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The Feeling: What Fills Their Little World?
17 May 2010 12.00 BST
TPi correspondent Paul Watson talked with guitarist Kevin Jeremiah & drummer Paul Stewart during the Little World festival in the French alpine ski resort of Méribel...
Paul Watson: How does digital technology help you as artists when playing a gig like Little World?
Kevin Jeremiah: Personally, I love digital and I am probably the fussiest in the band in terms of monitor mixes. It’s hard for me to think about performing if I can’t really hear what I’m doing properly. I can’t enjoy the gig if it doesn’t sound pretty much like the album when I’m playing and you can get that with digital every time.
Our monitor guy, Andy Greenwood knows what he needs to do so pretty much every time we go out, whether we soundcheck or not, it’s 99% of the way there.
Paul Stewart: In the bigger picture [digital] just saves time and money; it saves space in the truck; it saves effort. It makes everyone’s lives easier. In the early days of digital technology it did sound very characterless — particularly with in-ears because you’re not hearing it through a stage monitor system.
Now, the quality of the pre-amps in our touring desk [Soundcraft Vi6] are just so good that you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference a lot of the time between that and some sort of valve desk.
PW: Do you all wear in-ears?
KJ: Yes, apart from Dan [Gillespie-Sells, singer] but I think that’s mostly because he lost them!
PS: That may change as well because he’s quite tired of over-singing and not being able to hear himself properly which is not a problem on bigger stages where everyone’s spread out, but certainly the smaller the venue and the closer it is, he struggles.
PW: Do you ever find that using IEMs detracts from the atmosphere, particularly at a festival?
KJ: We all try slightly different things – Richard [Jones, bassist] has one ear in and the other open. I’m quite interested in the IEMs that Steve Tyler of Aerosmith uses which have mics on the ear pieces and you can blend that with the feed you’re getting from the desk. That must be the ultimate thing.
PS: There are some that let a little ambient noise in, but you can’t mix things in and out and actually change and affect it.
KJ: Yes, and because they do that by being open, you lose the bottom end, whereas these ones are sealed but they have mics so you get both apparently.
PW: But you also have wedges on stage...
KJ: I have them just because you can feel it. Part of live music is what you feel as well as what’s going straight into your ear drums. It’s pretty much the same mix, but it just gives me that extra feel.
PS: I have a butt kicker bolted to the underside of my drum stool, and Andy predominantly puts the kick drum and a little bit of bass guitar through it. It’s a wonderful device because it emulates the physical sensation of the low end — you feel it in your arse without the spill down the drum mics. The combination of this and the sound in the in-ears kind of tricks your mind into thinking it’s a much bigger sound than it actually is.
PW: How important is it for all of you to actually have a say in your live sound? You all seem very much into the whole thing as a team.
KJ: We all know enough about how it works and know what effect decisions will have on the sound we’re getting on stage because we’re very fussy, but also we want to know that what we’re getting out front is as good as it can be. We are very involved in specifying systems and it’s just a case of letting someone else deal with it. But, yes, we do have a big say.
PS: Our FOH engineer, Swordy [Jon Sword] has been there pretty much from the start. Knowing us as people, what we want as musicians and being able to manipulate that through the gear is really the most important thing actually.
PW: Are there any advances that you would like to see in digital technology that would make life even easier for you in the live environment?
KJ: It’s back to the mics on the in-ears for me.
PS: Short of someone inventing a way of everything being wireless but retaining the quality sound that cable gives you, I think we’re doing pretty well at the moment! But if my hi-hat made coffee that would be really good!
READ ALL ABOUT THE PRODUCTION OF THIS YEAR’S LITTLE WORLD FESTIVAL IN THE MAY ISSUE OF TPi MAGAZINE.