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AT 28


									AT 28

Metal’s princes of darkness
                                      f you know your metal then you’d know it            responsible for the tour. Finding a safe haven among
                                      doesn’t get much bigger than this. Megadeth         the pre-show smoke, sound-checks, obligatory
roll into town. AT brings its         and Slayer – they’re two of the big four metal      merchandise stands (‘got ’em in black?’) and
                                acts of rock history. Most fans would crawl over
daughters to the slaughter.     broken goats’ horns to witness just one of these
                                                                                          pyrotechnic test-runs, Spud showed me around the
                                                                                          FOH crib. Immediately I was assured that this was
Text: Brad Watts                leviathans in full flight… let alone both.                out-and-out rock – not a digital console in sight.
                                Having both Slayer and Megadeth on the one big            WALL OF SOUND
                                double bill is even more amazing if you know              Brad Watts: Hey Spud, as we all know, metal is
                                anything about the long-running acrimony between          about volume. Talk to me about the subs.
                                these guys. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Kerry
                                                                                          PO’L: Well we’re touring with 32 subs, but in the
                                King, one of Slayer’s founding guitarists, have
                                                                                          Hordern [for the Sydney gig] there were another
                                never seen evil-eye to evil-eye. So much so that
                                                                                          eight subs sitting around as part of the house system,
                                getting these two bands to tour together seemed
                                                                                          so we thought we’d use them as well. Last night at
                                about as likely as the Hell’s Angels and the Gypsy
                                                                                          the Hordern was probably one of the loudest gigs
                                Jokers attending the same Christmas barbeque.
                                                                                          that will ever happen in this country.
                                Faggeddaboutit. But the power of filthy lucre
                                shouldn’t be underestimated. Differences have been        BW: What sort of levels were you reaching?
                                put aside and weapons have been holstered… for
                                                                                          PO’L: I dunno if I want to say on record, we might
                                                                                          get in trouble! But, hey, it was about as loud as I’ve
                                BACKSTAGE PASS                                            heard in a long time.
                                Enter Melbourne’s Festival Hall on the day of the gig     BW: No noise police were in attendance then?
                                and you’re immediately ushered into the extreme
                                world of heavy metal. Scrutinised thoroughly from         PO’L: Well there are no limits inside, and the
                                top to toe, as is customary these days, I half expected   Hordern is well and truly locked down. The big
                                to be strip-searched. Thankfully I was spared –           thing with Slayer, especially with [Tim Quinby]
                                maybe my black Slayer T-shirt passed muster. Passes       mixing, is that his mixes are so physically loud. It
                                had to be unearthed for our photographer and              gets to those levels because there are so many subs,
                                myself, and I was suddenly made aware of the near         but the mix is still crystal clear. If it wasn’t for the
                                military hierarchy these seemingly hardened rock          subs you wouldn’t actually need earplugs. Some
                                dogs adhere to. Once anointed with the required           metal bands will play and they’ll be so ear-piercingly
                                backstage passes, I made a bee-line for the FOH           loud it’s ear-shredding, physically damaging,
                                console(s) and made myself known to Peter ‘Spud’          whereas this is the complete opposite. It’s such a
                                O’Leary, the systems tech from Johnston Audio             beautiful crystal clear sound, and that’s where the
                                Services, the Australian production company               V-DOSC really come into its element [the show was

                                                                                                                                            AT 29
                                                                                           PO’L: The subs are getting fed via an auxiliary, that
                                                                                           way you get a lot more horsepower out of the subs
                                                                                           because you’re not putting a lot of unwanted source
                                                                                           in there that simply isn’t going to be used.
                                                                                           BW: Can you elaborate?
                                                                                           PO’L: Here’s how it works: you’ve got your left and
                                                                                           right mix – in 90 percent of cases the mix comes
                                                                                           solely from that left and right mix. The problem
                                                                                           with that scenario is you can end up with feedback
                                                                                           problems from toms or vocal mics, because they’re
                                                                                           all being amplified through the subs. Because these
                                                                                           acts are running so much sub power, we run them
                                                                                           off an auxiliary, so therefore the only things we want
                                                                                           to be in the subs are routed there. That way – let’s say
                                                                                           you only put kick and bass into the subs – you don’t
                                                                                           have all those other mics in there causing feedback
                                                                                           problems. You’re also maximising the horsepower
                                                                                           on your sub because you’re not putting extra sources
                                                                                           in there that the sub isn’t going to reproduce.

