"Big" Mick Hughes
is the live audio engineer
, a position he has held since
born in 1960 and grew up in Birmingham, England.
While an apprentice at British Steel
, he studied electronics at a
local technical college and also gained experience on the thriving
Midlands music scene including working as a roadie for Judas Priest
. In the early 1980s, working for
the PA company Techserve he engineered for bands including UB40
, Dennis Brown
, and Jungle Man
before becoming the touring
sound engineer for The Armoury
, who featured ex The Skids
and ex Siouxsie & the
The Armoury Show's management company QPrime then asked Mick to
engineer a band they had just signed called Metallica
(prompting Mick to ask "What's heavy
metal?" when told the genre of music they played ) starting a
relationship that has lasted over 20 years.
Big Mick has mixed Metallica at every one of the more than 1500
shows they have performed since their November 1984 tour of Europe.
His contract with Metallica supposedly states that he has to be
called by his moniker
, although amongst the
band themselves he is known as Full Roar .
The live mixing technique he is often credited with is adding a
high mid "click" to the bass drum, which evolved early on with
Metallica as a means of lifting Lars Ulrich's bass drums out of the
bottom heavy sound . A more recent crusade is to encourage
engineers to start soundchecks with ambient microphones (such as
vocal microphones) working through to close-miked or gated
instruments such as drums. This is in direct opposition to the
usual soundcheck which starts with the kick drum and ends with the
vocals, but actually makes a lot of sense since the final sound of
any instrument is going to be the combination of the ambient and
close microphones it can be heard through.
When not busy with Metallica, he has also worked with Halford
, Ozzy Osbourne
, Queens of the Stone Age
and Steve Vai
. He produced the album 'World Service'
for rock band Radio Moscow in 1991 . He managed The Wildhearts
in the 1990s and has worked
with them live and in the studio since their reunion in 2002. After
Metallica, the band he is most strongly associated with is Slipknot
who he has worked with between
Metallica tours since 2001. He has even done sound for a Slipknot
tribute act, Slip-not .
he was asked to mix the FOH sound for
the Led Zeppelin reunion concert at
Arena in conjunction with Robert
Plant's personal vocal mixer Roy Williams.
They used the
facilities of the Midas XL8
console to allow them to do this on a single desk . He consciously
did not use the clicky Metallica bass drum sound, preferring
instead to update John Bonham
and reverberant drum sound by using a mix of close and ambient drum
microphones on Jason Bonham
's kit ,
brought into phase using a 3 or 4ms delay , and finished with a
small amount of digital reverb.
- Prosoundweb interview from 2001 (preserved on
- Interview on Audio Technica website
- James Hetfield interview - "We call him Full Roar
for a reason. He turns those faders up and doesn't stop."
- Big Mick discusses the evolution of the drum
- Radio Moscow biography on Rockdetector
- "Roadies 2 - On The Road Again", a TV programme featuring
Mick on tour with The Wildhearts
- "Roadies 2 - On The Road Again", part 2
- "Roadies 2 - On The Road Again", part 3
- Discogs entry for The Wildhearts B-sides compilation
- On the road with Slipknot
- August 2006 entry on Viper Productions news page
- Midas Consoles press release
- Details of microphones used at the Led Zeppelin
- Article in June 2008 issue of Performing Musician And Live
Sound World magazine (not online)