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Tim Boardman

Tim Boardman

Tour Manager, Engineer, Musician

Tim Boardman is a Tour Manager, Engineer and Musician whose credits include touring the globe with double Grammy winner Tori Kelly, a stint at Wembley Stadium with Eminem and many more major tours and arena shows with the world’s top artists. As a guitar player he’s performed with Tory Lanez. He owns lots of mics but always comes back to his ‘go-to’ Astons…

Giggs, Tori Kelly, Eminem, Butch Walker
Tim uses these Aston mics:
Origin
Spirit
Starlight
Stealth
Carnage

“My friends were in a band and I went out on tour with them. We used to put on concerts together and it ended up spiralling from there. That was a band called Enter Shikari. I joined another band and Enter Shikari’s managers ended up managing my band. They introduced me to a guy called Justin Hawkins from The Darkness and he produced my band's record and then I went out on tour with Justin and it's just kind of one of those ‘one thing led to another’ situations. Working with Enter Shikari was f***ing carnage – in a nice way. We saw some things. They’re from St. Albans and I’m from the area as well, so even now me and some of the Shikari boys live about 500 yards away from each other. Brilliant small world stuff.

The Enter Shikari guys bought an ex-post office van, which they then blew up in a video. My childhood best friend renamed it the Shikari Ferrari, which is both terrible and brilliant. We were just driving around doing the most insane tiny shows. We'd be at Club 85 [in Hitchin] on a regular basis and it'd be weirdly the only show they had that would be sold out. So we were going everywhere to these smaller town, it was like, ‘okay, we're in Huddersfield now, this is what we do’. That level of touring is the wildest stuff I've ever seen, because there are no consequences. No-one is really there to shout at you. You get to see some pretty wild things -  I think that’s a nice way of putting it. The kind of stories that you can't really tell!

At the moment, I'm mainly production managing for an artist called Solange. We’ve just put together a big festival run for her. I do a bunch of studio work as well and then play around with audio gear.”

The backline guy

“I got friendly with a guy called David Klein, who was ‘International Tour Manager of the Year’ 2-3 years running in the magazine Pollstar. I'd been introduced to him a little while before and he sent me an email saying, “Hey, you know all the people in London - do you have a backline guy? I need a guitar tech to do a Brixton Academy show”. I was like, “Oh, yeah, I can help you with one of them. Don't worry about it”. What I didn't realise was that he’d sent it in the American date system and about four days later he called me up; “Yo, who's my guitar tech for tomorrow?” and I was like “f***, I'm shit at my life, why am I so bad at this? I'm going to have to do this, aren’t I…’ so I went and I was guitar tech for Tori Kelly for a week at Brixton, having no real clue what I was doing.

I got on really well with Tori and her dad who was the old production manager. He'd been with her since day one and grown up with it, and I hung out with my friend David a bunch. He then ended up working with Justin Bieber and Keisha [White] - pretty savage. When Tori came around last year, she’d just won a Grammy (now two Grammys), and she was everyone's sweetheart, like she's the best artist in the world, she's incredible. She released a gospel record. They were looking to tour it in the States and I got the call. We took a couple of buses out and went into these churches, a bunch of venues that people don't usually go to, and got to do a really interesting run. That was when we brought the Aston guys back in. A lot of what I do is Brixton to arena-level hip hop where there aren't a huge number of big microphones involved, we have 4 radio microphones, and that's basically the entire show.”

Swiss Army mics

“We took a bunch of Aston stuff out on that first Tori Kelly tour. The Starlights were there and they got moved around a bit, as drum overheads or audience microphones. We used some of the larger units [Origin and Spirit LDCs and Stealths] on guitar, we used some on kick drum for a while - we used those as Swiss Army kind of mics and just went, “What should we try it on today?” just try to find where we liked them best.

I come from a studio background, so I had all these mic choices that I was obsessed with from day one and it’s very hard to get yourself out of that, if you know that you love a particular one as your snare drum microphone, or you like an old AKG on kick drum. It's weird to come across something that makes you think “Let's try something new here” and we were lucky enough to be able to try the Astons and that's carried on throughout the whole thing. We ended up A/B-ing loads of stuff and using different setups on each of the microphones where, especially with the new Stealth, being able to switch between a bunch of sounds was just great.

We had a guitar player on this last tour, a guy called Mateus Asato who has got I think, a million Instagram followers, which is absolutely insane, because people don't care about guitar! We worked with the guys at Fender and we tried different amplifiers and then we went through a bunch of different mics. We tried everything and then ended up back where we started with the Aston Spirit. We went through large diaphragm Shure stuff and then we tried the EV RE20 and actually just ended up coming back to the Spirit and going “we had a standard SM57 on one of the guitar amps and the Spirit on the other one and everyone was super happy”.  We used the Starlights again as our audience mics for the entire tour even down to the DVD filming we did in LA.”

