"She Sells Sanctuary," “Fire Woman;” “Love Removal Machine”—these are tunes that have blasted their way through the eardrums of right-thinking rockers for years. Along with dozens of other of similarly hard-charging, riff-heavy numbers, they come courtesy of the Cult, the venerable British band led since the early ’80s by vocalist Ian Astbury and axe man Billy Duffy. But the combo is far from a nostalgia act: This past February saw the well-received Hidden City, their tenth album, hit the shelves—and Astbury, Duffy and the boys, never far from a stage, are on the road again.
As a veteran band that boasts a rabid fan base, not to mention one with an immediately identifiable sound, it makes sense that only an equally experienced front-of-house engineer and production manager will do—and that man is Steve McGuire. Coming up with Don Was in Detroit during the ’70s, McGuire has worked with the wide-ranging likes of Joss Stone, Prong, the Wallflowers, the Go-Go’s, Paula Rubino, the Funk Brothers…the list goes on and on. In recent years, McGuire’s adopted the iPad as one of his hubs—and on the Cult’s upcoming tour, he’s opted for Focusrite’s iTrack Dock as the hardware to use with that iPad.
“As a FoH Engineer mixing on a state-of-the-art rig, McGuire says, “the iTrack Dock has found a very nice niche in my workflow,” McGuire says, before going into details as to what exactly that niche is. “On this tour, I’ll be mixing on the Avid S6L 34D console (courtesy of Dave Shadoan at Sound Image), recording into Pro Tools—mainly for virtual soundcheck the next day—on a Mac Mini, which is also serving as a server for my UAD Apollo16. I’ll be running Smaart on my MacBook Pro for acoustic analysis, and using the Focusrite iTrack Dock for walk-in playlist, walk-out playlist, and initial PA tuning with Dire Straits ‘Brothers in Arms,’ which I’ve been using for almost 30 years.”
“The convenience of the iTrack Dock and the fidelity of the Focusrite converters for this purpose,” McGuire continues, “can’t be overstated. That great big monitor knob is great for doing the intro tape fade outs at the beginning of the show, without having to have a fader on my desk eaten up for playback.”
But McGuire’s plans for the iTrack Dock go beyond playback. For a tour with Glee star Matthew Morrison, for instance, he explains that his MacBook Pro will be busy running Pro Tools for recording purposes—“so it won’t be running Smaart. That’s when I will be using the iTrack Dock to run Smaart 7di on my iPad. When doing acoustic analysis, it is imperative to have confidence in accurate mic pres, and the Focusrite 24-bit/96-kHz mic pres on the iTrack Dock give me the confidence to know that what I am seeing in the Smaart 7 app on my iPad screen is accurate.”
For McGuire, it’s that kind of adaptability, its ability to accommodate what any specific job calls for, that’s one of the iTrack Dock’s greatest assets. “Having the iTrack Dock allows my carry-on FOH tools to be flexible, depending on the particular gig,” he says. As someone who’s been doing this for a lifetime, that kind of flexibility, combined with Focusrite’s emphasis on sonic fidelity, is a godsend. Combine that with its low price point, and the iTrack Dock is hard to beat.