“It just made sense,” he explains. “These musicians are innovators, and their music continually evolves in a unique fashion. There’s a lot of theatricality within the new material – the songs come together like a play does, you can hear a lot of ‘80s synth pop influences and that of bands like the Electric Light Orchestra. Taking an analog turn within the confines of digital was a natural response.”
The process saw spare application of plug-ins. “I used stock stuff found in the console,” he says. “I kept things basic, using the onboard word clock to sound like an SPX990 reverb, a de-esser on the vocals that’s a plug-in, and a Fairchild compressor plug-in.”
He also packed an outboard rack housing (from the top) a TC-Helicon VoiceWorks vocal processor, a pair of dbx 162SL comp/limiters, a dbx 160SL comp/limiter, and a pair of Klark Teknik DN360 graphic EQs. With the dbx 162SLs placed in-line with each other and entered into his mains to better promote the desired feel, the dbx 160SL was given over to lead vocals.
“At the console,” Jones says, “I took all of the input channels out of the stereo bus and ran everything through a group. I ran my mains through a matrix, so left/right subs and fill were all on separate matrixes, and then ran my subs off an aux. Compression and EQ were introduced before the amps.
The rack of largely analog processors at front of house.
“In the end, signals were routed through my console many times just like a lot of people do within a traditional analog setting. I find that I get a tighter sound doing things this way, and sometimes I’ll even compress my groups to optimize my analog-in-a-digital-world technique.”
Onstage, the world Groshong created was an extremely quiet wedge-free one, with everyone on in-ear monitors built around Sennheiser G2 wireless systems and three stereo Ultimate Ears UE 18s for the band, plus a mono UE 18 used by frontman Brendon Urie.
For those who haven’t seen Urie perform, it’s interesting to note that the multi-instrumentalist utilized a stand-mounted collection of pedal effects on his vocals. With his wireless Shure KSM9 condenser mic running in-line through this pedal board coming out at line level at the receiver, his vocals pass through the pedal effects into a Radial JDI passive DI to bring them back to mic level and into the snake.
Frontman Brandon Urie with his stand-mounted pedal effects, singing on a Shure KSM9 and outfitted with Ultimate Ears IEMs.
His effects include an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail reverb, Boss GE-7 equalizer, and Dunlop Carbon Copy MXR analog delay, all of which he mixes by hand.
“We rigged a mic clip on the edge of the stand so he could place his KSM9 in there and go at the effects with both hands,” Jones relates. “He can create some pretty crazy noise. I think he got used to producing himself early on in his career and not relying on the FOH guy to hit the cues.
“He uses the EQ to cut all of the LF out of his voice, making him sound like an old mono AM radio, or as if he’s singing through a bullhorn.
Some of Urei’s effects pedals joined by a Radial JDI.
“The Holy Grail provides a nice saturated reverb,” Jones continues, “and then with the delay he accents certain passages during interludes with a sweeping effect, for example. It’s fun for him and adds a nice dimension to the show.”
Another out-of-the-norm production element was found at the drum riser, where a custom SJC kit was built using a kick drum, rack tom, and floor tom outfitted with LEDs inside that shone through perforated rings on each of the drum’s exterior surfaces.
Controlled via the lighting desk out front, the resulting LED show offered considerable dazzle and flash, but somewhat at the expense of function.