All Access: Green DayReaching Number One on Billboard the week it dropped in September 2004, Green Day's American Idiot follows Jesus of Suburbia through his confusion, alienation 1/01/2005 7:00 AM Eastern
Reaching Number One on Billboard the week it dropped in September 2004, Green Day's American Idiot follows Jesus of Suburbia through his confusion, alienation and disillusionment, while fueling that “rocking out in front of a mirror when you're 15” energy that this punk powerhouse has become famous for.
Stepping back into the spotlight (the band took a hiatus from touring since the 2000 release of Warning), Mix caught up with the high-energy Oakland-based band at their hometown show — across the bay at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco in late November.
A Midas Heritage 3000 handles front-of-house duties with a TC 2290, Yamaha SPX-990 and Lexicon 480X in the effects rack. House mixer Kevin Lemoine likes the tube sound: “On the kick and snare inputs, tube comps keep them nice and fat in these big arenas,” he says. “The kick lines have a Summit DSL-200, and the snare channels and bass guitar lines get Tube-Tech 2-channel compressors. I'm using BSS compressors on horns, acoustic guitars, keys and background vocals. Billie Joe's [Armstrong] vocal lines have the Distressor limiter inserted on them.
“Jason Vroebels tunes the Clair Bros. P.A. [14 i4s per side with 12 i4Bs on the front hang; eight i4s and six i4Bs on the side hang; 10 ground-stacked subs per side; and six P2 frontfills] in the afternoon. He's quite good at it — all I have to do is just talk into a 58 a few times, play a CD and make a few, if any, changes. We're using the Clair iO system controller to tune everything, controlling everything right down to individual components in the i4 boxes. Once the show's up and running, Jason walks the venue with the i0 wireless controller and evens out any weird areas, such as up in the top sections or in the corners.
“Billie Joe has a 20-foot extension that jets out from centerstage. Every day at soundcheck, he'll walk out to the end of it and face the speakers to see how things sound; he's been happy with what he hears. [Bassist] Mike [Dirnt] has amazing ears. Every once in a while, he comes out to FOH before soundcheck and listens to DAT tapes of previous shows. Everything he's mentioned has been spot-on. He'd make an awesome sound guy if he wasn't such a great bass player.”
“I've been using the Yamaha PM1D for almost two years and it's now my console of choice,” says monitor engineer Ian Beveridge. “There are no time delay effects for the band but I do use a good amount of compression on various inputs — all using the PM1D's onboard comps. With all of the processing [EQ, gates, comps] inside the console, I have no outboard — apart from the radio rack. No insert cables to break! I love the power of the EQ and the ease of dialing in-ear mixes with the board in Mix mode. Tre [Cool] has seven mixes just around the drum kit. We have sub L, sub R, high L, high R, guitar box, thumper and ears! The band puts on a hell of a live show — you have to pay attention, it's wild up there at times!
“The vocal mic is a Shure 58 UHF wireless, although we use a hardwired SM58 on one song. We go through three or four mic changes a night because they get wet, and sometimes because Billie hits the cymbals with them!”
“Mike [Dirnt] uses his own signature bass from Fender, essentially a '53 P-Bass with a contoured body, modern P-Bass pickups and a BadAss II bridge,” bass tech Micah S. Chong says. “He also uses a '69 P-Bass named Stella for the older songs. Mike uses a Fender Bassman 1200 with a Crown CE4000 power amp, driving three Fender 8×10 cabs. He also has an Avalon Design U5 that he uses for a DI.”
“Billie [Joe Armstrong] uses various '55 and '56 Gibson Les Paul Juniors, as well as his trusty old light-blue Fernandes Strat, [which] he used on the first record,” says guitar tech Bobby Schneck. “We're starting to experiment with the Tone-Pro's bridges on some of the guitars, which I love. Billie basically has three sounds: a clean sound, a ‘mid-clean’ that is a bit dirtier and his huge crunchy loud tone that he's best known for. For the ‘big’ sound,Marshall model 1959 100-watt Plexi re-issue heads modded by Martin Golub at Custom Audio Electronics power the two bottom cabs; the top two cabs are driven by a Mesa/Boogie stereo 2:90 power amp.”
Drum tech Ken Butler mikes Tre Cool's kick with a 91 and a 52; toms are all 98s, as is percussion. Cymbals are miked from underneath with 98s. Ride and hi-hat are 81s and there is a 414 about six inches from the snare for a more natural sound.