As we gear up for the LDI Show, we’re profiling speakers in our Sound Tracks series of panels aimed at live sound engineers. This week we’re pleased to introduce you to Bernie Broderick, who will be presenting “Tom Petty Case Study: 40 Years On the Road” with fellow tour veteran Robert Scovill.
Bernie Broderick has extensive experience in every facet of touring, from his beginnings as a performing artist to running his production company, B2 Systems, to tenures at companies ranging from Adamson to L-Acoustics to his current role as Technical Training Manager at Eastern Acoustic Works.
A veteran touring engineer, Bernie has spent much of 2017 on the road with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, keeping EAW’s Anya system in top shape.
Sarah Jones: How did you get your start in the live sound business?
Bernie Broderick: I actually started life as a musician. Back in the ’80s during the very big cover band era, it was common for bands to own their own P.A., lighting, truck, etc. I turned into one of those, and then taught myself to do sound. From there, I started my own production company and ran that for six years. Later, I worked for Adamson, followed by L-Acoustics, and now EAW for the past 12 years.
SJ: What drives your passion for live sound?
BB: I have absolutely no idea! It’s a lifestyle, more than anything else. When you learn so much from a craft and continue to learn every day, you really can’t see yourself doing anything else. I wake up thinking about audio, and it’s probably the last thing I think about at night. It is such an interesting field of work, and there is always something new to learn. When EAW first developed the new ADAPTive Systems range, I had very little knowledge of networking, and to be honest, I didn’t know if I could ever learn all the nuances of it. As time went by, though, I began to retain the most important things first, followed by the little details later. It’s this constant opportunity to learn and push the envelope that keeps me in the game. I am also a big fan of the people in this industry. The way they handle themselves and the brotherhoods and sisterhoods that are created. You might walk into a venue as strangers, but before the day ends, you can easily become lifelong pals.
SJ: Can you give us a taste of what attendees can expect to learn in your panel?
BB: Well, both Robert and I are dealing with a sound system with some amazing capabilities and on a tour of mega importance: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are music icons and we have every piece of equipment and every ounce of support we could possibly ever need. But with that comes a huge responsibility, as those same people demand perfection. The audio crew on the Petty tour are as good as they come, so I would hope the audience will learn not only about the equipment used, but also gain insight into understanding the level at which the people and the equipment need to function. There will certainly be some toe-curling stories between us about situations that may have happened here and there, but one thing is for sure, the audience will experience the friendship and trust we have developed over our 20-year friendship.
SJ: What kinds of new live sound technologies are you most excited about these days?
BB: Without doubt, our own! The new ADAPTive product range marks the biggest transition in audio since the introduction of the line array. This is the juice that keeps guys like me excited. Before ADAPTive, I figured I pretty much knew everything there was to know about sound systems and their deployment. ADAPTive with Anya, Anna, and Otto have thrown a huge curveball at all of us, opening new windows of opportunity to learn, understand, dream, and put into action a system with capabilities far beyond what I have ever experienced.
SJ: What are the biggest challenges facing live sound engineers right now?
BB: I would have to say, it’s the transition to new technology and new ways of thinking. There are many in our industry that have been in this game a long time and have amassed a wealth of practical knowledge on sound systems and system deployment. Now here we are throwing networks, DSP, computer software, predictions, modeling, etc. at them all at once, and I believe a lot of folks struggle with this. Some embrace change, yes, but many are tired of change. Trying to extract renewed enthusiasm from some of the old guard can be difficult, but I believe that if an old 50-something guy like me can knuckle down and learn the new Jedi tricks, anyone can—and the reward on the other end is a renewed energy in learning something that before seemed mysterious.
SJ: Tell us about one of your most notable gigs.
BB: Wow, I would have to say that each and every one of them is special in their own regard, but to pick one, I would have to say the first show of the 2014 Tom Petty tour. It was a culmination of so much effort and so much dreaming that it remains a highlight in my career. Up to that moment, Robert [Scovill] was on another brand of loudspeaker and I was keeping my powder dry on the ADAPTive stuff until I felt it was ready. Once he gave the nod to use the system for the tour, it was like the perfect storm for me; not only did I get to officially launch a brand new system and paradigm on the industry, I got to do it with the most decorated and well-known live sound engineer in the business working for one of the world’s most iconic bands. To put icing on the cake, I got to do it with a dear friend who trusted me to deliver on the promise.
SJ: What’s on your Vegas bucket list?
BB: This is home for me, so I am gonna sleep in my own bed every night!
To learn more about pro audio workshops, panels, and events at LDI, visit http://www.ldishow.com.
Sarah Jones is a writer, editor, and content producer with more than 20 years' experience in pro audio, including as editor-in-chief of three leading audio magazines: Mix, EQ, and Electronic Musician. She is a lifelong musician and committed to arts advocacy and learning, including acting as education chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, where she helps develop event programming that cultivates the careers of Bay Area music makers.