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On Tour With Shure Fall 2007 PDF

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H
ey all you kids out there, thanks for picking up this copy of On Tour with
Shure! Although it’s still in analog form, it’s nice to know that some of you
still care and have the time to read the news the old fashioned way. In a way, this
publication could be considered a classic. The original format for its reception
into the world is print; no electronic website format, no blog or podcast, or
even a You Tube video format. We stuck to the basics for all these years. Sure,
now you could download On Tour with Shure from our website, and we have featured
some podcasts of artist interviews and even some videos that were shot during
those interviews, but those are just a taste of what is collected here.
In a way it’s similar to the idea of an album. An album is a collection of
music by an artist or band that has a feel or vibe, and if it’s done right, it takes
you on a journey into the mind of that artist. With all of the “new media”
available to us these days, one hardly ever stumbles upon an entire album or
collection of music by one single artist or band. Back in the day, not sure
exactly when, to get a copy of your favorite song you had to purchase the
entire album. Sure, with some artists it was a risk, and sometimes that one
song you wanted was the only one worth obtaining. But sometimes, there was
that one album that you could listen to all the way through; track one to the
last track… even the hidden tracks were good!
Do music fans still participate in this ritual? Sure, my friends out there that
understand how it was back in the day probably do, but how about generation… whatever letter or number you are? All of my digital media heads out
there, do you enjoy the collection of music that your favorite band or artist
records for an album? Do you just download the one song and play it over and
over again? I understand that the digital format affords us the opportunity to
preview an album before we buy, and you may be able to tell whether or not
you like the songs by listening to a 30-second clip. Still, there’s a theme there,
almost a vibe that the artist was attempting to portray. By downloading one
song or a few here and there, you may never know what that whole album was
supposed to make you feel or think.
It’s just a thought.
The idea of album art seems to have fallen by the wayside as well. This is
something the digital format, even with the album in its entirety downloaded to
your digital media device, cannot duplicate. Sure, you get the little image of the
front cover in your media player to distinguish it from the others in your
collection, but what about the liner notes, the other images, the lyrics, the
artwork on the disc itself? Again, it’s all a part of that vibe I’ve been speaking to.
Don’t be so sure you completely understand your favorite artist or band, there
may be a message there in the album or in the artwork that you may be missing.
With that, I thank you all for continuing to enjoy our collection of print media;
the copy, images, notes and credits all contained here in our 32 page musical
journey. There are a lot of people involved in making this whole thing happen
and I couldn’t do it without them, nor would I want to. I like this magazine in
its original format. It’s amazing to see it go from an idea to what you hold in your
hands right now. Thanks for reading and enjoying the pictures!
Rock Out,
On Tour with ShureВ®
Editor
Terri Hartman
Managing Editor
Cory Lorentz
Associate Editor
Kevin Spiegel
Artist Relations
Bill Oakley, Richard Sandrok, Ryan Smith, Kevin Spiegel
Art Director/Designer
Kate Moss
Writers
Penelope Biver, Louis R. Carlozo, Audrey Felix, Steven Frisbie,
Lindsey Ignace, Cory Lorentz, Bill Oakley, Karen Yuen
Contributing Photographers
David Barnum, Andy Chan, Poker Chris, Stewart Cohen,
Michael S. Corathers, Brian “B+” Cross, Earl E. Gibson III,
Sophie Martin, James Minchin III, Paul Natkin, Randi Radcliff
Printing
Triangle Printers Inc.
On Tour with Shure is published three times yearly by
Shure Incorporated, 5800 W. Touhy Avenue, Niles, IL 60714-4608.
Each separate contribution to Volume 8, Issue 3 and the issue
as a collective work, is copyright В©2007 by Shure Incorporated.
All rights reserved.
All trademarks are property of their respective owners.
All product specifications and appearances are subject to
change without notice. Use of an artist’s name in this publication
does not constitute an official endorsement of Shure products.
Free Subscription!
To receive your free copy of On Tour with Shure, please:
• Go to www.shure.com
• Fill out the enclosed postage-paid subscription card.
• Send a note to On Tour with Shure,
5800 W. Touhy Ave., Niles, IL 60714-4608.
We are not responsible for unsolicited material, which must be accompanied
by return postage. All mail will be treated as unconditionally assigned
for publication and subject to Shure Incorporated’s unrestricted right to edit
and comment. Shure Incorporated assumes no responsibility for errors
in articles or advertisements. Opinions expressed by authors are not
necessarily those of Shure Incorporated.
Cory Lorentz
Managing Editor, On Tour with Shure
[email protected]
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table ofcontents
4 Mic Check
The highlight reel of Shure-related news in bite-size format
for quick and easy reading pleasure with illustrations included
and everything! Our microphones and endorsers are
everywhere and it’s sometimes a little difficult to keep up.
Here’s what we do know…
6 Flyleaf Takes On Hard-Rock Odyssey
In just two short years, Flyleaf has encountered a dramatic
change in status, all of it positive and all of it stemmed from
hard work and endless hope. If you’ve never let your ears enjoy
the sounds of Flyleaf, you just might be missing out. Read
about �em here and then join the other 19 million who have
played their tunes on MySpace.com
8 Guster Musters The Goods For Rock And Roll Longevity
And then there were four. For 16 years, the three original
members of Guster have rocked the masses with a style all
their own. The three decided it was time to grow, both
musically and in numbers, and longtime compatriot Joe
Pisapia became a Guster. With a new album and tour to go
along with the change in status, Pisapia shares his story.
10 Rock Band Remixed
The Bravery changed their sound for album number two,
adding a more acoustic, textured feel. More band members
are taking part in the vocals, there’s string quartets, vintage
organs, and a famous producer, but the mics remain the
same, that and an unusual microphone stand.
14 Boundless… Timeless
For just over a decade, Patty Griffin has enjoyed a career that
has stood the test of time. Thankfully her guitar teacher
convinced her to record and perform her music, which led to a
recording contract and the release of her debut Living With
Ghosts. Listen to your teacher’s advice. Patty Griffin did and
with the release of her sixth album, Children Running Through,
there’s proof it was good advice
16 A Situation Without Instrumentation
Have you heard the things Bobby McFerrin can do with just
his voice and a microphone? Proclaimed as one of the natural
wonders of the music world, McFerrin truly makes the music
with his mouth and makes the microphone the only
accompaniment he needs on stage. There’s a lot you didn’t
know about the guy behind “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”
20 Continuing The Journey to Be Anything But Typical
There was a simple attribute attached to the music that
Mute Math set forth to create… they had to like it. It makes
sense, with recognition comes heavy touring, and with heavy
touring comes the repetitious performance of the material
that the masses want to hear. Luckily for Mute Math, the
plan worked. They like the material that they perform
on tour, and there’s an audience there night after
night that enjoys it even more.
20
22
22 From Wedding Band To La Bamba To International Fame
When it comes to longevity in the music industry, one
cannot help but mention Los Lobos. Music fans are still
discovering, thanks to the release of their latest album
The Town And The City, that there’s more to this band than
the fame of “La Bamba.” The band themselves is still
discovering a new appreciation for Shure mics in the
recording studio. The SM7 is the new favorite and a selfproclaimed must-have for the studio.
24 Sibling Chemistry
We have endorsers all over the world, and as proof, we
present to you the twin sensation that is Soler. Julio and
Dino Acconci are multi-lingual Burmese-Italians that
write songs in English and Italian, but perform them in
Cantonese. Most people know only three guitar chords,
but these guys are definitely putting in the work!
26 Over The Rhine Gets Over The Hump
Taking its name from the funky Cincinnati neighborhood,
Over The Rhine has been crafting their spiritually-charged
music for some time. The spiritual part is not exactly
what you’re used to. There’s artistic chances involving
language, imagery, and lyrical honesty and brokenness in
the music of Over The Rhine. The husband and wife duo
talk about their music and the microphones that have
captured their sound so beautifully over the years.
28 Oscar Seaton’s Got The Whole World In His “Seatpocket”
With a resume that rivals some of the best funky drummers
around, Oscar Seaton has come a long way since banging
on his mom’s pots and pans. Currently on tour with Lionel
Richie, Oscar Seaton put the sticks down and talked music
and mics. To all of the mothers out there, let your kids bang
on the pots and pans… you never know.
30 Between Finding What You Love And Loving
What You Find
Sometimes the rock �n’ roll lifestyle can take you places
and make your wildest dreams come true. Sometimes it
happens too fast, and before it’s too late, you need a break
from it all. That’s where Sparta frontman Jim Ward found
himself prior to the release of Threes. After a deepcleansing breath, the band is back to work and back to
where they left off.
13 Mike Hagler: All Hail To The Kingsize
Mike Hagler has probably engineered some of your
favorite albums, and chances are he used a Shure mic
to make it sound just right. Hagler, owner of Kingsize
Sound Labs in Chicago, constantly sings the praises of
Shure mics, and his new favorite is the KSM32. Pay
attention to this guy, he knows what he’s talking about.
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Ozomatli
ГЋ
Ozomatli Play Sunday Night
Football
In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month
[September 15th – October 15th], the
National Football League celebrated with a
Spanish-language TV campaign and
festivities at games across the country. The
national spotlight on Hispanic Heritage
Month came during the September 23rd
game between the Dallas Cowboys and the
Chicago Bears on NBC Sunday Night
Football. Five-time GRAMMYВ® award winner
Gloria Estefan took on the duties of singing
the national anthem, while Shure endorsers
Ozomatli hit the field during halftime for
a two-song set; one aired on NBC and
the other aired on Telemundo.
ГЋ Jonny Lang Does His
Best Jimi Hendrix
former Hendrix associates, Mitch Mitchell
and Billy Cox.
