You know how, during the level check before your band’s set starts, you’ll ask them sound person to give you a little more vocal or some stage right guitar and they’ll shrug, very slightly turn a knob that doesn’t do anything, and ask “that good?” And you’ll say “yes” even though you still have nothing in your monitor, because there’s two more bands that have to play and you have a 30 minute set with a 10 minute changeover?
Now let’s imagine a mystical world where not only do you have a mix tailored to your exact specifications, but that mix follows you wherever you run on stage, not bound to the mortal coils of specific speakers, or lo, any physics at all!!! Okay, that might be stretching things slightly, but Metallica’s live monitor mix team is a perk that’s, scientifically speaking, pretty fucking sweet.
The front of house sound is run by Metallica’s longtime engineer “Big” Mick Hughes, but the mixes that the band hear are handled by Bob Cowan and Adam Correia. They pair off into teams, with Bob handling James and Lars’ needs while Adam takes care of Kirk and Rob. Metallica isn’t tethered to cables or pedalboards (patch changes are handled by the guitar techs), and are therefore free to caper and cavort across the performance area at the whims of their leisure. So Bob and Adam’s mixes aren’t static. If Kirk runs to stage right, and James struts over to Kirk’s open corner, well James and Kirk’s specific mixes have to be there waiting for them.
Side note: Mick Hughes has been Metallica’s sound man since the very earliest days, the first tours, when the guys were 19 or 20 years old. Say what you will about how Metallica have changed, sucked up to the industry, whatever, but I think it’s awesome that they have a team that’s more like a family and have stuck with them for their entire careers. Let’s put Mick Hughes in the “Top Ten Guys I’d Love to Interview” category.
Source: Meyer Sound