Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips and photographer Jason Rosewarne were recently granted exclusive access to P!nk’s stage, her crew and band during one of her Beautiful Trauma Australian tour gigs at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. Check out our coverage of our day featuring footage of Audio programmers Joe Wolfe and James JR Newkirk, as well as interviews with band members Jay Chapman, Adriana Balic and Mark Schulman.
Soundcheck photos by Jason Rosewarne. Show photos by Jay Wennington
Anyone who has attended P!nk’s current Beautiful Trauma tour will know that the show is a wonderful explosion of colour, movement and of course, quality talent and musicianship. It’s no surprise that the Beautiful Trauma World Tour has become her highest ever grossing stint, with over $100 million in tickets sold globally, including record breaking runs at venues such as Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.
At the core of the sound of this show is an incredible six piece band, partly which includes P!nk’s long time drummer, the ever-energetic Mark Schulman, musical director and keyboard wizard Jay Chapman, and keyboard player, guitarist Adriana Balic, all of whom were so generous in giving us time in Melbourne to chat about their role in the show. Also on stage contributing to the sound are Justin Derrico on guitar, Eva Gardner on bass and Jesse Greene on violin and cello.
However, before knowing what happens upon the stage, it’s important to know a little about what’s going on under and behind it as there’s a team of dedicated and skilled personnel who work hard to ensure you’re getting a state of the art, high energy and quality sound production experience. One of the key members of the audio team is Joe Wolfe, who Australian Musician first came into contact with back in 2010 when he was touring with Whitney Houston and has seen every side of the music business from retail, to performer, composer and now behind the scenes production. He has worked with some of music’s biggest names such as Steely Dan, Lionel Richie, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Prince, Eric Clapton and Earth Wind and Fire. Wolfe is currently P!nk’s audio programmer and working from his under-stage bunker, he is responsible for running the show’s production via his bank of laptops which connects the sound being generated upstairs by the musicians with the vision, pyrotechnics and lighting, running off a timecode which makes it all happen like clockwork. If there’s an issue, which is rare, people like Joe or monitor engineer for the band, Horst Hartmann are able to speak to the musicians on stage via in ear monitors and relay any messages which might solve any potential problem. For the current tour, the microphone system being used is Sennheiser’s Digital 6000 system, both handheld and bodypack, with an improved custom mic/in-ear combo, and wireless monitoring via Sennheiser’s 2000 Series.
P!nk’s keyboard players, Jay and Adriana are currently using Roland RD2000 and Fantom FA-06 units on stage with much of the show’s sounds accessed via the MainStage application. Jay also plays a Roland VK-8 organ. Joe spent a lot of time programming the MainStage patches pre-tour. “At that point of time for the promo run, the idea was that we could be as mobile as possible and condense to the laptop sound sources,” said Joe of the route they took. “The majority of those sounds were recreated from the Roland Fantom series patches and there were a few that were actually sampled and imported into the SX24. One thing that made the RD series work were the mod wheels and joy stick, that’s really the only controller that gives you that option, plus the players really love the weighted action.”
Working on such a complex, multi-media show like Beautiful Trauma, you’d expect with so many elements involved that there must be some hairy moments that Joe occasionally encounters. However he suggests that it’s such a well oiled machine that glitches are rare. “No, not really,” he told me. “We have a great team of people and all specialists in our various fields and we figure out and ride those hurdles as they come up.”
During our afternoon backstage at Rod Laver Arena, we were introduced to many other key players in this show. Working along with Joe under the stage is James JR Newkirk, who has worked on production for Madonna and Justin Bieber among many others, and when not in Pink mode, also runs his own backline company, Backline Worldwide. Assisting Eva with her bass needs is her tech Ruff Stuart, an amiable Brit who started out his music life as a drummer.
Then there’s drum tech Gary Grimm, who looks after Mark Schulman’s amazing Gretsch Broadcaster kit (see kit details below) which includes Roland TD30 V Drums and Sabian cymbals, all held together solidly by the visually a stunning Gibraltar hardware rack. In fact MD Jay Chapman was so impressed with Mark’s kit hardware that he ordered similar parts from Gibraltar and built matching stands for the keyboards.
