As touring musicians go, few artists can rival Edwin McCain’s work ethic. Though he has cut back his earlier ritual of nearly 300 shows per year to spend more time with his family, the prolific singer-songwriter still maintains a busy touring schedule, gigging solo or accompanied by different configurations of his band.
When he’s not on the road or with his family, he’s in the studio writing and recording new songs. It’s easy to imagine that if the year were twice as long, McCain would still spend most of it working on his music.
Besides playing a handful of solo gigs, McCain is frequently accompanied by guitarist Larry Chaney and Craig Shields on sax, wind controller, and synths, or by his full band, which adds Jason Pomar on bass and Tez Sherard on drums.
On the road and in the studio, a pair of PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital consoles is an intrinsic part of McCain’s rig. As McCain’s long-time front-of-house engineer, Brent Moreland, explains, the consoles rarely spend a day unused.
“We carry two StudioLive consoles - one for FOH and one for monitors,” says Moreland. “They’re on the road with us constantly, and unless it’s a really tight schedule, we’ll almost always plug in our console instead of using the house desk. The preamps sound better than pretty much any other console out there.”
A 24-channel splitter connects the front of house and monitor desks, and Moreland makes multi-track recordings of every gig from front of house. “I use Ableton Live for recording at the moment but only because Capture doesn’t do more than 24 tracks with a StudioLive 24.4.2,” Moreland explains. “When we have the full band, I need more than 24 tracks, and you can get 32 audio streams out of the StudioLive.”
Although Moreland carries an iPad, he opts to mix from the console, rather than use the StudioLive’s remote-mixing capabilities. “I don’t really do much walking away from the desk during the show,” he says.
But McCain is quite interested in using the new QMix iPhone/iPod touch app to dial up individual monitor mixes on stage. “I love the idea of just going over to the top of my amp and making an adjustment,” Moreland adds.
The StudioLive has also proven itself to be as roadworthy as the band. “One of the biggest enemies of gear on the road is vibration,” he explains. “Especially with circuit boards and solder joints, that constant vibration will slowly kill almost any electronics. But the StudioLive boards have held up, even after a couple of years on the road.”
“We’re basically disciples,” McCain concludes. “We’re out playing clubs day in and day out, and it’s amazing how many times we’ll load in, and a club’s sound guy will look skeptically at our PreSonus consoles. Then we turn them on, and everybody goes ‘oh wow’ because they sound great, and they’ve got all the features of their high-priced consoles. When we tell them how much the StudioLive costs, they usually tell us they spent that much on maintenance just last month.”