Stepping Around the Wreckage: Industrial Sound's Greg Dean explains how his company came back from dire circumstances
From a relatively inauspicious start in 1988 living three to a room in Hollywood and schlepping gear around town in a 1954 bread truck nicknamed "Dino," Greg Dean and Greg Doughty, co-owners of Industrial Sound and Touring Technologies, are poised on the brink of a growth spurt.
The early days. Circa 1989, No Show Sound founding partners (L-R)
Ron Kimbal, Greg Doughty and Greg Dean at home, which doubled as
their first office.
Readers may recall the events of early September 2001, when an
estimated 10,000 fans ran riot, trashing the El Segundo, California-based
company's PA rig after the band System of a Down failed to perform
at a free 3,500-capacity show in Hollywood. The irony was not lost
on Dean and Doughty, who had originally named their company No Show
Recalling the events of that fateful September, Dean says, "When
all that gear came down on September 3, 2001, we lost a 40-box rig.
That made a pretty big impact. We had to recover from that, and
in doing so had to decide what to go for."
As Dean recollects, "There was a lot of debate between myself, Greg and
the engineers in the company about whether to go with a conventional point-and-shoot
box or to move in a different direction. We felt that we had enough conventional
PA to stay competitive in the local market, so we wanted to try something
Greg Dean with the companys first PA, on tour with After Shock
Nearly every loudspeaker manufacturer was busy launching line array
systems at the time, says Dean. "We'd been looking at line arrays
for a while. We compared the McCauley MONARC against two high-profile
brands and saw advantages, for example, the speed at which it rigs.
And I prefer the fidelity. I favored McCauley primarily because
of the transition of the drivers: double 15-inch, double 10-inch
and a two-inch. The 10's in that box can take an enormous amount
of power and not fail."
Satisfied with the decision, Dean notes, "All of a sudden, with
this new system, we've stepped into being able to tour through sheds.
I just put a shed tour in one truck, and I did it because of the
McCauley rig. It's one of the best-designed systems to go into a
truck in terms of the subs and placement of the mid-high packs,
and how they marry in a truck. They're really space efficient."
The decision wasn't made solely on the system's technical specification.
There was the issue of financing, and Dean made what he considers
an "excellent deal" on the product.
"The reality is that the cost came in at a point that was affordable
and reasonable for us to assume," he adds. "We're still the same company,
but now we have more tools to go after the business. My intent is to try
and do more touring with the system, and to try and do bigger and a lot
more tours. It changes my direction, because we've been under the radar
for a long time."
But stepping up to a new level of business does present a number of challenges.
While the addition of the new system will require Industrial Sound to
hustle for larger gigs, Dean is adamant that he has no intention of losing
any friends over it.
Getting the 360-degree MONARC system staged for a Dariush concert
at the Forum in L.A.
"We've never gone out to make enemies. We haven't gone out and
deliberately targeted someone's account. I have never wanted to
be a sound company that screws another company by undervaluing their
service. I think enough of that takes place in the industry as it
"It will never cease to amaze me how this little company can be
profitable, and to realize what the profit margins are on a tour
and when it just doesn't make sense to go and do it. Because regardless
of the gear that you have, you still have to service it, fix it
when it blows up, plus there's wear and tear and prep time in the
In Dean's view, the ability to spot and effectively address the little
things has helped Industrial Sound maintain steady growth. "That's the
big thing: what's the weakest link, what do I need to improve upon the
most? It's how you are set to rig, how fast you can get the gear into
the truck, how you can make your gig a little better, a little faster,
and a little more effective so that the touring engineer can be very comfortable
The Industrial Sound crew taking a break during setup at the Christopher
Street Fair in West Hollywood. On the subs is System Tech Taka Nakai,
with System Engineer Makoto Araki in front of the cage and System
Tech Dave Calandre behind him.
There is a simple answer, he says. "You go out there and do a good
job. You work hard for people, and if you're successful the work
will keep coming." Moving up the ladder to larger tours and larger
venues is definitely more risky. "That's part of the challenge,
part of the fun, but the stakes are much higher. You blow those
gigs once and you don't get another shot."
Not that it was any easier starting out. But through hard work
and being in the right place at the right time, Dean and Doughty
have steadily built the company, even if, at times, it seemed almost
by accident. Doughty originally moved to L.A. to pursue a career
as a musician, recalls Dean, who was promoting gigs at the time
in their hometown of Sacramento. "I tagged along. We had no game
plan. When we first started, we had a Soundcraft Series 2, a handful
of microphones and two matching amps – (Crown) DC150s –
plus a PSA2, an AB, a Hill, mic stands and the cables were in milk
crates. Everything was plugged in with banana plugs – there
wasn't a multi-connector.
"Our first year, we were doing Ricky Rachtman's Cat House, Dale Gloria's
Scream, Water The Bush, and the Rhyme Syndicate, which led to more work
with Ice-T. We did the Lethal Weapon video, English Acid – the opportunities
kept rolling in. We got our first Christian account. All of a sudden we
did $97,000-worth of business."
Finshed result: Industrial Sound-supplied system in the round at
The exploding music scene in Los Angeles between 1990 and 1995
meant that the work kept pouring in, and the company grew. The pair
was also sensible enough to recognize their limitations. "We did
not have the means to design and build our own system, like Rat
or Showco did in the early days. We didn't have the resources to
do the market research and the product development.
At that time the EAW KF850 was the biggest in-demand box out there.
We bought our first bunch and toured with KMFDM, and it was stellar.
KMFDM was our first touring account with gear, and that's been a
"Out of KMFDM came other opportunities: Bauhaus, Peter Murphy, Methods
of Mayhem, Filter, Love and Rockets, Rammstein in 1999, the fall 2000
Moby tour, Bad Religion, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Tool. The Lords of Acid
was another tour."
Technology is fun and cool, but it's a means to the end, according to
Dean. "My responsibility and loyalty is to the artist. How many sound
companies would take a Mackie d8B out as their primary front of house
desk?" he asks, regarding the recent Peter Murphy tour. "But I was doing
a small tour and knew that was the only way that I could accommodate what
the artist wanted. I was using 60 channels: 16 effects returns, 24 from
the band and 20 channels of ambient tracks, percussion loops and other
stuff. I could not have done the gig with an analog board."
Putting together the rig for the Sprite Liquid Mix tour in fall
He continues, "Isn't that the goal, to be as successful as we can
be with the tools that we have so that the artist is as comfortable
as they can be? If those conditions exist, that artist is going
to do a great performance for a crowd that's paying to be there."
With the addition of the MONARC system, Industrial Sound has another
tool to help meet the needs of their clients. "We put it on the
Vans Warped Tour, the Sprite Liquid Mix Tour, on King Crimson, local
one-off festivals, and church events." Dean finishes. "I've done
gigs at the Great Western Forum [in Los Angeles], 360 degrees in
the round, with four stereo zones. What I'm looking forward to now
are the opportunities that stepping into that kind of product opens
you up to.
In addition to serving as LSI's Broadcast Sound Editor, Steve Harvey covers all aspects of the audio business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
February 2003 Live Sound International