Gary Grimm has been Mark’s drum tech since they came across each other paths during a Cher tour in 2002. Gary has previously worked with some of the world’s finest drummers including; Mick Fleetwood, Steve Ferrone, Lenny White, Steve Gadd, Jeff Porcaro, and Rick Marotta to name a few. “This kit is brand new to this tour,” Gary says of the Gretsch Broadkaster kit Mark is using in this show. “Everything is new. It is a new rack, new drum set. It’s very open sounding and very big. I’ve really enjoyed it. I think the difference is that this kit has a little more top end to it, a little more edge. I’m finding this kit really easy to tune and very consistent drum to drum. A lot of times you’ll get a kit where one tom has an easy to tune open sound and another tom may be more choked or dead, which is just the way it is … it’s wood so you never know what you are going to get. This kit is very consistent, I like it a lot.”
Gary is also overseeing the transition of Mark’s Roland TD30 V Drum set up to the newer TD50, which has more developed sample capabilities. “Obviously Mark has picked the sounds and what we are doing from song to song,” explains Gary. “It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to use the 50 from the beginning because it came up pretty close to when we were done. The transition involves the sound guys and everything, so it’s not a case of just one day turning it over, one day the 30, the next day the 50. Unfortunately in a touring situation, there is not that kind of rehearsal time where you can make adjustments to a new system if you need to. So it will be a smooth transition but it’s going to take a bit.”
As audio programmer, Joe Wolfe would also have some technical input into the transition. “My involvement would be reviewing the master tracks and selecting drum sounds to trigger from the record, which he can load into the TD50, since it is a sampler now as well.”
Below is our video coverage of our day featuring under-stage footage of Joe and JR, as well as interviews with Jay Chapman, Adriana Balic and Mark Schulman. Thanks to everyone for their hospitality and generosity, on such a busy show day they still found the time to make us feel very welcome.
And here’s Jason Rosewarne’s photo coverage
Here’s a rundown of the gear used by our interviewees:
14 x 26 Broadkaster Bass Drum
8 x 10, 8 x 12, 12 x 14 Broadkaster rack toms
16 x 16, 16 x 18 Broadkaster floor toms
5 x 12 custom Mark Schulman signature snare drum (main)
6 1/2 x 14 solid maple custom snare drum (main)
6 1/2 x 14 Brooklyn hammered chrome over brass snare drum
8 x 5 USA Custom concert tom
18 x 18 Brooklyn custom floor tom
18 x 24 Brooklyn custom floor tom
Brent Barnett Custom design rack
Hardware and G Series double pedals
1pr – 15” Groove Hats
1 – 9” Radia Chime
1 – 10” AA Splash
1 – 18” EVO O-Zone Crash (inverted)
1 – 18” EVO O-Zone Crash w/rivets
1 – 19” AAX X-Plosion Crash
1 – 20” AA Raw Bell Crash
1 – 20” V-Crash
1 – 22” AERO Crash (prototype)
1 – 18” AERO Crash (bottom) w/ 1 – 18” EVO O-Zone Crash (top)
Emperor Colortone Red – toms
Powerstroke P3 Clear Black Dot – bass drum
Emperor X Coated – snare drum
Ambassador Hazy – snare side
TD-30 Drum Trigger Module – (Transitioning to TD-50 Drum Trigger Module)
10” Mesh Trigger Pad (PDX100) x2
Bass drum Trigger Pedal (KT10)
Drum Trigger Pad (BT1)
T3 Staccato Mallets
RUTE 505 Plastic Multirod
CT1 Corpsmaster Timpani Mallets
Roland RD2000 and FA-06 running MainStage. Roland VK-8 organ
Keyboards: Roland RD2000 and FA06.
Guitars: Taylor 200 series Koha top. Ernie Ball Music Man Albert Lee model.