Linkin Park Tour Profile

Apr 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Sarah Benzuly



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Front-of-house engineer Ken “Pooch” Van Druten.

Front-of-house engineer Ken “Pooch” Van Druten.

To re-create much of the same electronic-rock fusion created in the studio to the live performance arena, Van Druten (who has been mixing for the band for the past five years) says his job “is to reproduce what is coming from the stage in a way that the audience hears every instrument and vocal,” Van Druten says. “Nowadays, it’s a bit more complicated. With technology, I am able to insert my own creativity into the mix to provide the audience with a record-quality listen.” This includes relying on choice plug-ins such as those from Waves, URS and McDSP. He taps into the Waves MetaFlanger for some intense vocal effects on the song “The Catalyst” (off of their latest release, A Thousand Suns). In his outboard rack are such pieces as an Apogee Big Ben word clock and M-Audio ProFire 2626 FireWire interface to record the 2-mix and audience mics to a MacBook Pro. “I have a Pro Tools HD4 Macintosh rig with an [Avid] Expansion chassis for the ability to record 96 inputs, one for one,” he adds, “a Waves Maxx BCL for recording of the 2-mix to eliminate some DSP usage, and an Alesis ML9600 hard disk recorder/CD burner for fast-turnaround of recorded stuff, plus playback.

“The last few years have been completely freeing because the technology allows me to reproduce all of the effects and sounds that were used when the band made the recording that people know and love,” Van Druten continues. “I have been a musician all my life—specifically, a bass player. I believe that the rhythm section is the key to every mix. I think of a mix as a houseplant: The drums and bass are the roots; the keys, vocals, guitars, et cetera, are the stems, leaves and flowers. It is not possible to have the stems, leaves and flowers without the solid, sturdy root system.”

All mics onstage are Audio-Technica (the band endorses the company), except for the RF and wired vocal mics, which are Sennheiser 865 Series. “My favorite microphones for guitars and basses—stringed instruments, in general—are the large-diaphragm Audio-Technica mics. I use the AT4050 and the AT4047 on all guitars. We have 86 inputs and about 60 of those are open microphones, so it’s really necessary to make the right mic placement and choices.”

Pumping the blistering sets to the audience is an Adamson Y-Axis system, with Van Druten noting the 18-inch speakers in the main array and 21-inch speakers in the subs as key to this band. “Both couple very nicely to reproduce low-mid to sub information that other P.A.s just can’t do,” he says, adding that he has three Dolby Lake processors for matrixing and zoning. In addition, he relies on systems engineer Chris “Cookie” Hoff and Evan McElhinney, who spend much of their time making sure that every seat in the house sounds the same and is covered. “I count on them greatly, and they are the best in the business,” Van Druten says.

Monitor engineer Kevin “Tater” McCarthy (left) and monitor systems engineer Paul “Pablo” White

Monitor engineer Kevin “Tater” McCarthy (left) and monitor systems engineer Paul “Pablo” White

Monitor engineer Kevin “Tater” McCarthy is also in constant contact with Hoff at the beginning of the tour to make sure his mixes were dialed in as the stage is diamond-shaped and the band plays downstage of the P.A. for most of the show. He is manning a Yamaha PM5DRH (the same model as when Mix caught up with this Linkin Park crew back in 2008) with a DSP5D (PM5D-EX system); outboard is all done via Waves SoundGrid multirack system. “I’m using all 24 mix outs, all eight matrices and the stereo out B,” McCarthy says. “I also use two outputs on the DSP5D. There are eight sidefill/wedge mixes, six IEM stereo mixes and a mono ear mix; the rest are effects and shakers.” The entire band except guitarist Delson are on JH Audio JH-16 ear monitors. The wedges (12 Adamson M12 underhung and two M12s onstage) and SX18s sidefills are for Delson, who wears generic foam earplugs with Peltor gun muffs over them. Power is via Lab.Gruppen PLM10000 amps.

In 2008, McCarthy was mixing from underneath a rolling stage. This time out, he’s located at upstage-center, completely behind the band, and using spy cams to keep track of what’s happening out front. “I am in constant contact with the band if they need something,” McCarthy says. “Plus, my assistant, Paul “Pablo” White, is an extra set of eyes and ears for me. Linkin Park and production manager Jim Digby are wonderful to work for and they give me all the tools I need for my job.”

Van Druten echoes McCarthy’s sentiments: “Truly, we are family on this tour. Some of the people here I have known for 20 years. When you are away from your ‘real’ family, it is really nice to know that your ‘tour family’ is always there for you. I couldn’t be happier with the situation. Great band, awesome crew—what’s not to love?”

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