Mix caught Switchfoot at their sold-out Fillmore Auditoriumshow in San Francisco, while they were out supporting theirstill-growing The Beautiful Letdown CD. The band has played afew different legs in the U.S. and Canada, and made quick trips toHawaii, Australia and New Zealand. We spoke with productionmanager/front-of-house engineer Ryan Nichols and band/stage tech ToddCooper about the tour.
“We only carry band gear, a small supplemental light rig andmerchandise,” says Ryan Nichols, Switchfoot's production managerand sound engineer. “This is definitely the toughest obstacle forme to overcome: having different gear every night. Most of the venueswe play in have sufficient P.A.s. Sometimes we have to supplement themonitors, but that's where advancing comes into play. We're trying tokeep things as simple as possible, but I see the band touring with fullproduction in the very near future.
“All three vocalists are on Shure SM58s. Tim [Foreman, bassistand vocals] and Jerome [Fontamillas, guitarist, keyboards and vocals]are on cabled mics for backing vocals, and Jon [Foreman, leadsinger/guitarist] is using the Shure ULX handheld version. We startedcarrying our own mics a long time back. The reason I chose the 58s isbecause they sound very smooth on any P.A. out there and they arebeyond durable. There are challenges involved, like drum and cymbalbleed, but, hey, this is live rock 'n' roll. As for monitor systems,the band tried in-ears a while ago and did not like the isolated,sterile world it created inside each musician's head. We've been usingwedges, while Jon uses an in-ear in his right ear with just his vocalin it.
“Technically, I feel the most important aspect of the show isthe vocals. Jon's lyrics have a true positive message, so making thevocals clear is important for the crowd to understand every word.
“[For outboard gear] I use an instrument reverb, a vocalreverb, a slight vocal chorus and a delay. I'll use a Yamaha 90II, 900,990 and Rev 7, TC Electronic M1 and D2, and Roland 1000 delay. Icompress the kick, snare, bass, acoustic and vocals, and gate thesecond snare, rack and floor. Typical units there are Drawmer anddbx.
“We're currently in the middle of an extremely intense tour:50 shows in 60 days. I really feel this is an amazing band with greatsongs. Everyone on tour believes wholeheartedly about what we aredoing. It makes for a truly wonderful tour.”.
Gear up onstage comprises guitarist Jon Foreman playing through aVox AC-30; Fontamillas is playing an Orange OR 120 head through aMarshall 4×12 cab; and Tim Foreman's bass runs through a Tech21SansAmp for the house and uses a Gallien-Krueger 2001 head through two4×10 GK ported cabs for his stage sound.
“My station is pretty simple,” says Todd Cooper, bandand stage tech. “I run the guitars through a Boss stage tuner,then through a Peterson VS II digital strobe tuner. I also run a linefrom there to a small Rock It belt clip amp that I use to hear theguitars to check the tuning audibly. I'm in charge of around 15 guitarsnow.”.
“Since we don't have a monitor engineer with us, Tim workswith the house monitor engineer while each member puts together hismix,” Nichols says. “I'm doing FOH at the same time. Thislets each person have a solid mix, including being able to hear toneswith or without the house P.A. on, and it doesn't overload the housemonitor mixer.”.