- by Kevin M. Mitchell
in Production Profile
Spoiler alert to Kevin Glendinning: You’re about to find out just how loud that screaming is.
“Right from the beginning, there’s this big reveal, and the crowd just starts screaming,” says Maroon 5’s monitor engineer Glendinning. “I haven’t measured it because I don’t want to know how loud it is.”
“It’s 108 dB of screaming — I’ve measured it,” says FOH engineer Jim Ebdon, in a separate interview.
“The audience is very lively now, and Adam [Levine]’s stardom has made for a different audience. It’s 100 percent more enthusiastic these days, with lots of screamers! The screaming goes solid for an hour and a half, and trying to mix around that has been challenging — to say the least. I don’t want to mix too loud, but I think I’ve found a good mix of volume and punch to cut through the screaming frequencies.”
“It’s a lot to get the audio above that screaming, and then the ear mix above that, and I don’t want to keep cramming level at them,” Glendinning says. “I really try the less-is-more approach, but it’s difficult. Come sound check, everybody thinks everything is great, but I shake my head and laugh because I know it’s not going to sound like that tonight!”
But both agree it’s a “happy” problem. “It’s a cool vibe, and the band knows we’re suffering a bit but it’s just a high-energy, amazing show.”
» Audio Finesse
Ebdon is from Surrey, England, where he was “asked” to leave school at 16. “I thought playing drums and smoking weed was a better [career] path for me,” he laughs. A job of sorts sweeping the floor of a recording studio did become a path to eventually dialing knobs for Wishbone Ash’s Twin Barrels Burning in 1982. Then they asked him to come outside, to mix for a couple of festivals the band appeared at. “I had a great time, though I had no idea what I was doing!” Ebdon obviously figured it out pretty quick, because as recording studios started to close and those gigs became scarce, he moved to live engineering.
He’s worked with British Pop acts like the Pet Shop Boys, and got some work with Sting, Annie Lennox, and Matchbox 20 before hooking up with Aerosmith for eight years. “Aerosmith wanted me because I didn’t mix loud, because really they are still a bar band who want to be mixed so they are fun to hear,” Ebdon explains. “They want some finesse.”
» Mic Selection
When he moved over to Maroon 5, the first thing he did was bring in a wider variety of mics, and the band responded positively. Otherwise, “I’m just pushing the fader up!” he laughs. “The band really does the work for me, as they are great players.”
He introduced Royer ribbon mics to the band, which he had been using on Joe Perry’s amp rig, though he explains that he was never sure how good they were or even if the mic was on or off, because “his guitar is so loud!” Any doubts quickly vanished when he put the Royer 121 Live on Maroon 5’s guitar cabinets, which he teams up with your standard Shure SM 57. “The tone of the Royers is amazing, and then the SM 57 just fills it out.”
Ebdon likes AKG C-414’s for drum overheads, and he has new Shure Beta 98s on the toms. “They sound amazing and are really good for toms.” Also in that mix are Neumann KM-185s, AKG 12s, Mojave FET-101’s and Shure SM 91’s.
» In the Mix
Ebdon dials it all up with a DiGiCo SD7 with Waves Mercury and SSL bundles. “I’ve been with DiGiCo since they first started back in 2002,” he says. “I’ve always liked the sound of their products, but they really nailed it with the SD7 — it’s the finest digital console out there without a doubt.”
The tour is staged practically in the round, making it good for the promoter, but challenging for the audio crew. For the main hang, they went with 16 Clair i-5 line arrays with 14 flyable i-5b single-18 subwoofers, with Clair speakers also on the side and rear hangs. The set designer went with a rolling stage that is the shape of a giant M. “So we’re looking at the drawings and we go, f***! Where are we going to put the subs?” They couldn’t go left or right, lest they risk ruining the sightlines for those on the sides. They also had to consider the audience in front, especially the VIP section who like to be right up to the stage.
“So Harry Witz of Clair Brothers came up with 12 Clair BT-218 [double-18 subs] configured in an endfire array, and basically put them in two rows. It’s consistent and even, and works really well.” The compromise loses just a bit of that really low sub vibe, but “the mix is comfy, and the coverage is just fantastic, so congrats to Clair Brothers for that.”
And now Witz figures into another part of this story…
» Wedges, Begone!
Glendinning’s tale of how he got into this business is not like any other. At 18, he was at his home in Chicago watching a Metallica DVD and in the end credits he spotted “Sound by dB Sound.” “I saw the address as being right next to where my dad works,” he says. He told his dad it must be Metallica’s office and his dad said No, just a bunch of trucks there. “I looked it up and saw it was a sound company, and I emailed asking if they needed any help.” At first, he got turned down, but five minutes later, then-owner Harry Witz sent another, saying “Show up on Friday and we’ll talk.”
Apparently it went well, as Glendinning worked his way up to the point where, four years later he was successful enough to venture out on his own as an independent. “It came full circle when I got a call to go out as a sound tech with a band called Metallica,” he says. Glendinning took classes, worked in bars, worked a little with Alicia Keys and did a short college run with Maroon 5. A bit later, the band asked him to come on as their monitor mixer. (Glendinning went on to win Parnelli Monitor Mixer of the Year last year for his work with the band).
