Longtime METALLICA Front-Of-House Engineer Has 'No Complaints'

Longtime METALLICA front-of-house (FOH) engineer "Big" Mick Hughes tells PTI that he has made lot of sacrifices to be with the iconic heavy metal band.

"You have to give up a little in order to gain something," the 53-year-old Brit, who has mixed METALLICA at every one of the more than 1,600 shows they have performed since their November 1984 tour of Europe, says. "It is the same with me. I chose to be with the band and I lost out on some part of my life. I'm not married because I was travelling with the band. Even they (band members) have made a lot of sacrifices over the years."

He adds, "I enjoy the job. I don't treat it as work. They are nice guys and every moment with them has been fun. I have no complaints.

"I know these guys inside out. We have a very healthy relationship. So far, it has been quite a roller coaster ride, but very fulfilling. We, as a band, have been through problems. The journey has been wild and strange," he says.

When asked what is the most challenging aspect of being with a band, Hughes says, "Hardest thing being with a band is travelling. I have been travelling for the past 35 years. And it is quite a challenge."

In 2007, Big Mick was asked to mix the FOH sound for the LED ZEPPELIN reunion concert at London's O2 Arena in conjunction with Robert Plant's personal vocal mixer Roy Williams.

Regarding how he landed the METALLICA gig, Hughes told Mix magazine in 2007, "I already worked for the management company I worked for a PA company in England called Texserv, with Bob Doyle. Peter Mench, who managed METALLICA, and DEF LEPPARD, and CHILI PEPPERS, said that he wanted one of Bob's guys to engineer this new bad he signed in England called the ARMORY SHOW. I ended up with those guys for like a year and a half; this was in '81, somewhere around there. Q Prime, who was the management, said, 'We're losing these guys, but we like you do you want to do this band we just signed? It's a new band called METALLICA.' And I say, 'Well, what is it?' And he says, 'It's heavy metal.' I say, 'What the fuck is heavy metal?' He goes, 'Well, you'll find out if you do it.' And I went, 'Alright, then; I'll be in for a penny, for a pound.' So I went off and we did November, December around Europe. And the band says, 'We like you; do you want to be our engineer?' I said, 'Well, what does that involve?' Because I'd never been the band's engineer, I've always been the guy that came with the PA: Set the PA up, work it, put it back in the truck and leave. We started in January with W.A.S.P. and ARMORED SAINT. And off we went, and that was January '85, and then here we are."

He added, "People say to me, you're so fortunate to have seen the entire transition from bars to clubs to theaters to half arenas, to full arenas, to stadiums. It's pretty bizarre to see how things changed. Before, it was just literally the band and myself and a couple of other guys on the bus we all went off on one bus on tour and that was it. All the trials and tribulations that I couldn't possibly talk about that happened to 19-year old guys in bands on buses in those days. They were 19, 20, you know what I mean? And here we are, still doing it. And they're all married with kids now."


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