Like many production professionals, Gemini Light, Sound, Video (LSV) co-owner Tim Cain started out as a musician.
“This all began with the band I was in the late 70s/early 80s. We had our own PA and rented some lights, but there really wasn’t a lighting company in Dallas, so one day my brother Terry said, ‘you know what, I’m going to buy some lights and rent them out.’ It was that simple. He started in 1981. In 1983 we brought in sound, and we’ve been together ever since.”
While it was Terry’s idea to start the business, it was Tim’s musical aspirations that led to his doing so. “I never thought about getting into audio. I wanted to be a rock star,” Cain says, laughing. “I started playing guitar when at 15 and when I was 18 I joined a band that needed a bass player. I bought a bass, started playing with them and my brothers said, ‘that’s cool. We want to do this with you’.”
Formed in Dallas, where the brothers were born and raised, the band was called Razin’ Cain and played 250-plus shows a year in its heyday. Like Gemini, the band was a family affair, with Tim on bass, Terry managing, their older brother Dell doing sound, and childhood friend, Larry Rogers (also a founder of Gemini) handling lights.
Although the band continued to tour until the mid-1980s, by 1983 Tim, Terry and Dell’s primary focus was Gemini. That said, while Cain has a longstanding passion for recording – and spends as much of his downtime as possible working in his home studio – when Gemini started out he had little interest in getting behind the console in a live situation.
Tim Cain backstage with Usher and Paul Carelli (then with EAW) when Gemini supported Usher on tour a few years ago. (click to enlarge)
“I actually didn’t start mixing until 1985. We were doing radio shows for a local station and one of our partners was mixing wedges, but having a horrible day, so I took over.” For the next 16 years, he spent a great deal of time behind the desk and particularly loved running monitors. “Being a musician I could relate to what people wanted on stage and could bond with the artists we worked with very easily.” By the late 1990s, he was handling front of house mixing as well, spending a significant amount of time on the road.
For a time, Cain says, 80 percent of Gemini’s business was corporate: “I remember looking at my brother one day – we were in a hotel ballroom; we were always in a hotel ballroom – and saying, ‘can’t we do a band just one night?’ After 9/11, though, everything changed.”
In the uncertainty following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a number of shows Gemini had lined up cancelled on the spot, and the company sought to fill the gap. It started with R&B artist Frankie Beverly (who has since become a long-term client), with other R&B and hip-hop artists taking notice.
“In 2002 the audio department went out with Frankie and Usher simultaneously, which was our first big tour. We did that with an EAW KF760/761 rig, also flying line arrays for stage fill. I’m not to saying we were the first to do that. A lot of people snickered at us when we did, but Usher loved his monitor rig.”