Bass guitarist, singer and songwriter Thundercat, currently opening for The Red Hot Chili Peppers in Europe to be followed by July and August dates in the U.S., is currently using a custom TELEFUNKEN M81 microphone for vocals and the company’s direct input boxes for bass and in the band’s touring rig.
Thundercat first came to prominence as a member of crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, has since released four solo studio albums, and is noted for his work with producer Flying Lotus and his appearances on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly.” In 2016, he won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance for his work on the track “These Walls” from the album, and in 2020, released his fourth studio album, ”It Is What It Is,” which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Progressive R&B Album.
“Thundercat, and both of the other band members, all sing down the M81 mic,” says Jonny Williams, the artist’s front of house engineer. “Thundercat is the loudest stage you will ever hear. There is a massive bass rig that is cranked to full volume. There’s a drum kit right next to Thundercat. There are extremely loud monitors, so I needed a microphone that rejected that as best it could, but also permanently sounded amazing. And the M81 seemed to be the microphone.
“I covered on a gig in 2018 for somebody else, and the artist was using a TELEFUNKEN vocal mic,” he continues. “I’d never used one before, and I thought it sounded brilliant, and it was rejecting the stage still very well. So I started to move all of my artists onto Telefunken after that.”
Regarding the artist’s stage rig, Williams explains, “We have quite a lot of keyboards on stage. Previously, we were using a rack DI unit just because it was easy, but what I found was they seemed to be thinning out the sound, whereas with the Telefunkens, they seem to add all of these extra harmonics, especially in the lower region of the frequency spectrum. So we’ve now built our own Telefunken rack DI that consists of four stereo TELEFUNKEN boxes and two mono boxes velcroed onto a rack shelf. We also have one on Thundercat’s bass pre-FX. So we come out with his bass into the DI, and then the DI links into his effects chain and then into the amplifier.
“This time around, we have a very fancy gold TELEFUNKEN M81, which we love,” he concludes. “When you see images online of Thundercat live, it’s usually a close up of his face, and it’s quite clear to see what the microphone is. So a very shiny gold TELEFUNKEN is going to stand out. By the way, TELEFUNKEN support is fantastic. I’ve bought many microphones from them, and they’ve always been very helpful.”