Audix Artist Profile – Todd Sucherman
“Sticks for Styx”
Styx drummer Todd Sucherman has been an Audix Artist for quite some time. We spoke in-depth with this extraordinary drummer about his history with Audix mics – going back to 2007. It’s not so much that he sought out Audix as a better solution, as it was a case of the Audix mic’s finding him!
“I never really was a microphone guy -” says Sucherman -“As a Chicago session player in the 90’s, playing up to 30 dates a month, I was always working with engineers who determined mics and miking techniques. I figured they knew what they were doing and had thousands of dollars’ worth of mics to choose from. My job was to focus on my performance and fit in as well as possible with the gig.”
“While I was producing and recording the 2007 debut album for Taylor Mills, our engineer Jeff Gross put an Audix i5 on my snare instead of the usual mic that I’d always been given,” continues Sucherman. “I immediately objected without even listening to it. I mean you always use the mic all the other guys’ use, right?”
With Gross’s guarantee to go back to the old favorite, and eleven different snares for eleven songs later, the Audix i5 was still there. “I’ll never forget that first experience with the i5. Its sound, right out of the box, was like we’d been dialing-in the snare sound for twenty minutes. This was simply a better choice.”
Pretty soon other drummer-friends of Sucherman’s tried Audix and immediately bought full sets of Audix mics for their kits. Sucherman started insisting on all Audix products as well – sometimes against the ingrained opinions of engineers and FOH guys. “Gary Loizzo, our soundman with Styx sort of dragged his feet for six months about the whole kit changeover -” states Sucherman – “And when we finally switched over to all Audix mics, there was just a colossal difference in my monitor mix and in the house sound. I wanted to do the last thousand shows over again with my drums sounding the way they did now!”
“What I now look for in choosing mics is that they reproduce exactly how my kit sounds,” explains Sucherman. “I take a lot of care working on the drums to sound just the way I want – through choices of shells, heads, tuning, the way I hit the drums – and I want them to speak clearly on a recording or to a live audience. That’s really why I fell in love with Audix mics. My drums sound like my drums and my cymbals sound like my cymbals.”
Sucherman’s set-up currently includes i5’s on snare top and bottom, ADX51’s on the hi-hat, D2’s on rack-toms, D4’s on floor toms and D6’s on kick drums, and Sucherman’s signature “gong drum” – a 20″ x 14″ low-tuned monster.
“I like the D6 for its mix of a nice click and a good boom for the kick drums and a really nice musical roundness to it,” says Sucherman. “For my gong drum, it’s really incredible – so much so that I have to exercise some discipline to not hit it twenty times in each song. It’s like having an exploding bomb in the drum kit – so you need to really use it sparingly and wisely. But is it fun to wail on the gong drum with a D6 on it!”
Sucherman’s cymbals are covered by three SCX25A overhead mics, a bit unusual for a drum kit. “I’ve been in recording studios surrounded by $120,000 of mics around my kit and been really disappointed on playback that the cymbals sound like newspapers being torn in half. I couldn’t even tell one cymbal from another -” Sucherman explains.
“With the Audix SCX25A’s, I can tell exactly which cymbal is which and they sound creamy and organic and natural – just the way they do sitting at ground-zero at the drum kit as I play them. They are the most amazing overhead mics I’ve ever used.”
Sucherman adds, “Every engineer I’ve worked with since has gone out and gotten a pair of SCX25A’s. I recently saw Peter Gabriel live and right from the first song I thought the cymbal sound was just beautiful – with the splashes coming right through. Only then did I see that (drummer) Manu Katche was using SCX25A’s too. Those microphones are a drummer’s secret weapon!”
Sucherman was an established session player in Chicago during the ’90s, playing 20-30 dates a month, mostly for jingles, until he was called upon by Styx to join-up for a reunion tour. Sixteen years later, he spends the majority of his time touring the world with Styx, as well as recording and producing.
Sucherman risks his life by occasionally playing drums for Spinal Tap; not the most secure gig, given the mortality rate of former drummers! Sucherman has also toured and recorded several records with the legendary Brian Wilson including “That Lucky Old Sun”, “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin” and “Gettin’ in Over My Head” featuring appearances by Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Paul McCartney.
Sucherman won the Modern Drummer Magazine Reader’s poll for #1 Rock Drummer – 2009, #1 Clinician by DRUM! Magazine and #1 Educational DVD – “Methods and Mechanics”. The follow-up DVD “Methods and Mechanics II” won “Best in Show” at NAMM and in DRUM! Magazine’s readers poll.
Both DVD’s, as well as pretty much everything else about Todd Sucherman can be found at http://www.toddsucherman.com
Thanks to Eric Doriss for all the article photos.