Steve Franseen considers his company, Mountain West Production Group, to be a home town, grass roots production company, but there’s nothing ordinary about the 400 shows he’s producing in Colorado, annually. A sister company to SSS Productions, Mountain West has grown to extraordinary levels. Having recently acquired an FBT Modus rig and an FBT Mitus rig, they’re outfitting five to six trailer stages a day every weekend throughout the summer alone, for notable acts with national appeal, and for touring engineers who’ve earned the right to be picky. According to Franseen, everyone’s been thrilled with his new equipment.
Considering its humble beginnings, Franseen is proud and amazed by his company’s growth. “About eight years ago,” he said, “my buddy and I started doing sound as an evolution of my recording studio that I was originally running out of my house. At the time, we just had two SoundTech PA mains and some Peavey single 18s with a pawn shop Behringer mixer. We’d pull all of the mics out of my recording studio and we’d take them to a gig – and that’s kind of how it all started. We started getting more and more gigs and working hard… Now we have 16 dual 18s, a bunch of these trailers that fold out to stages, and vans going all over the place on any given day.”
To accommodate their fleet of mobile stages, one of which Franseen designed himself, Franseen says they’re acquiring more equipment. “About a year and a half ago,” he said, “we realized we needed a line array and we knew someone who had an FBT Modus rig. I knew nothing about FBT at all back then, so we wanted to test-drive the speakers at a two-stage event we had coming up. We used his Modus 15As, ground stacked on some scaffolding, and put four dual 18s with them on our B stage. Meanwhile, we used a different brand on the main stage. My client actually gave me a little bit of grief at the time, because she heard the sound coming from the FBT speakers, and thought I had put the nicer sound system on the B stage! This definitely speaks to the quality of those boxes. I was really impressed by their sheer output, so we ended up acquiring a Modus rig and have been using the heck out of it ever since.”
In addition, Franseen just added 12 new FBT Mitus 206LA line array modules to his inventory. He plans to buy even more in the near future, to support the growing number of shows they’ve been producing. Citing their high output and scalability, the business owner calls the Mitus 206LA the “Swiss Army Knife” of loudspeakers. Sometimes breaking the boxes into two separate rigs and, at others, using them as one bigger one, he appreciates the versatility the equipment offers, to please the performers and sound engineers he supports.
And that list is impressive. Performers who’ve used Franseen’s FBT equipment include such well-known acts as Brett Michaels, Molly Hatchet, Delbert McClinton, The John Denver Band, Kip Winger, and even more contemporary, electronic bands like Big Data. Future acts scheduled to use the equipment include Drive By Truckers, I Prevail and Shakey Graves.
The best part, according to Franseen, is the positive feedback he receives from their touring engineers. “I see them walking around the rig while it’s pumping some music ahead of their shows,” he says, “and they all come up to me saying, ‘Man, these FBT speakers really rip!’ ”
Equally impressive is a pattern he’s seeing with sound engineers for lesser-known acts. “Sometimes, says Franseen, “clients get an upgrade because their show is happening on the same stage a moderately high profile act will be performing on the following night. We try to use the same rig in cases like that so, instead of the usual rig we’d use for them, we’ll upgrade them to maybe four Mitus boxes per side, with three or four dual 18s at the same price. Every single time I’ve done that, the client has noticed the increase in sound quality and output – and they’ve paid extra for their future shows to use the FBT products again.”
“You know, it’s funny,” says Franseen. The Mitus boxes have been selling themselves. I’ll get monitor requests, someone will complain that they didn’t get the right kick pedal on the drum set for the backline or whatever, but when I use FBT , the front of house? I just never have to worry about it.”