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Live Recording - The Earps
'Rooster Run (Live)'
When the Earps contacted me about doing a live recording at Hollywood Alley, I was excited! I've always thought Hollywood Alley was a great live venue, and would translate well in a recording. A few bands that I know have done 'board recordings' there, with pretty good results for something that basic. I thought the room would work out pretty well.
We met up a week before the show at the Alley, just to talk to the house engineer and plot out our approach. We decided to set up my rig at the side of the stage, by the load in door and ramp. This way I could have easy communication with the band, and not have to run my snake through the crowd.
I used mic splitters on the vocal mics and the kick mic, then used my own mics on the rest of the drums, guitars and bass amp. I also took a DI off the bass guitar. To capture the room and audience, I used Oktava MC012 mics placed just inside the PA speakers, facing out to the house. This placement maximizes the crowd while minimizing the amount of PA leakage into my tracks, which might cause phase and delay issues.
The guitars were mic'd with SM57s, the bass was a sennheiser e609, though I ended up using the DI track primarily as the mic had a few dropouts here and there. That's one thing about live recording, you can't stop the show and have the band start over!
The vocal mics were the Alley's SM58s, the Kick was a house mic, not one I was familiar with, but it sounded ok on my soundcheck test.
The house sound man had a funky mic on the snare, and while it sounded ok, I wanted my own mic in there, so I could get a bit better isolation. The house mic was bolted/taped to a stand in such a way that positioning was more or less permanent. I used a Sennheiser e604, which is normally a tom mic, but can work fine on snare.
I used a semi-minimalist drum setup, which was just the snare mic, the house kick, and two condenser overhead/tom mics. These were setup equidistant from the snare, facing down towards the snare, but about a foot above the outer edge of the toms. This way they picked up tom, cymbals, and a good bit of snare. Using fewer mics means less chance of mics falling off, and minimalizes phase issues, which can be prevalent when you have a lot of mics and a lot of bleed from guitars, PA, etc.
Preamps were my usual suspects, with the the 1084 clones on the lead vocal and the snare, M406 on kick, bass, backing vocals, and room mics, and I used a few channels from my Yamaha 16/12 mixer for the overheads and bass DI.
In order to allow for a true soundcheck, the Earps played the first set of the night. This way we could get to the venue early, set up and run down a song or two to check for technical issues. Once the crowd was looking good, the band ran through the set.
After the show was over, I tore down and headed home. I put together a rough mix of the entire set for the band, which they used to pick candidates for a final mix. They decided to do 'I Love Las Vegas' as a live track for their upcoming CD, and to mix 'Rooster Run' for use on myspace (and here!)
We got together at their practice space and mixed the songs, including laying a new vocal for 'I Love Las Vegas' as the original, while good, had a bit of that SM58 nasally tone. We treated the new vocal in the same way that I treated the SM58 vocals, to allow the banter from the show and the new vocal to match up. We used an RE20 into my 1084 clone, with a bit of compression from the Crest iPro 1.
The vocals on 'Rooster Run' are the originals from the gig. The treatment on them is an amp simulator, and a slap delay, for a tone that works with their cowpunk sound.
Overall, the recording captures the live energy and fun of an Earps show in a way that studio albums don't. Of course, there are warts and whatnot, but I think that just adds to the enjoyment!