Under the radar

“A lot of what I do is kind of pulling things out of the fire - It's really just getting away with things! I did some fun shows at Wembley Stadium with Eminem. I had some pretty entertaining times with Tyler The Creator through the years. Joining Solange [Knowles] at 14 hours’ notice and the other guy quitting on stage within 10 minutes of my arriving, that was pretty fun.

I got to play guitar for Tory Lanez in front of 85,000 people, which was pretty silly. They had a studio in the bus, I fixed the bus and the bus studio and then they're like, “Why do you know how to do this?” and then they Googled me, worked out I was in a band and then told me I had to be a guitar player, which was kind of fun. I ended up doing that for a bunch of time, which was pretty entertaining as you can imagine.

‘Get on with it and just pretend it's not happening’ has been my method. This is the best way. If everything’s a surprise you’ve done alright. People hassle you less under the radar.”

Valve and speaker geek

“The gear really depends on the job. I've gotten quite excited about the Neve Shelford setup so on the last Tori tour we took out two channels of Neve Shelford’s and I've brilliantly just rented those to Slipknot for their summer.  So if you see Slipknot this summer they've got my studio preamps, which is entertaining. The 8 way Midas preamp, which is 8 of the XL43 preamps just in a single rack strip, which is nice. We did the entire Tori Kelly record for her DVD on just 2 Midas XL48’s and an Audient interface and it just sounded ridiculous the whole way through.

Guitar-wise I'm a f***ing geek and buy loads of stupid old stuff. There's one particularly good store in Nashville that I like, Carter Vintage. Every time I go through, I always spend horrendously large amounts of money there. Last time we went through with Tori, I went with the guitar player and bought a ¾ scale late 1950’s Gibson in there. I'm a disgusting valve and speaker geek, so even my home stereo is studio monitors, which is unnecessary. Lots of gear, all the gear all the time. Microphone-wise, aside from the Aston stuff, which is of course the most glorious thing that's ever happened in the world, there’s a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve got a U87 and less obvious choices like the Beyer 201’s. I've got an ex-BBC old D112 for kick drum that's ridiculous. I remember getting obsessed with Fleetwood Mac a little while ago, and then going and buying the old Sennheiser 441, that really long looking weird microphone that looks a bit like a shark. Equipment is a problem.”

A pretty good way of living

“I production managed a band called Kodaline and Jay from the band had an Aston mic in their studio and was getting super, super excited about it. I was like this thing looks f***ing cool, like a cross between a microphone and a grenade and I’m kind of into that. Jay was talking about how great it is and he’s got a really good little studio just outside of Dublin, where they make some of the Kodaline records and they make a bunch of stuff for bands like The Stripes. Astons are now my go-to.

The Tori Kelly stuff was our best time. We had an incredible crew on that. Wesley Switzer was our front of house engineer on this tour and he's a Grammy Award winning mix engineer. So he and I kind of go into a little bit and it's just being able to spend time over things and try things. I think one of the important things to do is not be close minded, I guess. It gives you the best building blocks to then do the proper stuff with microphones and it was kind of telling for me that one of the things that really came back was just how good everything sounded.  It’s always nice when it goes full circle and to come back to the Aston Spirit, just be like, “Oh, yeah, this is the one”. The only other thing that we used on it was the standard 57 and it’s like, this is a pretty good way of living.

I'm doing Solange, I'm doing Octavian with a guy called Lionel Miller, who is the front of house engineer on that.  He and I are going to Oslo tomorrow with Octavian - he won the BBC Sound of 2019. He’s got a pretty big summer as well in terms of headline festival stuff. I've just finished production managing Ally Brooke from Fifth Harmony which was pretty fun. Yeah, it's all pretty busy and silly. Both interesting and terrible.”

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. It's generally like Prince, Prince and Prince. I'll accept Anderson Paak at the moment because both of their last two records have been absolutely phenomenal, and that Kacey Musgraves record that won all the Grammys and Billboard music awards is pretty stupid on its own. Traditionally it would have been like the Tom Petty's of this world, that's always a pretty nice place to be.

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. I don't even know. There's no way of answering that doesn't make me sound like a dork. I was supposed to go and study Law and went to university and did a bunch of other stuff and then went “naah, I’m going to join a boyband instead”.

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston or your experience with the brand.
A. Half mic, half grenade.

Q. What was the first song that made you cry?
A. I don't think there's been one. I don't have any feelings. So the likelihood of that happening is zero, in the nicest possible way.  Zero feelings, very little crying unfortunately, which is a terrible answer.  

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