Sonic Side Up – Kevin ‘Chief’ Zaruk, front-of-house sound engineer for the rock bank Nickelback – Brief Article

Sonic Side Up – Kevin ‘Chief’ Zaruk, front-of-house sound engineer for the rock bank Nickelback – Brief Article – Interview

Mike Levine

Byline: Mike Levine

Although Nickelback’s music is straight-ahead and distinctly uncomplicated, the band’s sound-reinforcement gear – which includes an automated mixer, a state-of-the-art V-Dosc speaker system, and an extensive in-ear monitor setup – is anything but simple. To find out more about it, I spoke with Kevin “Chief” Zaruk, the band’s front-of-house (FOH) engineer.

Will you be carrying your own console on the upcoming tour?

Yes. The Midas XL-4.

It must be nice to finally have your own console after doing all those opening-act shows where you have to use what’s there.

Absolutely. Right now, even just carrying our own board we’re able to go into festivals – like we just did a bunch of radio shows – where we don’t get a line check and we don’t [even] get a sound check. All the guys are on in-ears – we have our own monitor console. Before, you’d just go up there and by the time you had everything dialed in, you’d be walking off the stage. Now, however, everything’s preset, the guys walk on and feel comfortable, FOH [is] all good, within half a song we have everything dialed in, everyone’s happy, and the show goes on. It’s so much easier.

For the tour, will you have mixer scenes saved on the XL-4 – with the appropriate levels, effects settings, and EQ – for all the band’s material?

Yeah. We’re going to do a couple of days of pre-production and save everything we need.

Will you have a different scene for each song?

The only thing that really changes every song is effects. The actual levels pretty much stay the same. My big thing is effects, mainly on vocals; I change vocal effects almost every song. Drum effects change slightly, and I put effects on the guitar solos.

What sort of effects do you use on the vocals?

I love to use them all. I use a chorus from the Eventide Harmonizer. I have three [Yamaha] SPX-900s I use for everything from pitch changes to reverbs to choruses to flanges. I use a TC Electronic 2290 for delay settings; I also use the Roland SD3300 for one delay that I have on Chad’s voice for the whole set, which is more like a thickener – it’s just like a 100 ms delay.

Talk a little about the V-Dosc speakers you’re taking on the Canadian tour. They have a reputation of being able to provide better coverage than conventional speaker systems.

Yeah. You’re able to hang less P.A. and take up less room but cover just as much area. I find that you can turn it up louder and sound cleaner. Some bands don’t like it because they want to turn it up louder and have it sound dirtier – like your Metallicas and AC/DCs don’t necessarily want that superclean sound.

How many speakers will you be carrying?

About 24 tops that we have to hang and probably about 20 subs that we’ll place along the bottom, along the stage. It almost takes up a full truck. During the Canadian run, we’re going to have three buses and three trucks.

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