Los Angeles, CA “ffp is the most creative pyro company I've ever worked with,’ states Morgan Wallen production manager Chad Guy. “Their proprietary special effects are second to none, and they are global leaders in their craft.” And Guy should know; he’s worked with a variety of ffp effects touring inc. clients since 2012, including longtime ffp clients Rammstein, Motley Crue, and KISS. He admits, “I was a fan, long before we worked together. ffp is the preeminent pyro company in concert touring globally.” The firm is indeed global, with offices based in Berlin, Los Angeles, and London.
Guy isn’t the only member of the Morgan Wallen crew who is a fan of ffp. Patrick Murphy, another integral member of the Morgan Wallen production staff and former Disturbed production manager, has worked with ffp extensively as well. “My initial experience with ffp was in 2013. Motley Crue was doing a residency in Las Vegas and production was looking for a different approach to pyro. Since then, I have worked with them on Motley runs, several KISS runs, as well as Disturbed for two runs in 2016 and 2019. They have a different, more unique approach to pyro than any of the American companies," Murphy notes.
As a special effects company, ffp has a different philosophy in terms of hardware. “We pride ourselves in designing and building our special effects gear ourselves hence being able to produce very different looks and feel than any other company that would be using off-the-shelf products,” explains Nicolai Sabottka, Managing Director of ffp.
Designing and building custom effects has set ffp apart in the market; however, that does present a variety of challenges, including maintenance and repairs. That’s where ffp’s technical director Jonas Born steps in. “Jonas started with us as a touring tech in 2019 and we thought we would send him out with KISS on some 100-plus shows to gain some road experience,” notes Sabottka. “Jonas has a background in customizing motorcycles and slid into working with our fairly complex flame systems while he was out with KISS. We decided that he would be in a much better place overseeing our equipment fleet than working on the road. He has been working on Rammstein, Drake, Morgan Wallen, and Greta van Fleet setups and shows over the past two years,” states Sabottka. Born also “Keeps the entire fleet of flame systems, and the other special effects hardware maintained, updated and repaired. Part of his responsibilities includes coordinating sessions with our touring crews. Jonas is also parachuted into our tours to either start them or he’ll come in and solve any technical problems that may occur,” ffp’s managing director adds
The ability to work on-site, especially during the production process, is critical to the success of the tour. “Jonas has been involved in the creation and implementation of this equipment from the outset. He knows all of it inside and out,” states Guy. He adds, “He’s not afraid to take it all apart to find and solve the issues. I’ve seen him rebuild entire systems in the hours leading up to our show -- always ensuring that we have our full show, night after night. He is dedicated to his craft, and acts as a Swiss army knife on tour.” Murphy notes, “Jonas’ technical knowledge and his attention to the small details are second to none.”
The Morgan Wallen production is awash in equipment from ffp. “Morgan Wallen is taking his genre to the next level in terms of special effects,” states Sabottka. He continues, “The stage has nine LFM [Liquid Flame Mega] Heads and eight Galaxis wireless G Flames with power upgrades, and twelve LFG [Liquid Flame Giga] heads. The delay towers are equipped with two LFG Heads each.” But that’s not all. “There are also six CC Quad Jets downstage and six MFX PsyCo2 Jets upstage,” he notes. The effects are impressive. “The flame heights for LFMs is around 25 feet while G flames do 20 feet and the LFGs are 60 feet high. Needless to say, there`s a ton of individual pyro effects launched during the show and there is a close proximity pyro finale in the air,” Sabottka adds.
The Wallen production wasn’t without challenges, and once again Born was tasked with problem-solving on the road. ”On the Wallen tour, the manufacturer of our flame head valves did a tiny change with some gaskets inside, and the result was a flame head that wasn’t running smoothly,” explains Born. He continues, “It was on me to find that problem and to fix it. It’s necessary to be on the road to check and make sure everything is working or if some changes are required. It’s also important to know that all the equipment—as well as the crew-- is working smoothly together and that we have a consistent production throughout the run of the show.” Murphy notes, “Jonas is always the quiet one in the back; you never know he’s there, except when problems or issues arise. That's when he really stands out,” asserts Murphy.
Morgan Wallen is on tour through 2024. In January and February, ffp will be part of the upcoming Drake tour.
ffp effects inc. was born out of live touring around the world and is comprised of a wide range of professionals who have devoted their lives to pyrotechnics and special effects excellence. With offices in Berlin, Los Angeles, and London, their team has over 20 years of experience with Rammstein, Avenged Sevenfold, Greta Van Fleet, Drake, Lady Gaga, KISS, Slipknot, Brit Awards, MTV EMA`s, Björk, Robbie Williams and more--providing high-end tour and production management services to the entertainment industry. The firm specializes in custom-built pyrotechnic and flame units and is hailed as one of the innovators in the live special effects industry.