Along with blues greats such as Buddy Guy,
Robert Randolph, and Kenny Wayne
Shepherd, Jonny Lang set out on a sevendate tour to celebrate the legacy and music
of Jimi Hendrix.The Experience Hendrix
Tour made its first run in February of 2004
with the best in rock and blues channeling
Hendrix. Among the special guests included in the line up of performers, were
The Experience Hendrix Tour continues
on the tradition formed by Experience
Hendrix, L.L.C.—the company formed by
Hendrix’s family to manage the name,
likeness, image and music of Jimi Hendrix.
For more information on the tour, head to
the website devoted to the whole cause,
www.experiencehendrixtour.com.
The National Football League celebrated
Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
with a new Spanish-language TV campaign
and unprecedented festivities at games
across the country, including many teams
designating home games in honor of
Hispanic Heritage Month and displaying
special “Fútbol Americano—Celebrating
Hispanic Heritage Month” banners in
stadium. NFL players such as Chicago Bears
Roberto Garza honored the month with
local community outreach on Tuesdays, the
traditional day off for NFL players during
the season.
Shure At The World Series
Congratulations go out to the Boston
Red Sox for winning the 2007 World Series.
Amongst the fever pitch of October
baseball, there were some incredible performances of both the “National Anthem”
and “God Bless America” by James Taylor,
Trisha Yearwood, Carrie Underwood and
Boyz II Men to name a few. To ensure that
the masses caught every note of their
performances, Shure microphones, both
wired and wireless were in play during
this year’s series.
Jonny Lang
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Sammy Hagar
ГЋ Lifetime Achievement
The Shure Artist Relations team has been
spending a lot of time at venues across the
United States, catching live shows and putting Shure mics in the hands of the latest
and greatest the industry has to offer. It’s
been a busy summer, and although things
never seem to slow down, here’s a few of
the latest additions to the legendary Shure
Artist Endorser roster. The 23-members
of The Polyphonic Spree, legendary
accordion player and song parody master
“Weird Al” Yankovic, the guitar and drum
styled blues of The Black Keys, legendary
rockers The Melvins, Chicago-based punk
rockers Rise Against, former Audioslave
frontman Chris Cornell, country’s latest
female sensation Miranda Lambert, and
the Marvin Gaye of hip-hop, Common
have all signed on the dotted line to
become official Shure endorsers. Be on the
lookout for their live show and see if you
can spot the Shure mics on stage. If you’re
a Shure fan yourself, you may even be able
to tell what model number the mics are.
Miranda Lambert
Award For Carmine Appice
While at the Kosa Drum Festival, teaching
and performing, Carmine Appice was
presented with the “Kosa Lifetime
Achievement Award” for his enormous
contribution to the world of rock
drumming. In the audience of a packed
theater at Johnson State College, the
site for the festival, Carmine sat in shock
when his name was announced. Making
his way to the stage to accept the award,
Carmine Appice was also awarded to a
well-deserved standing ovation.
“This was an amazing surprise,” Appice
said. “I would have never guessed that I
was the recipient of this award.” It was the
end to an amazing week, in which earlier
on Tuesday, August 7th, Carmine played
Radio City Music Hall with Vanilla Fudge,
where he received standing ovations for
his solo work and his vocal duties on
“People Get Ready.” Vanilla Fudge was on
the bill with Deep Purple headlining.
“Man, what a great week,” recollected
Appice. “What more can you want?
An award, standing ovations, playing
Radio City, health… I’m a happy dude!”
The video of Carmine’s solo at Radio
City will be available soon.
Carmine Appice with Kosa Festival
Organizers Aldo and Jolan Maza
ГЋ
ГЋ New Endorsers
Sammy Hagar Celebrates
His Birthday And Launches
Radio Station
A day before his annual birthday bash,
Sammy Hagar launched his own brand
of radio, Cabo Wabo Radio—”PURE ROCK
RADIO THE WAY GOD INTENDED IT”.
The station features produced and live
broadcasts from studios inside the
legendary Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo
San Lucas, Mexico. The musical line up
includes nothing but feel-good, party
energy, cutting edge New Rock from all
over the world. Check it out on Sammy’s
website at www.RedRocker.com.
On October 13th, the Red Rocker turned
60, and he celebrated the same way he
does every year… with a week long,
free concert, featuring special guests
including Toby Keith, Emeril Lagasse and
Kenny Chesney. The concerts were held
at Sammy’s Cabo Wabo Cantina, and
even included a dinner on certain dates
for a minimal charge, although we’re sure
Emeril probably wasn’t there to work
that night. Happy Birthday Sammy,
nobody parties like you do!
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On Tour with Shure caught up with Flyleaf
guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya moments
before the group’s show at Chicago’s House
of Blues. It proved the ideal opportunity to
catch the band during its white-hot ascent
to metal stardom—and learn a little about
how Shure mics have shaped its daring,
dynamic sound.
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: The story of how you
got your name, and what it means, is fascinating. Can you give us some insight on that?
SAMEER BHATTACHARYA: Before we were called
Flyleaf we were called Passerby. We wanted
a name that related us to everyone else;
everyone has a story and no one is any more
special or different than anyone else. That
name was taken, though, and ultimately Pat
[bassist Pat Seals] found “Flyleaf,” which is
so cool. It’s the blank page in a book before
the story is told. …That’s us.
OTWS: You’ve played with P.O.D., and like
that group, you seem to be taking an approach with your music that is positive and
inspiring. What’s the thinking there?
BHATTACHARYA: We really try, when we’re
writing music and lyrics, to be honest with
it—honest with the struggles of life—and
get down to the core. Some of it, yeah, is horrible and can cut really deep. We’ve been
there as band members; you’ve all been there.
But we want to show you can get something out of it that is valuable.
OTWS: Unlike many bands, you’ve enjoyed a
rapid ascent, with millions of page views on
MySpace.com and elsewhere. What’s it like
to have so much success from the get-go?
BHATTACHARYA: It’s been pretty steady since
its beginning; I don’t think there have been
any rapid spurts. But I don’t think [numbers] are how we measure our success.
From the first day we started to write songs,
we really felt successful because this was
what God had called us to do. To have that
peace is really amazing; to think about it
and pray about it is something that
everyone should do with their lives—no
matter what you’re trying to [achieve].
OTWS: The rock and roll lifestyle is all about
volume, fans, travel, parties, interviews.
How do you find serenity in that swirl of
activity?
BHATTACHARYA: That goes back to our faith.
You need to rest, even people who don’t
have this lifestyle. Our bodies aren’t designed to go, go, go. We have Bible studies
and try to seek that time with God. It’s very
important to us.
“I DIDN’T KNOW A
THING ABOUT
MICROPHONES. BUT
WHEN JAMES WAS
LOOKING FOR MICS FOR
THE DRUMS, AND WE
WERE GETTING STUFF
FOR THE GUITAR
CABINETS, WE ALWAYS
WENT BACK TO SHURE.
THE SM57S ARE THE
BEST FOR GUITARS
AND THE WIRELESS
PACKS HAVE BEEN
A LIFESAVER ON
STAGE.”
{SAMEER BHATTACHARYA}
As the quintessential rock instrument,
guitar poses a challenge: How do you go
about finding and developing your unique
style of play with all those guitarists out there?
BHATTACHARYA: Sometimes people come up
to me and say, �How do you write? What do
OTWS:
you do?’ I think it’s just about making noises
that you want to hear and if you do that, it
won’t be forced. It becomes inspirational.
OTWS: Speaking of which, what music inspires you?
BHATTACHARYA: I like to listen to music and
things that make life more alive. I like Bjork,
Radiohead, U2, I love—especially Bono—
and Sigur Ros, they’re amazing. There are a
lot of local artists I like listening to who
inspired me and Jared [guitarist Jared
Hartmann], too.
OTWS: Shure no doubt inspires you, I take it.
BHATTACHARYA: It’s awesome. When we first
got into doing this, I didn’t know a thing
about microphones. But when James [drummer James Culpepper] was looking for
mics for the drums, and we were getting
stuff for the guitar cabinets, we always went
back to Shure. The SM57s are the best for
guitars and the wireless packs have been a
lifesaver on stage. And to think we’re working with Shure. That’s great.
OTWS: A lot of guitarists are afraid going
wireless will spoil their tone. You’re picky
about your guitar sounds. What can you
tell them?
BHATTACHARYA: With wireless products in
general, everyone who’s ever wrote in to a
guitar magazine was worried about losing
tone and punch—but I haven’t noticed that
at all. If anything, the Shure has smoothed
out the sound. And no more stitches from
tripping over my lead cord!
OTWS: Looking ahead, what do you see as
the future for Flyleaf? If your rock and roll
dream were handed to you on a silver
platter, what would it taste like?
BHATTACHARYA: I don’t know. We take it a
day at a time. Every day is a miracle. If this
is what I’m supposed to do, then I hope to
share that message of hope and love with as
many people as we can. The meaning of
hope and love is so lost today on so many
people. They’re stuck and people can’t see
past that. But to have hope and peace, you’ll
see so much more of what life has to offer.
Flyleaf
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Kick
Snare Top/Bottom
Toms
Hi-Hat
Overheads
Guitar Cabinet
ULX2/KSM9*
Beta 91 & Beta 52В®
Beta 57 & SM57
Beta 98D/S & Beta 52
KSM32
KSM44 & KSM32
KSM32 & Beta56В®
PG24/PG58*
PG52
PG57
PG56
PG81
PG81
PG56
* wireless system
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The three original members
of Guster have plugged away
for some 16 years—taking a
self-styled path that began in the dorms of
Tufts University, and led to playing on
David Letterman’s show, working with
legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (Dave
Matthews Band, XTC) and becoming one of
the most reliable, solid American pop-rock
bands. Where to go—or grow—from there?
With the addition of longtime compatriot
Joe Pisapia as a permanent member,
Guster’s now a foursome, touring behind
T
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the acclaimed Ganging Up On the Sun
(Reprise) and making ambitious plans for
the future—that is, when they’re not joking
around on their fan website. (Read on for
the details!)
