Mix Master: Engineer Brett Eliason’s Own PJ20

by John Reynolds on July 4, 2011

Brett Eliason

As talented as Artists are, and as powerful as their drum kits and Marshall amps perform, a band just isn’t going to sound that great unless there’s a good Sound Engineer behind the board. Brett Eliason has been that guy for Pearl Jam for a numbers of years and celebrates his own PJ20 milestone today, 20 years since his first show behind the ‘board on July 4, 1991.

TFT love us some bootlegs – maybe love them too much – and Brett was there too to provide with tour after tour of great audio. We spoke to Brett pre-TFT and he enlightened us with the behind-the-scenes at the dawn of Pearl Jam’s bootleg era. Having recently come back to mix Live on Ten Legs and man the board for Tres Mts. brief tour earlier this year, we caught up with Brett to reflect on the past two decades.

JR: Does your debut at RCKNDY July 4 1991 seem like yesterday or a distant memory?

Brett: At this point it definitely seems like a distant memory.  I saw some footage recently of all of us from 20 years ago.  I barely even recognized myself!  I would never have guessed that those first few shows together would have turned in to the amazing ride that it has been.

JR: After 20 years, what band member was the easiest or most challenging to get right in the mix?

Pearl Jam as a whole have always been very cognizant of the sound of their instruments, the song arrangements, and how it should all fit together.  Honestly they were a very straight forward band to mix in the early days.  There was so much energy coming off that stage.  What is more challenging now is the differing tonal changes between albums and eras of this band.  I haven’t mixed their live performances since 2003, but have continued to mix live recorded material in many different forms.  One thing that stands out is the experience and maturation factor of this band.  They all continue to play and write and challenge themselves both as individuals as well as within the band.  I’ve tried to do the same over the years in order to represent them the way they should be.

JR: For your 20th anniversary, do you get an extra week of vacation now? ;)

Brett: No rest for the wicked!  Actually, I have been self employed since the mid 90′s.  I work as much and whenever I can, especially in light of the current state of the music industry and overall economy.  I am super thankful that I still have a great relationship with this band and organization, and they still trust me and throw work my way!

Click the Rhino above for more of TFT's articles celebrating 20 Years of Pearl Jam.

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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