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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Op/Ed: Life on the Backline


Photo credit: Tanya Riveron

Written by: Communicator StaffMay 07, 2014

When classes are out of session, I don’t write here at IPFW. Instead, I work for a backline company: RAM Production Backline. Many people may not recognize this term, but it is just a fancy name for a roadie.

I load up band gear – amps, guitars, drums – into trucks and help set them up across the country for different bands. From the sounds of it, it’s a glamorous job, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The gear we move isn’t light, and it becomes a lot heavier when being pushed up or down a ramp. Also, that gear is not much fun to move in the heat of a 95 degree day or in the pouring rain. Even when it rains, the show simply must go on.


It is a wonder that anything goes right in the production industry. Sometimes, amps go down during a show, leaving a backline technician to replace it. Other days, an artist can blame you for his guitar getting knocked over. And on unlucky days, your truck can break down at one in the morning, two hours from home, after a long day’s work.

Truly, the production industry is a wild beast, and that’s why I love it.

Every day, there is something different. Different bands have a special list of equipment needed. It is always cool to meet your favorite band, but they aren’t on stage very much before the show. Usually, bands have their own technicians to set up their gear perfectly for them.

One of the things I truly love is the chance to work with different sound companies. These companies hire backline to bring in what the band wants to play on. Often times, the sound companies hire certain backline companies to work for them, so I run across the same companies every year. It is always fun to joke around with some cool people who know exactly how hard this work can be.

Not only do I make friendships with other sound companies, but I create lasting memories that can always bring a smile on my face.

No matter how hard the work is, I couldn’t have it any other way. It has given me the confidence to face anything in my path, and that work has built a stronger version of myself.

Mackenzie Billman