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James Brown gets down with a Saffire!

Published: Thu June 01, 2006  News Feed
Gavin Pearce is the FOH engineer for James Brown’s live show and is
currently touring the world with the Godfather of Soul. As well as
having a stack of gear in his studio, Gavin uses the ultimate portable
interface to record each show, the Focusrite Saffire…

With a musical upbringing Gavin Pearce was almost destined to end up
with a career in sound but at the age of 18 when he took his first
sound job he could have hardly dared to hope to be doing what he’s
doing now…

“I wasn’t quite sure what to do with an insert at that point,” he
laughs, “but one day a week turned into two which turned into seven and
here we are! I have toured with several Broadway shows and music acts.
The most notable are James Brown [on the current tour], Three Mo’
Tenors, Cook, Dixon and Young [also the current tour] and John Legend.”

Pearce is already a huge Focusrite fan. “I buy Focusrite gear because I
like the way it sounds. I have 16 Channels of the Focusrite Platinum
series, nine channels of the Focusrite Green series and a Focusrite
OctoPre with the digital I/O option”.

But while on tour there is just one piece of gear that he needs for
recording…

“I have been using a Focusrite Saffire,” he says. “It has been
traveling with me on the road for recording the shows. It’s nice and
small and sounds great.”

As well as recording the shows the Saffire is also needed after they
finish. As the unit is so portable and easy to use, it is in demand by
various members of the James Brown band for use on their own projects!

“The band members like to track a lot on the road, so they will borrow
the Saffire from me if I'm not helping them. There’s Fred Thomas, The
James Brown band’s bass player since 1971. He and the other guys have
been working on solo stuff in their hotel rooms. I help a little here
and there and lend my Saffire as much as possible. It’s working out so
well that Robert ‘Mousey’ Thompson (James Brown’s drummer for 13 years)
and I are getting ready to work on his solo project in my studio.”

Gavin has just finished the latest leg of the James Brown tour but will
soon be embarking on the next one, but with demand being so high, maybe
he should pack one or two extra Saffires!

Gavin Pearce’s studio and live tips
• “I find my self doing less EQing with Focusrite gear in the studio. I
choose a mic, place it and it sounds the way I think it should.”
• “Live and studio stuff are two very different animals. I see some
studio guys come out to do live stuff and they fail because they don’t
understand the basics. There are so many more factors involved when you
try to make something live loud. My live sound philosophy is to make it
only as loud as it needs to be to be clear and good. Evaluate the
venue, maybe the screaming guitar doesn’t need to be in the PA, or
maybe that snare drum doesn’t need to make people blink every time it
hits. Don’t send them home with their ears ringing. That helps me too!”

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