Q&A with Tull Sound Engineer Chris Amson Jul 25, 2013 2:24:25 GMT -5
Post by Deleted on Jul 25, 2013 2:24:25 GMT -5
Jul 24, 2013 18:11:27 GMT -5 @tulltapes said:
When I started with Tull the only keyboards on stage were a Grand Piano and a Hammond Organ with one Leslie. In the early days the piano would have been provided by the promoter. Later on we carried one around with us in a huge flight case which was a technological marvel complete with steel cables and winches to get it from it's upright position in the case down onto the stage horizontally. We also had a piano tuner who travelled with us in my later years.
A note about micing up the grand piano: In the early days we only had mics on the piano. Later we also had a Helpinstill piano pickup.
The mics that we used originally were 2 pretty basic Sony condenser mics and each day I would make 2 sets of saddles out of Gaffer Tape across the top of the harp and tape the mics in place so that they lay parallel to the strings. I don't know what kind of pattern these mice had. Probably fairly Omni-directional, and this was not necessarily the best position for them but we needed to get them completely inside the piano so that we could put the lid down in order to get the level needed without feedback. When the Helpinstill pickup was added it was a great addition because now we could get the Piano to cut through more. There would have been a mix of the 2 mics for warmth and the pickup for penetration!
I wasn't mixing the sound back then. The FOH mixer was a gentleman called Alan Mc.Kenzie who came from the Polydor Records studio world.
Later in 1972 or early 1973 the band all moved to Montreaux, Switzerland and I remember that Claude Nobs, who founded the Montreux Jazz festival set us up with a rehearsal area in an old brick factory in Montreux. (Claude recently passed away duo to a Skiing accident last Christmas) These were the rehearsals prior to the recording of the 1st Passion Play album, and I had a VCS3 synth in London and brought it to Montreux to show the band.
John checked it out and it was quickly determined that it was a royal pain keeping it in tune. These early analog synths were notorious for being affected by the ambient temperature which threw the tuning off. It was decided that the VCS3 would not be suitable for live performance but at that time the Mini Moog also just came out and that was tried as well.
The Mini Moog was also a bit susceptible to tuning problems but it was felt that this could be used live on stage and so the band got one originally, and later got another one. So now the Hammond Organ had a Mini Moog on top of it, and I think John Evan quite liked paying it.
I do remember times after the sound check where he would spend quite a lot of time every few days with his headphones on tweaking all the little preset potentiometers inside trying to to get all the tuning back in line. A VCS3 was never used on stage.
I do remember seeing a Mellotron in the Tull workshop, but whilst I was with them there was never a Mellotron on stage. It was probably used in the studio as you mentioned on those songs. I don't have any idea as to Ian's reasoning for not using one on stage. I never heard it discussed.
He's an independent thinker and would have done whatever he felt was needed to get the music across. However, they did seem to be fairly fragile with all those tape loops hanging down inside. I know that the Moody Blues must have used one successfully on stage as it's the cornerstone of their sound.
I think the mellotrons were much more of a hassle to take out becuase of tunings and tape loops speeding up etc.. I have heard this before from other bands. Nowadays you can get the original authentic mellotron loop samples and use them on stage (as a VST) with just a laptop.
Chamberlin has the M4000D now with out the tapes and is wide use. As far as the old days they were definetly a hassle to transport, but Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues actually started out working for Chamberlin and was able to customize and work on his constantly. So you had the head tech playing one in a band. Word was King Crimson went to Pinder more than once for help. I heard somewhere John Evans said something like "they're a wonderful pain in the ass" (Paraphrasing)
I think the beginning of Cross Eyed Mary is delicious because of it.