                                                                                           BEASTLY STAGE VOLUME
                                                                                           BW: So no in-ear monitoring I’d imagine. Is it all
                                                                                           wedges for monitoring up on stage?
                                                                                           PO’L: A bit of both. Slayer use d&b M2 wedges and
                                                                                           Megadeth are all on in-ears. Megadeth haven’t got
                                                                                           the stage volume as such, there are no wedges on
                                                                                           stage but their guitar cabs are still blaringly loud. So
                                                                                           the FOH area still gets affected by the guitar cabs.
                                                                                           Whereas Slayer have your standard wedge setup.
                                                                                           BW: What’s the difference in the sound between the
                                                                                           two acts?
                                                                                           PO’L: One of the things about Megadeth is they’re
                                                                                           not as loud on-stage because the singer [Dave
                                                                                           Mustaine] is very quiet. Obviously if you can’t hear
                                                                                           the singer, people aren’t going to be very happy, so
                                                                                           they’re not able to turn everything else up so loud
                                                                                           [the irony of this statement will be revealed later].
                                                                                           That’s one of the drawbacks of the Megadeth sound,
                                                                                           so there’s a limit on how loud you can turn his mic
                                                                                           up before you’re getting feedback. Whereas Slayer is
                                                                                           just pulverising.
                                                                                           BW: Are the shows recorded so you can do a virtual
                                                                                           PO’L: No. That’s fine if you have a ProTools rig
                                                                                           connected. But we tune the rig with CDs and a mic,
                                                        Dave Mustaine trips on a           then we time align it using Smaart Tools. That’s
                                                        guitar lead... either that
                                                        or he’s a heavy metal              the industry standard. I reckon a lot of people
                                                        guitarist par excellence.          over-analyse the system. They run noise for three
                                                                                           hours and try and get the whole spectrum exactly
                                                                                           flat – which I don’t entirely agree with. I use Smaart
                                                                                           for time alignment. You know the physical time and
                               using JAS’s V-DOSC rig]. There are other PAs that           phase alignment of the system and then you stick
                                                                                           on your CD and go from there – just listen and use
After the first gig the band   can be more suited to metal – but they’re often a bit
                               harsher, a bit edgier.                                      your ears to tune it. A lot of people blast it out for

were like, ‘We want more       BW: So Tim has the upper range riding nicely on
                               top of the sub bass then…
                                                                                           hours, which makes it extremely difficult for anyone
                                                                                           to work in the venue with all that noise going on,

subs!’ So we put in 32         PO’L: Yeah. When you hear the gig you’ll see what
                                                                                           and I don’t think it provides the same result. It’s like
                                                                                           getting a computer to do a human’s job.

and then they were saying,     I mean; it’s all in the sub. Every kick drum feels like
                               a punch in the guts. That’s why we put this system
                                                                                           DETH WARMED UP

‘Yeah, it’s getting there’.    together with 32 subs. Our standard for arenas is
                                                                                           With a good idea of the system setup I decided to

