Craig Nicholls, The Vines’ vocalist
Photo: Steve Jennings
The Aussie Invasion tour hit San Francisco’s Warfield Theater in early April 2004 with a triple-punch from The Vines, Jet and the Living End. Mix spoke with the engineers about this leg of the tour, which carries a minimum of its own production. The next leg of the tour will invade clubs in Europe, followed by venues and festivals in the UK.
Photo: Steve Jennings
According to Vines’ front-of-house engineer Matthew Kettle (left), on this leg of the tour, he is just carrying his own processing, “favorite things like the Empirical Labs Distressors, UREI 1178s, BSS DPR-901s and 404s, and Drawmer DS201s. These have come in handy as the quality of equipment we’ve faced has been variable.
“Johnny [Haskett, FOH engineer and tour manager for support act Jet, pictured right] and I have known each other for a long time, but this is the first time we’ve worked together. As The Vines would be the band to close the show out of the two headliners, I would be the guy to line check, so I EQ’d the system every day. Johnny and Jim [Scott, FOH for the Living End] seemed quite happy with my curve and only made minor changes on a couple of occasions.”
While in mixing mode, Kettle finds himself enjoying the band’s genre-bouncing — Aussie power rock, psychedelic ballads, grungy punk rock — and the subsequent dramatically different dynamics. “Craig [Nicholls, vocals] likes the shows to sound different than the record. He really likes to use all kinds of vocal delays and effects on his voice. It’s not the sort of thing I’ve used much with other artists, so I’m enjoying the other toys in the effects rack!”
While handling monitor duties for both The Vines and Jet is tricky in itself, adding different requirements into the pot hasn’t fazed monitor engineer Justin Grealy. “Jet is a dyed-in-the-wool guitar rock band who like to be driven along by their stage sound. Both bands use floor wedges and Jet likes loud sidefills to reinforce the drums. They like loud kick and snare drum all around the stage, and as they sing some close three-part harmony, they need vocal clarity at high volumes and guitars to pitch to. The Vines tend to favor more individual mixes, which precludes the use of sidefills. Craig [Nicholls, Vines vocalist] likes lots of vocal level and big reverb, whereas Patrick [Matthews, Vines bassist] and Ryan [Griffiths, Vines guitarist] like lower level mixes of their own instruments. Hamish [Rosser, Vines drummer] likes a good loud kit sound and a balance of the guitars.
“I’m not carrying any inserts, mainly because of the amount of adapters that would be necessary to make gear insertable on such a variety of consoles. I am carrying two TC Electronic M1 reverbs that I use on the vocals. We use Shure Beta 57A for all vocals to get consistent results in a huge variety of situations.”
Unlike Kettle, Johnny Haskett, FOH engineer/tour manager for Jet, is not carrying production on this run, relying on consoles and P.A. provided from the house. “Fortunately, Nic Cester [vocals/guitar] has such a great voice that I don’t need toys to help him out. We’re using the same mic kit every day, supplied by our monitor engineer Justin Grealy. I just started using a Sennheiser 935 on Nic’s vocal. On the Aussie leg, I will be trying a complete Sennheiser mic kit.”
On differences between the mixes for The Vines vs. Jet, Haskett reveals, “I’m a lot louder and prioritize the guitars and fat bass in your face. I also demand a ridiculous amount of sub, but with a good, clean, virtually unaffected vocal sitting on the top.”