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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Crocodile Jim - Soundmana Sutra

posted by on June 7 at 11:39 AM

crocodile.gifHe’s Jim. Jim Anderson, the man who has been the sound man at the Crocodile Café for 16 years. He’s on Lineout today to talk about sound at the Croc.

Jim is a pre-grunge stalwart who has made the room one of the better places to play, anywhere. He’s a rolodex of technique, specs, and experience. His demeanor is patient and waiting. He knows his gear, the room, and he knows how to use the gear for the room. He is a master and a historian.

He quotes a Surangama Sutra, “Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise.”

Before the Croc, Jim was at Pioneer Square’s Central Saloon. The Central was the place to play. There he ran sound for Soundgarden’s Screaming Life release show in ’87. Other Central shows were Mojo Nixon, Rank and File, Camper Van Beethoven, and Meat Puppets.

** Jim will be monitoring this post, so if you have questions, ask away. He says:

It’s a bass trap in my corner, so I mix accordingly. I think live sound should be mixed for the room instead of a mix position. I listen to the whole room to dial it in. I’m wireless now, and can roam. Sound is about balance and placement, it shouldn’t hurt. If it hurts my ears, I know it will hurt everyone else’s ears a lot worse.

Sound at the Croc has come a long way.

The system at the Croc is not a PA. Public Address systems just throw sound out. What the Croc has is a Sound Reinforcement System. I take a given sound and make it as much louder as it needs to be. If a guitar player’s Marshall half stack is cranking 118 db, it’s not going to need to come through the house much. I’ll bring everything else up to match that.

I’ve been very lucky at the Croc because the owners have allowed me to evolve the sound.

The board used to be an old Soundcraft 1S. We had a 16 channel snake, 20 input channels, 3 aux sends, and no sub groups.

In ’93 or ’94, we got more monitors, a better console, added snake channels, and I had 4 monitor mixes on stage.

In ’96, we made the system stereo, and the snake was upped to 32 channels. We had to have twice as many amps and a cross over. We doubled our power resources.

In 2001, we built the drum monitor, there were 40 channels for the front of the house, and had 7 mixes.

Recently, we put rubber matting on the floor that helps absorb sound. It’s from Portland, and is made from 100% recycled tires. It’s same flooring they put in gyms and workout rooms.

Here are the system specs at the Croc now:

Mains / Front of House- Soundcraft K2-40ch console BSS FCS966 main eq Dbx Driverack 260 x-o

Mid-hi cabs are the McCauley IDesign id2.112-96
Subs are the ac288. There are two of each kind of cabinet on each side. I LOVE the McCauley stuff. It’s been great to work with.

All QSC MX series power amps

Yamaha spx 990
T.C.Electronics d-two ddl
T.C.electronics m300 multi fx
Lexicon mpx 500 multi fx
Lexicon pcm 41 ddl
Alesis midiverb2 rev/fx

Insert processing-
6 ch- dbx 266 comp/gate
4 ch dbx 1046 comp
8 ch behringer quad gate
8 ch presonus acp88 comp/gate

(cd player & ipod inputs, recording available)

Allen & Heath gl3000/32 console w/mixwizard 16/2 sidecar

7 mixes on stage

4 PAIRS of McCauley 15" & 2" coax wedges

Drumfill consisting of a pair of wedges + a double 15"
pa sub

Stereo sidefills--small 15"+1" cabs

42+ snake ch available

Wide selection of mics including Shure, EV, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica.

What is your setup?

Usually a fastball in on the hands and then I throw a slider low and away.

What is your basic process for running live sound?

First- try to figure out what the band actually sounds like and then make it as much louder as it needs to be. Sometimes that means doing a lot, sometimes not much at all.

When the band is playing, what are the types of things you do?

Other than surfing porn?

What adjustments do you make after the band is already playing?

I try to remember part of a doctor's Hippocratic Oath -- "Above all, do no harm."

What are your favorite pieces of gear?

Probably microphones. They beat the hell out of Dixie Cups and string,

What have been the biggest problems in that room for sound?