On Tour with Shure spoke with Pisapia
about how he’s adjusted to life as a full-time
Gusterite, the care and craft that went into
the new album, and how Shure has provided
an essential weapon in the band’s sonic arsenal. Then there’s the band’s new nickname
for its fans, which is…
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: “Gusterrhoids?”
[Cracks up.] I think that was
[founding member] Brian Rosenworcel’s
idea! I don’t know. I just think he’s pretty
sick—obviously pretty sick. But the fans
find it pretty funny… Maybe it’s because
they won’t go away.
OTWS: Then there’s that scene straight out of
“Spinal Tap” on the Web site, where you
guys are on a club marquee in Charleston,
South Carolina next to a female boxing
event called “Boxing for Boobs.” [Want
proof? The photo is on the Guster website,
www.guster.com, under “diaries.”]
JOE PISAPIA:
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PISAPIA: We just started laughing when we
saw that! When you actually get to see a
marquee like that, and take a photo of it, it’s
just priceless. But you could see how they
[the boxers] would want to do it. I think
the winner gets a free boob job.
OTWS: So … did you attend?
PISAPIA: I think it was the next night after us.
OTWS: How did you handle assuming more
of a commanding role with the new record?
PISAPIA: Lost and Gone Forever [Reprise,
1999] sort of culminated their live situation; they did it with Steve Lillywhite—I’m
a big fan of his. Then the record after that,
Keep It Together [Reprise, 2003] they went
into their experimental phase—it was more
of their Pet Sounds record. What was exciting was that this record was somewhere in
between the two. We cut everything live,
but as a four-piece band. As we wrote the
songs, we said, �We’ll make the meal and we
can add the extras later.’ So it’s an easier
transition to play these songs live. It’s also
more exciting for me to get the guys to be
more “improvy.”
OTWS: For example?
PISAPIA: The song “Ruby Falls” was more of
an improv situation. I wanted them to get
out of their box a little bit.
OTWS: That seems strange, given that
Guster has always been associated by
default with the jam band scene, especially
in the 1990s.
PISAPIA: It’s more the marketing of the band
than the music itself. Guster’s a grassroots
thing, and you see that in the attitude of the
band. It’s a friends and family thing businesswise, rather than fitting into the genre.
OTWS: Has your becoming a full-fledged
member altered the live show at all?
PISAPIA: We changed a little bit of the stage
plot. I moved a bit downstage—which makes
a difference psychologically. Plus, when
you get into mutual space together, there’s
more of a group ownership. It felt good, of
course; it was a natural transition. But to be
in a band that’s been a band since 1991—I
joined as a full member a year and a half
ago—it’s great. We were mixing Ganging Up
On the Sun and it was obvious we were in it
together. Then there were decisions to be
made, like �Who’s gonna be in this band
photo?’ I never thought I should be in the
band until that record. I always thought
of myself as a helper. But my role had
changed—and they had changed, too.
OTWS: Everyone in Guster is multi-instrumental. How do you like playing bass?
By trade I’m mostly a guitar player.
I only started playing bass when I played
with these guys. Some nights I feel like a
guitar player, some nights a keyboard player,
some nights a bass player. It all depends on
the set list. But I really enjoy playing the
bass. I did a solo record in 2002, and those
guys heard it. I didn’t have time to get a
standup bass player, so I said, �Let me see if I
can get this.’ And I’d play until 5 in the
morning! It was out of sheer force of will.
PISAPIA:
With Guster, did you ever imagine
that you would go from being a fan of the
band to a man in the band?
PISAPIA: In the beginning, I never saw that
it would happen. My brother and I were in
a band called Joe, Marc’s Brother and I just
wanted to help them out whenever they
came to town. [Pisapia lives in Nashville.]
They heard our last record in 2000 and
wanted us to warm up for them; they
wanted to help us out. We were both two
three-piece bands—and it was like trying to
OTWS:
Guster
Theirs
charm a snake out of a hat, doing double
and triple duty onstage. We always wanted
a fourth guy, and I wanted to be that fourth
guy for them—the nanny, the guy who does
all the cooking and cleaning! And soon,
you’re sharing the musical ideas to the
point where I was producing the next
record. Brian said, �You’re going to produce
our next record’—and it wasn’t like I had
produced any big-name record.
OTWS: Speaking of developing relationships,
how has Guster’s experience with Shure
been over the years?
PISAPIA: It’s been great. A lot of times I’ll use
the KSM44 open in an omni position for
handclaps and percussion. It’s an all-around
workhorse. And the KSM141s? I love those!
I like to mic acoustic guitar with them, one
on each shoulder where you get that nice
midrange bite. That’s worked great.
OTWS: How about the reliability of the
Shure line?
PISAPIA: I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like this with a piece of gear. I’ve
had SM57s and SM58В®s for 20 years and
they work like I’ve just plugged them in.
The mics have never crapped out—and you
compare that with cables, where you’re
lucky if you get a year out of them on the
road. And I can’t even remember a time
when we’ve had down time with the
wireless packs. They’ve just been so reliable.
OTWS: How do you see the band growing
now that you’re a firm part of it? What lies
ahead in the way of further changes?
PISAPIA: I think when you’re in your 20s,
you’re self-conscious, where you wonder
what everyone thinks of you. But in your
30s you say, �I am what I am’—and that’s
where we are. We’ve just gotten to the point
where we want to be the best [musicians]
we can. Just six months ago, I got my first
pedal steel guitar and I’m so psyched! I just
want to keep playing it for hours a day. You
start out with a Crayola 8-pack, and soon
you have a 64-pack, and you just want to
keep adding … ukuleles, dulcimers,
hammer dulcimers!
OTWS: On and on!
PISAPIA: [Laughs.] Yeah!
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
KSM9
SM86
Backing Vocals
SM58В®
PG58
Percussion
Beta 56В®A, Beta 91, Beta 98D/S, SM81 PGDMK6
Guitar Cabinet
KSM32
SM57
Monitors
PSMВ® 700 & PSM 600
PSM 200
On Tour with Shure
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On Tour with Shure got to sit down with Sam
Endicott, lead singer and catalyst behind the
changing sound, and Michael Zakarin, guitar, before their recent show at Chicago’s
Vic Theatre. Here is what they had to say
about the band’s new sound and the ex-
10
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planation behind their interesting choice
of a mic stand.
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: How long have you
been using Shure equipment?
SAM ENDICOTT: Well I think the whole time.
We’ve been touring since ’04.
We were always using
[SM]58В®s.
OTWS: What does Shure do for your sound?
ZAKARIN: Not only is it the industry standard
for a reason, but [Sam] destroys the microphone every night, and it always works.
MICHAEL ZAKARIN:
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How do you destroy it?
Oh I just throw it on the ground
and bite it and smash it. [He also whips it
around like a windmill.] With the wireless
equipment too, we’re always traveling and
touring and flying. You play these festivals
and it has to stand up to a lot. That’s one of
the really good things about it.
ZAKARIN: I think people have the preconceived
notion that once you use wireless, as opposed
to cable, you’re going to lose sound or sacrifice tone. I’ve never found that to be true.
ENDICOTT: Yeah, that’s true.
OTWS: Do you guys generally like festivals
over a headlining tour gig?
ZAKARIN: They’re different, ’cause you don’t
play to your audience. I mean you play to
your audience, but a lot of the time the
majority of people will be just people stopping by to see you. You get a wide variety
of people, and it’s the best opportunity to
gain new fans. For us it’s fun, because we
get to see bands that we like. We’re usually
on tour so we don’t get the opportunity to
see other bands.
OTWS: Has your sound changed from the
first album to the second album?
ENDICOTT: Yes. The second album is pretty
different. In the first album we use a lot of
electronics and in this one we were trying to
find new instruments to play with, or new
sounds and textures to experiment with.
There’s a lot of acoustic instruments. There’s
also a lot of vocal effects; like when we’d all
sing together and create vocal harmonies,
kinda like Beach Boy style.
OTWS: Do you guys do the arrangements
yourself?
ZAKARIN: Yeah, it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. Everyone sings now. There are a lot of parts of the
songs where everyone sings. It kinda creates
a nice camaraderie.
OTWS: How has the internet affected your
popularity here and abroad?
ZAKARIN: The internet has helped us tremendously. When we first started, we were
OTWS:
ENDICOTT:
one of the three first bands on Myspace. We
were on it really early.
ENDICOTT: You couldn’t find anther band on it.
ZAKARIN: And John, our keyboard player,
was like, �Myspace is like the new Friendster,
but you can put music on it.’ It was great.
We made a really, really [crappy] website
and put some songs online and it was a great
way people could download it. That led
somehow to some big DJs playing these
unmixed songs before we were signed.
OTWS: And really fast, can you take me
through your song writing process?
ENDICOTT: Usually I’ll start with an acoustic
guitar, the melody, chords and lyrics. Then
we bring in the other elements, the
atmospheric things. We try and spend a lot
of time trying to get the groove right,
basically the drum and bass interaction.
Then we record everything. The part where
it gets really unusual is when we put it all
on the computer and remix it. The final
product is kinda like if you took a rock
band and made a remix out of it. We tweak
out the sounds to the point where it’s often
unrecognizable from the original thing.
OTWS: How much of it starts at your own
home studio or garage or on the bus?
ENDICOTT: Most all of it. The first album was
done pretty much entirely at home, and a
friend of mine mixed it at his studio at
home. This one we wrote the basics on the
road on the back of the bus. Then we were
in New York, you know, the basement just
working on stuff. But the difference is we
went to Atlanta with Brendan [O’Brian] and
were there for four months. That brought a
different element to it.
ZAKARIN: It’s really easy to record now on a
laptop. You don’t need anything else.
ENDICOTT: I recommend it to all bands
starting out.
ZAKARIN: It’s so easy; you can really make
decent sounding stuff on it.
OTWS: And just a product tie-in question,
do you use any Shure mics in that development process at all?
ENDICOTT: Yeah, sure.
ZAKARIN: He now has a miked amp on the
bus.
ENDICOTT: On the bus I have an amp and it
has like a 57 in a shoe. I use a shoe to hold it.
