In Pro Sound News’ July 2016 “Live Sound Showcase” featuring legendary Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil, FOH engineer Joe Iwan shares insight on his job of touring a wide range of venues and discusses a variety of interesting topics a bit beyond our main story. Here, I share some of his thoughts on heavy metal mixing in general and other interesting details. It’s all wisdom.
“Some days you come into a great venue like this [points around Harrah’s Cherokee Events Center], and the next day it’s a divey club—which I still dig. I like the crust factor, but the gear isn’t maintained. You’ll have a 40-channel desk with 19 channels actually working.”
“I’ve never been a line array fan, but I think I just hit at beginning of the line array. [A line array] does sound great out there, especially with Lacuna. But with some bands, you need the harshness of the boxes to cover up the crap on stage.”
“I was just out with [Greek Extreme Metal band] Rotting Christ, doing their audio. They were so brutally heavy that I ended up just squashing the life out of everything. It’s kind of a reverse train of thought. It made everything else that more brutal. I’m squashing the heck out of the tops and getting all that extra low end, so it’s this low end wall of power. Then the house guys run up and say, ‘Oh! You’re killing my subs … wait, no you’re not even touching them.’ ‘Well, basically I’ve just brought your tops down by 10 dB and brought everything up.’ It’s all illusion, really. As long as you’re not hurting the rig, you’re good to go.”
“I prefer to carry a rig, but the work load is so much better when you don’t have to. That said, it’s nice to know what you’re on every day. When you’re not carrying a rig, or not carrying a desk, that’s great, in a way … but I walk into a new venue every day and try to make it sound like it did the night before. That can pose quite a challenge.”
“You’re only as good as your weakest link. For instance, last year Lacuna did Earthday Birthday [WJRR FM in Orlando, Florida’s annual live music festival]—we didn’t even get a line check. They had a Midas Pro 8 or Pro 6. The house guys didn’t know anything about the desk, so when I came out there the artist before ran over, and we got assed out of any check. So you’re just praying that everything works.”
“Sometimes you’ll think, ‘Why does this band sound 10 times better than this other band? I’m doing the same thing?’ It’s just that you’re only as good as what you have coming in. Rely on your house crew, or if you’re touring a PA, know that PA. Chop out the mids a bit if you’re hitting them hard. But it’s what’s coming in that matters most.”
—Tune into Pro Sound News‘ upcoming July 2016 issue for the full report on Lacuna Coil’s North American tour in support of their new iTunes Metal chart-topping release, Delirium.