The White Stripes' success keeps growing, as they play to sold-out houses across the country in support of their fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan. Along for the ride is lighting designer Paul Normandale. During this year alone, he's worked on designing tours for Beck, Sigur Ros, David Gray, Super Furry Animals, James Blunt, and Jason Mraz. LD caught up with Normandale while still out with The White Stripes and before heading off to do Depeche Mode. We also spoke with lighting designer in his own right Jim Fitzpatrick, who is on the tour as crew chief, and Upstaging Inc.'s John Bahnick.
Here's what they all had to say about the show, which has no set list and uses a limited palette of red and white.
Paul Normandale: The last White Stripes tour was pretty much all conventionals. For this tour, I really wanted it to look like a lot less lights, and indeed, it was I who insisted the lighting stay red and white. The band has used red, white, and black as a color theme on all album cover art and clothes selection. I didn't see that as a lighting restriction, merely a starting point of a design.
John Bahnick: This is the first production tour that Upstaging has worked on with The White Stripes, but I've known Paul for quite a few years and have supplied equipment and crew for many of his US tours.
PN: John is my savior and reader of napkins.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I got the call from John with an offer to work with The White Stripes and Paul. John said he needed someone who could work on the crew, program, and possibly take over as LD if Paul had to leave to go work on another project. He's juggling so many projects right now. I was in between tours at the time, so I said, “Sign me up.” I had heard how easy Paul was to work with, and I wanted to see how he was lighting a show with only two colors.
PN: Fitz (Jim) and Chino De Chico are the people who do all the work. Dan Gurchik irons the drapes and argues the dead hangs.
JB: This one was pretty simple for me. Paul already had plots, renders, and an equipment list. We are taking care of the US dates, and Lite Alternative will handle their shows in Europe.
JF: Yeah, it's a pretty straightforward rig with a front truss and a box upstage. There are also a fair amount of floor lights, too. Most of them in a ground row upstage of the band. Load-ins are easy. We are always done at lunchtime, which leaves plenty of bus/nap time.
PN: I am using some Martin moving lights. Funny though, I'm not really using them for moving but rather for a small array of focus and color options, not to mention worldwide availability and reliability.
JB: Yes, Paul likes to use the MAC products in his designs for their features, and like he said, they are quite reliable and available — both important factors when choosing a fixture with a band that tours internationally.
PN: I've been a [Flying Pig Systems] Wholehog® user for quite some time. There are new boards out there, but it's a simple show. I have toyed with a range of consoles over the years. I cannot really work any of them.
JF: Programming was very easy. We had three days to program one page on a Wholehog 2 with a wing. All Paul needed was a page with some groups with intensity to run the show. Since it's all red and white color combinations, most of the changes are in intensity as opposed to movement or color changes. It's a very manual, live type of operation. It works well for this show, since there is no set list, and Paul never really knows what's coming next. I guess we could have programmed each song, but he would have been in and out of those cues/pages so many times, it would have been even more confusing than not having them at all.
PN: The spontaneity, among other things, is the very reason I chose to come and run as much of the tour as possible — the sheer unknown, fresh paint, good and bad, scary, but strangely appealing.
JB: Paul is always great to work with. He's very creative with both his design and programming styles. He's also very in tune with the artists. He always seems to jive with them on a creative level without any difficulty.
PN: I have designed the White Stripes for the last couple of years, and the core White Stripes crew have remained the same since the start, and indeed, it's a very non-rock-and-roll group, a good thing always.
Paul Normandale, designer/lighting director
Jim Fitzpatrick, crew chief
John Chiodo, lighting technician
Dan Gurchik, carpenter/rigger
Lighting vendors: Upstaging Inc. (US) and Lite Alternative (Europe)
|13||Martin MAC 2000 Spot|
|12||Martin MAC 2000 Wash|
|9||ETC Source Four® Ellipsoidal 26°|
|7||8-Light Blinders with DWE lamps|
|5||Martin Atomic Strobes with colors|
|2||2kW Fresnels w/ Barndoors|
|1||Rear Top-Mount Followspot|
|12||Downstage Floor Specials (Requires 6×2kW dimming channels)|
|9||4-Circuit 1kW Cyc Fixtures, Ground Rows|
|1||Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® 2 with Wing|
All Associated dimming and control cables
|1||40'×10' Rear Box Truss|
|1||40' Front Truss|
|6||Motors with All Associated Rigging|
|4||Legs and borders|