The Sounds stopped in Philadelphia at Union Transfer in April.
Photo: Todd Berkowitz
Hailing from Malmo, Sweden, The Sounds are Maja Ivarsson (vocals), Felix Rodriguez (guitars and vocals), Johan Bengtsson (bass), Jesper Anderberg (keys, vocals and guitar) and Fredrik Blond (drums). The band brought its energetic indie pop/rock to Philadelphia’s Union Transfer in April as part of a spring tour of North American clubs, theaters and halls in support of its latest release, Weekend. On May 9, they begin a series of European dates in Germany.
The band’s production manager and front-of-house engineer, Paul O’Shaughnessy, based in Belfast, Ireland, has worked with The Sounds for eight years. “The Sounds have a very heavy sub sound, so I feel like a lot of nights I’m trying to keep away from the limit on the sub but still mixing for that kind of sound,” he says. “This means sometimes I am not as loud as I would like to be, but the sub makes it feel louder than it really is.”
O’Shaughnessy says that the crew has been traveling lightly, relying on house-provided P.A. and FOH consoles but carrying some important pieces of production. “We carry a Yamaha LS9 for the IEMs,” he says. “The iPad app [LS9 StageMix] makes it very handy and the weight and size make it easy to fly with. The only outboard I carry is a [TC Electronic D-Two] delay, as it’s nice to have the controls accessible and it’s very fast at changing feedback and delay times. We also carry our own mic package. Over the years I think I’ve refined the mics to be exactly what we need. I use Audix OM7s on the vocals—not only for their sound, which I really like, but also because they minimize bleed for the in-ears. Our singer [Ivarsson] likes to throw hers on the ground a lot, and it always works afterwards. Something like a 58 would only last for a few songs.”
Balancing and translating The Sounds’ tightly arranged vocal parts amid guitars and keyboards is a high priority. “The OM7s help a lot as they are kind of bright already,” O’Shaughnessy says. “This, along with a decent compressor and a little EQ, seems to do it for me every night. I also have a stereo chorus; if used correctly, it widens out the main vocal. The backing vocals are on a 58 at stage right, and all the others are OM7s. They get the same treatment. I also use a flanger on the keyboard vocal for one effect. I have four guitar amps onstage and they all have 57s on them. I use foam ‘baffles’ between each amp to cut down on bleed and help distinguish each amp’s sound. The bass gets a D112.”
Monitor engineer Mike Savage, who operates the LS9, is new to The Sounds, joining for the North American dates. He notes that the band uses a mix of IEMs and wedges. “The members who use both IEM and wedges like the live feel of wedges but also want the clarity IEMs can provide. Fredrik [drums] and Johan [bass] are solely on IEMs. I’m also using sidefills to fill in the stage.” <>“The entire mix is very busy all night,” O’Shaughnessy concludes. “The Sounds’ songs are all so different-sounding that I have been considering using scenes, but I haven’t started doing it just yet, so in the meantime its the old-fashioned way: my hands and ears.”