ZAKARIN: You guys need to start making
shoe holders.
ENDICOTT: I always use shoes.
ZAKARIN: The Sam Endicott Signature Series
shoe.
ENDICOTT: They work really well for holding
[the mic] in place.
ZAKARIN: I remember the first time I went to
[Sam’s] apartment I saw the shoe holder
and I was like what the hell is that?
ENDICOTT: Our first album was recorded in
a shoe.
OTWS: So how does that work?
ENDICOTT: It just holds it. I don’t have a little
stand for it, so I just use whatever is lying
around.
The Bravery
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Backing Vocals
Kick
Snare
Toms
Hi-Hat
Overheads
Guitar Cabinet
Bass Cabinet
SM58
Beta 58 & SM58
Beta 91 & Beta 52В®
Beta 57
Beta 56В®
KSM137
KSM137
SM57
Beta 52
PG58
PG58
PG52
SM57
PG56
PG81
PG81
PG57
PG52
В®
On Tour with Shure
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A MIC SO SENSITIVE, IT EVEN PICKS UP
COMPLIMENTS.
“The KSM32 is becoming my mic of choice for many
applications including vocals, overhead drums and
bass cabinet. The accessories and hardware are
brilliantly executed.”
— Eddie Kramer
“In the price/performance ratings, I would give the KSM32
a solid 10. For what you were planning on spending for
a single microphone you can have a pair of KSM32s.”
— Roger Nichols
“In my 35-year recording career, I’ve never come across
a mic that works so well on so many instruments.
If you are looking for a mic that is accurate, uncolored,
pristine, dead quiet and doesn’t cost much, you may want
to own several KSM32s. I just ordered a dozen.”
— Tom Jung
Experiencing the performance of our KSM32 cardioid condenser microphone is, quite frankly,
beyond description. But to be fair, we’ve let some discerning professionals try anyway.
The Shure KSM32. It will capture more than your voice.
For more information, visit www.shure.com.
www.shure.com
В© 2007 Shure Incorporated
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engineered
wisdom
Mike Hagler: All Hail to the Kingsize
by Louis R. Carlozo
E
ngineer-producer Mike Hagler, the
owner of Chicago’s Kingsize Sound
Labs, may be lesser known than his
neighbor to the north, engineering legend
Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Stooges). But
Hagler’s records need little fanfare: Wilco’s
Summerteeth ranks number 25 among
Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot’s 50
greatest albums of the ’90s. Hagler has also
worked on both Wilco-Billy Bragg Mermaid
Avenue discs, and his resume includes Neko
Case [Canadian Amp], Jay Bennett and
Edward Burch [The Palace at 4 a.m.] and
Five Style [Miniature Portraits]. Besides
being a talented engineer and studio musician, he’s also developed a reputation as one
of the best mastering engineers in the Midwest—and an engineering favorite of country
musician-producer Lloyd Maines [father to
Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines].
On Tour with Shure stopped by Hagler’s
Kingsize lair on the city’s West Side to discuss
his recording philosophy, the outstanding
discs he’s made and how he’s used Shure
microphones to craft and refine his most
ambitious and delicious sounds.
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: There are a good number of diehard Wilco fans who have no idea
the key role you played on their watershed
record, Summerteeth. Not to put you on the
spot, but can you shed some light?
MIKE HAGLER: I did a ton of work on that, a
big chunk of that record. They came in here
with skeletons of songs, and a lot of that
record was [fleshed out] here. Summerteeth
was a lot of fun to make. I went out to L.A.
with them to mix it. I also engineered on the
Wilco/Billy Bragg records, Mermaid Ave. Vol. 1
and Vol. 2, based on the unrecorded Woody
Guthrie lyrics. [Vol. 1 was nominated for a
1999 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk
Album.] What Wilco did was come here to
record demos for these songs, and they were
supposed to redo them in Ireland. And they
said, �Why redo them? The vibe is right, it
sounds right.’ There was a bit of tension
between them and Billy Bragg!
OTWS: There’s a fascinating story about how
you switched from using a $4000 tube mic
for vocals and overdubs to the Shure
KSM32. Tell us about that.
HAGLER: Shure had come by and loaned a
Mike Hagler pictured with his KSM32s behind the console at Kingsize Sound Labs.
pair of KSM 32s to Joe Chiccarelli [Beck,
U2]. We were working on Tim Easton’s
record; Joe was producing and I was
engineering. I put them on the overheads
and as soon as I put the overheads up—that
same moment—it blew his mind. Once I
used the 32s on overheads, I never went
back. Then I started using them on vocals.
“Once I used the
[KSM] 32s on
overheads, I never
went back. Then I
started using them
on vocals.”
— Mike Hagler
OTWS:
Why the KSM32?
HAGLER: I think it’s got a real present quality
and gives recordings character. It has
punch, drive to it. I love KSM44s, too; they
seem to be smoother and rounder. And the
SM7? Forget it! I used that mic on Mark
Eitzel’s vocals, and we went through four or
five mics.
OTWS: So here’s the boxers-or-briefs question for recording guys: Analog or digital?
HAGLER: It depends on what the client
wants. I love the depth of analog, but I love
the speed of digital. And a lot of clients can’t
afford reels of 2-inch tape. In digital, you
can manipulate things in cool ways. People
make great records in both formats. You
have to do what feels right. I don’t want to
discourage people from making music.
OTWS: Your approach is unusual in that it
mixes homebrew ethic with top-flight
professional sound.
HAGLER: I love homemade records. I’m really
into DIY and with mastering, I get to hear a
lot of these records. With Neko Case’s Canadian Amp we recorded it in her kitchen at
home. It’s a great, fun little record and she’s
hilarious. She knows what she wants and so
we’d make it weird—bring out the Space
Echos, the weird effects.
OTWS: You actually live in a makeshift apartment across the hall from your studio. Why
is that?
HAGLER: I’m here pretty much all the time
and ever since 9/11, I figured, �What do I
need all this stuff, these material possessions for?’ Everything I have here is pretty
much what I need.
OTWS: What advice do you have to people
thinking of making the leap into the studio
world?
HAGLER: You have to really want to do it. I’ve
run into a lot of guys out there with great
ears and they quit! You’ve got to get along
with people, too—that’s important. And
with Shure mics, you get a lot of bang for
your buck. With other mics, you’re going to
pay more, and for what? You’re better off
going down the road with Shure.
On Tour with Shure
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P
atty Griffin recently added to her list of
award nominations; her latest LP, Children
Running Through, was nominated for Album
of the Year and the song “Heavenly Day” for
Song of the Year by the Americana Music
Association. The record also garnered her the
biggest first-sales week of her 10-year recording
career. The Maine-born/now Austin, Texasbased singer/songwriter is one of those rare
artists whose music is so universal and so much
from the soul that you wonder if there’s an
archetypal gene out there that makes a
precious few human beings innately able to
translate emotion into music. It’s no surprise
that critics are lauding her newest collection
of songs as her best thus far, some even calling
it “a masterpiece.” It’s as if this was the record
she was always meant to make.
14
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t’s hard to believe Griffin’s career began
just over a decade ago, when her guitar
teacher in Boston convinced her to perform
her songs live. Soon after, she landed her
first recording contract, and the shy girl
became an admired and beloved artist, one
whose music will surely stand the test of
time. “It just kind of happened,” she contemplated humbly. “I think I’ve lucked out
in a lot of ways. A lot of it’s timing. I’m a
hard worker, not without ability. But I think
I’ve been lucky, really.”
Her songwriting began to shine bright
before her singing did, as she has long been
a popular source of material for other
artists. A diverse assortment of performers
have recorded her work, including Martina
McBride, Bette Midler, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Reba McEntire and Maura O’Connell.
And in April, Griffin’s music was exposed
to the masses when Kelly Clarkson, joined
by legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck, performed her song “Up To The Mountain
(MLK Song)” on a special edition of American Idol aimed at raising funds to help
children in the USA and Africa. It is a song
that soul artist Solomon Burke [who indeed
had known King] recorded first for his
September 2006 album Nashville. Griffin
participated in the recording. She then
decided to take a shot at it herself for this
record, with a simpler piano- and stringsbased rendition. “It was frightening actually
because [Solomon’s] version was really intimidating,” Griffin told OTWS before her
Chicago show at The Vic Theatre earlier
this year. “He knew Martin Luther King, so
it was a whole different deal for him. But I
also felt like it was a nice piece for my
record. I love gospel, I’m influenced by it,
and I wrote a gospel song, so I figured I
might as well sing it!”
Gospel has been a part of Griffin’s life
since childhood. “For years The Staples were
my staple,” she said. “If I was bummed out
or confused I would put that music on and
I would feel better. I’ve been listening to
Aretha [Franklin] for years; the Amazing
Grace record was a big part of my life, it
made me see how high the bar can be set as
a singer.”
Children Running Through was recorded
in her hometown of Austin, in a makeshift
studio set up in a house she was renting. In
addition to Griffin on vocals and guitar, the
sessions featured a stellar assortment of
Austin, Nashville and New York players,
including longtime Griffin collaborator Doug
Lancio on guitar, legendary Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, and a nine-person
“I was a Beta 58[A]
girl for years—you
can’t really go wrong
with that one. But
the Beta 87C has a
flat [screen] and I
can really work it.”
—PATTY GRIFFIN
string section conducted and arranged by
multi-instrumentalist John Mark Painter.
There are as many explorations of emotion
as there are a variety of styles on the record,
but the common thread is deeply buried in
roots. There is the jazzy and poetic “You’ll
Remember”; the hardy, acoustic guitar and
horn-laced R&B of “Stay on the Road”; the
bittersweet, country-folk beauty, “Trapeze,”
which features backing vocals by her friend
Emmylou Harris. “I’ve been lucky enough
to know her for quite a while, and [this
song] was the one I earmarked for her. And
it turned into a duet. She really made it this
whole other thing.” Then there is the
celebrated “Heavenly Day,” whose combination of uplifting strings and piano buoying
the pure joy of Griffin’s voice—a truly
heavenly experience.
