The latest episode of Live Nation’s Backstage With Crew Nation web series features REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin talking to production manager Michael Richter about his daily responsibilities.
You can watch the exclusive premiere of the video below.
In the clip, Cronin explains how REO Speedwagon likes to hold on to their road crew. Richter has been with the band for the past 14 years, noting he wasn’t expecting the gig to last too long.
“They were looking for a production manager,” Richter recalls. “The guy they had helping them was a friend of mine. And off I went to Reno, thinking I was gonna just do maybe five or six shows and that was it. … Fourteen years later, here we are.”
Richter’s job involves making sure the show runs as smoothly as possible. Even before the trucks arrive, he works out the logistics with the venue. Then he’s responsible for every detail – from sorting out the dressing rooms to the loading in and out of equipment to getting the band onstage. He also assisted with REO’s recent guest shot on Netflix’s Ozark, in which the full production was brought in, even though there wasn’t as much room as usual.
“I could be the difference between us getting invited back or not,” he says. “That weighs heavily on my mind every day. It’s tough, because far be it for me to be the reason the band can’t go back and play in whatever city. It’s a tightrope walk sometimes with that.”
Richter also discusses difficulty the coronavirus pandemic has placed on members of a crew. “I’ve spent 200 to 250 days a year on the road the last five years in a row,” he says. “To go from being incredibly busy all the time to absolutely having nothing to do, it’s hard to fathom.”
There’s also the financial hit they’re taking. Richter expresses gratitude for Live Nation, which has committed $10 million with its Crew Nation initiative to help crew members who’ve found themselves out of work with
“From the band’s standpoint, our crew, they’re basically band members,” Cronin adds. “We travel as a family, so when Crew Nation comes up and offers financial assistance to crew guys,they’re kind of helping the bands too.”