OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT – MARCH 2009: As lead singer for glam metal’s most revered and notorious band, Vince Neil is without peer. He joined MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e in 1981 and recorded five of rock’s greatest albums within that storied decade: Too Fast For Love, Shout at the Devil, Theatre of Pain, Girls Girls Girls, and Dr. Feelgood. Neil sings – and screams – into a Sennheiser SKM 535 G2 wireless handheld and keeps in time and on key with a pair of Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2 wireless personal monitors. The fidelity of both are important, but their ability to withstand tremendous abuse, and keep working night after night, is paramount.
MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e were on-again/off-again throughout much of the 1990s and early 2000s, but are now very much on after the tremendous commercial success of 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles. Their current wave of worldwide tours has attracted millions of fans to see the legendary band, some of them with nostalgia for the MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e cassette tapes of their youth, others whose birthdays postdate the band’s seminal albums and whose Rock Band video game controllers are worn thin from enthusiasm for the songs that made the band famous.
Neil’s commanding stage presence and seemingly limitless energy belie his true age and make one wonder if there might be some truth to the idea that a rock star of his status made a deal with the devil. “Vince is tremendously aggressive with his mic,” said Dana Strum, Neil’s handler and bassist/producer for Slaughter. “MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e puts on an amazing stage show with pyrotechnics and fog and Vince runs around like he’s on fire. The mic gets hit, slammed, clapped, soaked, burned… everything. There is no greater test of a microphone’s resilience anywhere on the planet.”
“Don’t get me wrong, the Sennheiser SKM 535 G2 is a great sounding mic with great features like autoscan,” said monitor engineer Harald Danker. “But for Vince, tonality is really almost secondary. I know that sounds weird coming from a sound guy, but it’s true. What’s more important is that his mic can survive night after night and still sound good. The SKM 535 G2 is amazingly durable.”
Case in point: in October 2008, MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e played the outdoor Pepsi Music Festival in Buenos Aires through a torrential downpour. Even though the rain started early in the set, the band continued to play, much to everyone’s amazement, including Danker’s. “There was a high roof above the band, so it took them a few minutes longer to be soaked to the bone than it did the audience,” laughed Danker. “But it was really like they were playing in the shower. Vince’s ew 300 IEM G2 wireless monitors continued working throughout the ninety-minute set, and each SKM 535 G2 lasted five or six songs before the electronics got too wet. Fortunately, I had spares, and we just switched them out when needed.”
“True, we switched out the vocal mic, but what other manufacturer builds something that would have lasted even one song in that kind of rain?” asked Strum rhetorically. “It was absolutely amazing!” Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that, although the capsules were shot because of a mineral residue left after everything dried out, the bodies and electronics of those microphones are still on tour with the CrÃ¼e!
Although they had used the Sennheiser SKM 545 G2, with the Sennheiser MD 845 super-cardioid capsule, Danker switched to the SKM 535 G2/MD 835 cardioid capsule, based on Neil’s performance style. “Vince runs around a lot and where he holds the mic varies from moment to moment,” he said. “Basically, mic technique is not high on his priority list. The cardioid pattern gives us a more consistent sound while still giving us enough rejection.” Neil alternates between an SKM 535 G2 with a chrome housing and one with an abstract pattern designed with CRYSTALLIZED(tm) – Swarovski Elements.
For monitors, Neil uses one Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G2, and Danker keeps a second set up on a different frequency in the event of interference. The second has only been used a handful of times as the band has toured North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Danker uses a third unit for cues. “The Sennheiser monitors are flawless,” he said. “I love that they scan. Once I get them dialed in, they work, despite everything that Vince puts them through.”
ABOUT SENNHEISER Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser’s pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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PHOTO CAPTIONS (Photo 1) Vince Neil, of MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e, a hard-core rocker who lets it rip every time he gets on stage, found an equally hard-core rockin’, rugged, great sounding microphone that matches his performances – the Sennheiser SKM 535 G2. (Photo 2) How cool is this? Vince Neil’s abstract-patterned SKM 535 G2 microphone was customized using CRYSTALLIZED(tm) – Swarovski Elements. PHOTO CREDIT (both images) Erick Anderson