                                                                                           track down the two men responsible for the house
                               typically only 24 subs. I did the last Australian Slayer
                                                                                           mix for both Megadeth (Doug Short) and Slayer
                               tour and after the first gig the band were like, “We
                                                                                           (Tim Quinby). Both were keen to talk shop, with
                               want more subs!” So we put in 32 and then they
                                                                                           Doug divulging his past life as monitor engineer
                               were saying, “Yeah, it’s getting there.” So it was 32 for
                                                                                           for Van Halen and FOH engineer for David Lee
                               the rest of the tour.
                                                                                           Roth (he swore me to secrecy… but hey, what’s to
                               BW: Do you have to work hard to get the most out            be embarrassed about?), and Tim revealing his
                               of the subs?                                                ‘other life’ mixing for the legendary Kool and the

AT 30
                                                                                                                                            Tim Quinby (foreground) stands
                                                                                                                                            transfixed while Doug Short gets
                                                                                                                                            blinded by the exploding drummer!
                                                                                                                                            And no, that’s not a punter
                                                                                                                                            reaching for a mic input, that’s
                                                                                                                                            ‘Spud’ from Johnston Audio.

Gang! Each engineer openly offered their distaste         maintainability is a huge bonus!                        Harmonizer, and two Yamaha SPX990 effects units.
for mixing metal via digital consoles, asserting that                                                             That’s what I own, and those are my weapons for just
                                                          BW: I couldn’t help but notice how many guitar
this was a “real rock show.” Their preference for, nay,                                                           about any gig that comes my way.
                                                          cabinets there are on the Megadeth stage; how
requirement for an analogue console, is paramount
                                                          many of those are actually being used, and what’s       BW: What are you doing with the Smart C2
to such shows. It’s balls-out rock – guitars, bass and
                                                          your miking preference for that proverbial wall of      compressor?
drums – seriously pushing the envelope of sheer
force and brutal musical power.                                                                                   DS: It’s on my left and right output. You could say
                                                          DS: Let’s see: we’ve only got 12 guitar cabinets this   that’s one of my tricks, I like to compress the left and
BW: Doug, what are some of the secrets to a
                                                          time, whereas we usually have 24. They’re all live,     the right mix just a little bit.
Megadeth mix?
                                                          but I only mic one cabinet for each guy of course. I
                                                                                                                  BW: I was listening to soundcheck earlier where you
Doug Short: Microphone placement is the key               take a Shure SM57 and a KSM32, and I also take a
                                                                                                                  were putting that full-on grotty process/distortion
ingredient. That’s the first thing everybody should       DI line out of the preamps. So there’s a DI from each
                                                                                                                  over the vocals. What was that all about and where
learn. And to learn what mics perform the best in a       Digitech preamp, and two mics on each guitar and
                                                                                                                  the hell did that come from?
specific role.                                            the bass.
                                                                                                                  DS: What you heard was my ‘Demon’ patch, so ‘hell’
BW: What are you miking the drum kit with, for            BW: Can you show me through the outboard you’re
                                                                                                                  is perhaps the right choice of adjective! I only use
example?                                                  using? You’ve got racks of dbx 160 compressors, for
                                                                                                                  it for two measures in the middle of one song. The
                                                          example. Is that your choice?
DS: Shure Beta 91s on the kicks and 98s on the                                                                    sound is coming from the Eventide. I only use it
toms. I haven’t had any problems with those. They’re      DS: You know what? If I’m not carrying my own           once for the whole show and then it’s gone.
not my favourite mic, but they’re very durable. The       racks on tour, I use the 160s because everybody
                                                                                                                  BW: How’d the shows go in Sydney and Brisbane?
overheads are AKG C214s; I don’t feel that Shure          has them available and they’re generally very
                                                                                                                  I’m told there were 40 subs in the Hordern for the
really makes a good overhead option – they all            consistent. They’re not anything spectacular, but
                                                                                                                  Sydney outing.
sound too brassy to me. As you might have already         they are consistent and plentiful. Sometimes that’s
noticed, we’re using four mics for overheads here         what you’ve got to go for if you’re not carrying        DS: Brisbane was okay. The PA sounded good but
tonight. On our normal touring kit the cymbals            your own gear. If I carry my own stuff I use Aphex      there was a decibel limit there so I couldn’t really
spread 270° around the kit, and I simply can’t get        661s – which are a single rack tube compressor.         mix aggressively that day. It was like 100 A-weight at
two overheads to represent them evenly in the mix.        Those things are lovely, but they’re expensive, and     FOH – which is not level friendly.
Using only two makes the kit feel like it’s leaning       consequently not many people have them.                 BW: What do you call ‘level friendly’ for metal, in
forward, so I’m using four. But when it comes to                                                                  either A or C weighting?
                                                          BW: So what else does the ideal ‘Doug Short’
overheads I really like the AKG C214, the little
                                                          processing rack of choice consist of?                   DS: Well it doesn’t matter what the weight is, it’s the
brother of the 414. They’re much more rugged as
well – an excellent touring mic. If it gets dinged        DS: My regular touring rack has 12 Aphex 661s and       number in front that matters! I like to mix metal at
by ‘Bubba the stagehand’, you can remove two              four Aphex 622 gates. There’s also a TC Electronic      about 105 to 110dB A-weighted. A hundred is just a
screws and reform the windscreen yourself. Field          2290 delay, an M6000 reverb, the Eventide H4000         little bit weak. It lacks impact for this kind of music.

