Australian psychedelic hypno-groove melodic 5-piece – Tame Impala will traverse the U.S. through June in support of last year’s Lonerism release. Wanting to carry his own desk for the tour, the band’s new FOH engineer Parker had the challenge of sourcing a compact console that would fit within their adjunct trailer, alongside the group’s gear. After surveying the options, he chose a road-ready SD11 in a flight case plus a DiGiCo D rack (32 x 16) with a 75M CAT5e cable housed in an additional Pelican case for the job. Not only did the SD11’s size fit the bill perfectly, but additionally the console was able to sit atop the venue’s house console without having to alter the existing setup within the venue’s FOH areas.
“I spoke to Alex Hadj at UK sound company Wigman Acoustics,” Parker recalls, “and asked for advice on a small format desk, which would work in a variety of show sizes. He put me onto the new SD11, which was tiny (19″) but powerful. I’d used DiGiCo consoles quite a few times before, and remember getting a good result when mixing [songwriter and Strokes’ frontman] Julian Casablancas on an SD7 in Switzerland a few years ago. Then I saw the SD8 on a few TV session-type shows with Franz Ferdinand and so by the time I came to cover The XX band for a couple of weeks last summer, I was able to jump onto Rik Dowding’s touring SD8 and be fairly familiar on the general use of the board. An afternoon running a multitrack of the band back into the showfile helped with other details.”
Parker’s running a total of 32 inputs for the gig, comprised of “28 lines from stage, a couple of FOH ambient mics out front and my space echo. To make a few more faders available, I run as much as I can in stereo which then leaves me space to have the house board slave into me with a few inputs (to take care of the support band). Because we are using in-house PA’s each day, my only outboard gear is single space echo pedal for delays; all other FX are done onboard. I prefer to tune the PA with parametric EQs rather than graphics, and the SD11 gives me four bands on the matrix outputs and four on the master. If I need more I assign through more stereo groups (with the fader at unity), which drive the matrixes, each of which will have another 4 bands… Very flexible! The only other gear I am carrying is a mics pack. During the day I set up the PA using parametrics rather than the onboard graphics. By running matrixes for the outputs I can get 4 on the matrix and then 4 on the master, which tends to be enough, but if not, I can then assign the matrixes to another stereo group and then that group to the master group which gives you another 4… Very flexible! I also have my laptop and an RME MADIface for multitracking and virtual soundcheck purposes, via MADI.”
One of the features that Parker’s getting a lot of use out of on this tour is…. “this little button next to the pan encoder that flips the signal hard left/hard right or center instantly and is good for making peoples brains explode…! Tame Impala is a psychedelic rock band so the more extreme the effects we can do the better. I’ve got snapshots for reverb on the full mix, pitch shift on the full mix… The kind of things they say you’re not really supposed to do!
“Another thing worth mentioning is the DiGiCo sound. It has been said many times before but this is a GREAT sounding desk.”
Parker makes use of the desk’s Macro buttons extensively for dialing in details. “I’ve got macros for pulling up a grabber graphic on the left and right and one on the center vocal group. We are using an old Sennheiser 441 through an onstage delay pedal, which results in loads of shimmery top-end. Having a graph at hand is useful during the show to deal with anything that pops out. I also have macros to pan the guitars super wide or back to nearer the center, which can sound pretty cool—especially if you’re in the middle of the room. The ease of the layout system means that I can have a mixture of VCA’s, input channels and groups on the same page so I don’t have to jump around from bank to bank during the show much – all my important stuff is right there on 12 faders.”