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Tour Profile: Pearl Jam


Pearl Jam performing

Photo: Dave Vann

Seeing as they’ve already made live “bootleg” recordings available to their fans, it comes as no surprise that Pearl Jam has partnered with Verizon Wireless on their latest tour to introduce Live Mobile Bootleg Recording Program, which makes three songs (one free, two for $1.99 each) from each show available to fans the next day via Verizon’s V Cast (Virtual Casting) technology. The task of recording, mixing and releasing a show in less than 12 hours is the responsibility of the Rat Sound audio crew: monitor engineer Karrie Keyes, bootleg recording engineer John Burton and bootleg recording mixer Barrett Jones.

According to Keyes, the process for these recordings starts with ensuring that the band has a great monitor mix via her Midas Heritage board. Keyes uses a combination of different monitors for the band: On bassist Jeff Ament, guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, and keyboardist Boom Gaspar, she relies on Future Sonics in-ear monitors. Drummer Matt Cameron uses two EAW MicroWedges and a Rat Sub for the drum-fill and earplugs. Singer Eddie Vedder uses one ear and a combination of wedges and sidefills. Keyes is also using a vocal wedge mix and side-fills for drums and other instruments.

Burton then takes over to record the show, working on a Pro Tools HD3 workstation using multiple Digi 92 I/O interfaces; Grace 801R pre’s run direct into Pro Tools. Once the recording is finished, Jones takes the drives from Burton after the main set to the Verizon bus and gets the three-song mix ready for release the next day. The bus has been converted into a sound studio, where Jones uses a Pro Tools HD5 workstation with a Digidesign C24 board and Yamaha NS10 monitors; all gear was supplied by Verizon. Mixing in the box, he uses onboard plug-ins for all internal processing.

Because he has a limited time to get the songs mixed, Jones created a template as he mixed the first two shows. He set the EQs and processes on the template, so he would only have to make minor tweaks for each song going forward. After the three Verizon songs are mixed, Barrett masters them using Waves’ C4 to an L3 UltraMaximizer. Then Verizon posts them on its V Cast service. Jones spends the following day back on the Verizon bus mixing the rest of the show. Once the whole show is mixed, Jones sends the final copy via FedEx to Ed Brooks at AFI Mastering, where the final master is completed. All 13 shows from the tour are then available as MP3s, FLACs and CDs on Pearl Jam’s fan club site,