He's performed with some bands like Ghoultown, Bit Rot and The Gorehounds, but he's mostly flying the ship behind the scenes right now, and we're lucky to have him in town. He's one of those guys that even when the party gets extra wacko, he's professional and focused enough to hold it together and keep things sounding good.
In addition to being a regular soundhound at Doublewide, he's also been handy at Kirtland's Dia De Los Toadies Fests, and was recently spotlighted here in DC9 in our article on some of the best live sound engineers in town.
Meet Jeff "JT" Dayton...he's a pro who knows how to make your band sound pro.
Say, JT....what do live sound people do to "get away from it all"? Are you able to earn a proper break once in a while? If so, how do you use it?
Got it. Becoming a sound engineer sounds like it involves a period of real trial by fire. True? How tough is is to first get momentum going in a job like that?
Yes, pretty much thrown to the wolves right from the start. I've met several guys that went to school for this and still weren't prepared for real-life application, or what it really takes. It's pretty tough to get through the beginning whether it's clubs, bigger venues, touring or even recording. A good attitude, a passion for for your craft, natural talent, learning quickly from your mistakes and a lot whiskey help get up and over the initial troubles that come up.
Whats your very favorite thing about running live sound? Favorite thing absolutely is showtime! Especially when it is a smooth show and the artist is comfortable - that's when great things happen. There are a TON of bands in DFW that are great fun to mix! We are very lucky to live in a place and time with so much diversity in music. Even narrowing artists that are most fun to mix down to genre's would still be a very long list.
Least favorite is bad attitudes. Band, crew...doesn't matter. Leave your bummer attitude elsewhere. That and spit. Assholes, usually metal bands, that spit on everything during their show?! STOP! Get a bucket!Also, the least fun are those bands that have members that don't realize what band they're in.
How do you mean?
Like, drummers for country bands that beat the shit out of their snare and cymbals when the song doesn't call for it, for example. Most country songs don't call for that. In any genre, if one guy is playing way louder, harder, quieter, busier than the rest, it throws the mix off. Not Fun. Especially in smaller venues. Good bands know how to sound good TOGETHER.
Was there a live music experience in your younger years set you off in this direction?
Even as a kid, I was fascinated with my parent's stereo console. The glowing tubes, the treble knob, the bass knob and how they manipulated the sound. Once I started playing in bands I had to figure something out for rehearsal and house parties. Then especially when I started playing clubs and touring I got VERY interested and started paying more attention to the production aspect. I bullshitted my way into a monitor gig at a club and realized just how much I didn't know. Passion and interest melted with challenge... and I was hooked.
Advice for up and comers who want to follow in your direction professionally?
Ha! And assuming they're stubborn and determined anyway? Much like yourself?
Try to intern with a local engineer that you like. If you aren't repulsed and are still into it, get some proper schooling and blend that in with real life situations. Do some stage hand work so you can get a handle on it all.
Say you had some power/influence over the local music/arts community. What changes, etc would you implement to make things better/easier?
Most artists in the Deep Ellum community especially are pretty supportive of each other and the venues they play. Venues are also supportive of other venues and the artists they host. I've been in Deep Ellum and this community long enough to have seen it thrive and I've seen it during some very bleak times. The support system that is happening currently is a key element of any music and arts scene. I don't really think I would want change or alter the healthy progress that is going on today. These are some good times!