                                                                                                                                                                     AT 31
                                                                                                                                                             You want subs? You want
                                                                                                                                                             Marshalls? The Slayer/
                                                                                                                                                             Megadeth show had it all!

BW: So what happens when you cross that                          intern at a sound company for a summer or so.               the Slayer touring posse is full of old-hands and
threshold?                                                       You’re not going to make any money, you’re going            pretty close knit as a result. I kick off by asking Tim
                                                                 to have to go out and lug boxes for awhile. You gotta       about a few unusual items in his rack.
DS: Well, below that you’re just not getting that force
                                                                 know how things work before you’re allowed to
– it’s not in your face like it needs to be. It feels like                                                                   BW: I noticed some Radial Phazor units in the rack.
                                                                 touch a console. Even though that’s not a popular
you’re listening to the stereo on your couch, only a                                                                         What duties are they taking on?
                                                                 theory these days, it gives you a great grounding for
little bit louder. Hopefully we won’t have those issues
                                                                 the work that’s involved.                                   TQ: I’m balancing the guitar signals with them. Our
at the remaining shows. We’ve got five all up and
                                                                                                                             guitar rigs have three heads a side running through
tonight is number three. Then we’ve got Adelaide                 Recording schools think they can teach a kid how
                                                                                                                             six cabinets, and from the three heads I take a DI off
and Perth. It’s been a pretty rushed tour. I mix a               to mix an arena, and they’re glad to take thousands
                                                                                                                             one, and a mic on each of the others. So I’m using
show each night then fly the next morning and hope               of dollars of their parents’ money for a year of that
                                                                                                                             those units to phase adjust the guitar DI with the
my ears are ready by showtime. My hearing is still               education. Those kids then think they’ll get a gig
                                                                                                                             main microphone.
funny from flying today. I don’t fly that well; it really        mixing Janet Jackson – all because of a piece of
messes with my ears.                                             paper.                                                      BW: To keep them bang in phase?

