Tower of Power, Photos by Raymond Aponte
Reno, NV (February 27, 2023) — Music lovers new to Tower of Power might be tempted to say the world’s premier exponents of horn-driven funk and soul have staged a mighty comeback. But “comeback” implies that an artist went away in the first place. The originally Oakland-based crew founded by alto saxophonist Emilio Castillo and baritone saxmeister Stephen “Doc” Kupka have been steadily gigging and recording for 50 years and counting. Live audiences are treated to a mix that blends the group’s two trumpets, three saxes, full rhythm section, bubbling Hammond organ, and six vocalists with clarity akin to an audiophile-grade studio recording. Castillo and Kupka award Audix microphones a sizeable share of the credit here, deploying everything from the D6, D2, and D4 on drums to OM6 handhelds on vocals to yet another D6 paired with i5 instrument mics on the organ’s Leslie speaker. Castillo and drummer David Garibaldi trace the band’s tenure and their Audix mics in an exclusive interview.
“Just about everyone in the band uses Audix mics on something,” says Garibaldi. “My first set was a drum miking kit consisting of a D6 and I believe D2s and D4s on toms. I love them because they have a very low-profile way of attaching to the drums. They don’t get in the way, and the way my drums sound is phenomenal. I’m not an engineer, but I can say subjective things to the monitor and front-of-house guys like ‘more thud’ and they can always dial it in. Our sound has been more consistent than ever since we’ve used Audix.”
“Doc’s baritone sax mic is an Audix D4,” adds Castillo. “On background vocals, Adolfo Acosta and Mike Bogart [trumpeters], and Roger Smith [keyboardist] each have an OM6. There are several on the drums as David described. I’m not a real technical wizard but I have a good ear. Because I’m concerned about the audience, I go to the front-of-house engineer, and they’ve all given me very positive feedback.”
Monitor engineer Nathan Bauld is especially fond of the D6. “It crushes every other kick mic,” he praises. “Take the frequency response — it has a built-in kick drum EQ. It’s fantastic that a capsule performs this way. You don’t need to add EQ, which can offset the phase and smear the transients. By getting the right frequencies up front, you preserve the impact.”
Being a large outfit with a five-piece horn section and six members who sing, Tower of Power has quite a few open mics onstage at any given time. The band finds Audix mics to be the ultimate safeguard against related pitfalls. “With mixes, people think that the more you put in, the bigger it sounds,” Castillo explains. “In fact, everything gets more crowded and can sound boxier. Audix mics help us to avoid all that and achieve a high-quality mix with clarity.”
“Our front-of-house guy Andrew Gilchrist has worked with Maceo Parker and Dumpstaphunk and a bunch of New Orleans bands,” adds Garibaldi. “Whatever it is the Audix mics deliver, he gets that times ten with us. That classic R&B sound with the nice bass but a lot of clarity on top. People who come to see us comment that they can distinctly hear every instrument in the mix with a lot of separation.”
“We don’t tie ourselves to any brand name just to get an endorsement deal,” notes Castillo. “We use Audix because of the exceptional sound and build quality. If it wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be using them.”
Audix began in 1984 and to this day their mission remains unchanged – to design, engineer and manufacture high performance, innovative products which contribute to the advancement of the professional audio industry. With passion and ingenuity, the company strives to push the limits of technology in order to provide their customers with products that exceed expectations. The company’s headquarters in Wilsonville, Oregon is also home for their research, design, manufacturing, and logistics operations. The company prides itself on having the latest technology products, an innovative R&D team, and a loyal customer base. Audix microphones, earphones and headphones are recognized for their innovative design, performance, quality, durability, and value year after year.