All Access: No Doubt

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Steve Jennings
Photos: Steve Jennings


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No Doubt performing

No Doubt performing

To the delight of No Doubt fans worldwide, the band has returned to the stage after a half-decade hiatus. Running through their hits from Rock Steady and Tragic Kingdom, as well as some B-side material, the band (lead singer Gwen Stefani, drummer Adrian Young, guitarist Tom Dumont and bassist Tony Kanal) — with Gabe McNair (keyboard, programming, horns) and Stephen Bradley (keys, horn) — are winding their way through the U.S. Mix caught up with the tour in late July at the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, Calif.

Front-of-house engineer John Kerns is mixing on a Digidesign Show Profile, spec'ing it because of its audio quality, flexibility, reliability and size. “For plug-ins,” he adds, “I use [models from] McDSP, Crane Song, TC Electronic and TL Labs' Space. The only outboard pieces that I use are a Buzz Audio SOC compressor, a Distressor and a Metric Halo ULN-8.”

Monitor engineer Jon Schimke

Monitor engineer Jon Schimke

The Sound Image-supplied P.A. for arena dates comprises three hangs of 4889 per side (60 boxes total) and 16 4880 subs (eight per side, flown). When the group performs in sheds, the P.A. is two hangs of 4889 per side (54 boxes total) and 16 4880 subs (eight per side, flown). Additionally, there are four 4880 subs stacked per side and eight Sound Image Powerlines for front-fills.

Sitting alongside monitor engineer Jon Schimke's Midas XL4 board are racks containing Summit DCL 200s (vocals, bass and acoustic guitar), BSS 504 gates, BSS 402 comps (keys), an Amek 10-channel compressor (bass, horns and background vocals), BSS FCS-960 EQs, AMS RMX 16 reverb, Eventide H3000, Lexicon PCM 91, Yamaha SPX-990 and a TC Electronic D2 delay. “Gwen uses an Audio-Technica 6100 for her vocal mic,” Schimke says. “All of the background vocals are singing on AKG D7 RFs. For ear monitors, it's all Ultimate Ears. Gwen uses the UE-10s; everyone else is on UE-11s. We are using AKG IVM-4 transmitters and receivers for everyone except Gwen. She uses an older Sennheiser unit that has 16 fixed frequencies.”

Front-of-house engineer John Kerns

Front-of-house engineer John Kerns

Drummer Adrian Young is on two Sound Image single 15-inch wedges, an EAW 850 Sub for his drum sub and a Butt Thumper, all of which (including wedges and side-fills onstage) are powered by QSC PowerLight amps with BSS crossovers.

Eric “TBG” Harris — keyboard tech for Gabe McNair (stage-left, also programmer) and Stephen Bradley (stage-right) — says that McNair uses a Moog Little Phatty that runs through a Line 6 M13 Stompbox Modeler pedal for effects and “sometimes uses it to record real-time loops with its Looper feature. His other keyboard is [Apple Logic Studio's] MainStage hooked up to an M-Audio Pro Keys 88 controller.” McNair uses virtual synths such as the Arturia Jupiter-8V and GForce Software's M-Tron. To control his effects, he uses a Korg nanoKONTROL. “We split the MIDI signal with a MIDI Solutions Thru Box,” Harris adds. “The MIDI from the keyboard goes to two MOTU UltraLight interfaces. We use MIDI instead of USB so that we can have a backup rig. For the few instances of playback, Harris uses Onstage and Logic with a Mac Pro (A rig) and a Mac Mini (backup playback rig); both programs are used so that all songs can be called up with a single program-channel command.

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