BW: I understand you feed the subs via an aux send.              You gotta push the boxes and pull the feeder, and           TQ: Yeah, it literally brings my guitars together.
What’s that bringing to your mix?                                you gotta burn your hands soldering for a couple of         It’s a night and day difference, to the point where
                                                                 years. That’s what I did. I worked at the local sound       Doug was asking me about it when we did a tour in
DS: Yep, that’s the only way I’ll do rock music –
                                                                 companies when I was younger and then hit the               Canada. I just popped the process in for the answer
with subs off an auxiliary – because that way I’m
                                                                 clubs hard. Go in and mix for free just to get your         and he was like, “Wow! It does that?!” Being able to
not working the high-pass filters much on all my
                                                                 name out there – it’ll help you in the long run.            not simply time-align, but actually phase-align the
channels, and the subs get what they need exactly.
                                                                                                                             two main sources that are obviously happening at
I mean, vocals aren’t producing a lot of stuff down              BW: At a recent gig I saw the FOH guys using
                                                                                                                             different times – because one feed is a direct cabinet
there. It’s essentially bass drum, any strong keyboard           ProTools to play the previous night’s show for
                                                                                                                             simulator and the other’s a live mic.
stuff, floor toms, maybe some bass guitar stuff                  soundcheck. Have you guys ever tried to run a
occasionally – if I’m working with a five-string bass            Megadeath soundcheck via a recording?                       BW: What cabinet simulations are they using?
I’ll generally throw some down there. It’s funny to                                                                          TQ: We’re using Radial JDX cabinet simulators
                                                                 DS: Hell no. I’ve seen that done, but whatever.
talk about this in some ways; I’ve been doing this so                                                                        – made by the same company. I talked to them
                                                                 Virtual sound-checks? I really wouldn’t like to risk
long, I just act instinctively. I don’t even think about                                                                     about it five years ago and said somebody needs to
                                                                 that. I personally think sound-checks are a complete
it. I’ve had some students come and watch me and                                                                             make a phase adjustable DI box. So they sent me
                                                                 waste of time. I think a line check is all you need
they’ve learned more by watching what I do than                                                                              pictures of the JDX cabinet simulator with the phase
                                                                 once you know the act well enough.
talking about it.                                                                                                            adjustment on it and I was like, “That’s exactly it!”
                                                                 SLAYER IN THE AISLES                                        Then the production model arrived without the
BW: What are you telling the kids?
                                                                 Tim Quinby, Slayer’s FOH mix engineer, has been             phase adjustment! So they sent me some especially
DS: I tell them first and foremost to go out and                 part of the team for years – 12, in fact. Sounds like       for our rigs with the continuous phase adjustment

BW: Spud, what’s the rig consists of?     agrees it’s one of the best.              getting it in and out of every show,
Peter O’Leary: It’s a V-DOSC rig, so      BW: So why are you running analogue       and you’ve got racks of effects to
we’re trying to put as many V-DOSC        systems rather than something with a      deal with, but it definitely works for
boxes into the venues as possible         little more re-callability?               these bands, and works really well.
because it’s Slayer obviously.            PO’L: Both bands are old-school           BW: So who’s on each board?
BW: Why V-DOSC?                           metal bands, and their mix doesn’t        PO’L: We’ve got Slayer on the Midas
PO’L: V-DOSC? It’s the best! It’s         change a hell of a lot. Everything        XL4 and Megadeth on the Midas
definitely one of the best sounding       sits in basically the same dynamic        H3000.
systems – there’s not a sound             range. Because of that they’re able to    BW: How many channels on each act?
engineer on Earth that would object       use a Midas XL4, which is generally
                                          accepted as sounding better than          PO’L: There’s about 35 channels
to using it. Plenty of people would say                                             on both boards, so it’s a fairly big
‘no’ to other sound systems, but when     most of the digital consoles on the
                                          market. Of course, it’s a lot harder      setup with a huge stage changeover
it comes to the V-DOSC, everyone                                                    between acts.

