All Access: Death Cab for CutieOut in support of Plans (see page 130 for information on the recording of the album), Seattle-based indie quartet (who recently signed to Atlantic) Death 1/01/2006 7:00 AM Eastern
Out in support of Plans , Seattle-based indie quartet (who recently signed to Atlantic) Death Cab for Cutie (singer/guitarist/keyboardist Ben Gibbard, guitarist/keyboardist Christopher Walla, bassist Nick Harmer, drummer Jason McGerr) is playing to sold-out clubs and theaters, while keeping its touring package lean and mean. Mix caught up with the band and engineers John Byrd and Will Markwell in mid-November at San Francisco's SF Weekly Warfield Theatre.
FRONT-OF-HOUSE ENGINEER JOHN BYRD
John Byrd (for whom the band titled The John Byrd E.P., released this past March) says that the tour is just carrying mics, mic stands, cables, sub snakes, a drum riser, in-ear transmitters and FOH processing (sans effects). “My rack is always changing from tour to tour, and I try to experiment with different processors all the time,” Byrd says. “The pieces that I really enjoy using are the Meyer CP-10 parametric EQ and the FMR RNCs. I see my job as a simple technical problem of accurately reproducing and amplifying what's happening onstage — no embellishment, no crazy effect unless it's on the record. I'll use whatever gear I have at hand.”
Byrd has become adept at using a different P.A. every night, but stays focused on the job. “Coverage in the front is one of my big concerns and I try to put up front-fills whenever I can,” he says. “I'm running 27 inputs and the mixing consoles we use are across the spectrum, depending on budget, availability and what's appropriate to the show. Midas is my usual preference: Clean mic pre's, an adequate number of channels and balanced ¼-inch inserts are all I really need.”
MONITOR ENGINEER WILL MARKWELL
Switching to earphone monitors improved conditions for everyone. “Jason and Nick have been on in-ears for almost two years,” monitor engineer Will Markwell says. “Recently, Ben decided to try them out and loved them. Christopher wears a pair of headphones when he plays keyboards — at least sometimes he does. The rest of the time, he wears Sensaphonics ear plugs and works off of stage volume.
“Having the majority of the band on in-ears has brought down the volume onstage pretty dramatically,” Markwell continues. “That decrease in volume is an obvious benefit to John [Byrd] out at front of house. Nick and Ben are using Shure PSM700 wireless IEMs. Ben uses Sensaphonics Prosonic Soft 2x in-ears. Nick switches between the Sensaphonics and Westone ES3. The Westones don't make as tight of a seal, and most of the time Nick prefers the bleed. Jason switches between the Sensaphonics, Westone ES3 and Westone ES2.”
The drum mic complement is mostly Audix, including SCX-25s on overheads; M1245s on snare top, toms and hat; and D3 on snare bottom. Kick is a combo of D6 and a Shure Beta 91. McGerr augments his acoustic kit with a DrumKat trigger pad and Akai Z4 sampler. “[Drummer Jason McGerr] also has a mixer for his in-ear monitors,” says monitor engineer Will Markwell. “That way, he can control his own sampler, song starter and ambient mic volumes.”
Both guitarists use Dr. Z amps. Gibbard uses a MAZ Jr. combo and a MAZ Senior combo. Walla has a Route 66 head feeding a 2×10 cab and MAZ 38 head going into a 2×12 cab. Audix ADX-112s mike all guitar amps.