Lighting Director Sooner Routhier is one impressive and accomplished woman in a field predominantly filled with men. Originally from Newport, VT, Routhier has been working in the music industry for 15 years with artists like Motley Crue, Rage Against The Machine, Jay Z, Rihanna, The All American Rejects, Chevelle, The Weeknd, Justin Moore, Sevendust and Linkin Park. She is currently in her fourth year and second tour with Bon Jovi.
I recently had the pleasure of asking Sooner Routhier a few questions about her job, and life on the road.
First, I’d like to commend you for being so successful in such a male dominate profession. That can’t be easy. Do you have any tips for women who are looking to enter your field?
Don’t make it an issue. It’s not. I’ve never come across a man in this industry that has given me a hard time about my gender at work. In fact, most men enjoy having women on the road. Besides… we smell better!
What is the hardest part of your job? How about the most rewarding?
The hardest part about my job is dealing with different spotlight operators in every building. I have to call cues to 8 of them on a nightly basis. Sometimes, I have to give cues to new spot ops who have never run a light before. It’s hard to be patient when you’re in the middle of a high energy show. BUT, I always manage.
The most rewarding part of my job is watching all of the major amounts of prep time it takes to make a show happen come to life. There is nothing like the felling of a first show. We spend about a month preparing for the tour programming and collaborating to create some amazing art. It’s extremely rewarding to see all of your hard work come to life in front of a sold out arena.
How many months out of the year do you spend on the road? How do you deal with that?
It varies from year to year. Sometimes I’m gone for 3 to 4 months sometimes just a couple weeks. Sometimes I tour on year-long cycles with a band taking me away from home for long stretches of time. Sometimes I head out on small festival gigs with artists that take me away for weekends.
What has been the craziest thing you have seen a fan do during a concert? How about a musician?
I was working for Rage Against the Machine during election time in 2008. We played a show in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention. The band was supposed to play a “secret” show on the lawn of the state house. The police decided to shut it down but the band refused to disappoint their fans. They proceeded to do three Rage Against the Machine songs acapella style with bull horns. Tom Morello actually sang his guitar rifts.
I never get to see crazy fan stuff to be honest! I’m always working the show. I have heard tales of fans getting backstage at shows. One of my buddies told me that he had a fan get backstage into the dressing room at a show. The fan was caught folding the drummer’s laundry. Not sure what artist it was.
If your job was to end tomorrow, what would you miss the most about it?
The travel and the people. You meet amazing people on the road and see places you never would imagine going to.
You can also catch all of Bon Jovi’s “Because We Can” tour info here: http://bit.ly/1134SI0
I would like to thank Sooner Routhier for taking the time to answer my questions. Which was crazy cool of her, knowing how busy she must be currently running the show on Bon Jovi’s “Because We Can” tour.
I’m looking forward to checking out all of Sooner’s mad lighting show skills on July 18Th when the tour stops here in Detroit. Just in case ya wanna hook up and say hi – I’ll be the middle-aged woman jumping around and singing along to every song, old and new. I’m sure to stand out in the crowd! He he..