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Alice in Chains Uses Heil Sound Mics On Tour

Black Gives Way to Blue, Alice in Chains’ first album since 1995, debuted at Number Five, selling more than 126,000 copies in its first week. The newly re-formed band—with new lead singer William DuVall replacing the late Layne Staley—also hit the promotional concert circuit in earnest with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, as well as multiple daytime shows throughout September.

Guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell (left) and guitarist/vocalist William DuVall

Photo: Steve Messina

With a new singer and new album in place, front-of-house mixer Tom Abraham brought in new Heil Sound microphones. Abraham has worked with Velvet Revolver, Shakira and Garbage, among others. “Switching to Heil mics has allowed me to get the greatest gain before feedback of any other microphone that I have ever used,” he says.

All microphones onstage are from Heil Sound, with PR 30s housed in off-stage guitar isolation boxes for Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall’s guitar rigs. For drummer Sean Kinney’s custom DW drum kit, Abraham uses the Heil HDK-8 drum mic kit with additional PR 30s used for “under head” cymbal miking use. According to Abraham, “The PR 48, PR 20 and PR 22 kick, snare top, snare bottom combo is just awesome—I mean, perfect, really. And I am amazed by the PR 30s on the cymbals. Such separation and clarity.”

With the addition of DuVall, the band has two lead singers who, according to Abraham, are radically different in terms of style. Cantrell likes to sing from different fixed positions onstage while DuVall prefers to move about freely with the use of a handheld wireless. To accommodate this lineup, two Heil PR 35s on stands are positioned at stage left and stage right, and a RC 35 wireless capsule is used with a transmitter for DuVall’s “roaming.”

The wireless is also used at center stage on a stand for portions of Cantrell’s featured songs. To minimize problems and still use one wireless mic, a 2-channel receiver is used with both channels set to the single microphone’s frequency. The outputs are then sent as two channels to the house and monitor consoles, thus allowing Abraham and monitor mixer Scott Tatter to easily control each singer’s equalization and fader settings separately.

Alice in Chains begins a European tour in November that will last until just before the Christmas holiday, with a U.S. tour planned for 2010. Whether they are playing the Lucerna Music Bar in the Czech Republic or The Joint in Las Vegas, the band’s Heil Sound mics will be along for the ride.

Abraham concludes: “Bob Heil and the team at Heil Sound are always responsive and available. They actually understand that we work in a ‘no excuses’ environment. That means a lot.”

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