Papadosio on Sound
“Improvising is a breeze now. Being able to hear what each other is doing is nothing short of pure awesome. We take more risks and sound overall more mature. “
Welcome to this edition of our monthly On The Road With…series. Normally, we usually just talk with the sound engineer. But this time around, we spoke with both Beau Williams and Anthony Thogmartin of Papadosio since the band is so involved in their sound.
Hi everyone — thank you for taking the time today to talk with us about your set-up. You have a very intricate live show mixing all types of audio and visual experiences for the audience and you recently switched over to using in-ear monitors. But before we dive in and talk about how you are using your personal monitors, let me ask a bit about how the in-ear transition has been for you. What made you want to start using in-ears?
Constantly being subjected to fluctuating acoustical variables can be pretty frustrating. Especially in large theaters that have super long reverb times or second long echoes. Being able to hear what each other are doing has been a constant struggle, so we started seeking solutions.
Did any of you have any experience with in-ears before you got your custom molded UE-7’s? Had anyone worked with any of the universal fit in-ears before?
Yeah back in the day, some of us used consumer level universal ears. Our drummer has had these as a way to hear click tracks for years. He was the first to switch to in-ear monitoring. But we all moved to UE at the same time.
Have you noticed any significant changes in your stage show now that you’re on ears? Have you seen any slight reactions from the audience?
Improvising is a breeze now. Being able to hear what each other is doing is nothing short of pure awesome. We take more risks and sound overall more mature.
What’s the biggest benefit that you’ve noticed so far and also what’s the biggest drawback/ limitation that you’ve experienced?
Vocals have had a 150% improvement. Singing is so much easier with in-ears. On stage when using speaker monitors, you can never get enough of your own voice but with ears, you can hear everything and you won’t miss a note. I’d say the biggest drawback at this point is not being able to hear what people are saying in the front row, but considering that most of the time they are just saying “WUUUUU!!!,” it’s not such a big deal.
So this is all really interesting especially because you’re not touring with a dedicated monitor engineer. And there’s this perception out there that in-ears are only for bands who can afford to tour with a monitor guy. What’s your take on that?
Having a monitor guy would be very useful, but not necessary. If you can bring your system in an implement so that the monitor guy that is in-house can use the same way he does every night, then it’s no different for you or him than if you were using speakers.
OK. Let’s get into the details. You all are using in-ears in a really interesting way. Most bands opt for going wireless but I understand that you all are sub mixing your own instruments. I’m dying to hear more. Please do tell in detailed specifics.
It’s pretty simple. We use conversions and turnaround cables to turn whatever the monitor board’s aux sends are into male XLR. Each one of those go directly (or by way of a sub snake) to each one of us — to a little 4 channel personal mixer by our gear on stage. Our UE’s come out of our personal mixer’s headphone outputs. So we only have 1 channel used on our personal mixer for our monitors. So at this point each one of us have our main instruments ran into other channels on our personal mixers AND to the monitor guy. This allows us to blend the most important instruments with the rest of our monitor mix to ensure we can hear the most vital parts of our individual mix and allows the monitor guy to send those instruments to the other members on stage.
That’s really interesting. Why did you go this route?
So we can blend and change our individual instruments during the show with the rest of the band live. The thing you ask the most for from the monitor guy is “more me!” this eliminates the need to ask.
Our set up was pieced together like this because the full band’s transition to in-ears happened at an interesting and fast paced time. The band made a decision to want to switch to in-ears as a whole. But by the time the molding process and the ordering process were up, we had three days in between two separate legs of a tour and the ears were showing up on the day of the first show of the second leg — leaving the band with no rehearsal days and us crossing fingers that they all liked in ears.
So we went with a wired set up to help with costs until we found out if all members liked the ears. They all love them and now that we know that, we will be putting a couple members on wireless units soon and we have intentions of hiring a monitor engineer, bringing on a second console and making the band’s life a lot easier with recallable fine tuned mixes and as a whole, becoming more self contained.
Is this a setup that you would recommend to other bands? What are the biggest positives and negatives around it?
I would only recommend this setup if your FOH guy is really good at setup and explaining the system to the house guy.
And you carry your own console and snaking system, right? I’d love to hear more about that.
I have an SC48 at FOH, a 48x16 splitter with a foh snake and mon fan-out. I also carry sub snakes for the bands inputs on stage.
I use the mon fan out to patch into the house monitor board, patching in 5 return lines of the snake to the band’s mon mix outputs, sending those mixes down the band’s subsnakes, and ultimately wiring into the band’s personal mixers.
Each member mixes their own signals separate from the house mon mix, resulting in them each controlling a “more-me” function and the house mon engineer giving them a supplemental mono mix of the rest of the band.
So what comes next? A full time monitor engineer?
Right, a monitor guy and a monitor board that saves the mix night to night. So we plug in and go!
Lastly, I heard that you’re now interested in getting your lighting designer, video designer, and tour manager all on wireless ear packs so that you all can communicate about cues and changes in the setlist. I think that’s a great idea, especially when it comes to your shows. Can you please tell us a bit more about this idea. Were you going to incorporate talk back mics as well?
We have been talking about incorporating talkbacks for a while. The show is one huge collaboration between the band, sound, lights, and video. It would be awesome to get that ball rolling.
And with that, thank you and we’ll see you all out on the road!
The information age has a sound. Revolutionary technology meets a revolutionary message in Papadosio. Melding progressive rock with psychedelia, folk with electronica, and dance music with jam, the quintet has amassed a dedicated following of thousands of likeminded individuals sewing the seeds of unity and spreading the sounds of exultation. Singer-‐songwriter Anthony Thogmartin’s visionary lyrics, eclectic production, and signature guitar work are anchored by the rock solid battery of drummer Mike Healy and bassist Rob McConnell. The quintet is rounded out by brothers Billy and Sam Brouse, whose virtuosic two-‐headed keyboard, synth, and programming attack give the band its unmistakable complexity and intensity.
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