra, R&B and yes even rap! I don’t have to like the genre as long as the crowd that has gathered is into it. My goal is to make the audio coming out of the rig as pleasing as possible.
RRI: I’m going to say a word or sentence and you reply with the first thing that pops into your head. Ready? Radio Shack.
PE: Lifesaver! There used to be a Radio Shack everywhere like Walgreens is today. I would need some sort of morphodite adapter and run to Radio Shack only to use it that one time and never use it again!
RRI: Electro Voice speakers.
PE: I haven’t mixed through EV in ages! I was just in Milwaukee at The Rave a couple of weeks ago and the production company was using a giant EV array. They can take a beating!
RRI: Hurricane Harry’s (former Rockford nightclub).
PE: Mixed a lot of bands and met some great people there. Stinky carpet comes to mind!
RRI: People that stumble over to the sound board and set their beer on it.
PE: When that happens you will see this fat guy go all ninja! Recently a girl set her beer on the doghouse of my brand new console. I asked her politely to move her drink and she looked at me like I was a Martian!
RRI: Rumor has it that you are retiring from the sound business. Is this true and if so, won’t you miss tearing down P.A. equipment at 3 am and dealing with cheap skate bar owners?
I believe that if I did I would go crazy especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Just ask my wife Sandy. She has always been supportive of what I do and is my biggest fan. My boys Jason and Mitchell have also been there for my whole journey. Dad working all day then all night all while coaching baseball teams and attending their after school functions.
I’ve been blessed to work with some pretty awesome musicians and just want to say thanks for putting up with me and my crabby self for almost 30 years now. I wouldn’t change a thing. You folks are why I do what I do!