Camarillo, CA (April 5, 2022)—RAT Sound has long handled audio for rock mainstays Pearl Jam, so it was only fitting that the sound provider tackled the recent solo tour of frontman Eddie Vedder, supporting his new album, Earthling.
On the move throughout February, the production played nine shows across six US cities with veteran Pearl Jam engineers Greg Nelson and Karrie Keyes in tow, taking on the FOH and Vedder’s personal monitor mixes respectively. They were joined by Brett Heet, tackling monitors for the all-star band backing the singer that included Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Glen Hansard (The Frames), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), Josh Klinghoffer (touring Pearl Jam/RHCP member), and Andrew Watt (Grammy Award-winning producer of Earthling).
Nelson worked nightly behind a new DiGiCo Quantum338 mixing console supplied by RAT, while Karrie Keyes, who has been with Pearl Jam from the start, moved from her usual SD5 worksurface to an ultra-compact SD11 to exclusively focus on Vedder, while Brett Heet mixed in-ears for the band on an SD5.
The journey marked Nelson’s first time on the Quantum338, mixing 65 inputs coming from the stage, all shared on an Optocore loop with Keyes and Heet over in monitor world. “After getting my hands on one for a day, I absolutely fell in love,” he remarked. “The worksurface is perfect for how I mix and it had all the amazing Quantum toys to play with. I am really loving the Naga 6 six-band dynamic EQ, which I use on acoustic guitars and some background vocals. I also use as many of the Mustard processing channels as I can. With both of these tools, I’ve eliminated a lot of the plug-ins I was using before. I still have some outboard gear that I use and have fun with, but with Mustard and the Spice Rack, I can get by with carrying far less. And let’s talk about those three big 1000-nit screens—they’re beautiful! Everything is so clear and much easier to see for my lousy old-man eyesight!”
Keyes was also on a new desk as well having opted for the diminutive SD11. “Ed has a complex monitor system, so Brett and I thought it was best to divide up the duties so I could focus solely on Ed, while he could give his full attention to the band, which proved to be a good call,” she says. “Ed does not use IEMs; instead, he has seven vocal and instrument mixes put across wedges, ground sidefills and flown sidefills. I had the full input list so could access anything that was needed, and I was able to put my workflow in a format that was much smaller but still easily accessible. We were playing sold-out theaters on this run, and while Brett’s SD5 had to be crammed onstage, I could go just about anywhere—including the front row, where I occasionally mixed from. I’ve started using the SD11 for Ed’s other solo gigs—his smaller, more stripped-down ones—and it’s worked out quite well.”
When Pearl Jam’s tour picks back up in a couple of months, Keyes will transition back to a SD5 to mix the main five-piece band, with fellow monitor engineer Tommy Caraisco mixing touring sidemen Boom Gaspar and Josh Klinghoffer, the tech mixes, and the support band. But as for Nelson, it’s the Quantum338 from here on out based on his first experience with the new desk.
“The crowds were so excited on the Earthling tour,” he says. “I was able to quickly get a solid mix together with almost no rehearsals, and I got such great feedback the audience. Pearl Jam’s input list is closer to 90 inputs, so I’m just barely going to fit that tour onto the Quantum338, but I’ve been having so much fun getting back to mixing again, and this console has been a big part of that.”