One of the interview topics that didn't make it to the print version of this week's My Bloody Valentine feature was the volume of the band's legendarily loud live shows. Kevin Shields has suffered from tinnitus since 1991, but said falling asleep with headphones on while mixing Loveless--not concert noise level--caused the hearing damage.
"It's at first a curse, but then kind of a gift because something like this tinnitus is a very good indicator if I'm exposing myself to too much loud noise," he said. "It gets much worse, so in a way it's like having a little alarm system, like 'You've gone too far.' If I didn't have it, I think my hearing would be much worse. That's why we give the audience earplugs when we play, because if it doesn't feel too loud, it isn't too loud."
Shields also claimed their concerts generate around 115 dB, fairly standard for loud concerts, but seem louder because the of the style of music (ironically, he said, the band's recordings are relatively quiet).
Maybe so, but Matt Barnhart, who ran the sound for Josh Pearson's opening set at the Austin MBV show last night, said that the volume became painful despite his 37-dB earplugs during the climactic noise section of closer "You Made Me Realise."
"It wasn't bad during most of the set, but it was ungodly loud during the noise jam they always do at the end of their shows," he said. "It was like being hit with a ton of bricks. You could feel it."
Barnhart said said the band's five sound engineers are bringing a P.A. system that could easily fill a 15,000- to 20,000-person venue--which would be about five times the size of the Palladium.
Fortunately, you'll be OK even if you don't bring your own: MBV tour manager Eric Fischer confirmed the band will, as always, give out earplugs tonight.