‘Distilling’ a decade through audio engineering and epic rock concerts

When you think of your favorite rock band, you picture the painted faces of KISS, the dance moves of Mick Jagger, Slash’s top hat and shades. The many icons in the industry all give us so much to be entertained and inspired by their music, entrancing us with their talent, that it is easy to forget about some of the other faces behind the albums that make that head-banger, cigarette-lighter-swaying-in-the-air music possible. Canada’s Dan McKay knows this well. 

As both a Tour Manager and Audio Engineer, McKay has collaborated with several iconic bands that would make any fan of rock music both inspired and a bit jealous if they’re being honest, such as Five Finger Death Punch, Eagles of Death Metal, and many more. He worked with Cypress Hill when they got their star on the Hollywood walk of fame, the first Latin hip hop band to receive such an honor. He has spent his career working alongside legends. 

Fans of punk rock would most certainly know late 90s band The Distillers and remember the heartache they felt when the band broke up in 2006. When they reunited in 2018, 12 years after their breakup, their fans returned in full force, ready to feel both nostalgia for the old hits and excitement for new material. Expectations were high, and McKay was ready to deliver.

“I grew up being a punk rock kid. The Distillers were fast, powerful, and delivered anthems. They are right up my alley. I had always wanted to work with Brody and the band, but unfortunately by the time I was working, they had broken up and it wasn’t really in the cards… until it was,” said McKay.

McKay had met the lead singer Brody Dalle’s manager at the Junos in 2013 and they instantly hit it off. When he was asked to work with Dalle on her solo material, McKay instantly said yes, touching on part of that childhood dream of working with The Distillers. 

“When I started working with Brody it was on her solo project in 2014 opening for Queens of the Stone Age. Then she called me up about The Distillers getting back together to write a new record and wanted me to be involved in the tour. I wanted to make sure they were well taken care of. We were all a little older, more mature than when The Distillers broke up. It was time to up the game here, the band and the fans deserved a comeback that was going to be huge,” said McKay.

After the success of their reunion single “Man vs. Magnet” the band hit the road, touring all over the world. As their Tour Manager, McKay put together an epic crew for the tour, knowing the fans deserved the very best after waiting for over a decade. McKay describes the band as his “extended road family” within the two years they’ve been working together. Knowing the band so well, he knew exactly what crew members would gel best with their personalities and elevate the show, which is headed to Europe this summer.

“It’s great to be part of such an amazing team with The Distillers. Great band, great management, great crew. The shows are bigger than they ever were,” he said. “That’s why we do what we do.”

Photo by @matthiasheschl_com

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