I made lot of sacrifices to be with Metallica: sound engineer

The 53-year-old Brit, also called Big Mick, says he as well as the band members have lost out on certain things in life to carry on with their musical journey.

"You have to give up a little in order to gain something. 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," Hughes told PTI.

"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 complains," he added.

Formed in 1981, Metallica comprises lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, drummer Lars Ulrich, lead vocalist James Hetfield and bassist Robert Trujillo.

Hughes said that despite being with the band for so many years, there has never been any feud ever.

"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 has been through problems. The journey has been wild and strange," he said.

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

Before joining Metallica, Hughes worked for the PA company Techserve and engineered for bands including UB40, Dennis Brown, Yellowman and Jungle Man before becoming the touring sound engineer for The Armoury Show, who featured former The Skids singer Richard Jobson and the Banshees guitarist John McGeoch.

"I played for smaller bands earlier but Metallica was different from them. They were 19 and I was 23. I didn't know what heavy metal was when I joined them. Nobody back in 1984 really knew what heavy metal was. Even the band didn't know what they were doing. They never thought they would be such a rage," he said.

Hughes also said that the most difficult concert so far with the band was the S&M concert (Symphony and Metallica), which was a live album by the band. It was recorded on April 21–22, 1999 at The Berkeley Community Theatre.

"The S&M concert was the most difficult. We built the perspex screens removed all speakers and used stereo mix sound. It was one hell of a concert.

"During a concert, fans want to listen to Metallica and not the orchestral sound that is played at the background. That is the challenge of a sound engineer and that is what I learnt while I was working in the sound company," Hughes, who was in the country recently for Metallica's Indian concert, said, adding that he was impressed with the sound equipments supplied by Harman professional here.

Hughes said that he is genuinely concerned for the music industry as newer bands have failed to generate a rage like their predecessors.

"I am concerned for the music industry. We are getting older - Aerosmith is also ageing. Where are the new bands? New faces? The new bands that are on the block have failed to engage their fans like before. It is sad," he said.

Hughes also had some tips for aspiring sound engineers.
"The foremost thing is that guys have to listen. Nowadays they just stare at the computer screen. They depend a lot on technology. They should let their mind take their call. They should know that the computer system is not the end of the world. As a sound engineer you should know what works best for the given situation," he said.

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