Those chills running down your spine when singer Garth Brooks does a live performance of the song “The Thunder Rolls”? They come in part thanks to Martin “Tike” Santos, ’89 LAS.
As monitor engineer for the country superstar, Santos calls on his nearly three decades of audio experience to provide the sound that Brooks and his band hear on there. Santos notes that what a performer hears on stage is the key to getting a performance “just right.”
Santos has worked events and tours for music stars from nearly every genre, including Beck, Peter Frampton, Faith Hill, Joe Jonas, Paul McCartney, Tim McGraw, Nickelback, Queensrÿche and Paul Simon.
He also has done sound for Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association All-Star Games, Good Morning America and the Country Music Television Music Awards.
Back in 1979, when he saw the behind-the-scenes footage of the tour documentary Wings Over the World about Paul McCartney’s “other” band, he became hooked on the music business. “Little did I know that years later, I would not only be doing that sort of work, but also be doing it for Paul himself,” Santos notes.
His introduction to the business began at Illinois. “As a student, I worked at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Foellinger Auditorium and did stagehand work at the State Farm Center,” Santos explains.
He says his career involves “a vast majority of clients who have been a joy to work with.” Standouts include Brooks, Frampton and McCartney.
Santos recalls that on his first tour with the former Beatle he decided to play it cool, “since he is someone who everyone seems to want something from. I decided to quietly do my job and never be in a place where he felt compelled to speak to me. Whenever Paul would approach the stage for sound check, I would tie my shoe behind a road case or walk to the other side of the arena.
“Before a show in Columbus, Ohio, Peter Frampton came to visit with Paul and mentioned me. The next day in Milwaukee, I was talking to the keyboard technician with my back turned to the stage when I heard a familiar voice with a British accent call my name. There stood Paul at the top of the stairs. Peter had ratted me out!”