Rising Stars: Cal Bate

Our Rising Stars column makes a comeback with Cal Bate, who began touring with up-and-coming Stockport based band Blossoms in May earlier this year.

The ex Viola Beach monitor engineer from Warrington has spent six years working in live sound with various bands in various venues.

Here, he tells Audio Media International about his favourite gigs, gear and experiences on the road so far.

Where did you study and how did you start out in the industry?

I studied Music Technology at my local college in Warrington, perfectly placed slap bang in between Liverpool and Manchester, which is where I am now based. This in a way started everything, and I then went on to work at a local bar in the town, where they had four to five bands playing per night. At first I was helping out with the basic stuff – micing up drums, patching, but then I started working FOH for the company and it just went from there. I had more confidence, and there were more jobs. I then went on to study at SSR in Manchester, and whilst doing so managed to get some volunteer work at The Ritz, Manchester Academy 1,2 and 3, and a little tour with Los Campesinos. From there it just carried on, and I began getting a name for myself I guess.

What made you want to work in pro-audio?

I’ve always wanted to do something in music since I was growing up. I used to play in bands when I was younger, but then I just really took a liking to the production side of things and engineering. Being a live engineer, I like how it’s really open to different styles of mixing. I obviously take hints and always learn from other engineers whilst on tour or working in venues, but I’ve always tried to have my own style and be pretty open minding about things.

How did the chance to work with Blossoms first come about?

I met Blossoms whilst on tour with Viola Beach, supporting them on their UK tour. I just became friendly with them all, and got on well with everyone in the party. There was word going round that they needed a monitor engineer, but I thought nothing of it at the time. After the accident with the Viola Beach lads, I received a phone call from Blossoms’ tour manager asking to come down to rehearsals, and ever since that day I’ve been working with them. I was still working at Sainsbury’s at the same time as Blossoms for ages too, but now it’s my full time job.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I’ve worked with an endless number of bands whilst working at the bar in Warrington, from Catfish and the Bottlemen to heavy bands like Hacktivist, and loads more. Touring wise, I mainly toured with Viola Beach from November 2015 through Feb ’16, and then with Blossoms since May this year. My personal highlight has to be doing monitors at places like Etihad Stadium supporting Stone Roses and massive festivals like Leeds and Reading – that was crazy for me.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite gear? What do you find yourself relying on for touring?

I’m currently touring with a Soundcraft Vi2000. The Vi series stuff has always been a personal favourite of mine, and has always been my desk of choice. The Vi2000 is the perfect choice for mons – nice and compact, but still as powerful as all the other Vi’s. I love the analogue feel of the desks, and also the fader glow which makes mons so much easier.

Blossoms also use Shure PSM1000’s for their in ears, which in my opinion are the best sounding IEM units and packs going at the moment. The pre amps in the packs are great, and the processing in the units make audio sound perfect. They have loads of great features which makes touring with them awesome.

You’re quite active on social media; to what extent do you use it in a professional sense?

I enjoy using Twitter and other social media platforms after shows mainly to show other engineers what gear I’m using and to inform companies that I’m using their gear. I’m friendly with the guys at Shure, so it’s nice to keep them updated of where I’m using their gear on the road.

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Hopefully still touring! I’d love to be able to continue touring arena scale shows, although I do love the little venues with character. Aside from that, I wouldn’t mind going into teaching – I’d quite like that.

To get involved in our Rising Stars column, whether you are an engineer who is new to the industry and would like to be featured, or an experienced engineer who would like to nominate a particular student/apprentice, please contact Audio Media International staff writer Colby Ramsey at cramsey@nbmedia.com or +44 (0) 207 354 6045.