LSI Online "Sharon Bampton", Feb'05

Questions by The Shend
Bampton, Sharon - (born Liverpool). Backline Tech

Recent Activity:
Sharon : Elbow, Placebo.

Worthy Past Glories:
Sharon : Goldblade, Witness, Dead Sixties, Ladytron, Elbow, Placebo.

Why are you what you are?
Sharon : A good friend, Mick Winder, introduced me to the job. I was instantly hooked. Goldblade gave me my very first gig, I was with them for two and a half years and will be eternally grateful.

Three best things about your job?
Sharon : Being lucky enough to visit strange and beautiful places. I worked in Cuba, China and Beirut last year, and have met some amazing people with whom I will always remain friends. The experiences are priceless.
The buzz of being part of a team, getting to a gig and whatever the circumstances ahead, making the gig work. Working alongside band and crew to whom I truly respect and admire.

Three worst things about your job?
Sharon : Airports; Falling ill on tour as there is no such thing as a sick day in your bunk; Missing special occasions with family and friends.

The equipment you use in an ideal world?
Sharon : Fluke multi-meter, Peterson strobe tuner. R.S Electronics have an amazing range of all tools needed for the job. I have a production case filled with the world’s most high-tech gadgets, lots of power tools and stuff, can’t get enough of them. As for my backline choice, I would have to say vintage amps and guitars. Although they can be very temperamental, you can’t reproduce the sound of a Vox AC30 or Fender Twin.

Most crucial invention since you started, that’s improved your job?
Sharon : D’Addario string winder/stroke cutter all in one, for those tricky string-snapping moments.

What do you never leave home without when working?
Sharon : The list is endless: toolbox of course, Mac laptop, camera, and lots of girly products - touring plays havoc with ones hair, nails and skin.

Proudest moment?
Sharon : It’s a difficult choice but one of them is being awarded my first disc from Placebo at the Wembley show in November 2004.

Best gig while working?
Sharon : Difficult choice, but I would have to say Cuba last year with Elbow. The gig conditions were treacherous, but the gig itself and the whole experience was amazing.

Best gig as a punter?
Sharon : I’ve had many, but seeing the Pixies play at Primavera, Barcelona last summer was pretty special.

Most irritating request from promoter/ artist/member of the public?
Sharon : I usually avoid both promoters and members of the public. As for the artists, the list is endless.

Artist from the past you’d most like to have worked for?
Sharon : Johnny Cash.

Most reliable piece of equipment?
Sharon : Korg rack tuner.

What phrase sends a chill down your spine while working?
Sharon : ‘Wake up, it’s time to load in,’ and ‘Changeover time has been cut.’

What invention would make your job easier/better?
Sharon : A transparent wendy house-style stagebooth which cuts out all on-stage bass frequencies for tuning acoustic guitars.

What other member of the crew would you least like to be?
Sharon : Caterers and lighting crew: they work so hard and such long hours.

Which other member of the crew do you take your hat off to?
Sharon : Production manager, without doubt.

Name three best sounds and three best videos on the crew bus?
Sharon : AC/DC, Elliot Smith, Grandaddy; Big Lebowski, Von Ryan’s Express, Little Britain.

Most irritating thing on crew bus? Why?
Sharon : Me. I never shut up, apparently.

Best hotel you’ve stayed at while working and why?
Sharon : Hotel Roosevelt, Hollywood. It has an amazing history; Sofitel Palm Beach, south of France. Amazing rooms, with the most beautiful views of the med, fab food, fab service, very posh - luxury after a week on a bus doing festivals.

Like all music journalists, are you really just a frustrated musician?
Sharon : Most definitely not, my guitar playing is worse than dreadful, Spinal Tap techy style is not my thing. 

Best passing through customs anecdote? 
Crossing from America to Canada. Our American bus driver attempted to hand me his 9mm pistol to hide in my backline cases. I heard shortly after this tour he had a mental breakdown. Another occasion at the very same border crossing, break dancing competition between two bands whilst waiting in customs office, looked upon in horror by strange looking inbred family with children sporting very large heads, very scary.

Bizarrest sight you’ve ever seen at work?
Sharon : Reading Main Stage 2004. Witnessing Rasmus being severely pelted with mud, rocks, firecrackers and urine. I have never seen a stage and backline so trashed.

Favourite artist to work for?
Sharon : I have been blessed in working for some of the most amazingly talented and beautiful people, both bands and crews, it would be impossible to choose.

Favourite venue?
Sharon : Paradiso, Amsterdam. Beautiful venue, great local crew, great riders, never a bad gig.

Most hated venue?
Sharon : Hammerstein Ballroom, New York.

Open air or under a roof?
Sharon : Under a roof.

Best festival and why?
Sharon : Coachella [California]. Truly the most beautiful setting, excellent facilities, very plush. The only drawback is working in desert conditions.

Best item of clothing at work and why?

Sharon : My workboots, having comfortable and well protected feet is very important.

Closest you’ve come to death whilst touring?
Sharon : I’ve never had such an experience, although last summer in France, a very large truss spanner fell from the roof truss landing just inches from me. I was also rushed to hospital mid-tour with kidney stones, twice in three days, both in Sheffield and London. Very painful experience indeed.

Most outrageous thing you ever did on tour?
Sharon : On tour code of silence on that one.

Most sensible thing you ever did on tour?
Sharon : Dragging a very drunken band and crew out of a drunken fan’s car on their way to a party. Thank God I was sober.

Source: lsionline