“This is a great place to work,” Glendinning says. “Tour manager Fred Kharrazi is great, the office people are all kind, and the band is all ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”
» Moving to In-Ears
Under Glendinning’s watch, the band has moved into being pretty much an all in-ear operation. “It used to be side fills and wedges and subs scattered everywhere, and I just took two steps back and said, ‘I think there’s a better way to do these things these days — after all, you’re basically playing on top of subs.’” Of course, what came along with that kind of change is getting the band to be disciplined enough to keep both ears in.
What’s in those ears are JH Audio’s J-13s, a six-driver earpiece. Glendinning says that he had a bit of a challenge getting lead singer/guitarist Adam Levine to try it, and when he did, he had a complaint: “I hear too much too clearly,” Levine told Glendinning.
“Well, last time I checked, I think you pay me to make the sound as best as it can be,” Glendinning replied. Levine cracked a smile and got over his “problem” with them. “It was like going from an AM radio to a hi-fi FM system, so it took him a bit to get used to the quality,” he says. “But they are really great, and [JH Audio owner] Jerry Harvey and everyone over at JH are great to work with.”
Besides a couple of wedges by the drummer Matt Flynn, Glendinning has them all going through a Shure PSM 1000 system. “It sounds far better than anything before it,” he says. “We need it because there are a number of issues out here — a lot of video walls, huge LED screens, and a B stage used by Adam and James [Valentine, lead guitar] — and the PSM 1000 with the Clair Brothers antenna is a winning combo.”
Glendinning’s board of choice is the Yamaha PM1D. “It’s a good, large format desk, and the band has been using Yamaha for a long time, so that’s a good fit.”
Both Ebdon and Glendinning gave raves for the Clair team who is out with them, including Sean Prickett (system tech), Jeff Wuerth (monitor tech) and Bobby Taylor and Matt Patterson (PA techs). “Without them we would not have had a show!” says Ebdon.
“Jeff does all the hard work!” Glendinning adds.
The crew wrapped the North American leg of Maroon 5’s Overexposed tour with a show at the Allstate Arena (Rosemont, IL), on April 6, followed by an appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival May 3, then to Europe in June/July. Perhaps once they go across the pond, the screaming might not be so bad — but don’t count on it.
Maroon 5 Overexposed Tour
Sound Co: Clair
Tour Manager: Fred Kharrazi
FOH Engineer: Jim Ebdon
System Tech: Sean Prickett
Monitor Engineer: Kevin Glendinning
Monitor Tech: Jeff Wuerth
PA Techs: Bobby Taylor, Matt Patterson
Console: DiGiCo SD7
Plug-ins: Waves SD7 SoundGrid Server w/Waves Mercury & SSL bundles.
Outboard: Crane Song HEDD 192 AD/DA converter; SSL G Buss Compressor.
Peripherals: Apogee Big Ben external clock; (2) Tascam SS-CDR200 CD recorders; MIDI Solutions R8 MIDI-to-GPI interface/router; DiGiCo SD Rack (56 in/16 AES out/24 analog out).
Test/Analysis: Lenovo X201 ThinkPad laptop running Rational Acoustics Smaart 7 software; MOTU 8PRE (Smaart 7 interface); Lectrosonics TM400 Digital Hybrid wireless test/measurement system.
Processors: (3) Lake LM44 at FOH and (2) Lake LM44 on stage — configured to route/distribute AES 96K signal from FOH position; (2) Lenovo X220 PC tablets w/Lake controller.
Console: Yamaha PM1D (dual-engine V2.05)
Preamps: 64 channels of PM5K mic preamps.
Drum Monitor: Clair SRM Wedge and BT-118 subwoofer; (2) Lab.gruppen PLM20000 amps.
In Ear Systems: Shure PSM1000 transmitters; (20) Shure P10R PSM1000 beltpack receivers; (2) Shure PA821A IEM antenna combiner; Clair Fractal Antenna.
In-Ear Earpieces: JH Audio J-13 with custom earmolds.
Wireless Mics: (2) Shure UR2 handhelds w/SM 58 capsules; Shure UR4D J5 receivers.
Analysis: Rohde & Schwarz FSH3 RF analyzer; Motion Computing 1700 tablet running Professional Wireless Systems’ (IAS (Intermodulation Analysis Software).
Peripherals: Clair StakDistro RF system distribution; Home Depot Homer bucket for battery recycling.
Main Hang: (16) Clair i-5; (14) i-5b subs
Side Hang: (10) Clair i-5 w/8i5b
Rear Hang: (8) Clair i-DL
Infill: (3) Clair i-DL
Front Fill: (2) Clair P2
Ground Subs: (12) Clair BT-218 in endfire array.
Amplifiers: (20) Clair StakRaks w/60 Lab.gruppen PLM20000 amps