PA-Tuning Tunes with Tim “Quake” Mark

All live engineers have favorite songs that they use to tune the PA, whether it’s the ubiquitous Donald Fagan track, “I.G.Y.”, or for a change of pace, maybe some Steely Dan. If this topic sounds familiar, we’ve blogged about this before, and that post proved so popular that we’re turning it into a recurring feature. Today, we check in with journeyman FOH engineer Tim “Mark” Quake, who’s manned the FOH desk for the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls, Jack’s Mannequin, and just this past spring, The Cars on their first tour together in 24 years. So, Tim, what music do you tune a PA by?
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All live engineers have favorite songs that they use to tune the PA, whether it’s the ubiquitous Donald Fagan track, “I.G.Y.”, or for a change of pace, maybe some Steely Dan. If this topic sounds familiar, we’ve blogged about this before, and that post proved so popular that we’re turning it into a recurring feature. Today, we check in with journeyman FOH engineer Tim “Mark” Quake, who’s manned the FOH desk for the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls, Jack’s Mannequin, and just this past spring, The Cars on their first tour together in 24 years.

So, Tim, what music do you tune a PA by?

“I drive people nuts with Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop,” and the reason for that is, it was the first CD I ever heard!

“I went and took a tour of Meyer Sound Labs back in the early '80s and they played that song on a vinyl LP. Then they said, ‘Now check this out!’ And they pulled this big box out, they put this little shiny disc in it and played it off of that—and it was a CD. It was the first time I had ever heard a CD—in an anechoic room through a flat PA—and I was like, ‘I gotta get one of those.’

“So I went out and I bought a CD player—which was like $500 back then and it skipped if you sneezed in the same county—and I bought that CD. And I’ve been through five of them, but I just burned through another one, so I can’t use it anymore.

"But then after that, I’ve got something else. I produced and mixed a couple of songs for a band called The Scream that were around back in the early '90s. It’s the band that John Corabi, who became the replacement singer for Motley Crue, came from. This is the CD we did after he left and there’s two songs I use that I mixed and produced, so I kinda know what they’re supposed to sound like.

“And then I always throw in Frank Sinatra’s 'Nice and Easy,' because if you’re going to make a PA sound good for vocals, you might as well use the best singer!”

Catch our coverage of The Cars’ reunion tour in the July issue of Pro Sound News. In the meantime, have a favorite track you love to tune with? Share it in the comments below!