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All Access: Godsmack

Mix caught up with Godsmack at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium when they came through Northern California last fall. The crowd greeted the band with tremendous enthusiasm, and Godsmack responded by turning in a boisterous set of hard-hitting, in-your-face music. The band has been on the road playing theaters, arenas, sheds and festivals - ironically, including the European leg of Summer Sanitarium.

Apparently, ticket prices are a big deal for metal band Godsmack.According to lead singer Sully Erna, they declined to be a part of lastsummer’s Metallica Summer Sanitarium tour because ticket prices weretoo high for many of their younger fans. Likewise, the band’s 2003release, Faceless, was priced much lower than the average CD.For them, it’s all about giving back to the fans.

Mix caught up with Godsmack at the Sacramento MemorialAuditorium when they came through Northern California last fall. Thecrowd greeted the band with tremendous enthusiasm, and Godsmackresponded by turning in a boisterous set of hard-hitting, in-your-facemusic. Erna’s vocals were truly remarkable and easily heard through therock din in a great, clear mix. The band has been on the road playingtheaters, arenas, sheds and festivals — ironically, including theEuropean leg of Summer Sanitarium.

Front-of-house engineer Tony Pieras mixes on a digital Showco ShowConsole, which offers 80 inputs and 40 outputs, with all dynamicprocessing built in. “Every channel has its own gate, compressorand Harrison EQ,” relates Pieras. “Unlike the other digitalconsoles, with the Show Console, the audio path stays analog, so thesound that you get from this console is very rich and warm; in myopinion, the best-sounding digital console anywhere.

“I love mixing Godsmack,” he continues. “Theseguys are solid. There are no loops or tracks; what you hear is what isbeing played.”

The P.A. is a Showco Prism System, with five columns (four cabs percolumn), four under-hung frontfills and eight Prism subs per side.“When we are capable of flying the P.A., we put all of it up inthe air except for two of the frontfills that are placed on the deck ofthe stage,” Pieras says. “For our drive, we use the LakeTechnology Clair Bros. i/O, a wireless system controller that handlessystem EQ, crossover, delay and compression. The individual gates andcompressors for the console channels are built into the ShowConsole.” Pieras uses minimum effects on Godsmack, relying onlyon a TC Electronic M-1 for drum reverb and as a chorus on the vocals.He also uses a TC Electronic D-2 for vocal delays and a Helcion VoicePrism for other vocal effects. All of the drums are sent to sub groupson the console, and a TC Electronic Triple-C stereo multibandcompressor is inserted on these sub groups.

Monitor engineer Frank Sgambellone: “The bass player [RobbieMerrill] is wearing Ultimate Ears UE-7 ear molds driven from a Shure600 system. His tech has a duplicate mix and ear mold set up. Theguitar techs also have their own mixes.”

The vocal microphones are Sennheiser 500 Series. The main vocal isdriven through a John Hardy preamp and is split for effectschanges.

FOH engineer Tony Pieras: “I really love the double-kit drumsolo. Mixing it is a real challenge. I try and give each instrument aplace in the mix, and it’s fun doing this with 33 channels ofdrums.”

Monitor engineer Frank Sgambellone uses a Yamaha 4000 board because“it’s got plenty of inputs and outputs, and the metering iseasy to see. It makes it easy to hit target gain levels quickly. Withall these drums, inputs get eaten pretty quickly. I’m usingShowco SRM wedges and I love them. The drum mix has a pair of 181s, aswell as a shaker for the stool, in addition to a pair of wedges. Forsidefills, I have a pair of Prism full-range cabinets over a pair of181s per side. For dynamic processing, it’s just 15 Drawmer gatesfor the drums. [Occasional drummer] Sully Erna’s drum kit micsare an E604 on kick, E903 on snare top, E604 on bottom, E604 on toms,and E664 on overheads and hi-hat.”

Additional Crew: Jason “Rooster” Ruggles, patch/monitortech Jim Ragus, system tech

Portraits of the band , by Mix photographer SteveJennings