Guitarist Oz Noy’s latest release, Asian Twistz: Live in Asia (Abstract Logix), captures blistering, tight performances from his rock/jazz/blues/funk trio’s tour of Asia in the summer of 2014. Bassist Etienne Mbappe joined Noy and drummer Dave Weckl for the first time on this tour. Asian Twistz is Noy’s first live album since his debut release, Oz Live (2003), and notably, the project was entirely unplanned.
“I did all the touring I could in the States in May and June ,” Noy says. “At the end of August we went to Asia. I think we had 10 dates in about two and a half weeks in Japan, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Thailand.” Noy says that after he returned home to New York City, the record label expressed interest in releasing a live album and asked him if he had recorded any dates on the Asian tour. “I said, ‘I don’t know. Let me call Dave,’” Noy recalls. “On some nights he recorded the sets to Pro Tools—16 tracks out of his [onstage] mixer—on his MacBook Air, which he does frequently just for reference.”
For much of his career, Weckl has incorporated mixers, processers and monitoring systems into his live rig so he can preside over his drum sound in any performance setting. “The main use of the mixer is for my onstage sound and monitoring, and my FOH drum sound,” Weckl explains. Since 1998, he has used Yamaha digital mixers onstage and currently depends on Yamaha’s 01V96i. “The mic preamps rival [those in] Yamaha’s bigger live mixers, with this newest ‘i’ version supporting 16 channels of in/out audio through its USB 2 port. I have the whole band split into my mixer so I can easily monitor them, which I do [using] Shure’s in-ear system, via the mixer’s stereo output. I also have a speaker rig. I use the QSC KSub and two KW122 12-inch speakers, where generally only the drums are coming through to match the other instruments coming through the amps and speakers onstage, fed by two separate outputs on the [01V96i’s] 4-channel XLR MY [Mini-YGDAI] card; the other two channels go to FOH.”
Weckl recorded three shows during Noy’s tour: two nights in the same club in Shanghai, and one show in a theater in Bangkok. “I just wanted to document the band,” Weckl says. “Using a USB cable, I patch directly out of the mixer via its USB 2 output, set to pre-fader so my adjustments did not affect the recording. This went straight into my 11-inch MacBook Air’s USB port, right to the solid-state internal drive. The kick was double-miked, and all drums individually miked, [as were] both guitar amps. Bass was only DI, and I used what [the venues] had for room mics, for a little ambience.” Weckl mixed the album in his Los Angeles studio.
“I knew that the drum sound would be fine,” Noy says. “Bass sound is usually not a problem. Room sound is a matter of luck, but guitar sounds are always a problem, because I [have to] play rental amps and you never know what kind of a tone you’re going to get. I’m at the mercy of the amps I’m given. [Weckl] was able to make it sound good. It was pretty incredible. [Laughs.] He’s got extraordinary ears, man. I couldn’t believe it when he actually fixed my guitars with EQ. It’s a really good document of how that band sounded.”