All Access: They Might Be Giants

Mix, August 1, 2013
by Steve Jennings

They Might Be Giants (John Linnell, vocals, keyboards; John Flansburgh, vocals, guitar; Marty Beller, drums; Danny Weinkauf, bass; Dan Miller, guitar) is still bringing it after more than 30 years. Mix caught them in mid-June, near the end of their North American tour, at The Warfield in San Francisco.

“I am mixing the band on a DiGico SD10,” says front-of-house mixer/ tour manager/production manager Scott Bozack. “I love the open architecture. With the new software you’re able to build your show in the layout section and now you can multichannel, along with copy to MIDI for recording, and you have the ability to gain share. We multitrack each show into Cubase SX6 with the UB MIDI, which allows us to do virtual soundcheck on those nights we have press obligations.”

“We’re using all house P.A. systems on this tour,” he continues. “TMBG play a lot of different styles of venues and shows, so our needs are different every night. A normal hang for us, and preference, is eight to 16 boxes and four subs a side—either d&b, L-Acoustics or JBL VerTec. The band owns everything else, but we always rent a FOH console package and a Lake processor from SK Systems in Long Island. We have had a longtime relationship with them and they always deliver what we need.

“The majority of mics are Sennheiser—we’re endorsed. Lead vocal mics are: for John Linnell, a 945, and for John Flansburgh, a 935 wireless. He travels everywhere on the stage and so we need a super durable mic that can handle the abuse and be able to work when he is out front of the P.A. We use Ultimate Ears ranging from UE7s to 11s. With our Sennheiser endorsement we use a mixture of G2 and 3s for transmitter and receivers.” A Shure Wireless Workshop helps to find clear channels.

“I mix TMBG on a Yamaha M7CL and got the band to purchase this one,” says monitor engineer Jon Carter. “The sends on faders makes it quick to make adjustments on the fly. The small footprint fits in some of the more challenging venues. We just started this year using the Midas XL-42 mic preamp with the Distressors for The Johns’ vocals; it really smooths out the monitor mixes.”

John Flansburgh’s amp is an original Matchless HC 30 head and a Xits (custom) 2-12 cabinet. “We use an SM57 off the axis of the cone to balance out the 3k that is prevalent in the mic,” monitor engineer Carter explains. “Both Flans and Dan Miller use JDI SGI line drivers to help balance out their signals, then run through Sennheiser G2 wireless systems.” Flansburgh’s footpedal gear includes the Radial SGI TX and SGI RX, Boss Noise Suppressor NS-2, Electro-Harmonix micro POG, MXR micro flanger and Semaphore tremolo.
photo of Armondo Garcia

Guitarist Dan Miller uses a Matchless amp and Sennheiser True Diversity Receiver W300 with a Shure SM57 on a Z bar. Bassist Danny Weinkauf uses Ampeg amps with a Sennheiser 902 mic with a Radial DI box.

John Linnell plays a Roland Fantom X8 with a Radial JD6 6-channel rackmount direct box underneath. He also plays a bass clarinet miked with a Sennheiser 908 and G3 wireless system.

For Linnell’s accordion rig, guitar tech Victor Muñoz built a 3-channel mixer and mounted it outside the accordion to accept inputs from two Sennheiser 908s and a Shure SM98 mounted inside, which are then premixed and sent via a Sennheiser G3 wireless system.

Marty Beller’s drum kit has a Shure SM91 and Beta 52 combo for kick, Beta 56 snare top, SM57 bottom, Beta 87C on the hi-hat (“The best hat mic there is,” says Carter), 98AMP for the second snare and toms, and Neumann 184 for overheads.