On past recordings, Griffin stayed out of
the production role for the most part. “To
me, production is being hands-on and very
specific about the arrangements and how
things go to tape and how they sound, and
in the past I haven’t had a huge interest in
that.” But this time around she chose to
work with Mike McCarthy, whose production credits run the gamut from indie
rockers like Spoon and …And You Will
Know Us By the Trail of Dead to Lee Ann
Womack and BeBe & CeCe Winans. “He’s
really technical, but he would bring something really different to the table,” she said.
“My weaknesses are his strengths. I came to
it with more confidence; he made me work
for it a little bit—he’s got his own ideas—
but we made a good team in the end.”
A hard-working singer naturally chooses
a hard-working microphone. That’s why
Griffin uses nothing else but the Beta 87C.
“I’ve been working with Roy Taylor, and
he’s the one who urged me to try that mic
back in 2002. I was a Beta 58[A]В® girl for
years—you can’t really go wrong with that
one. But the Beta 87C has a flat [screen]
and I can really work it. I like to play with
volume. And I like to fall into the background and use my voice as an instrument.
I’ve tried other things and I’ve always wanted it back!” She has also used a Shure wireless guitar pack since 2000. Her current tour
bassist/cellist/pianist/back-up singer Bryn
Davies just changed to the Beta 87C, too, she
said. “She’s got to move with that big bass
and sing and needed to have it carry her
from a distance [onstage].” Don’t pass up the
opportunity to see Patty Griffin and band
perform songs from her masterpiece—with
Shure mics to enhance the experience—as
they’re on tour throughout the year.
Patty Griffin
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Backing Vocals
Kick (on floor, beside pedal)
Kick/Snare (on beater side of kick)
Toms
Overheads
Guitar Amp
Upright Bass
Cello
Conga
Beta 87C
Beta 87C
Beta 91
Shure 300
Beta 98D/S
KSM27
KSM27 & Beta 57AВ®
Beta 98H/C
Beta 98H/C
Beta 98D/S
SM86
SM86
PG52
SM57
PG56
PG81
SM57
PG57
PG57
PG56
On Tour with Shure
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coverstory
16
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Proclaimed as one of the natural wonders of
the music world, Bobby McFerrin is a talent
unlike any other. His unique, innovative
vocal ability allows him to take on the persona of a one-man-band, only without any
instruments on stage and making it all up as
he goes along. On Tour with Shure caught one
of McFerrin’s captivating performances and
then made the attempt to wrap our heads
around how he does that thing that he does
with just a voice and a microphone.
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: How do you describe
your unique music to those who may not
be familiar with your work?
BOBBY McFERRIN: My career has been mostly
built up on solo voice concerts, which I
started doing in 1983. What that means is,
I walk on stage alone without guitar, piano,
or anything and sing acapella. In order to
do that, and to do it successfully, I devised
a technique that makes people hear the
bass, melody, and harmony. I fill in and sing
the bass lines giving as much musical information as the ears need to get a full musical
picture. The listeners can sort of fill in the
blanks. That’s pretty much the way I’ve built
and established my career as a solo vocalist. I
did that pretty much exclusively for about
five or six years before I started branching out
doing other things, such as putting bands
together, working with other musicians like
Chick Corea and Jack De Johnette, and
putting Voicestra together, a 12-person
acapella group. Voicestra is also very unique
because all of our concerts are completely
improvised from the first note to last.
OTWS: Has it always been a method where
you were trying to do multiple instruments
or did you start with more of a single-instrument, whether it was percussive or a
bass line?
McFERRIN: I actually never thought about the
instruments themselves. I never had my
“trumpet phase” or “bass phase” or “percussion phase.” It was always, �How could I
create a color palette to get people to hear
things, or a palette to describe a character?’
Each tune to me has to have some kind of a
sonic landscape. What I usually do on stage
is, I go out and I just start improvising and
I’m actually looking for an idea to play
with. So I’ll spend five, ten minutes looking
for that something. That’s very hard for the
audience and myself, because they have to
wait. In today’s society, it’s very difficult to
wait for things because in today’s popular
music, the groove is set up right away.
You’re not looking for it. But in my concerts
I’m trying to find something to play with
and as soon as I do, I’ll establish the tonal
center, the bass line, the key, the rhythm, the
sound…all that goes into it.
OTWS: Your audiences look as though they
are in awe, locked onto you. You mention
that they want something instant, but it
looks as thought they can see the process
you’re going thru and they are happy to
wait for it.
McFERRIN: I do have a segment of the audience who understands what I’m about. They
know when they come to one of my concerts, what is required of them as listeners.
But generally, it can be very challenging to
some audiences who have not been exposed
to me or don’t know what Voicestra is about.
For example, I’m certain that people are
convinced that with Voicestra, everything
we do is thought out in advance. The whole
concept of not having a single idea or
nothing thought out in advance, discussed,
or rehearsed… it takes people a minute to
get that. I think by the end of the concert
they do get it, but in the beginning, they
might not be convinced.
OTWS: You started as a piano player and your
parents were a huge influence and inspiration
to becoming a vocalist, but what took it to
this unique jazz, vocal, soloist level?
McFERRIN: It’s Keith Jared’s fault. When I
was a pianist, I was a huge Keith Jared fan.
Keith was technically brilliant and had
wonderful ideas. But what was so admirable is that this guy would just walk out on
stage, sit at a piano, and just start playing.
He was on this journey. He’d walk up the
mountain or walk thru the valley or
whatever he was doing musically, but that
was what he was doing. And I thought, �I
want to do that. I’ve got do this! But how
can I do it?’ So for two years, all I did was
sing. I wouldn’t buy any records and I
wouldn’t listen to a single singer. I’d go in
my room, turn on my tape recorder, and just
start singing. I did that for a couple years,
shutting myself off from other singers until
I figured out what it meant for me to be a
solo vocalist. So from the thought to the
conception of it, it took me about 6 years to
actually do it, because first off I was scared.
To me it was a very frightening idea, a very
bold idea, to stand on stage as a singer
without any kind of accompaniment and
sing. It blew me away. Once I overcame the
fear and really started doing it, I saw the
possibility of it.
OTWS: Speaking of classical music, the performance you do with “Ave Maria” combined with Bach’s “The Node,” with the
audience participation… Is that you opening
up people’s minds or is that part of you
looking for material and using the audience
to kind of play with?
McFERRIN: It’s the latter. Music has got to be
the best icebreaker, community-making device possible. You’ve got a room full of
strangers singing together. That’s the most
amazing thing. Everyone in the audience
feels like they’ve contributed to the musical
Bobby McFerrin
His
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Monitors
UR2/KSM 9*
PSMВ® 700
PG24/SM86*
PSM 200
* wireless system
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Page 18
happening of that evening. I remember a
musical moment with Voicestra in Minneapolis where I had the audience singing
this chord. We stopped singing because we
had to listen to this sound that was coming
from the audience. It kind of reminded me
of an ice storm on a sunny day. Everything
is like shimmering diamonds. But it’s dangerous too, because at any moment, a
branch from a tree could fall down and kill
somebody. So we had this incredible combination of this beautiful chord and yet
there was this sort of tension... I can’t
really describe it. For a moment there, we
had to stop and catch ourselves because it
was a phenomenal moment and it came
from the audience!
OTWS: When did you start using Shure?
McFERRIN: I’ve used Shure more than any
other mic, going back to the Shure [SM]58В®s.
It’s a reliable microphone. I shared a Shure
58 with Tina Turner and Mick Jagger at a
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction
ceremony in New York, February of 1988 I
believe. Shure came thru! Mick and Tina
and myself! [laughter] What a moment that
was! Yeah, I’ve been using Shure for a long,
long time.
OTWS: About two years ago, you made the
switch to the KSM9. How has it been
treating you?
McFERRIN: I have to say I do notice how true
the sound is. It’s just true, clean; just right
for me. I can move the microphone and still
get the sound it picks up in the air around
my voice, and it’s easy to manipulate. I don’t
have to worry about any kind of drop offs
or the sound just going away. It trails along
with whatever I’m doing. Every time I use a
new microphone from Shure, it’s an
advance. It’s better. The other thing that is
really cool about the Shure KSM9… There
are moments when I’m singing very softly
and the microphone does a really good job
at picking up those soft tones. I have
worked with other microphones where that
wasn’t the case. You would move away and
it would only go so far with you, but it’s
almost as if the Shure microphone is an
extension of my instrument, it’s part of me.
OTWS: Most proud professional moment?
McFERRIN: Oh gee…. I don’t know if I can
choose one… There’s so many. For example, Alison Krauss, who has the voice of
an angel, she does this song, this cover…
[singing] �Baby, now that I found you I can’t
let you go/I’ve built my world around
you…’ My daughter and I used to sing that
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everyday I would drive her to school. I got
Alison’s phone number, I introduced myself
and I said, �I got to tell you… my daughter
and I sing this song on the drive to school
and I just want you to know I think you’re
fabulous and would love to sing with you
someday.’ So a couple of years ago I was
invited to sing at the Telluride Bluegrass
Festival, and she was one of the artists. I
was determined to ask her if we could sing
that together. So when I saw her I said,
�Here’s what I’d like to do. As a duo, just the
two of us, I will sing… [demonstrates] the
guitar part. And she said, �Maybe we should
have some band members…’ because she
didn’t know. Like I said, when I first started
doing acapella, nobody understood what I
was talking about. And I said, �Don’t worry
about it. You’ll hear everything, it’ll all be
there.’ So she said, �Okay… we have to rehearse this, because I don’t understand.’ So
we went to her bus and she said, �Okay…
show me what you mean.’ And I started
singing… [demonstrates], and she started
singing, and she sang the first verse and
she leapt up and ran away! And she came
back and said, �I could hear everything! I
could hear everything!’ So that night, she
invited me out to sing, and the two of us
did this song; she played fiddle and sang.
