- by Steve Jennings (Photo and Text)
in Cover Story
Bruce Reiter, Brandon Webster, Sooner Routhier and Carter Fulghum Discuss the 2016 Co-Headlining Tour
Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP) and Shinedown are on a co-headlining tour which also features Sixx: A.M. and As Lions, playing arenas across the nation. We spoke with some of the production crew — 5FDP production manager Bruce Reiter along with their lighting designer/director and tour manager Brandon Webster. Then, for Shinedown, we talked with production designer and lighting programmer Sooner Routhier of SRae Productions and lighting director Carter Fulghum.
5FDP Production Manager
The 5FDP tour with Shinedown was put together to showcase two rock bands in their own unique way in one evening. Each band having a different and massive look and feel to their performance and stage design, says 5FDP production manager Bruce Reiter.
“Five Finger Death Punch are a band that connect with their audience on a deep emotional level, so the design had to feature the five personalities on stage and enhance the character and personality of each band member. Along with Brandon the designer, the band and myself all contributed ideas on how to present this show. The band were interested in adding lasers and wanted a massive stage look inspired by the album cover for Kiss Alive II. The staging risers and scissor lift for our nine-foot-tall drum riser are from Gallagher Staging, and the ribbon lift is from ShowFX, who were both very helpful in putting this show together.
“This is a 10 truck tour, with a typical 8 a.m. load-in with both headliners set up for sound check by 3 p.m. Load-out for this show is about a 90 minute process. The two co-headlining bands have assembled the best crews available.”
It was back in 2009 that Reiter received a call from Zoltan, the guitarist of Five Finger Death Punch, asking him who he thought he should hire to do lights for his then up-and-coming band.
“I suggested two of my favorite guys, and Brandon is the one that clicked with the band. I started working with the band a year later, in 2010, and each tour since that time has gotten bigger and better.
“Brandon and I work well together. We have an unspoken communication during the show, in the sense that he accents the lights with certain elements of the music in a way that his lighting cues make a musical passage come though. In my opinion, one of the best features of Brandon’s lighting show is he realizes that the audience are there to see and hear the band’s performance, and the lights are meant to enhance the band, not the other way around.”
5FDP Lighting Designer/Director and Tour Manager
Brandon Webster has been the lighting designer for 5FDP the past seven years, started back in 2009, after working with Megadeth. He also then became the band’s tour manager, as Webster explains.
“I can’t say that I got the job as the TM via the normal channels... I came in for the first run with the task of convincing them that $1K per week for a small lighting package was not a lot to spend (they were shocked at the cost). The tour was a success, and I took over advancing the next tour from a production standpoint. I was asked to cover for the new TM coming in for two shows, to get them across the border into Canada while the new guy traveled in.
“I agreed. Needless to say, he wasn’t right for the band; things went down and the next thing I know I’m told ‘You are the new TM now, don’t f**k this up.’ I have been here ever since. It’s been a real pleasure to be a part of the production growth since then. The move from a bus and a trailer to 10 buses and 10 trucks has been a great ride, and I am really grateful to be here.
“Prior to this, I worked with Static-X, Ill Nino, Chris Cornell and a handful of others. My name had been put out there for the lighting position with Korn, and I received this call while on a ski lift with my kid in Colorado. I didn’t know who it was, sounding like a young kid who said my name keeps popping up with Korn for a lighting position, we don’t know you but we have a baby band we’d like you to look at. That band was Five Finger Death Punch. I remember saying, ‘That’s the worst name for a band ever, can I call you in a week,’ and hung up... Little did I know that answering that call would definitely change my life!”
Both bands agreed to use what was in effect the flown portion of Shinedown’s existing light rig from Bandit Lites. It was prepped and ready to roll, and it wasn’t far off the show that Webster envisioned He agreed that this could be used with some minor repositioning of trusses to meet his needs.
“The major challenge was that I would not have necessarily chosen all the same fixtures as they did. So making the rig our own took a lot of cloning and finesse to make the 5FDP set look like what we envisioned. Bandit Lites is supplying the flown rig, and Christie Lites is supplying the floor package. Both bands had existing relationships with vendors, and we wanted to bring everyone to the table on this tour.
“Sooner Routhier designed Bandit’s light rig. I designed exclusively for 5FDP. The fixtures I chose were done based on output performance. I use [Martin] MAC Quantum Wash fixtures because of their reliability and the output they provide. This was a challenge, integrating the Claypaky B-Eye, because they are quite different in output. But with a little prodding, they came together with our rig nicely.
