Alice in Chains, Mastodon and Deftones Reflect on BlackDiamondSkye Tour
GW What about earplugs?
KELLIHER I don’t wear earplugs, no.
HINDS We’ve lost our hearing so much that we can’t wear earplugs. When I put earplugs in, I absolutely can’t hear anything.
CARPENTER It just seems like basic logic: if you put earplugs in, you’re gonna turn up. Why even wear ’em?
MORENO If you’re wearing in-ears, it’s really important that you have a good monitor engineer that will get your mix right. Wearing them was a tough thing for me to get used to. I was like, Man, I’m in a whole different place than all these people. Then I did the same thing as Bill—I ripped ’em out, and I was like, Ah, now I’m hearing it!
CANTRELL To be honest, I fucking hate using them, but I’m so fucking deaf now, too. I gotta use what I got left, and it’s not much. When we get halfway through the show, I get so fatigued, I start hearing weird shit and off-tones, and then I get lost. It’s just a product of losing my hearing.
GW When you get to the venue, do you dial your guitar sound in or let your tech do it?
KELLIHER If you have a really good tech, he knows how your stuff is supposed to sound and makes it sound good in any room. That way you don’t have to worry. I’m very hands-on, though. I like to be right up there with them even if there are people who are throwing shit at me. I’ll walk out there and do my own thing and just make sure I’m happy. I have a certain tone that I have to hear.
GW Do you dial things in differently if you’re playing a shed, a club or an arena?
HINDS Yeah, louder for an arena.
KELLIHER For a shed you turn down. Sometimes you take some bass down or mids. You kind of have to EQ it to the room.
HINDS It depends on where the PAs are positioned on and around the stage.
KELLIHER You gotta be careful, because sometimes you get dead spots and your signal gets stepped on. That’s what a good tech is for. They go up there and check every frequency and make sure there are no dead spots. But sometimes he misses something.
DuVALL Also for us, it’s been different since we started putting our cabinets in boxes in order to have a quieter stage and isolate sounds better and hopefully hear better through the monitors.
CANTRELL The thing is, everybody in the band has to do it, and Mike [Inez], our bass player, refuses to play along. And that’s been a tough thing. It’s bad when there’s no guitars and most of what you hear is the bass.
MORENO We’re kind of in the same place. We all wear in-ears, except Stephen. So it’s gotta be loud enough onstage for him.
CARPENTER My cabinets have been isolated the last 10 years, though. But I don’t do it for the stage volume; I do it because it’s a way for me to keep the stage volume out of my mic so my [noise] gate’s not triggering all the time. Otherwise, my gate’s opening wide up with every snare hit, and my sound leaks through.
GW Do you need a soundcheck to play a good show?
MORENO No, we can survive without one, but it’s always nice to get one. Hopefully your crew has a general idea of your settings and they go up there and linecheck your gear, so that everything’s pretty much in the right range. But a soundcheck lets you know what it’s gonna be like when you get up there.
CANTRELL It’s good to get comfortable in a room. There are so many variables, and not just with the acoustics. Maybe you’re sick; maybe your head’s plugged up. There are little differences in variances, and it’s nice to be able to address those.
DuVALL It’s important, because it helps you get a feel for the stage. I like to do a soundcheck where I’m walking around and can see where the bass traps are and where the dead spots are. I need to see the PA. I need to know the shape of the stage. Those little things are important.
MORENO At the same time, you’ve always gotta know that it’s gonna sound different once people get in the room. It changes a lot.
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