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In The Hot Seat: The Interesting Life And Times Of Monitor Engineer Bruce Danz

“I really prefer mixing monitors because I like being on stage and not 300 feet of snake away from the musicians."

Equipment Decisions

Danz notes that at this point in his career, he can pretty much call the shots on his gear. The most recent (and final) tour with Marilyn Manson saw him working with an Avid VENUE Profile mix surface, select Eventide plugins and two Eventide H3000 effects processors, with an Avalon tube preamp for Manson’s vocals.

On stage were side fills comprised of dual L-Acoustics SB28 subwoofers with three L-Acoustics ARC full-range boxes per side, driven with LA8 amplifier/controllers. He delivered his mixes 18 d&b audiotechnik M2 wedges, four in front of Manson and two more for “fill” behind him. Each band member also had two wedges, while the drummer, also wearing in-ear monitors (IEMs), also taking advantage of a “thumper.” Danz posted a pair of cue wedges in his world, with all monitors powered via d&b D12 amplifiers.”

“I like mixing for in-ears,” he notes, “but pushing the faders on that Manson rig has a certain power that in-ears can never match. Manson was combat audio due to his antics and they way he handled his mics.”

In contrast, Avenged Sevenfold is a different animal entirely. The band is entirely on IEMs and all of the amps are in isolation cabinets, and the only open mics on stage are for drums and three to five (depending on the venue) vocal positions.

“It’s a very controlled situation,” Danz says. “I’m not in favor of mixing both wedges and in-ears; I think it defeats the purpose. I definitely don’t like it when the artist wears only one ear. I have custom molded plugs that I use whenever possible and certainly when other bands are playing. I probably should do a little more to protect my ears.”

The Other Things

Speaking of health-related matters, he shares that much like his job, his lifestyle has evolved. “My habits have changed a lot over the years,” he says. “I’m frugal and a fussy eater, and over the years I would do the quick and cheap thing and eat McDonald’s and drink too much Coca-Cola. I also smoked far too many Marlboros.” habit

Five years ago he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and that took care of the smoking, and then a little over a year ago he had a really scary health issue that was brought on by a substandard diet, so he’s been focusing on eating healthier, particularly when on the road. “I’ve cut way back on the soda pop and the fast food. More fresh fruits and veggies on the rider!” he adds.

Getting ready to jump on the bus for the next stop on the tour. (Credit: Phil Garfinkel)

As we wrapped up our conversation, Danz encapsulated aspects of his career that go well beyond gear deployment and pushing faders. “I’ve had crazy things happen to me on the road: artist tantrums, mics being thrown at me, fires on stage, artists hurting themselves. I’ve also lost friends on crews due to accidents and such. I just stand my ground and don’t let situations frazzle me or knock me off my game.

“Sometimes it’s really hard. I love my wife and family; their pictures are taped to the drawers of my workbox so I can see them every day, and I miss them when I’m out working. My touring family is also very important to me. We’re in close quarters and there’s often someone on the crew you don’t necessarily care for yet need to deal with.

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“But for the most part, the lifelong bonds I’ve made with my touring partners make for some of the closest friends I have,” he concludes. “Last year I lost my friend and touring partner Dave (Shirt) Nichols. Shirt and I toured together extensively over the last 20 years; we learned so much from each other, and the road will never be the same without him. His passing was very sudden and it caught us all off guard. I think about him every time I go up to the desk.”