Guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach, one half of The Black Keys along with drummer Patrick Carney, formed The Arcs in 2015 as a side project and released Yours, Dreamily in September 2015 on Nonesuch Records. The Arcs are Auerbach, Leon Michels (keys, backing guitar and percussion), Richard Swift (drums, piano), Homer Steinweiss (drums, percussion, synth), and Nick Movshon (bass).
“I just wanted to do my thing and get extra weird,” Auerbach told the Website, Consequence of Sound, about the project in 2015. “I wanted everything to flow [and] be cohesive. A lot of the songs bleed one into the other, a lot like the Grateful Dead—my favorite records that they did. So I’ve got a lot of connected songs.”
Auerbach and the band brought this approach to live audiences during an April 2016 tour that included the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The tour also includes three members of the Brooklyn-based Mariachi Flor De Toloache: Mireya Ramos (violin, backing vocals); Shae Fiol (vihuela, backing vocals); and Julie Acosta (trumpet, backing vocals). Mix magazine caught up with front-of-house engineer Neal Jensen when The Arcs played at The Moore Theatre in Seattle. The Arcs return to the road beginning on July 15, when they visit The Orange Peel in Asheville, N.C. “We have been working with Eighth Day Sound,” Jensen says. “They are supplying desks, sidefills—we use no floor monitors or IEM systems—power, and a mic package.”
How did you land this gig with The Arcs?
I was hired by Jason Tobias [tour manager] primarily for my “old school” style of mixing. Dan Auerbach preferred to keep The Arcs’ live shows vintage sounding and simple—minimal mics, nothing too complicated. I tried getting the sounds through source tone management, mic placement, gain structure through the desk and EQ instead of through plugs or more “in the box” treatments.
Which console was chosen for front-of-house, and why?
I am using the Midas Pro6 for FOH. I landed on the Midas a few years back for their sonic signature and always spec for these desks. I learned on analog desks like Soundcraft and Midas, and I feel my mixes are closer to what I’m looking for with these Midas Pro desks if I can’t take analog. A lot of the “mix-arounds” and “un-doings” I experienced on other digital desks are of no concern on the Midas.
Do you get to do a soundcheck? What is your main objective for structuring this band’s mix?
We typically will run through a soundcheck every day. It helps me balance my mix to the mains, especially for smaller rooms as we use only sidefills for monitoring [d&b audiotechnik] and many times I don’t need things in the near-fills. It’s also nice to hear what the upstage space or trap room, if there is one, is giving back to me.
What is Dan’s vocal chain?
Dan’s vocal chain is quite simple: a [Shure Beta] 57A through a spring [reverb] and an analog slap style echo. I have a [dbx] 160 compressor set at something like 2:1 and an insert in the channel with a dynamic EQ compressing the octave around 2.5k at maybe 4:1.