The Apple Leaf

From high school technician to Bruno Mars team member

Story originally published in The Apple Leaf May 14, 2014; story published in The Wenatchee World May 30, 2014.

Just three months ago, more than 112 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLVIII on television, the highest ever recorded. Nearly 83,000 people packed into MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to watch the Seattle Seahawks whoop the Denver Broncos. Some people piled in, simply to see the halftime performance from chart-topping artist Bruno Mars.

Wenatchee High School 1996 graduate Erik Rodstol was at his home in Orlando. It was his daughter’s birthday the day prior to this history-making Super Bowl.

Story published May 14, 2014
Story published May 14, 2014

In the week leading up to this, he was assisting at the rehearsals with Mars, making sure the sound was right on cue for Mars’ unforgettable performance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Rodstol is currently on tour with Mars as a monitor technician through his company Clair Global, a sound company that caters to the professional touring industry. It was in 1992 when he got his start right inside the walls of WHS — setting levels and writing cues on the soundboard for performances in the auditorium, as part of the WHS Tech Crew.

“[Tech Crew] gave me insight as to possibilities of what I could get into,” Rodstol said. “I could see potential.”

One day, Rodstol realized he could make a good living doing what he did. That’s when he decided, “I’m going to work with some really big bands and tour the world.”

In 1998, Rodstol graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle with an Associates Degree of Applied Arts, majoring in Audio Production.

Since then, Rodstol’s career has taken him all over the country, from Asia, to Australia, to Europe. He has toured with country singer Keith Urban, hip hop singer Enrique Iglesias, and rock band Nickelback. It look him a long time to get where he is.

“You don’t go to that level right away,” Rodstol said, “but when you do, it’s pretty cool.”

Rodstol now lives his life on planes, tour busses, and stages. During legs of the tour, he wakes up on a bus and is handed a day sheet. From there, he gets to work with his crew of four on the current tour from Clair Global.

He helps wire the stage, tunes the PA, sets up and tests the microphones, helps the band with their soundcheck, and by that time, the audience has arrived for the concert.

Rodstol then goes for a nap on the tour bus or dinner, depending on how much sleep he got the night before. The concert begins and Rodstol is back in the arena, sitting next to the monitor engineer backstage.

After the opening act, a 30- to 40-minute set change occurs, Mars then takes the stage, and finally, Rodstol is able to begin the “load out” process of taking down the stage and packing up for the next show.

That is generally done by 1 or 2 a.m. He gets time for a shower, relaxes with his crew members, and finally gets time to sleep.

“It’s not a 9-to-5 job with an hour lunch break,” Rodstol said.

There’s no doubt that Rodstol sees incredible things, like Lenny Kravitz performing with Mars in Paris, or soon Pharrell Williams, singer of hit song “Happy,” opening for Mars. Regardless of who it is, Rodstol tries to “keep it professional,” as does most of the crew.

Rodstol doesn’t try to gloat or act starstruck, even though he casually passes Mars on a regular basis.

“We’re not like buds or anything,” Rodstol said. “Bruno’s just a genuine, down-to-earth, nice guy.”

In the last few years, Rodstol married his wife Rebecca. He has two daughters, 1 and 3 years old. He’s thinking now about doing less overseas touring, citing the time change and consistent stream of travel.

“It’s quite tough and it’s very taxing,” Rodstol said.

Although the travel is consistent, Rodstol has a travel agency, which keeps up with all of his booking. Another agency takes care of all of his work visas and passports for overseas tours. Sometimes, Rodstol knows ahead of time where he’ll be touring next. One time, however, he was called, told to pack his bags, and hop on a flight.

Mars’ current tour has a crew of approximately 50 people, Rodstol said.

“I want people to realize we’re a team, there’s seven of us (in the audio department),” he said. “It takes a lot to put on a production at this level.”

Rodstol realized during his days at WHS where he wanted to end up. Coincidentally, he’s right where he thought he would be. “Set a goal and just go for it,” he said.