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The Sound of Hard Work

November 2, 2018

Andy Clarke answers the calls

Words by Maggie McHale. Image by Bonnie Saporetti.

Andy Clarke follows one guiding principle when it comes to choosing his work.

“I want to work on music I enjoy,” says Clarke, a 30-year-old sound engineer based in South Philly. “If you’re not enjoying it, what’s the point?”

Clarke initially moved to Philadelphia a decade ago to attend the University of the Arts for drum performance but always had a knack for doing front-of-house work. Beginning at The Trocadero and eventually adding Boot & Saddle and Union Transfer to his client base, Clarke’s journey behind the board has typically tended to come on the fly.

“That’s kind of how I feel most of my jobs have come: just a call that day asking, ‘Are you available tonight? If you’re not, can you be?’ ” Clarke notes. “I’ve worked at six or seven different clubs in the city over the last eight years, and the only way I’ve gotten my foot in the door there is that last-minute phone call.”

The same thing, too, has happened with tours. He’s been able to develop relationships with heavy hitters such as The Menzingers, Circa Survive, Kurt Vile, Restorations, Thrice and Balance and Composure, with the last being a band for whom he served as a full-time sound engineer for around five years.

There have been multiple instances where Clarke was asked to jump on a tour as soon as the day before it left. He typically declines those offers, but occasionally his hectic schedule allows it.

“But sometimes,” he notes, “the calls are, ‘Hey, can you go on tour next week?’ And you’re like, ‘Well, maybe.’ ”

In addition to the plates he juggles doing sound and touring, Clarke also runs and works at Retro City Studios in Germantown, recording a variety of artists and building relationships with them.

His business partner, Joe Boldizar, 37, says that Clarke is “the guy you want to have around when things go wrong,” thanks not only to his tireless work ethic but also his natural talent and abilities behind the soundboard.

Jeff Meyers, 35, his boss at Boot and Saddle, agrees that Clarke’s a workhorse.

“He has unrelenting drive,” he says. “Sometimes I want to yell at him and be like, ‘Take a damn day off dude,’ ” Meyers says. “He hustles like no other sound engineer I know [and is] always willing to go the extra mile.”

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