The Wombats are currently celebrating the ten year anniversary of their first album, touring Australia with Groovin’ the Moo and performing a few side shows. For the past five years FOH engineer Pete Bartlett has worked with the band as well as his other main act The Pretenders.
The band members and crew were delighted to play a couple of shows at the Sydney Opera House, performing memorable and joyous shows. Let’s face it, it’s not often you witness six full-grown humans dancing around in wombat suits on stage whilst confetti guns spray over the crowd.
JPJ Audio supplied a control package that included an Avid Profile for FOH and another for monitors. Pete was pleased to get everything he wanted!
“I always use an Avid Profile as I have loads of plugins and I’m not a big fan of anything newer,” he remarked. “I’m not a big fan of the new DiGiCo and Midas desks, and the Profile is just more reliable. In fact I’ve stood still for ten years with the Profile but it’s just so easy for me to use, plus you can get them anywhere.”
Pete explained that he tries to turn his Profile console as much as possible into an SSL console. The reason why is that he admits to being an eighties kid who learnt all of his tricks from being in bands and sitting in studios behind eighties producers.
“I stole all my tricks from eighties producers but hey, a lot of it is all cool again!” he laughed. “Effects-wise, I use a complete mix – TC reverbs, Eventide etc, because the reverbs that come with the Profile are pretty poor.”
Pete commented that when he first started mixing for The Wombats, they had ten channels of playback so if they lost the tambourine channel, they’ve lost that instrument. He didn’t like that so he went into their studio for a couple of days to mix everything to left / right.
“We mixed the tracks really well, just in stereo, so if you lost the left you’ve still got the right,” he added. “It makes life so much easier. They run quite a complicated keyboard set up so it’s all run from Ableton and their keyboards just Midi into the whole thing, so I keep the keyboards separate. Essentially the band are a simple three piece of guitar, bass and drums … but they all sing and all play keyboards too.”
During his time in Australia Pete had a variety of PA systems, including L-Acoustics and d&B audiotechnik, but that didn’t faze him.
“Whenever I get a new PA to work with, I’ll first ask the system guys what they have done to it,” he explained. “Maybe they’ll show me a Lake EQ, and I’ll ask them to turn it off, as I like to do it myself. The last gig in Australia at Bunbury was fantastic because they had done very little to the system. Often I go into a venue to find the audio guys have hacked the PA to death. I’d rather they leave it flat so I can pull out whatever I don’t like. I don’t need anyone to EQ it, as long as it’s all time aligned and it’s correct, I’ll EQ it.”
Pete has had a deal with Sennheiser for the past eleven years after he used them with Bloc Party, in fact he is still using many of those original microphones as they’re still going strong.
“Basically we don’t have many microphones onstage that cost more than $300, they’re all cheap mics,” he said. “A lot of people listen with their eyes and use something funky and expensive. People wander around backstage saying how clever the mic setup looks, but you go out front and they sound terrible.”
Pete commented that the JPJ Audio crew were fantastic and gave a brilliant service, saying that they made his job very easy.