That was one my most favorite moments.
But there’s more!
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ON TOUR WITH SHURE: Mute Math’s beginning
came at a time when another band, Earthsuit,
was ending. What feels different this time
around, musically, physically and mentally?
PAUL MEANY: I like the guys in the band a lot
better. I like to think of Earthsuit as an educational college experience. It was a definite
“going to school” time. When we started
Mute Math it was just really an attempt to
apply what we have learned and hopefully
have a band that we can enjoy more. And
when I say I like the guys better in the
band now, I mean mainly myself.
GREG HILL: You like yourself more?
ROY MITCHELL-CARDENAS: You definitely yell
a lot less. [Everyone laughs]
OTWS: A message of simplicity and relevancy
is expressed in the band’s new material, was
this a conscious effort?
MEANY: The only effort that we made was to
try to make music that we would look forward to playing every night. I think when it
comes to lyrics, there isn’t a lot of conscious
effort that goes into it except for just what
kind of naturally happens. I think writing
songs is a big part of just kind of stepping
back into the subconscious in a way. You
just kinda let music provoke feelings and
kinda write itself. So that was the “M.O.”
when we started our band. We wanted it to
be… sort of free from what we thought any
particular rock band should be or whatever
genre it was and to do away with the requirements categories and just make music
for the sake of creating and enjoying what
we’re listening back to.
It really started as a side project—Darrin
[King, drums] and myself—it was a twopiece band and it just kind of evolved
slowly. Greg [Hill, guitar] joined after that
and then finally, when Roy [MitchellCardenas, bass] came in, it seemed that
everything had come together. It was an
evolution. All I knew in the beginning was
that we wanted to make music that we like,
simple as that. Major simple.
OTWS: Let’s talk about the song writing process. Is this a collective effort, involving all
members of the band?
MEANY: Yeah, it definitely is. Obviously, this
record we are going into is the first time
that all the band members are around from
ground zero. Because of the way Mute Math
started, it was generally a lot more Darrin
and myself’s ideas and then the other guys
came in after the fact and put their little
twist on it. But right now, which is very
exciting, we’re starting the second record
and all the writing. Everyone’s really shaping
these songs from the bottom up together.
It’s been good… I think this next record is
going to be incredible.
OTWS: What is the inspiration for the new
material?
MITCHELL-CARDENAS: I think generally it’s
just the inspiration of playing together more
and knowing each other as a band, and
individual pieces that work a little more.
That definitely inspires me.
MEANY: I think having played [together] and
touring non-stop, you learn a lot about yourself as a band… what you do good, what
you don’t do good. This next time we are
just trying to focus in on what we really like
about our band, try to emphasize all that.
Almost every bio of the band and
review of the record submits that the Mute
Math sound is reminiscent of U2 and the
Police. How would you guys describe your
sound on stage and in the studio?
MEANY: The description of our sound is:
difficult. I usually leave the categories to the
professional category makers. The bands
you listed are definitely bands that we’ve
listened to, enjoyed over the years and I
think wrote the textbook on how to make
music and then translate that to a great show.
That’s all we try to do. When we’re making
OTWS:
music in the studio it’s really embracing that
medium. But it’s a different experience when
you take it to the stage and I think that’s a
good thing. That’s how it actually should be.
That’s what we try to do as a band... let the
song grow on tour, let it become a life of its
own and not be afraid to be in the moment
of whatever happens any given night.
OTWS: Speaking of your sound on stage, the
vocals are being picked up by Shure’s SM58®
and you guys are also using PSMВ® 700 for
monitors. Have you noticed a difference in
the sound on stage and also in the way you
perform?
MEANY: Well absolutely! So much of the performance has to do with what you are listening back to. Since we have been using all of
these wonderful gadgets provided by Shure,
yeah it’s inspirational. Especially when you
take the stage and are anticipating the “zone”
or the “moment,” or whatever is going to click
you into that place you hope to be on stage. It
has so much to do with what you hear back.
Being the vocalist, I have definitely enjoyed
the sound of the SM58. When you like the
sound of your voice, it helps you to sing
better somehow, at least for me. We’re having a good time with all the new toys.
OTWS: It seems that things are really working for you guys the second time around,
what lies ahead for Mute Math?
KING: The next tier of the “layer cake of
success” is: all the things we’ve had before
except, more of it, I suppose [laughs]…
with a little more freedom. To be honest with
you at this point, it just looks like a lot more
work still yet to go as we are preparing for
the next tour. The first show of our 51show tour is near approaching.
MEANY: You’re catching us the second to the
last day of production rehearsal, which we
are so behind the 8-ball and that’s how it is.
Every tour, you’re so under-rehearsed, you’re
never ready and that’s OK. It’s a great time.
Once you get a week in on the tour, it
doesn’t matter.
Mute Math
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Backing Vocals
Kick
Snare
Toms
Hi-Hat
Overheads
Guitar Cabinet
Bass Cabinet
SM58
SM58
Beta 91 & Beta 52В®
KSM137 & SM57
Beta 56В®
KSM137
KSM32
KSM27
Beta 52
PG58
PG58
PG52
PG57
PG56
PG81
PG81
SM57
PG52
В®
On Tour with Shure
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n a chilly evening in March, in an intimate Chicago theater, two American classics collided. The skeletal set
for a forthcoming production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” proved the perfect backdrop for Los Lobos, and
the music from their latest CD, The Town And The City.
Backstage, the conversation turned to the mics used at CRG studios (i.e. Cesar Rosas’s Garage). It turns
out that the boys from Los Lobos have discovered what so many musicians are discovering; the SM7 makes
a wicked vocal mic.
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Oh man, it’s such a staple
now. Every studio should have a couple of
�em. One of the reasons we like it is that you
can sing pretty hard into it and it can take it.
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: I understand you had
a little trouble getting started writing The
Town And The City. Even at this point in
your career, I guess sometimes you’re just
tapped?
DAVID HIDALGO: Yeah, that’s what it was.
We’d been on the road a lot. We hadn’t had
more than like five days at home in eight
months. Luckily I had some ideas that I had
been working on a year, year-and-a-half
prior. I started going through my tapes to
see if there was something—not to use, but
to spark an idea.
OTWS: This record is arguably your finest,
so maybe it’s not such a bad thing to have
to dig yourselves out of a hole.
HIDALGO: Well, it worked out that way. We
always start with a struggle—the first
couple of songs, you have to follow the
inspiration and see where it leads you.
OTWS: In addition to being road weary, did
you feel any need to live up to your
reputation?
HIDALGO: I guess so; we always want to do
something different. We try not to repeat
ourselves, but that’s self-imposed.
OTWS: Do you find that your motivation has
changed? Do you do this for different reasons
than when you started playing weddings?
ROSAS: Well, we went from just being
musicians and having a great time to having
success just come. Just confronting that, that
this is what we do now, this is our career…
when we had the hit with “La Bamba,” it was
so weird for us; we didn’t know how to
handle it.
OTWS: Are there still people who only know
you through “La Bamba?”
ROSAS: Well, we’re so old now…[laughing]
HIDALGO: With the younger generation,
we’ll say, �Hey, remember “La Bamba?”’
ROSAS: They’re like, �What is that?’ And
we’re like, �Cool!’
HIDALGO: But that was our ace in the hole,
too. We’ll be going through customs [and
say], �Remember “La Bamba?”’ �No.’ �Aw,
man. Cesar, get over here! Bring your
shades!’ [Laughing]
OTWS: And it seems that you have the
freedom to do what you want musically.
ROSAS: We managed to cut our own little
niche. Whatever’s happening, we’re right
alongside it in our own little world. We
CESAR ROSAS:
didn’t plan it like that; it’s just the music
that we play.
OTWS: Tchad Blake has mixed so much of
your music; how much latitude does he
have? Like the distressed drums on “The
Valley”—was that you or him?
ROSAS: They already sounded that way.
HIDALGO: That was from an eight-track
cassette. He made things sound bigger. His
stereo imaging is pretty amazing. He can
make things sound like they’re coming
from behind you. He’s good at finding space
for everything. And he was very excited
about it, because he’s been working at Real
World and working on albums with a
hundred and forty tracks.
OTWS: It’s like math homework after a
while.
ROSAS: But as far as all of those tones though,
we’re responsible for all of that. From way
back, we’ve committed to the track,
especially Dave, messing around with all of
the pedals, we’d get all of the tones, and
we’d record it like that. We’d commit.
OTWS: It’s nice and wet, and you can’t undo it.
ROSAS: So often, when we’d get to the mix,
we put up the tracks and they’d be
practically mixed already. So we’ve tried to
keep it like that.
OTWS: With the kind of music you play, no
one is going to look at you like they do
Mick Jagger and criticize you for continuing beyond a certain age. Will you do this
�til you drop?
ROSAS: I hope so. I can’t believe that we’re
still here together after so long.
HIDALGO: Y’know, we get tired sometimes,
and wish we could stay home, but we’ve got
to count our blessings. We complain about
a lot of things, but…
OTWS: …but the guy typing away at his
desk for fifteen years doesn’t say, “Man, I
have always loved data entry.” Do you still
get that rush on stage?
HIDALGO: Yeah, every time we play—well,
some nights we have some problems getting it going, but even then, as work, it’s
pretty good.
Los Lobos
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
SM58
PG58
Kick
Beta 52В®
PG52
В®
On Tour with Shure
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ON TOUR WITH SHURE: How’s
Page 24
the newest recording coming along?
I guess it’s coming along fine. It’s taking time to
shape but it’s coming along; the way we envisioned things. I think
the novelty is that, because we have been doing all the production
by ourselves, what happens is that we feel the pressure a lot more
and I suppose that’s why most of the time people tend to work with
a producer. But because we’re working on it together, we can
actually sort of share the load.
OTWS: Have you got a title for the album yet?
