Rabbit Diary - 6/30/04 - The Brian Kehew Interview

O'Neal, Kevin W. Kevin.ONeal at vtmednet.org
Wed Jul 14 12:31:23 CDT 2004

I have posted an interview I did with Brian Kehew, Rabbit's keyboard and stage tech. Superb bloke. Read the interview here.

The Brian Kehew Interview 
By Dave van Staveren 
Copyright JRB 2004© 

1).Q - What is your official title with The Who. 
Keyboard/stage technician. 
2).Q - How long have you been working for The Who. 
Since the 2002 tour began, before that I did keyboards for Pete at his La Jolla shows, so they knew me from that. Originally I got called in the day after John passed away, and they had to re-group and rehearse with Pino. They did that in L.A., where I live, so they asked me to help. It went so well, they asked if I would pack. 	

4).Q- How does your role interact with setting up and mixing of the sound and monitors 
The backline (instruments) set up onstage first, we have a prepared plan. Then the monitors go in around the instruments and amps. That allows the musicians to hear each other (and the synthesizer backing tracks on 4 famous songs) and the vocals. They also put out lines and mics to pick up the keyboard section. Not too complicated really, compared to some groups, but it does take the better part of a day to get it all out and set properly. 
5).Q - Does this role mean close interaction with Bobby Pridden on the monitor side and how does it interact with the overall house sound and other techs. 
Yes, Bobby is a good friend of everyone on the Who crew! However, he really let's us "do our thing" and then checks it afterward. We are good enough that there's rarely an issue. 		
6).Q - Is there a specific set of guidelines for each venue or does the sound set up depend on each venue The Who play's at. 
Mainly the only change would be the size of the stage, because our setup is very defined, for visual and sound reasons. And most of that space is pre-checked before the tour, so the venue stagesÀare adequate for what we're doing. We have - on occasion - played very small stages (Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas, House of Blues, Carnegie Hall) that are much smaller than we're used to. At the Hard Rock, I basically sat AT the keyboard rig the whole night because there was no other place. At the House of Blues, I was stuck behind Pete's amps the whole show, so it was hard to hear how the keyboards were doing... but fun to hear the guitar! 	 	

7).Q- Does Rabbit's mix differ from let's say other keyboardists. 
Not really - he uses very basic sounds, mainly Hammond and piano. It's a very traditional role, sonically. What he hears is mostly the real onstage sound, plus some drums in his monitors for clarity of rhythm. Everyone onstage hears the keyboard tracks in their monitors - those are Won't Get Fooled Again, Baba O'Reilly, Eminence Front, and You Better You Bet. Those are the tracks Pete recorded years ago that are part of the catalogue, and would be nearly impossible to duplicate live. 
8).Q- What do you like best about working with Rabbit 
He is a FANTASTIC guy. We have so much fun talking together, and his stories are the best. I keep hoping he'll get a book done. Really, he is very appreciative when we do something, and always keeps an eye out for how to make the show better. This means we're constantly changing the setup and sounds each night. The Who show is very dynamic, no two are the same in tempo, feel, arrangement. So we have to pay attention and see how we can make the show better from our perspective. We're always changing something... 
9).Q - Any memorable occasions that stick out in your mind working with Rabbit 
There are lots: I loved it when we played in Texas - where Rabbit grew up. We found a girl who had giant steer horns on her truck and hired them for the night; we had these huge bull horns on his Leslie speaker AND a big Texas flag on his rig. That was a good one for him. Little things like that get him/us excited, and it makes the show more fun too... 
Once I remember him, on a huge stage, turning around and looking for me (like he does when we have a problem). So I ran onstage and up to him and he just says "Sounds good - doesn't it?!" 
He has played in SO many bands over the years, he has seen the good and bad of it all. I mention that only because, like a lot of touring musicians, he gets worried about leaving things backstage - because they can get stolen. Not likely on a Who show, though. And sometimes, if he's been out shopping for the day, he brings ALL his stuff onstage with him - shopping bags, jackets, etc. so it will be safe with him onstage. Then, after the last encore, it goes away with him, safe and sound... You'll never see Madonna doin' that! 
10).Q- Do you play the keyboards 
Yes, I play guitar and keyboards. Not nearly as well as Rabbit - he has a great classic style. I know Pete LOVES what he does, which is a strong style similar to how Pete plays guitar; great dynamics and clear, powerful parts... 
11).Q - What do you do when your not working for The Who 
I have my own studio and am also a musician. Mostly mixing projects for Warner Bros: I mix the "outtakes and rarities" of classic old records when they do reissues. If a CD gets redone, with bonus tracks, I mix the extras. We did all the Elvis Costello records, the Ramones, Yes, Alice Cooper, Talking Heads, lots more. A fun job too! 
12).Q - Do you watch the gigs you work at 
Of course, I still think the Who are probably the best live band out there. We HAVE to watch the show, in case something goes wrong - and you never know where or how. Sometimes we even have to fix Roger or Pete's stuff - whoever is handy and catches the problem fixes it as fast as possible. I do enjoy their shows night after night, and I don't think I would for another band. They change it EVERY time, so everyone has to watch where the songs are going. Even though the setlist is not that different, each song changes from night to night, different tempos, dynamic ups and downs, moods of the musicians. 
Brian Kehew - 06/30/04		

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