NILES, IL, July 14, 2010 — If there is such a thing as classic post-punk alternative rock, it is embodied by Pavement. The band, which broke up in 1999, has gotten back together for a much-anticipated reunion tour this year, with dates spanning Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Europe, and the U.S. The reunion includes long-time FOH engineer Remko Schouten.
In the years since Pavement’s breakup, Schouten has been working as an engineer-producer, working out of his own IJland Studio facility in the Netherlands. “I was with them since the summer of 1992, when they first came to Europe,” he recalls. “It was great to see them getting back together, so when they asked me to mix for them again, I put my studio work on hold.”
For Pavement’s world tour, Schouten wanted to ensure consistent quality of sound across the globe, which meant acquiring new microphones. “There are plenty of great microphones out there, but I’ve always been a big fan of Shure mics. And they’ve gotten even better since we were last on the road,” he notes. “Our monitor engineer, Jeremy Lemos, recommended I try the KSM9 for (lead singer) Stephen Malkmus’ vocals, and I totally fell in love with it. It cuts through so well, has a nice shine at the top, and it’s almost impossible to get feedback. It’s almost like a studio sound in a live setting, and everything I’ve been looking for in a vocal mic since I started with the band in 1992.” For backing vocals, Schouten went with the band’s traditional SM58®s, with the exception of a Beta 57A® to create more isolation for drummer Steve West.
Another new microphone in Schouten’s repertoire is the KSM313 ribbon mic. Schouten uses it in combination with an SM57 to mic Spiral Stairs rig, which consists of a Fender Showman played through a closed-back Marshall cabinet. “Spiral does all the rhythm parts and he’s got that background growl, and this combination gives him the extra texture he needs,” says Schouten. “I especially like the thickness of the KSM313. It has that classic ribbon response – nice and thick, with a clear, detailed high end that always shines through. I can imagine using it in a bunch of applications, especially in the studio.”
Two more SM57s handle the audio for Stephen Malkmus’ lead guitar. Using two mics allows Schouten to produce Pavement’s patented guitar tone. “Stephen is a great guitarist, and plays through an Orange amp and closed Marshall slanted cabinet with a lot of punch and distortion,” he shares. “To emphasize that, on some of the heavy bits and choruses, I do what I call my phase trick. I mic two speakers in the cabinet and pan them left and right. I switch one of the channels out of phase as an effect during choruses or heavy passes, which really gives it some depth. It gives you this warped feeling out in the audience, and gives me another dimension without using any weird DSP effects.”
Steve West’s drums are another bastion of Shure mics. “I fell in love with the KSM137. It really cuts through in the 10K area, and the bottom end is nice and thick, like an SM57. Perfect for snare top.” Schouten augments that with an SM57 on snare bottom. Toms are miked with the Beta 98 miniature clip-on mic, and the kick drum is handled by a combination of Beta 52®A and Beta 91. Twin KSM44 studio condensers capture the overheads, while a second KSM137 handles the hi-hat.
Overall, Remko Schouten pleased with the drum sound he has achieved. “The combination of mics on the kick lets me get whatever tone I need, and the Beta 98 is beautiful on toms,” he says. “It’s got a narrow pattern, so how you aim it really changes the tone. I place them directly over the rim, about an inch above, aiming at the middle of the skin, and it sounds amazing.”
For Bob Nastanovich’s percussion setup, the miking consists of Beta 98s on the floor tom and snare, with a single KSM137 overhead to capture everything else. His vocals are sung through an SM58.
The final piece of the puzzle is Mark Ibold’s bass rig. For that, Schouten relies on a DI box in combination with a Beta 52A.”It gives me a full, round bottom tone, which is important, because Mark does not like a lot of high end in his sound. I use the DI mainly for the mid tones, to cut it through the mix, and the Beta 52A for that big bottom end. It’s a great combination.”
Remko Schouten said he has been enjoying the tour.. “These new Shure mics sound fantastic and are making my life a lot easier,” he states. “I hardly have to touch the EQ on my Midas H3000 to produce a very fat, thick, and dense but clear mix—with plenty of character!”
Fan reaction to the Pavement reunion has been extremely positive. “It’s pretty amazing,” notes Schouten. “The band sounds fantastic and the fans are loving it. For my part, it’s great to get back out on the road after eight years and a pleasure to mix these guys again. It’s been a great experience.”
The Pavement tour will continue into early October, with a mix of major festival and headlining dates across the U.S. and Europe.