The jackass friends of the band that feel it's their obligation to get drunk and tell me how to how to do my job. Thanks dude, but I knew about that problem, and was working on it long before YOU heard it, and, by the way, I don't come over to Jiffy Lube and tell you how to cross-thread that bolt, now do I?????

Besides knowing sound, Jim knows Sumo wrestling. Here he is with his Sumo recap podcasts.

RSS icon Comments


You did sound for the Kinski/Lights/Unnatural Helpers/Welcome show. At one point there was a sea of musicans on stage. 4 bassists, 4-5 guitars, multiple vocals and dual drummers. If you can make that work, what can't you do?

Tell us, who's your favorite band to do sound for? And your least?

Now if you could only get rid of that pole in the middle of the room!

Posted by Jeff | June 7, 2007 11:59 AM

Yeah, Jim, about that pole...

Jim is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rad post.

Posted by stevel | June 7, 2007 12:03 PM

What is the loudest band you have ever done sound for?

Posted by hurl s. | June 7, 2007 12:19 PM

This is the most interesting article I've ever read in the Stranger and I don't even know audio.
But I sure knew the Central....sigh. Is it a condo yet?
Hey Jim, Thanks for bringing all that great sound to Seattle ears!

Posted by tante | June 7, 2007 12:22 PM

Jim, would you rather do sound for an incredibly loud band or a ridiculously quiet band? And a related question: do you prefer a challenge (such as the above), or would you just as soon be able to set everything at unity and go eat a sandwich?

As a listener and performer, I thank you for your excellent work.

Posted by Levislade | June 7, 2007 12:25 PM

if you've never seen jim's french horn microphone wrist band, I recommend you start playing the frech horn. It's quite brilliant!

Posted by mj | June 7, 2007 12:26 PM

the rubber matting ? where can I get athat stuff
in PDX ??

Posted by Dan-O | June 7, 2007 12:32 PM

Jim, you are a gem. It has always been a distinct pleasure and honor to play at Croc.

What was that Soundgarden release show like in 87? Did you think they were good? Were there a lot of people there?

1 question - When is the Croc going to get a smoke machine?

Posted by shane | June 7, 2007 12:43 PM

What can't i do? for 25 years i've been looking for two specific knobs on the board- the play good knob and the play in tune knob. haven't found 'em yet.

THE POLE--sorry, guys. i know way more than i want to about the building itself and that pole, unfortunately, is a major structural part of the building so we all kinda have to live with it.

favorite band?--the one that i have on stage right now. i do the best i can for everyone.

least favorite?--anyone that doesn't respect the Crocodile and the job that i'm trying to do for them.

Loudest?--Dinosaur, JR. Although, jucifer is right up there.

loud or quiet band?-- it actually depends on what kind of mood i'm in. too much of anything makes it less fun.

Fog machine?--bring yer own. that way i can test the ventilation fans (again)..

Posted by jim Anderson | June 7, 2007 1:01 PM

No one can make a string section sing like Jim! I still think he should have his own YOU TUBE channel where he gives sound engineering tips..:) LOVE YA JIM!!

Posted by Saundrah | June 7, 2007 1:03 PM


Has the Croc ever thought of putting a curtain up in front of the stage while the bands are switching over?

I always think it is so awkward watching the bands switch out after they are finished playing.

Then when the next band is ready, the curtain is pulled to the side as the band begins. I think it would be so cool.

Just my 2 cents. You rule.

Posted by church of jim, member | June 7, 2007 1:21 PM

Sir Jim, Have you ever toured with a band on the road?

And you have to have some shows there that have been your favorites... Pick 3, that's all.

3 favorite Jim shows:

Posted by SAM | June 7, 2007 1:27 PM

Wireless? Explain please.

Posted by tstack | June 7, 2007 1:29 PM

At the end of the night you MUST PAY JIM. If you fail to do this he will call you at 2am and make you walk back to the Croc from your apartment on Cap Hill to pay him.


Also, this post is the highlight of my day.

Posted by Eli | June 7, 2007 2:04 PM

great post! jim is a true hometown hero. not only does he make stuff sound good, bands respect his work and enjoy working with him. thanks for all your work, jim.

Posted by kerri harrop | June 7, 2007 2:19 PM

I agree, great post.