JULIO: I think we can tell you the theme, but we still haven’t
JULIO ACCONCI:
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confirmed the title yet. It’s [the theme] pretty much “not alone,”
meaning everything that we have been going through is a joint
experience and we never felt that we were alone. I think one tends
to go through life, feeling that you have to make decisions; feeling
that you are alone–but there’s somebody sitting there going through
the whole thing with you.
OTWS: What’s the inspiration for this album? Have you been
listening to different influences recently?
JULIO: Yes, a lot of stuff. From Snow Patrol to the Beatles, and
everything else in between.
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DINO ACCONCI: I actually spent one evening
just listening to all the old Beatles songs
over and over again. If they worked then,
why can’t you learn from them? So whenever we listen to music, we tend to learn
how they crafted the songs as opposed to
how they arranged it. So, the direction we’re
taking is not so much conceptual. We try to
write songs that people can hum when
they’re in the shower. So, when we listen to
records, we tend to listen over and over to
those songs that catch our senses and that
you find yourself singing along to as you’re
walking down the street. We consider that a
good song and go from there. We then
structure the song and the way we come up
with sounds [melody]. For the instruments,
that’s something we do later with the musician and songwriter friends we’re collaborating with. They’ve been giving valuable
advice that has helped us to shape things
and meet our objectives. I think that’s been
the whole writing process.
OTWS: Between the writing and production
and actually getting the records into stores
and on the airwaves, how do you share the
responsibilities?
JULIO: For all that is musical, they tend to
be on Dino’s shoulders. Although we write
together, he’s the man when it comes to
songwriting. Whereas I look after things
like logistics and the business side so that
he doesn’t have to worry about those things.
DINO: He’s actually being too humble. What
we do together is, I may come up with the
ideas but I never complete them myself. I
always work them through with Julio
because we think together. The last thing I
want to do is to write a song that he can’t
sing. So, I always run it by him. It’s always a
collaboration between us. So, by the time a
song is completed you’ll find that it’s not
only an expression from Soler, it’s everyone
who has collaborated with us. That’s what
we like to do, to involve and listen to every
member of the production team, so that the
songs have a more eclectic flavor.
JULIO: Another thing that is so important,
what we find interesting in our relationship
with everybody, is this mutual admiration. I
told Dino this many times, and I’m not shy
to say that I’m his number one fan. And
with that, I think it helps a lot to give him
the confidence to develop musically and
creatively. Instead of criticizing everything
he does, my job is to ignite his spark and
keep it going.
OTWS: You write songs in English and
Italian, but are those songs performed in
English and Italian too?
JULIO: They are actually in Cantonese, but
we have tried to preserve the context despite
all of the translation work. One thing we felt
lacking in our previous albums, even
though the music was written by us, was
that we didn’t really connect to the lyrics.
With the English lyrics as a guide, the
translators managed to recreate the lyrics
and at the same time retain a Cantonese or
Mandarin flavor. It was a challenge for them,
but in the end I think some of the songs
came out surprisingly well.
OTWS: Which mics do you currently perform with?
JULIO: We currently tour with our [own]
UR2/Beta87As, and they’re very good.
Actually, I’m a big fan of Shure, as you
already know. I like the feeling; it must be a
design thing. Ever since I began using it,
I’ve liked the feeling of the thing [grill]
against my lips. So having [mics of our
own] is actually very good.
DINO: Not all companies spray sanitizer on
the mics.
JULIO: Exactly, so having [my own], I can
now kiss the mic.
DINO: We have been using the SE530s at the
studio. I recorded yesterday for my guitar
tracks and it gives you the whole feeling of
the song, and listening to yourself in the
recording is a very unusual experience.
Brilliant.
OTWS: What artists have you been compared to?
JULIO: Quite a few. In the beginning, when
we sang in English, some people thought
we sounded like The Simm Brothers,
Crowded House…
DINO: Daryl Hall & John Oates…
JULIO: …Simon & Garfunkel… I think we’ve
been compared a lot to people that harmonize in songs. Not that we sound like them but
the way that we write songs is very similar
to The Bee Gees. There’s something about
siblings that write music together, it’s very
unique if you listen to how they write songs
and how just any songwriter writes songs.
Soler
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
UR24D/Beta 58 *
PG24/PG58*
Lead Vocals
UR24D/Beta 87C*
PG24/PG58*
Kick
Beta 91 & Beta 52В®
PG52
Snare
Beta 56
PG56
Toms
Beta 98D/S
PG56
Hi-Hat
SM81
PG81
Overheads
SM81
PG81
Guitar Cabinet
SM57
PG57
Bass Cabinet
Beta 52
PG52
Monitors
PSMВ® 700
PSM 200
В®
В®
* wireless system
On Tour with Shure
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But sound-wise, there’s nothing like the husband-wife
duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. From
their early, arty days [captured beautifully on the album
Patience], to riskier endeavors [Films For Radio] to
majestic, broken epics [Ohio], the Over the Rhine
catalog reflects depth and power any independent
band would be proud to possess.
26
Now with their latest The Trumpet Child [GSD/
Redeye], Over the Rhine stands poised to break
more new ground and win over new legions of fans.
On Tour with Shure stopped to talk to Linford and
Karin just as their album hit the streets to talk
matters of art, faith—and faithful service from a mic
they’ve trusted all the way.
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ON TOUR WITH SHURE: Over the Rhine has always managed to tread the world between
Christian music and the mainstream without
alienating fans loyal to either camp. To what
do you attribute your artistic success?
LINFORD DETWEILER: Oh, well that’s an optimistic appraisal of the situation! [Karin
laughs.] Karin and I both grew up around a
lot of church music. My father was a
Protestant minister and the big questions
have always interested us in our music. I
think some people sense that we do want to
go deep with our songwriting. However, it
was very clear to us from the very beginning
that we wanted to function in the mainstream. We wanted to get out there with our
musical heroes, people like Bob Dylan, Nick
Lowe, Leonard Cohen, Emmylou Harris,
whoever. We wanted to rub shoulders as
much as we could with our musical heroes,
people we consider to be “giants” of song.
We didn’t want to limit our music to a
particular subculture or whatever. So we
kind of busted out of the church into the
general marketplace and that’s where we
always felt the most at home. Karin always
says, �You don’t pick your audience, your
audience picks you.’ So it’s been really interesting to us to see just a broad spectrum of
people discover our music and find a way
in. We love our fans!
OTWS: Many full-time Christian industry
artists would be queasy about taking the
kind of artistic chances your band takes—
with language, imagery, the honesty and
brokenness in the lyrics. What compels you
to go down that path as opposed to, say,
singing neat three-minute hit songs with
lots of references to Jesus?
KARIN BERGQUIST: Wow! Well I think that’s
where we live and I can’t relate to the threeminute hit song period—I can’t relate to
any other songwriting than what we write
because it’s where we live. I just prefer more
of a real approach to songwriting. I like to
blur the lines between, and I hate the terms
“Christian” and “secular” because I think
they’re abused, overused and overrated. I
think music crosses all those boundaries
and I don’t like the separation. That’s not
where I live and I just can’t help but write
from where I live. So if it’s dangerous to one
group…um … ya know… good! [Laughs.]
DETWEILER: I think just in terms of keeping
it real, we don’t have all the answers. We
struggle, we’re broken, we have hopes and
aspirations. We’re just trying to reach out
and be honest.
I think that’s part of it, too: We
have never tried to dictate an answer. I’ve
always been more interested in the question. I think that’s a more honest place. I’d
prefer a leader in my life, or my government, or my world that says, �I’m not sure, I
don’t know, but here’s what I think and
here’s what I’m learning,’ rather than, �I
know.’ Because I don’t think anybody can
say they know and they have all these
absolutes. I think that’s very unrealistic and
misleading and that’s just not where I live.
DETWEILER: I think we just try to invite
people into a conversation. We want to
learn from our fans and from our music. We
want them to hopefully get ideas from us.
Hopefully it’s sort of an interactive thing.
BERGQUIST:
OTWS: Linford, you have always been one of
the most literate voices in indie music. What
types of reading, literature and art—musical
or otherwise—inform your approach to the
craft? Bob Dylan for example once said his
music would be more influenced by a given
painting than, say, another music act.
DETWEILER: When people would ask my
influences, I used to name authors. It just
felt natural to me, more so than other songwriters or musicians, so I can relate to that
a little bit. I think when I started getting
interested in words, I was drawn to people
Over The Rhine
who had a real facility with language. People
like Dylan Thomas, who could make the
words themselves sound like music. Or
people like Andy Dillard who could sustain
sort of a lyrical, beautiful piece of writing
page after page. So a book like “A Pilgram
at Tinker Creek” to me is like a 400-page
poem, just this cathartic outpouring of
beautiful language. In recent years as I’ve
grown older, I’ve grown more interested in
trying to simplify my language, be more adept
with my subject matter. [Linford laughs as a
server begins to fill the ice bin right outside
the green room.] I think simplicity is hard
to achieve convincingly and it’s sort of what
I’m drawn to in all areas of life.
OTWS: Tell us about how Shure mics have
worked into all you do. Take us back to the
beginning and right up to now.
DETWEILER: I had an old SM57 that I carried
around like a little, special… child. [He motions like he’s holding a baby; Karin laughs.]
It was just a great microphone. That was the
microphone on all our early records that we
always pointed at the guitar amp and a lot of
different things because it just sounded
great and we weren’t sure what we were
doing. So that was easy! Then I remember
my first pair of SM81s. I finally saved up 600
bucks or whatever it was for a couple of
good condenser mics. We used those for
years on guitars and my upright piano. They
made the upright sound so good and I
realized that it was sort of an underrated
instrument. People tend to want to use a
really grand piano—so you can almost
dismiss the sound of a grand because it’s
kind of predictable. Uprights tend to be
unpredictable and ragged sounding—like
pianos with broken hearts.
The SM81s were great. Obviously, SM58В®s
were our first vocal mics. For us to have a
Shure endorsement at this point in our career
is significant, a real vote of confidence.