“I programmed and also run the lasers during our set; they are a big part of our show. We have all the laser cues integrated into the grandMA2 console. It’s a combination of step-to-step cues, and me operating them in real time.”
Gallagher Staging has been the choice as staging company for 5FDP for years. Webster says Joe Gallagher has always been a prompt and reliable partner for all their fabrication needs. Stage FX is supplying the band’s ribbon lifts.
“This project has always been a labor of love for me. I am very proud of how this has all turned out,” adds Webster. “My right hand and partner in all of this is our production manager and FOH engineer, Bruce Reiter. For years, and virtually every project I have worked on, Bruce and I have [worked] together. We have always approached this with the idea that with the new millennium came the need for a new mindset when it came to producing and designing shows. We have come up with a formula that has always been on budget and on time with every tour we have ever done. I am proud of the fact that somehow we have managed to never open doors late on any tour we have done, regardless of the obstacles that were in front of us.
“Recently we added John Santos to the team as my primary programmer. He has proven to be invaluable in that he has freed up time for me to brainstorm and develop ideas, and he is always there to make it happen quickly so we can move on to the next element. I owe both Bruce and John a lot of gratitude. There have been bittersweet moments along the way where I had unfortunate breaks with partners that really shook my confidence, and it never feels good to leave someone behind, but in the end, the two that are now three have managed to keep it all moving down the road and growing at a steady pace. We will see what comes in 2017.”
Things to mention, or not...
“The band thinks it’s funny to ask for absurd things moments before the show... Once they wanted missiles on the stage, so we built pneumatic rams that we made into rocket launchers. We raised our backline lighting rather than using towers. We built and funded an entire set by myself and Zoltan (Bathory, founder and rhythm guitarist for the band) by replicating a pseudo NYC skyline with animated billboards (American Capitalist tour) and sold the billboard space (appropriately enough, given the title of the tour and album) to companies to pay for the production. We enjoy thinking outside the box to get as much as possible into the trucks!”
Shinedown Production Designer and Lighting Programmer
SRae Productions is the designer for the Shinedown portion for this co-headlining tour with 5FDP. Production designers Sooner Routhier and Robert Long have been longtime friends of the band, and so band members Brent Smith (vocals) and Zach Myers (Guitars) trusted SRae to “do their thing” when it came to designing their set.
“We came up with a concept in the early spring of 2016 after having a couple discussions with the band. Every once in a while, we would get a text or an email with a simple pyro or lighting request, but otherwise they allowed us to come up with the complete concept.
“We worked directly with Bandit Lites to come up with fixtures for the tour that wouldn’t stress out their inventory too much. Shinedown have a strong relationship with Bandit, and we wanted to make sure that we were honoring it properly. We needed an effect light similar to an Ayrton MagicBlade-R and they suggested the Chauvet Rouge1 FX-B. We had a blast programming those things! We would definitely use them on another tour design. The Martin VDO Sceptrons and Elation ACL 360i’s are fixtures that we’ve been playing with a lot over the past year. We love the Sceptrons, because they allow us to use light as scenic. The 360i’s are tiny, and we can pack a lot of them into set carts for some fast movement and color effects. Claypaky’s B Eyes K20’s and the [Martin] MAC Vipers make up the flown rig. We had those on a previous tour, and we loved programming them. We wanted to try to keep the integrity of the cuing as much as possible.”
Routhier and Long worked with Accurate Staging in the summer to build the set carts for the tour, having used them extensively throughout the year for various tour sets.
“They’ve done an incredible job of delivering quality scenic that fits properly into a truck pack. Love those guys. SRae’s main involvement with Shinedown happened in the summer before the co-headline tour began. The scenic is composed of steel frame set carts with a polycarbonate facing that form ramps for the band to run up. Inside each of the carts are rows of Martin Sceptrons and Elation 360i’s. We wanted to give the band a more modern feel by adding the “neon” style video strips behind the clean lines of the polycarbonate. We also wanted to give the stage a bit more depth by placing ladders in front of a highly textured drop. The layers of the scenic really pop out once the backdrop is lit.”
Shinedown Lighting Director
As lighting director for Shinedown, Carter Fulghum started touring with Shinedown about four years ago having been referred to them by Brent Barrett from Bandit Lites. Fulghum had toured with Barrett on Alabama tours from 1997 to 2001.
