By Sarah Benzuly
Jan 1, 2007 12:00 PM
STRAIGHT-AHEAD GUITAR ROCK HITS SMALL THEATERS
Front-of-house engineer/production manager Chad Olech and monitor engineer Maxie Williams couldn't ask for a better gig. Alice in Chains are relatively easy to mix: one guitarist (who also sings, Jerry Cantrell), one bassist (Mike Inez), a drummer (Sean Kinney) and new vocalist (who will often sling his own axe, William Duvall) — all done in a straight-up, hard-rockin' fashion. What's more, both engineers are mixing on Yamaha PM5D digital boards, allowing them to rely on onboard effects rather than hauling racks of outboard gear, so it's no wonder that they were all smiles when Mix met with them at San Francisco's Warfield Theater
In the beginning, it wasn't all roses and sunshine. With the passing of longtime band vocalist Layne Staley, Alice in Chains brought in Duvall, who not only had to fill some very big shoes, but also had to win over the crowd — which he's been doing in stride. On the audio end, both engineers came onboard at almost the last minute: Olech (who did a short run for Linkin Park in Japan) arrived just days before a two-week stint of rehearsals. Williams followed him shortly, when he left the current Guns 'N Roses tour (see page 54). Prior to that, Williams was a senior production manager at the new Hard Rock Café in Biloxi, Miss. “It was good until Katrina hit — I lost my job and my house in the same day,” Williams says.
The team chemistry had to be just right, as the band recently switched to in-ears. “At first,” Williams says, “they went through three monitor guys when they were coming off of the wedges. The wedges are off — but they're still onstage as the band wants to see them — and the sidefills [two Clair Bros. R4s and two Clair ML18s] are practically non-existent; it's just kick and snare.” There are also two ML18s for drum subs and four Clair 12AMs as emergency backups: two for Williams and two for the band in case the ears go.
All photos: Steve Jennings
All the bandmembers are on Ultimate Ears UE7s. “I changed Jerry to the Ambient 5s because he's a bit claustrophobic and was having just a little ‘hole closing down,’” Williams says. “He didn't like it and went back to the UE7s, which is fine because his guitar sounds a bit fatter in his ears”continued