This month’s Droopie is Stehve Ahonen. Yaaaaaay! *muppet hands*
Stephan is a professional live sound engineer. You probably haven’t seen him at any Dregs shows because he’s at the back of the room furiously twisting knobs, while also mixing sound. As you can see:
And he does this for funsies for us sometimes, like at CONvergence:
I interview our sound guy extraordinaire (due to a suggestion by Maggie my first Droopie whom I secretly
lust for adore) , and Stehve waxes philosophical about his favorite Dreg song, is undeceive about his favorite Dreg, and has a song suggestion that one could say is daft. And he has a few choice words about our beloved closer, Wagon Wheel.
Check out the interview below. I reply to some of Stehve’s comments, so look for my words of wisdom bolded for your pleasure. For those of you of whom is this in the ‘TL:DR’ category, in closing, here is a picture about how I feel about eating meat:
M: Interview with a Sound-ire! Does that work? Like Vampire, but for sound guys? No? FINE.
How long have you been a Dregs fan?
S: I don’t actually recall when the first time I saw the band was… It’s quite possible that I was raving drunk at the time. My ex-/claims-she-never-was-my girlfriend introduced me to you. By the way, ladies, I’m single, so if any of you are looking for a hot hunk of nerd love, you’ll have to put up with this weird hunk of socially awkward nerd love instead.
M: Well that’s… free advertisement! You’re welcome?
Angelina and Frost were still in the band, so it’s been something along the lines of five-ish years or so. I measure the passage of time in CONvergences, and I’ve definitely known you for the last four of them. I only recently learned that there were also people before Frost and Angelina and Chad, which just confirms my belief that this band is a gigantic slut with its multiple partners.
M: We ARE the Fleetwood-Mac of MNRF, it’s true.
What is your favorite Dregs song? Why?
S: I always look forward to Sam Hall. I sang tenor in an acapella quartet in high school and I’ve been a sucker for huge acapella harmonies ever since.
M: You named a Chad song and said ‘sucker’. Ha ha ha ha! Sorry, I’m in 7th grade….
S: As far as the originals go, I love the filky stuff. I’m a ridiculous nerd, and Pissing Off The Geeks gave my sides a workout when you debuted it. That was back when I was still watching Dregs shows from the audience.
Let me take a second to say a few words about a song I could do with hearing a lot less. Wagon Wheel. It’s the Stairway To Heaven of folk music. Every folk band plays it. I just worked a country show where two consecutive bands had it in their sets. It is a menace which must be stopped at once.
M: BLASPHEMY!!! NEVA!!!
Who is your favorite Dreg (it really doesn’t have to be me, I swear!) and why?
S: I generally like to settle these things through bribery, and Chad gave me a 2-liter bottle of whiskey and coke after the CONvergence show two years ago. Geoffrey gave me some shots from his canteen this CONvergence and New Years, but he’s still got a ways to go to catch up with Chad. Tim, on the other hand, has given me actual money — mostly, I suspect, due to the general lack of alcohol about his person. My attempts to drink this money have thus far proven fruitless, so I’m going to have to give this one to Chad.
M: Hey… there’s Chad’s name again. I swear that accordion player gets all the action.
S: In terms of talent, though, it’s gotta be Suzie, because damn. At this past New Years show she started a solo number with a very talkative crowd, and by the end of the first verse everybody in the room had been shut the hell up. Any time a performer can command that kind of attention is a magical thing. Plus, she is fucking hilarious in Vilification Tennis, which I’ve considered auditioning for if only for the honor of being insulted by her.
M: We get insulted by her all the time. Then we equalize the playing field by getting out a puppet. WHAT NOW SUZ???!
What’s one song we haven’t done you’d like to see us do?
S: I hear that doing acapella covers of Daft Punk songs is cool now. I bet Tim could come up with some ridiculous alternate lyrics for “Get Lucky,” which would be intensely gratifying to me since I got absolutely sick of that song within a week of the album coming out.
M: Tim would sing that song and stare right at Marc. *grumpy cat face* The universe conspires against me.
Any favorite moments you’ve had with the band?
S: Well, there was that time the entire band was naked and they all threw themselves at me. Oh wait, that was just the dream I had last night, never mind.
Okay, so, every time I’ve done sound for the band, for sure. Mixing live sound is a bit of a high pressure job and it tends to heighten your emotional state. When you’re doing it right it starts to feel like being a conduit between the performance and the audience, and you experience the entire audience’s worth of energy as it passes through you to them. I love Dregs shows because of the really wide range that they go through, from ridiculous songs about chickens and zombies to really poignant traditionals. So many musical acts I mix get boring by the middle of the set because they have so little range. The Dregs pace their sets so well, it’s fresh from the beginning to the end.
The live recording show in particular is a sound guy war story that I will probably tell people forever. Y’all who are reading this have no idea how close that show came to having to be canceled that day. But that’s not really a story about the band, it’s a story about a very important piece of equipment randomly dying the day of the show. The real story is that I was under some of the biggest pressure of my life to deliver a usable multitrack in the face of immense technical challenges, and remember that emotional heightening thing I mentioned earlier? That was a seriously intense show, I was *really* getting into the spirit of it. I wonder how much of my reaction to the show Chad had to edit out of the room mics, which were just a few feet away from me. As it was, he had to edit out a bunch of glitches from the fairly hacky recording solution I had to whip up at the last minute, something for which I am deeply ashamed of its necessity. The fact that the record sounds as good as it does has a lot more to do with his skills than mine. Another reason he’s my favorite Dreg.
Interesting note, I actually didn’t get to hear that live album until way after most of you. I didn’t get a copy, even though I had asked Tim several times to mail me one, until the New Years show when I stole one off the merch table. Another reason Tim is my least favorite Dreg.
M: Tim is mine too, but mostly because he tries to steal my boyfriend all the time. What a whore.