“Brent was very familiar with my work, and Shinedown trusted his word. I am grateful to both him and the band for this chance. The first tour I did with them was the Uproar Festival in the fall of 2012.
“For this tour, we had four days of rehearsal at the beginning to fine tune the rig and get everything set. We were working with the design and programing from the Carnival of Madness tour, and added in new elements to the show. It was a quick turnaround, but it went very smooth. Brent, Berry, Eric and Zack of Shinedown always have an overview of what they want to see and achieve with each tour. They want the show to evolve with the music and to never be the same on any two tours. Just like their albums have evolved over the years and grown, they want the lighting to do the same. It is very nice to work with people that are this involved and have such a clear idea of what they want. It helps you get it right. Sooner also used the rig in a way that the show itself evolved as it progressed. Each song in the set list adds one more element to the picture. She is very talented and was great to work with on this.”
One of a number of fixtures that were used exclusively for Shinedown’s set were the addition of 80 Elation ACL 360i’s. Fulghum explains.
“For the 360i’s we used a defused Plexiglas in front of them that adds a different layer to the looks. We used them for set dressing and backlight on the band. The different effects that Sooner programmed into the show also give a feeling of movement to the set as well. We have Martin VDO’s in front of the drum riser and on the downstage arch in the air. They run content from a Catalyst system through them and add yet another layer to the set. There are eight truss towers in the back that have [Philips Showline SL] Nitro 510C’s and the Chauvet Rogue R1 FX-B’s on them. Behind that is a drop that is lit by the [Bandit] GRN Battens. With all that layering, you can get very deep looks by combining the set and the backdrop. It gives you a lot to work with to make impactful moments.
“This is a great tour to work on. This band is one of the nicest that I have ever been around. They treat everyone like family and make one feel so welcome. That feel carries over to the crew as well. We are one big family out here. Shinedown exclusively used Bandit LED fixtures, they have been their lighting vender from the beginning thus Brent Barrett and Michael Strickland are family. They have gone above and beyond to make sure the tour has everything that we need to make this happen every day. That also goes for Matt King and Jake Tickle.”
Five Finger Death Punch/Shinedown 2016 Tour
- Lighting Designer & Director/Tour Manager: Brandon Webster
- Lighting Programmer & Crew Chief: John Santos
- Lighting Techs: Brady Birenkoff, Axel Noel
- Production Manager & FOH Engineer: Bruce Reiter
- Production Coordinator: Cody Wickliffe
- Main Lighting Rig: Bandit Lites
- Floor Package: Christie Lites/Cory Wilson
- Staging: Gallagher Staging/Joey Gallagher
- Set Design: Brandon Webster, Bruce Reiter
- Stage Manager: Brian “Kiss” Huffaker
- Lasers: Christie Lites/Cory Wilson
- Laser Tech: Dave Fonner
- Trucking: Janco/Christopher Darling
- Production Design: SRae Productions
- Lighting Designer/Programmer: Sooner Routhier
- Lighting Director: Carter Fulghum
- Lighting Co: Bandit Lites/Brent Barrett
- Lighting Crew Chief: Ty Veneziano
- Lighting Techs: James Murray, David Hamilton, Elizabeth Weller
- Staging Co: Accurate Staging/Tye Trussell
- Stage Manager: Charles Terrell
- Tour Manager: Mary Jo Spillane
- Pyro Co: Pyrotek Special Effects/Reid Derne
- Pyro Techs: John Arrowsmith, Ray Seymour, Simon Brierley,
- Mark Donahue
- Riggers: Kirk “Rocket” Barocco, Kurt Jenks
- Trucking Co: Upstaging Inc.
5FDP & Shinedown (Shared):
- 2 grandMA2 Full consoles
- 28 Martin MAC Viper Profiles
- 12 Vari-Lite VL3000 Spots
- 36 Claypaky B-Eye K20s
- 6 Elation CuePix Blinders
- 4 DF-50 hazers
- 16 Martin MAC Quantum Wash
- 12 Martin Atomic 3000 LED strobes
- 16 Lightwave International Phenom lasers
- 10 Reel FX Cryojets
- 24 Bandit GRN RGBAW Battens
- 80 Elation ACL 360i fixtures
- 20 Philips Showline SL Nitro 510C
- 20 Chauvet Rogue R1 FX-B fixtures
- 104 Martin VDO Sceptron 10, 1 meter
- 72 Martin VDO Sceptron 10, 320mm
- 1 Catalyst media server
More tour photos by Steve Jennings: