All Access: Godsmack

Jan 1, 2004 12:00 PM, By Steve Jennings


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Apparently, ticket prices are a big deal for metal band Godsmack. According to lead singer Sully Erna, they declined to be a part of last summer's Metallica Summer Sanitarium tour because ticket prices were too high for many of their younger fans. Likewise, the band's 2003 release, Faceless, was priced much lower than the average CD. For them, it's all about giving back to the fans.

Mix caught up with Godsmack at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium when they came through Northern California last fall. The crowd greeted the band with tremendous enthusiasm, and Godsmack responded by turning in a boisterous set of hard-hitting, in-your-face music. Erna's vocals were truly remarkable and easily heard through the rock din in a great, clear mix. The band has been on the road playing theaters, arenas, sheds and festivals — ironically, including the European leg of Summer Sanitarium.

Front-of-house engineer Tony Pieras mixes on a digital Showco Show Console, which offers 80 inputs and 40 outputs, with all dynamic processing built in. “Every channel has its own gate, compressor and Harrison EQ,” relates Pieras. “Unlike the other digital consoles, with the Show Console, the audio path stays analog, so the sound that you get from this console is very rich and warm; in my opinion, the best-sounding digital console anywhere.

“I love mixing Godsmack,” he continues. “These guys are solid. There are no loops or tracks; what you hear is what is being played.”

The P.A. is a Showco Prism System, with five columns (four cabs per column), four under-hung frontfills and eight Prism subs per side. “When we are capable of flying the P.A., we put all of it up in the air except for two of the frontfills that are placed on the deck of the stage,” Pieras says. “For our drive, we use the Lake Technology Clair Bros. i/O, a wireless system controller that handles system EQ, crossover, delay and compression. The individual gates and compressors for the console channels are built into the Show Console.” Pieras uses minimum effects on Godsmack, relying only on a TC Electronic M-1 for drum reverb and as a chorus on the vocals. He also uses a TC Electronic D-2 for vocal delays and a Helcion Voice Prism for other vocal effects. All of the drums are sent to sub groups on the console, and a TC Electronic Triple-C stereo multiband compressor is inserted on these sub groups.

Monitor engineer Frank Sgambellone: “The bass player [Robbie Merrill] is wearing Ultimate Ears UE-7 ear molds driven from a Shure 600 system. His tech has a duplicate mix and ear mold set up. The guitar techs also have their own mixes.”

The vocal microphones are Sennheiser 500 Series. The main vocal is driven through a John Hardy preamp and is split for effects changes.

FOH engineer Tony Pieras: “I really love the double-kit drum solo. Mixing it is a real challenge. I try and give each instrument a place in the mix, and it’s fun doing this with 33 channels of drums.”

Monitor engineer Frank Sgambellone uses a Yamaha 4000 board because “it’s got plenty of inputs and outputs, and the metering is easy to see. It makes it easy to hit target gain levels quickly. With all these drums, inputs get eaten pretty quickly. I’m using Showco SRM wedges and I love them. The drum mix has a pair of 181s, as well as a shaker for the stool, in addition to a pair of wedges. For sidefills, I have a pair of Prism full-range cabinets over a pair of 181s per side. For dynamic processing, it’s just 15 Drawmer gates for the drums. [Occasional drummer] Sully Erna’s drum kit mics are an E604 on kick, E903 on snare top, E604 on bottom, E604 on toms, and E664 on overheads and hi-hat.”

Additional Crew: Jason “Rooster” Ruggles, patch/monitor tech Jim Ragus, system tech

Portraits of the band , by Mix photographer Steve Jennings

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