09 May 2018
The unique sound of the Gorillaz heard across the world
The Gorillaz tour in support of their latest album ‘Humanz’ grew to be the band’s most successful ever and the hot ticket of 2017 in the USA and Europe. Part of that success is down to some nurturing tour-craft by Production Manager Joel Stanley.
“The tour started off with some warm ups in little venues,” said Stanley. “Eventually that grew as we added flown scenic elements of video, more lights and ultimately a completely new, and to my mind, quite remarkable PA system. I know Matt [Gorillaz FoH Engineer] is really enjoying using it.”
Matt Butcher has been Gorillaz FoH since the band’s inception. Accompanied by Dave Guerin on monitors, neither are shy when it comes to extolling the virtues of their new d&b audiotechnik GSL System as provided by Brown Note Productions of Denver, Colorado. “It is quite a major step forward,” said Butcher; “It’s been a revelation,” chimed Guerin.
The switch to the GSL system was a combination of Brown Note’s belief in the product and simple serendipity. “Brown Note already stock in excess of two hundred J-TOP boxes and we became an official d&b Partner in 2017,” explained Ben Shapiro, Brown Note Head of Audio, and Client Manager for the tour. “What we heard [earlier in the year at the SL-Series preview in Germany] was a phenomenal leap forward in technology and accuracy.”
Ryan Knutson, President at Brown Note, agreed, “Hearing the GSL system side by side with the J-Series in Germany I knew that what we were looking at and listening to was something special and ground breaking. We had no idea until the systems were compared just how much better the pattern control could be. d&b has always been great at pattern control, that is why d&b systems are some of the most consistent in the world.”
The demo proved so compelling Brown Note placed an order immediately. “Matt was eager to try it,” continued Shapiro, “And as it happened timing was on his side… Brown Note and d&b came up with agreement to ship our new GSL system from the factory in Germany direct to the tour.”
“Although it is perceived as a stadium scale system, size and weight is not an issue; we could see good application for it on the arena circuit so the Gorillaz tour made perfect sense,” said Shapiro.
For Matt Butcher, a long-term adherent for d&b systems, the benefits have proved abundant. “Seriously, stand anywhere behind the mains on stage and you just hear what’s on stage, not the system. Walk behind and you just don’t hear it. So I’m having a very nice time with it.”
Of course, in many ways that’s a benefit to the monitor mixer and the band, what about for Butcher in the house? “Immediately I notice an added punch out front, the snare sound emerging from the kit is just wonderful. Everything sounds much more direct. Myself and Perttu Korteniemi - my excellent system tech - have Y10Ps out front as desk monitors and on several occasions, we’ve gone to turn them off only to discover they were already off, and what we’re hearing is the main system.”
Guerin on monitors is equally enthused, “I can now actually hear things in my local wedge that was just not possible before. Things like the low end of an acoustic guitar or the keyboards; those sounds would formerly have been masked by the sound coming off the back of any system. It’s so profound that there have been gigs where I’ve called up Matt out front on talkback and asked if he’s ok because from where I’m sitting it sounds like the PA is turned off.”
Shapiro added “With the European leg of the tour complete the GSL has shipped to the US and this amazing new system is already available to our US clients.”
Photography: Mark Allen, Denholm Hewlett