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"Iíve had my A-T mics several years. When I show up, I know what to expect. They deliver everything."
Evanescence is renowned for transcending the ordinary, both with exceptional studio recordings and live performances. The bandís full complement of Audio-Technica microphones and wireless systems contribute to their extraordinary sound.
Recently, we spent some time with Evanescence Front of House Engineer, Eddie Mapp, for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the bandís extraordinary sound. Before joining Evanescence in May of 2003, Eddie Mapp had already made a name for himself as Front of House/Studio Engineer/Co-Producer for famed heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde.
Eddie Mapp: That was a fun rideóI did four studio albums, numerous tours, a DVD, and worked with Ozzy Osbourne in the middle of that.
How did you get involved in the pro audio industry?
I went to The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona, in í97. From there I finished the program with an internship in Louisiana, worked with several production companies and then started touring with a group called Clearlight.
Did you play in a band originally or start off as a mixer?
Growing up, I played guitar in groups around Louisiana, and by default became the ďsoundmanĒ at the time. While doing shows, Iíd end up helping with the PAís and turning everything upóuntil something happened.
Eventually I realized there were plenty of better players, so I decided to get on the other side of the glass and still be part of the picture. It helped that I knew a little about music, and appreciated what I heard.
How did you get started professionally after school?
After Tempe, I came back to Louisiana and Mississippi. I was working with a band called Crowbar that was opening for Zakk. His engineer left for two weeks, and I filled in for four years.
For a band like Evanescence, vocals are everything. Whatís your specific audio chain to make sure the vocals really have presence?
Lately Iíve been using the AE5400ówhich has been really helpful. [Amy Lee] has a lot of dynamics, and it captures them nicely. Along with the 5400 I use a BSS901II for frequency specific compression and a Crane Song Trakker which is extremely transparent when you really slam it. That keeps everything consistent out front, and brings out a lot of her softer moments.
Whatís your favorite A-T mic?
The AE2500. Everything I put it on, it sounds huge. I think itís one of the most truthful representations of a good guitar rig. If you have a bad sounding guitar rig itíll let you know right away. As far as kick drums are concerned, it really gives a lot of impact.
Iíve had my A-T mics several years. When I show up, I know what to expect. They deliver everything.
Any unusual uses of A-T mics?
Many techniques I use have come from what Big Mickís done with Metallicaóand thatís proven solid. Recently, I started shock-mounting my AE2500 with the AT8449 shock mount that comes with the AT4050. I mount it permanently in the kick drum and only get the tone of the drum without any other interference.
Which do you prefer working on, live sound or studio?
I prefer live sound to studio. To me, live sound is instant gratification. If itís a good show, and everythingís working correctly, it can be an amazing feeling. The downside is that itís only for one night. With studio, it takes longer to see the end result, but once youíre finished, itís forever.
Do you like to have all the latest toys, or do you prefer to stick with the tried and true?
To a certain extent, I'm always willing to experiment. Iíll give anything a shot once. If it really impresses me, then Iím not afraid to switch. But Iíll definitely put it through its paces first.
Do you have any miking tips or tricks to share?
When channels allow, Iíve been using the ATM35 underneath the cymbals. Ideally, if you had one overhead, X-Y would work out best to eliminate phasing. But close miking underneath allows you to isolate the cymbals a bit better.
If you find you snare drum isnít quite punching though, try flipping your overheads out of POLARITY (not phase) and see what gives you the most positive result.
Also take time to ensure you source signal is up to par. Get a good set of headphones youíre familiar with and pfl each channel to make sure you have good sounds from stage before you start blasting it through the P.A.
How do you maintain the health of your ears?
By trying to avoid getting sick and also wearing earplugs during set up. Also periodic check ups with your local ENT specialist can help ensure you ears are operating to their maximum potential.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in mixing Evanescence? Do you try to make the live performance sound live or recreate the studio feel?
When I first started with Evanescence, they wanted the heavier elements from their album brought out live. So the biggest challenge for me is to make the mix as aggressive as possible, while still leaving enough dynamics to let her vocal shine through.
Do the live-sound engineers and studio engineers typically communicate about achieving a certain sound or do you get to do your own thing?
Occasionally I spoke with Dave Fortman, their producer. He helped develop the band, so I wanted to try and represent them how he would likeówith my own touch. We did talk about a few different effects, and I tried to recreate those as much as possible
How much influence does the artist have on the mix?
I definitely listen to recommendations they have as to how they wish to be conveyed to the audience.
Do you find the touring schedule hard work?
It can be hectic but if you have a good booking agent that has a clue then it can be a very enjoyable experience.
What problems do you see inexperienced sound people making?
One that I see is not using restraintóletting everything fly out of control. When that happens, one of the first things that can get lost is vocals. I find that trying to get the vocals in a good spot first is generally your best betóthen build your mix from there.
Secondlyóover compression. Sometimes this can be used as an effect; other than that, let the instruments breathe.
Do you enjoy the work?
Yeah, itís fun. Iíve been fortunate. All the people Iíve worked with are really great peopleóalong with being great artists.