BERGQUIST: It’s great. We really appreciate that.
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Beta 87A
SM86
Backing Vocals
Beta 87A
SM86
Kick
Beta 91 & Beta 52В®A
PG52
Snare
SM57
PG57
Toms
KSM27 & Beta 98D/S
PG56
Hi-Hat
SM81
PG81
Overheads
SM81
PG81
Guitar Cabinet
Beta57AВ®
PG57
Bass Cabinet
KSM27
PG52
Monitors
PSMВ® 600
PSM 200
On Tour with Shure
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On Tour with Shure caught up with Seaton
in the midst of the Richie action. It’s been a
long road from banging on his mother’s pots
and pans, but one filled with joy, discovery
and an unbridled affection for the mics that
make his magic sound spring to life.
ON TOUR WITH SHURE: Take us back to the
exact time in your life when you knew you
were called to be a drummer.
OSCAR SEATON: I was raised in Church and
one Sunday during service, I saw an older
gentleman playing drums. I was about 6 or
7 years old and that particular Sunday, I
really paid attention to the drums and I was
blown away! I knew from that point on
playing drums is what I wanted to do. All I
could think about was playing drums. I went
home and made a drum set out of some pots
and pans and paint cans and started playing
every day from that point on.
OTWS: What is your favorite style of music
to play? How is touring with Lionel Ritchie
a challenge in terms of nailing the drums? I
am told he’s a real perfectionist, in a good
way. What is Lionel like to work with?
SEATON: I don’t have a favorite style of
music. As long as it has a pocket and a
groove, that’s my favorite thing to play.
The challenge playing with Lionel Richie is
making his music sound like the record and
making him feel better than when he
recorded the song—and when people hear
the love songs and ballads, making them
feel like they felt when they first heard the
song. Lionel is one of the nicest artists to
work with. He never tells me what to play;
he just lets me do what I do. I make him
feel good every night on stage because I
play 90 percent of the same thing every
night and when he hears that, it makes him
feel comfortable.
OTWS: What is a peak moment like for you
playing live? Take us there.
SEATON: When the groove feels amazing
throughout the whole band and when everybody is feeling the same energy on stage;
when the artist turns around and looks at
me and smiles; when you look out into the
audience and they’re on their feet and
partying—and it seems like that’s the only
thing in the world they care about at that
moment.
OTWS: Tell us how Shure microphones have
supported your sound and live play over
the years, especially on this tour. What
specifically about Shure mics makes them
right for you?
SEATON: One of the biggest ways Shure mic-
rophone to my drums and I know how it’s
going to sound. As far as this Lionel Richie
tour, I mix my own drum sound in my ear
and I know every setting for every drum.
I’ve noticed that my drums sound consistent in every venue that I play, without
changing my settings. I need to hear the
same sound every night in every venue—
and Shure microphones let me do that.
OTWS: How about the reliability of the
mics? SM57s are legendary as the definitive
snare mic for every situation. How have
you found Shures to be when put to the
test?
SEATON: The reliability of the mics are
great! What can I say? Most monitor guys
and production managers love the stability
of the mics because they hold up night after
night. Even when sometimes I may make a
mistake and hit one of the mics when I’m
playing a show, they still stand up to the
test. I find them to be very durable and
road-friendly as far as setting them up and
breaking them down show after show;
they’re very dependable.
The reason everyone uses the 57s from live
to recording is because it lets the natural
sound of the snare drum come through.
OTWS: What advice do you have to the
young drummers of today who dream of
occupying the throne you’re in? The music
business can be tough.
SEATON: Practice first and learn what drums
mean to the industry. Always remember
that the song and the artist come first. Our
job is to hold down the pocket, groove and
support the songs we are playing. Try to
find out about as many different styles of
music as you can and always let your ears
be your guide. Playing groove is so important in the music industry and one way
to get great pocket is to always practice to
some type of metronome or drum machine.
Along with that always be on time and
always spend time learning the material
that you are playing—and always be kind
to others. Those are some of the ways that
you can make it in this business.
rophones support my sound is that they
allow my drums to sound natural—without
adding a lot of EQ to my settings. They
consistently make my drums sound very
warm and comfortable. I know what I’m
going to get every time I put a Shure mic-
Oscar Seaton
His
On A Budget
Kick
Beta 52 A
PG52
Snare
SM57
PG57
Toms
Beta 98D/S
PG56
Hi-Hat
SM81
PG81
Overheads
KSM32
PG81
Monitors
PSMВ® 600
PSM 200
В®
On Tour with Shure
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l Paso, Texas band Sparta has experienced its share of the double-edged sword that is the rock
�n’ roll lifestyle. Co-founder Jim Ward [vocals/guitar] caught a nick from it while part of the shortlived but much celebrated At The Drive-In. But when that band went on permanent hiatus in early
2001, Ward must have taken it as a sign, so he got together with Paul Hinojos [guitar], Tony Hajjar
[drums] and Matt Miller [bassist] to start a new band under the name Sparta. The adage “be careful
what you ask for” applies here, as things happened pretty quickly in the musical careers of this foursome. Within a year the band had a record deal with Dreamworks, and in March 2002, released the
Austere EP. A full-length Wiretap Scars followed just months later, and two years later the Porcelain LP
was released. Sparta felt both sides of that sword in 2005, a year they spent mostly on the road. The
pressure proved too much, and as a result, Hinojos left the band, and Ward decided he needed a break.
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“I took a break from what I felt was my job.
I took a break from writing rock songs,”
Ward told OTWS backstage at Metro in
June 2007. “Before Threes I was going down
a quick spiral. We’re all friends before
anything else and [the band] saw what was
happening, and when I said �I think I need
to leave,’ everyone said �take care of yourself first.’” It was a time to “stop and smell
the roses,” he explained. It wasn’t, however,
a break from making music. During this
time he recorded music for a CD by El Paso
poet Bobby Byrd, and he began to write
again. “I would force myself to sit down
and play a chord on a piano that I’d never
played, then learn the key and just work on
music for music instead of music for profit
or career or photo shoots or interviews or
whatever. And that was the point where I
got a lot of stuff out of me that way.”
The hiatus proved fruitful for Sparta;
when they decided it was time to reconvene
and write a new record, they were all ready
with a fresh perspective, personally and
artistically. But it took some time to shake
off the cobwebs and take in a deep breath.
Keeley Davis [Engine Down, Denali] went
out to L.A. to audition to replace Hinojos.
“When he came in for those first rehearsals,
he was walking into a very dark atmosphere,” Hajjar recounted. “It was weird; he
came in all excited to learn the songs and
stuff and we were just all barely talking.
And for him to come out for those four
days and be as positive as he was, we knew
that he was our light. He’s a very positive
person and he reminded us that it was fun
to be in our band.” That light and Davis’
atmospheric, layering songwriting style,
Ward said, made for a better band.
Armed with rejuvenation, they went to El
Paso and demoed their hearts out, to the
tune of 50-60 songs. “That was the most productive Sparta had ever been,” Ward noted.
They whittled the list down to 27, then 13,
which would become Threes, released in
2006. “It’s the end product of a terrible time,
maybe not terrible, but trying,” Ward said of
the new songs. “The record was made
during a very dark period, but it proceeded
into light. It’s about hope and redemption
and trying to work your way out of whatever
you’ve gotten yourself into.”
It’s as if you can hear that deep-cleansing
breath the band has taken on this LP. Instead of feeling the need to fill the space
with noise, Sparta uses the quiet moments
to build and contrast with the dynamics.
They also successfully explore melody and
vocal harmony on “Erase It Again,” “False
Start” and “Without A Sound.” A couple of
mellow tracks have elicited comparisons to
Coldplay, though the band still keeps that
sense of tension brewing under the surface.
Having been back on the road for months
this year already, how are they handling the
pressure this time around? “I think it’s
being positive, more than anything,” Ward
mused. “It’s easy to get lonely in this job; if
you don’t force yourself to see the bright side
of things it can get pretty dark. I would never
put the band in the position again where I
would have to leave. I have to be realistic
about things. And I’m taking better care of
myself; I get out and see things instead of
locking myself in dressing rooms!”
Sparta uses a wide array of Shure microphones. In their home studio they use
Beta 98s, SM57s and KSM32s. “When we
did the demo for “Erase It Again,” Mike, one
of our friends who was working with us,
used the KSM32 on Jim’s vocals; I didn’t
know you could, but it sounded really cool,”
Hajjar said. Onstage for live performances
they use Beta 98s on the toms, a Beta 91 and
a Beta 52В® for kick drums, KSM32s for
guitars and overheads, Beta 58AВ® for vocals,
and an SM57 on one of the bass cabinets.
“Whenever I don’t have the KSM32 I get
really pissy about it,” Ward said. “I’m addicted to that mic!”
Sparta is a great example all musicians
should follow when it comes to the convenience of Shure in-ear personal monitors.
“We all bought them about six years ago
with our advance because we had this
practice space in El Paso and we didn’t have
a P.A. We have actually used them in weird
situations like when we’re flying somewhere and our backline is already there and
we want to go through a day of rehearsal,
we take our in-ears and use those. We don’t
even use headphones in the studio anymore, we just use the in-ears. You can walk
around, you’re not tethered to this mixing
desk like you usually are with headphones.
I think it’s a good idea because of the
freedom.” They also wear their in-ears for
personal use, plugging them into their
iPods when they travel. “You can always tell
who the bands are on airplanes because you
see these little chords behind their ears!”
Sparta
Theirs
On A Budget
Lead Vocals
Backing Vocals
Kick
Snare Top/Bottom
Toms
Hi-Hat
Overheads
Guitar Cabinet
Bass Cabinet
Beta 58A
Beta 58A
Beta 91 & Beta 52
SM57 & KSM137
Beta 98D/S
SM81
KSM32
KSM32
SM57
SM58В®
SM58
PG52
PG57
PG56
PG81
PG81
SM57
PG57
On Tour with Shure
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