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All Access: Snow Patrol

The past year has seen numerous emo/punk/rock bands enter the limelight. The latest, Snow Patrol, is garnering critical acclaim for the album Eyes Open.

The past year has seen numerous emo/punk/rock bands enter the limelight. The latest, Snow Patrol, is garnering critical acclaim for the album Eyes Open. Vocalist/chief songwriter Gary Lightbody lays down a smooth and melodic base from which his bandmates — drummer Jonny Quinn; guitarist/backing singer Nathan Connolly; bassist/backing vocalist Paul Wilson; and Tom Simpson (samples/keys) — ramp up the energy. And that energy abounded when the group hit the stage following openers OK Go and Silversun Pickups at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in early March; go to to watch a video interview.

Front-of-house engineer Snake Newton

All Photos: Steve Jennings

The last time Mix caught up with Snake Newton, he was handling FOH for The Sugababes; after that tour’s last stop, Newton jumped over to Snow Patrol in October ’06. Newton is manning a Yamaha PM1DV2, relying mostly on onboard effects while still carrying some outboard: two TC Electronic DBMax broadcast maximizers and a Focusrite Liquid Channel on Lightbody’s vocals; the rest is all done through the desk.

“To be honest, I use very little reverb in this situation because the room does a lot of that for you,” Newton explains. “I gradually phased out the outboard and would just get things that the desk can’t do for me.” Newton has been requesting this particular Yamaha board since it came out in 2001. As for his mixing technique, Newton notes the band is looking for a cross between a rock ‘n’ roll mix and that of a more melodic album — it’s all about finding a happy medium. “The music balance tends to be taken care of through the automation onboard and then we refine it as the show goes on,” he says. “A major part of my gig is balancing the vocals with the rest of the band. That’s where my head’s at: Keep the vocals on top while maintaining the power of the band.”

Monitor engineer Leon Dalton

Monitor engineer Leon Dalton first met Snake Newton when the duo were working on a Duran Duran tour. For the Snow Patrol gigs, Dalton is also working a Yamaha board — a PM5D because “you can get them everywhere,” Dalton says with a laugh. Similar to Newton, Dalton is running most effects onboard, though he is carrying a Focusrite Producer Pack on Lightbody’s vocal because of its ability to quickly de-ess, EQ and compress. As the tour is flip-flopping each night with a new drummer, Dalton is relying heavily on the ability to save scenes for each drummer on the desk.

The stage is clean, save for a few guitar cabs onstage, “just to add ambient noise,” Dalton says. Other than that, all bandmembers are on in-ears. Dalton has about six or seven stereo mixes going on for the band.

Guitarist/backing vocalist Nathan Connolly sings through a Shure Beta 58A, while his guitar is miked with KSM32s.

Bassist Paul Wilson sings through a Shure Beta 57A. His amp is turned backward and miked with a KSM32.

For the S.F. date, drummer Jonny Quinn’s kit is miked with Shure Beta 56 on snare with a 98 underneath; 98s on toms; KSM32s overhead; and 137s for ride/hi-hat. The very low content of the kick drum is captured by a small speaker turned backward to catch the puff of air from the breather hole.

Just a few hours before show time, from left: Eighth Day Sound crew chief Michael Mordente (who mans the tour’s SIA Smaart system), FOH engineer Snake Newton and monitor engineer Leon Dalton

The Eighth Day Sound P.A. combines V-DOSC mains and d&b B2 subs. The main array is 16-deep, and the subs are three-deep; the tour is not carrying sidefills.

Tom Simpson provides the show’s sequencing effects, which keeps monitor engineer Leon Dalton “moving the faders,” though Dalton says he plans to automate this later on in the tour.

Vocalist Gary Lightbody is miked with a Shure Beta 58A and requires little processing: a
Focusrite Liquid Channel and a Producer Pack.

WATCH: Snow Patrol Video