AT 32
                                                                                                Tim Quinby, Slayer’s FOH
                                                                                                engineer (left) and Doug
                                                                                                Short (Megadeth) just
                                                                                                prior to showtime.

        built in and I was like, “Alright!” Now Radial have          one song, and I have a second guitar delay that I’m
        made these with the adjustment, it’s the best thing          not using at all because that song isn’t in the set.
        that happened to analogue since the digital delay!           It’s just a matter of spec. And the drum reverb gets
                                                                     pulled in only where it needs to be, and that’s only
        BW: So how long have these units been around?
                                                                     occasionally. In reality this band sounds best raw. I
        TQ: I’d say I’ve had them about a year and a half. I         mean that’s what Slayer’s about. They don’t need a
        used them all last summer. I took them out on all            whole lot of effects.
        the festivals last year. I’d show up at the European
                                                                     BW: Would you agree with Doug: that 100dB is too
        festivals with a mic package and those two inserts –
                                                                     low for this sort of music?
        that’s all I carried with me.
                                                                     TQ: Yeah, well Spud could tell you about last night.
        BW: What else do you like to see in your rack?
                                                                     He said, “You’re the only guy I’ve ever seen do that!”
        TQ: I love the Distressors, the Avalon stuff is great –      I was like, “What are you talking about?” Then I
        it all sweetens things up.                                   realised he was talking about the SPL. We were at
        BW: What are you enjoying about the Distressors?             about 103-104 A-weighted, and 124 C-weighted,
        They’re such a bread and butter compressor these             which I thought sounded about right. I had a system
        days – what’s your attraction to them?                       tech tell me that at one point I was 107dB A-weight
                                                                     at FOH, and we tipped the meter at 136 C-weight. I
        TQ: Exactly, they’re everywhere now. You can                 can’t help it, I love my subs. Again, it fits the band.
        put them into your rack for a stack of different
        situations, but the thing is they do colour the sound,       DETH OR GLORY
        but in a way that really works well with this band.          After thanking Doug and Tim, I had a couple of
                                                                     hours to fill before heading back into Festival Hall.
        BW: I gather the Avalon 747s in the outboard rack            The dedicated show-goers are filing in, with Double
        are patched across the left and right bus?                   Dragon, the Australian support, soon to kick off
        TQ: That’s correct – it doesn’t do anything most of          their set. This is a gig for the true believers. There
        the time, but its there because it adds that little bit of   are even families with two generations of metal fans,
        fairy dust when it’s just set to nothing. Then the EQ        all getting in early to see what should be one of the
        section is really smooth if I have to do something           highlights of the Australian metal calendar.
        really quick, it’s there.                                    Megadeth truly rocks the place, with the PA
        BW: It’s interesting to see studio outboard                  delivering countless blistering body-blows before
        increasingly going out on the road.                          I take refuge for some respite. Then, not long into
                                                                     Slayer’s set Tom Araya’s voice gives up the ghost –
        TQ: I had the same conversation with our tour
                                                                     his voice is shot and nobody seems too happy. To
        manager recently, because the band’s just spent
                                                                     add insult to injury, impromptu singers are dragged
        the last six months in the studio recording an
                                                                     onstage. It’s at this point that I decide to bail.
        album, recording 13 songs [Actually the 747SP was
        originally designed for live keyboard players – Ed.].        As it happens, the following night’s Adelaide show
        Basically, I’m doing the exact same thing the studio         is cancelled, and the next night’s Perth show has
        engineers there did during that six months: I’m              issues with sound abatement (who’da thought?).
        mixing 13 songs and producing stuff out of a set of          It’s not until the final Sydney show that Tim
        speakers. With the album they just happened to put           Quinby tells me via email that they had a genuinely
        it to tape.                                                  successful gig. There again, this isn’t Britney
                                                                     Spears… you can’t press ‘play’ and let these guys
        The only difference is: I have to get it right the first
                                                                     lip sync or go through some choreographed dance
        time. The band goes in and plays, and I mix the
                                                                     moves. This is metal, where hearts are on sleeves…
        show. So it’s doing the same thing to my mind.
                                                                     it’s blood, sweat and tears. It feels like everything is
        BW: Any other effects to talk about?                         on a knife’s edge, on the brink of disaster even. But
        TQ: I have a vocal delay, and a vocal reverb. Neither        when things fall into place? Well, you best be lining
        is on all the time. I have a guitar delay that I use for     up early to witness it.

AT 34

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