Dry the River – Pure Power Folk
UK-based quintet Dry the River present all the trappings of a mellow indie folk-rock group until they hit the stage. “I think people are surprised when they come to see us live,” says founder and front-man Peter Liddle. “They expect us to be really calm and quiet but in some ways, we’re the opposite.”
Some ways indeed… Dry the River goes from a wistful whisper all the way to ’11’ in the blink of an eye. The audience may be surprised, but FOH soundman Simon Fuller is not. “These guys have a tremendous dynamic range,” explains Fuller. “They’re quite loud on stage.”
It’s always informative to talk with the FOH man to learn the real details and day-to-day trade secrets to microphone usage in concert applications. Fuller details some of his particular challenges:
“Working with Peter, we made a couple of fundamental changes to how he approached his live vocal performance,” explains Fuller. “In addition to a change-over to in-ear-monitors, we experimented with a number of popular vocal mics to find the best combination of sound for him in a reliable monitoring solution as well as great house sound. We chose the Audix OM7 because it makes a lot of sense to have a microphone that sounds right in the first place, versus one that needs some work to sound good.”
“Peter can be very demanding of his monitor wedge or an in-ear-monitor solution, to which he recently switched,” continues Fuller. “He likes his mix to be quite bright, so we’ve been comparing the OM6 and OM7, and so far it looks like the OM7 has that extra high-end performance that keeps me from having to roll-off a lot of bottom end. The OM7 allows me to run Peter’s vocal mic with little or no EQ at all, which is great given the various mixing consoles that we get that may or may not do EQ particularly well.”
Like the band itself, Peter Liddle’s vocal dynamic range provides a number of challenges for live miking. “Peter has struggled with getting a consistent monitor level throughout the dynamic range of his performance,” explains Fuller. “It was either too soft or too loud & distorted, and the normal solution of compression just fed too much of the drums and cymbals through the vocal mics. The tight pattern of the OM7 helps to capture just the vocals. Then I can compress it just a bit and ride the levels. There’s no wash of cymbals and stage clutter that can interfere with his vocal mix.”
Where Peter can peel the paint off of a wind-screen, fellow singer Matt is rather much quieter. His OM5, with its tight pick-up pattern, allows for Fuller to get a bit more gain with less bleed from drums, cymbals, and amps. “It’s a challenge to get Matt’s vocal performance level up to where it can match Peter,” adds Fuller. “A tighter mic lets me wring-out a bit more gain without getting too much other stuff in there.”
Audix mics are also used throughout the rest of the band’s instrumentation, particularly the D6 on kick-drum; a long-time favorite. Rummaging through drummer Jon Warren’s collection of mics provided Audix I5’s that have recently found their place for a number of applications including guitar amps; replacing the usual go-to choice.
Fuller sums up his challenge by saying, “Dry the River is a folk band with vocal harmonies, nice blends and reverbs, but they do like to punch-out with thrashy guitars at times. It can be quite challenging to re-configure the mix from song to song. The more I work with the Audix mics, the more I like them. They allow me to focus on the sound of the band and the mix. ”
Dry the River has a strong following in the U.K. and Europe, with a full schedule of performances through the festival season. Look for appearances in the US this summer too, with a schedule of concerts listed on their website and at www.facebook.com/drytheriver.
Their latest album, ‘Shallow Bed’ was released in April 2012 and can be heard and purchased at http://www.drytheriver.net