Equipped with two new members—Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie—and a renewed intensity, Glasgow-based indie rock band Franz Ferdinand is out on a worldwide tour in support of Always Ascending, the band’s fifth studio album. Playing theaters and the occasional arena, the band will be touring well into the summer. Mix caught them in Seattle in early December.
“The band’s sound is punchy, harmonic and driving—a combination of three guitars all interplaying with each other, providing a high harmonic mid palette,” says FOH engineer Rik Dowding. “Keyboards add power in the low end, piano melodies and soaring retro synth lines. For this tour, I am carrying a FOH control package, totally self-contained. We carry all microphones, and a full monitor control package. Alongside my desk I have a rack with a Waves Extreme server, a Lake LM44, a UPS and a Sonnet Mac Rack.”
For Dowding, taking the band’s music from the album to live audiences is the fun part. “The album was produced by Phillipe Zdar (Phoenix, Beastie Boys), and the band have been showcasing new songs from it each time we have toured,” Dowding says. “So getting that sound from the album has been a challenge, but one I have relished, being I started my career in the studio. I have an affinity for the recording process, and I think having that experience helps me structure a live mix. The album is refreshingly live in its approach, so that helps me tremendously.”
Having the guitars work together is key for both Dowding and the band, maintaining a thick and melodic sound while the rhythm section has room to cut through. “Dynamics are crucial to the mix. I try not to compress too much individually, allowing the music to naturally expand and contract,” explains Dowding. “C6 and F6 from Waves are very useful for allowing one to dynamically compress or EQ tracks but not kill the whole energy by only selecting certain frequencies. Keeping the three-guitar interplay is crucial to this mix, as they combine to create the classic Franz sound.”
Ultimately, for all involved, the new lineup has been good for everyone. “Seeing this new lineup of Franz thoroughly develop as a solid, exciting and intense band has been fantastic,” Dowding concludes. “The mixes translate well from a sweaty club show to an arena stage. They are a privilege to mix.”