photos: Steve Jennings
Describing the band’s unique sound, Dave King (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo, bodhran, spoons) has said, “If it didn’t have mandolin, accordion, fiddle and whistle, it would be punk rock. If it didn’t have guitar, bass and drums, it would be traditional Irish music. Flogging Molly has both.” Currently out supporting Within a Mile of Home, this seven-piece group is touring in smaller venues across the U.S. before heading to the UK for another slew of dates. Mix caught up with the engineers and band at San Francisco’s Warfield in mid-March.
FOH engineer Jeremiah Ball at the Warfield's PM4000 console, supplied by Sound on Stage (Hayward, Calif.).
Although the tour is relying on local production, front-of-house engineer Jeremiah Ball is able to maintain consistency in the sound night after night, as the venue-provided consoles very rarely differ at each show. “Aaron [Glas, monitor engineer] and I are getting the same two or three models in most of the venues — mostly Midas, with an occasional Yamaha — and we are learning what works and what is less-than-ideal for this band. I have a much better idea of what I would like to be carrying now than when I first started with these guys.
“The mic package from Shure has been a huge step forward in consistency for the band,” he continues. “Having the same mics night after night means being able to remove one major variable from the stage sound.
“Ampeg has just given us several of its new SVT tube DIs, and they are great on acoustic instruments,” says FOH engineer Jeremiah Ball. “They have a nice articulation without being harsh, and they get rid of a lot of the nasal piezo on the mandolin. I am using a Fishman Aura on Dave’s acoustic, which is a modeling DI, and I really like it.”
“I really am at the mercy of the vendor, but I am always happy to see a rack of dbx 160s. For smooth, yet aggressive compression, you just can't beat 'em. I compress the snare top, bass DI, the banjo and the vocals. If I have a Summit or similar tube comp, I will run a stereo group for the vocals. I like to get my compression in steps, setting the individual compressor to a 3:1, which covers most of the dynamics and a harder limiter to catch Dave [King] on the ‘white octave.’ Dave was a metal guy, and he can still nail it. I have 25 inputs at FOH, and I am gating both kick drums and the toms. George [Schwindt] hits the snare so often and so fast that gating it would be counter-productive. If I have good frequency-conscious gates such as Drawmer or Klark Teknik, I will put one on the KSM 109 that's on the side-stick, which is a wood block on the rim of the snare. I set the filter above 8k to keep the snare from opening the gate. Otherwise, I have to ride the side-stick mic all night because it picks up the whole kit.”
Nathen Maxwell (bass,
Robert Schmidt (mandolin,
banjo, bazouki, mandola,
Monitor engineer Aaron Glas reports that only Robert Schmidt (mandolin/banjo) is on in-ears, using a Shure PSM700 system with E5 earpieces and the Sensaphonics custom mold designed for the Shure E5. “The ears are a great benefit for Bob and us engineers,” Glas says, “as the stage volume with so many bandmembers can get out of hand and I can control tone and clarity of his instruments with precision in the ears.
“Until recently,” Glas continues, “we used a Shure Beta 57A on Dave's vocal. Jeremiah and I have just finished experimenting with the combination of an SM58 capsule and Beta 57A windscreen. We replaced just the very tip of the windscreen with the SM58 foam material. The resulting mic is an SM58 with a slightly tighter pattern. It's a success for us as Dave likes the sound of the SM58 and Jeremiah needs a microphone with a tight pattern to keep the bleed from the rest of the stage under control. As I don't use any gates, compressors or effects onstage, I only carry a rack with two Shure PSM700 in-ear systems. I rely on local production to provide a solid console, EQ, amplification and wedges. We've enjoyed some consistency with gear on this tour, working quite a few times with a Midas XL250, Klark EQ and Electro-Voice wedges/processing onstage.”
Matt Hensley (accordion, concertina)
Bridget Regan (fiddle, tin
whistle, Uilleann pipes, backing
Dennis Casey (electric guitar, backing vocals)
George Schwindt (drums, percussion).