In reading this, I was amazed to realize I have never thought about the sound at the Crocodile, which has to be the highest compliment I can give. Never had to crane my neck around to shoot a quizzical stare, never had to move around to find a good sounding spot, never had to walk away to give my ears a break.

Jim, how do you deal with touring FOH guys who think they know it better than you?

Posted by even stiller | June 7, 2007 2:33 PM

I like the curtain idea #11. It would make it all more 'a show.'

Posted by Prance | June 7, 2007 2:46 PM

Jim is a wizened sage... the best sound guy in the WORLD and we are all lucky he is here in Seattle! Jim, you are universally loved by all us bands.

Much better than that bastard "sound guy" at Neumo's who is rude to EVERYBODY for no reason and is always high on cocaine.

Posted by Robert | June 7, 2007 3:39 PM

Yeah, what about that Soundgarden show? How was it?

Inquiring minds reading this post would to know.

Posted by tomack | June 7, 2007 3:44 PM

i meant to say "would LIKE to know." thank you very much.

Posted by tomack | June 7, 2007 4:07 PM

Now Jim, I know it's going to be difficult, because you are a big fan, but what are the 3 things you like most about the Nachos?

Posted by clink | June 7, 2007 4:14 PM

I remember playing my first show at the Croc. I was nervous as hell. Jim put me at ease with his nice calm ways.

I love you, Jim!

"To all the Jim's ive loved before...."

"Feliz Navi-Jim, bum bum bum bum, Feliz Navi-Jim,
I wanna wish you a merry Jimmy..."

Posted by Blangalee | June 7, 2007 4:37 PM

So, do you wear ear plugs on the job? If not, can't imagine your hearing being particularly acute or sensitive at this point. But if you do, perhaps the same problem, huh?

Posted by Ragged Heehaw | June 7, 2007 5:23 PM

Why is this not in print?

Posted by Leroy | June 7, 2007 5:26 PM

There's only one JIM, the AKEBONO OF SOUND!!!!!!!

Posted by Skerik | June 7, 2007 6:35 PM

well, i've got some time before soundcheck soooo---
first of all the wireless thing -- i recently added a yamaha LS9 digital console to my arsenal and it is a SWEET SWEET tool to use. i've joked with bands for years about having their mix "stored" (in my head) but now it is a reality. running the control program on a tablet pc wirelessly actually lets me get out and hear what everyone else does once in a while (like i dont know already!i know what it sounds like EVERYWHERE in that room)

the curtain thing?-- we had one once. it kinda got in the way on the sides of the stage and we didn't end up using it much except for a couple of plays. besides, if we had a curtain i could't stand up on the stage and look down the shirts of all the hotties in the front row during the set change.

tour? i have. i may again someday. but why have all of that grief when i can slave away like a dog AND sleep in my own bed at night? besides, this way i get to listen to more than just the same band overandoverandoverandover.

top 3? yoko ono at the croc. mixng albert collins at bumbershoot.mixing patti smith at the croc.

earplugs? what?can't hear ya the guitar's too loud.
seriously, i do use hearing protection when i have to, but i don't like mixing while wearing plugs. the best part about running sound is that if i don't like what i hear i can usually do something about it.sometimes that means turning something down rather than up.

Thanks, eli.gots to have the biscuits.

soundgarden? we were young. they were excited about finally having a record out.

Posted by jim Anderson | June 7, 2007 8:02 PM

I heart Jim soo much! He and the Croc are Seattle institutions, what a great post!

Posted by spanky | June 8, 2007 1:26 PM

The worst sound/stage person is that thieving wiesel at the Showbox whose name I cant remember. Jim is good though.

Posted by June Poon | June 8, 2007 2:12 PM

this was very cool info! jimmy i miss you! we never did make it to that m's game, maybe one day. there's quite a few clubs here that could use you.... me and marsha and gibby thank you for many years of maximum amplitude. (what, you turned me down? oh well). best wishes...

Posted by bosch | June 8, 2007 2:21 PM

Sumo? Do tell.

Posted by bloodbled bill | June 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Any tips for ringing out monitors(or mains, for that matter). I'm always fighting the Feedback vs . power fight.

Posted by Cody | June 12, 2007 5:26 PM

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