May 28, 2008
The Black Crowes put on Warpaint with Shure ON THE ROAD, May 28, 2008—Currently touring in support of Warpaint, their latest release on the independent Silver Arrow label, The Black Crowes have shown hands-down that they are still, as the UK's Melody Maker once called them, "the most rock 'n' roll rock 'n' roll band in the world." Featuring 11 songs written mostly by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, the band's underpinning musical conscience and collective driving force, Warpaint represents the seventh studio album from The Crowes. Bringing the sound of Warpaint to the stage along with the rest of the incendiary tunes currently making up the band's live set list is a task managed nightly by Scott "Scoobie" Scherban at the front-of-house mix position and Drew Consalvo at monitors. Working in tandem to craft a stage plot relying entirely on Shure input, the pair draws upon an eclectic mix of traditional rock 'n' roll microphone elements along with newer catalog offerings to brew up a potent infusion of sound rich in guitars, vocals, and drums that simultaneously pays respect to every other nuance in the mix. "Given a choice, personally I would put SM57s on everything," Scott Scherban jokes, adding "I mean, ask me how to mic an elephant, and I'd just put a 57 on him. First and foremost, this is a rock 'n' roll band. That means they were born and bred with SM57s and SM58®s. We don't ever want to lose sight of that fact, but at the same time we want to augment those sounds. Given the volume we're producing, we need something that steps out and allows us to change for solos and such." Scherban and Consalvo's approach can be heard on guitar cabinets, where their audio alchemy combines legendary SM57s with Shure's KSM27s. "We get a nice pointy bite out of the SM57s," Drew Consalvo explains, "and now, with the KSM27s, we've added this nice warm factor as well. Both onstage and in the audience, the pairing is working well—it's providing everything you'd expect in terms of rock 'n' roll, along with a little something extra when we need it." Moving to the drum riser, the pair built a landscape augmented by the dual-attack of a Beta 52A/Beta 91 combo for kick drum, KSM137 on high-hat, and another matched pair of KSM137s on overheads. Beta 56As stand-in on toms, Beta 57As on snare top, and, in a departure from the norm, a Beta 57A again under ride cymbal. To adequately capture the singular sound of a Leslie speaker used on Hammond B-3 organ, a pair of SM57s were enlisted for the top of the cabinet containing the device's rotating horn and stationary treble driver, while a Beta 52A handles the job of delivering the low-end emitted from the Leslie bottom's spinning baffle and static woofer. Shure Beta 58As got the nod for all downstage vocals, which Consalvo notes were a good choice in terms of the control they offer him in front of the floor wedges found in his monitor rig. "We have a special black Beta 58 we use for Chris Robinson's vocals, and starting this year, Scoobie and I went with the KSM9 for backing vocals. We like the way it reacts with proximity effect, and given its overall clarity, too, we're going to stick with it in this application." Viewed in its entirety, Scherban and Consalvo say that the most notable difference in their stage plot this time out with The Black Crowes is a move toward more KSM Series elements. "We were looking for something a little more rounded," Scherban says, categorizing the sum effect of their latest efforts. "We landed on it nicely with the different combinations put into place. There is a massive amount of guitar onstage, so there was enough of a bite already, so to speak. I know we are pleased with the changes, and based on the evidence of ticket sales, so is the audience." Listed as #92 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock," The Black Crowes have historically proven their own mettle while touring with legends such as Aerosmith, Jimmy Page, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Who, AC/DC, The Grateful Dead, and Neil Young.