With three hit albums under their belt, Keane is touring under their latest release, an 8-track EP titled Night Train, which features collaborations with Somali rapper K’Naan. The alt-pop group is playing to packed venues, including the Fox Theater (Oakland, Calif.), where Mix caught up with the crew.
Monitor engineer Simon Hall is using a Yamaha PM5D, using everything onboard. External rack gear is limited, comprising a straightforward signal path of “mic-desk-ears.”
“The band’s vocal mics are all Sennheiser 935s with Tom [Chaplin, vocals/guitar/keys, above right] on a wireless G3 version. The band purchased a Sennheiser battery-recharging system [BA20152G2 batteries and L2015G2 charger, although they have four-way versions] for all the in-ear packs. They’ve been fantastic and reliable. The system is now around three to four years old and is still completely reliable, with not a single instance of them losing charge. We plug them in first thing and recharge after soundcheck. Expensive outlay to start, but they have paid for themselves many times over and done their little bit for the environment. I cannot recommend this product enough.
Monitor engineer Simon Hall
“We’re not using any wedges, only stage subs. In the UK we had d&b Q subs (two for bass, one for keys) and in the U.S. we have L-Acoustics DV subs (x2).”
Front-of-house engineer/studio engineer Matthew Kettle most recently worked on the Corinne Bailey Rae CD The Sea. “I’m very proud of that recording,” he says. “She approached me after hearing recordings I’d done with the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and Mark Ronson. She wanted to bring some of my ‘live’ feel and some of the analog elements of those previous albums. She and the other producers really allowed me a lot of freedom to help shape the sound of the record. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.”
Front-of-house engineer/studio engineer Matthew Kettle
For Keane, Kettle is mixing on an Avid Profile system, using an assortment of plug-ins such as Waves Mercury and Studio Classics Collection, vintage compressors and FX and more. “I really like the new H-Comp and H-Delay,” Kettle adds. “For convenience and portability, everything is ‘in the box’ this time. No outboard gear apart from a couple of mic pre’s for the audience mics. I do archive recordings of the shows using the 18 channels of audio available from a Digidesign FWx card to a laptop running Pro Tools LE.”
Kettle tunes the house-provided P.A. each day, trusting his ears to “pick up on obvious problems. We’ve been lucky on this run and had some good local system providers. With Keane, we’ve been carrying d&b J Line in Europe, which is a system that I really enjoy mixing on. I generally try not to do much system EQ at all. With new digital desks and system controllers, I think the overuse of EQ has become a big problem.
“With Keane, I think people are often surprised that a band based primarily around a piano can sound so big and rocking!” he continues. “My approach is possibly a little bit unfashionable. I very much believe that music should be powerful and sound ‘live.’ I really try hard not to clean things up too much, not overprocess; the character and beauty of music comes from tiny imperfections. If you remove every bit of this character, the mix quickly becomes very sterile. I just try to let the live mix be exciting and visceral.”
According to stage manager/drum tech Scott Johnson (left), Richard Hughes’ kit is miked with Sennheiser e 904 (kick, toms), Shure SM57 (snare top) and Beta 57 (snare bottom), Neumann KM100 (hi-hat) and AKG 414s (overheads).
Keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley has two keyboard setups. His main one, facing stage right is a Yamaha CP70 (“Completely standard inside with the original Yamaha pickups,” says Johnson), with a Nord lead on top. Downstage, he has a Korg Triton with a CME MIDI controller on top. He has multiple Line 6 Pod XTs with floorboard controls onstage. Off-stage, his rack gear comprises MOTU 828 Mark 2s that are with Muse Research Receptors, and it has multiple MIDI switching and audio switching gear. There’s also Line 6 gear for both keyboard setups, along with some Radial SW8 auto-switchers.