Photo: Zito mixing OneRepublic at Milwaukee's Summerfest (photo credit: Sara Bill)
Recently wrapping up the North American leg of its 2014 tour, which carried the band on a 42-date sweep across its home turf, OneRepublic is now on the verge of heading into a 23-show trek of the UK and Europe. At the helm of the audio mix once again is Zito, the group's FOH engineer since February 2013, who upgraded to a DiGiCo SD7 earlier this year for the voyage. "The SD series is just incredible" he says. "Because it's so flexible, you can lay it out however you want so that you feel comfortable on it."
Although the initial gear spec called for a DiGiCo SD5 desk at FOH and another manufacturer's desk for monitors, the production team, supplied through VER, ended up switching out to dual DiGiCo SD7 desks at both positions, sharing two SD-Racks via an HMA Optic Loop.
Monitor engineer Matt Manix, who's been with OneRepublic since July 2013, is also enthusiastic about his SD7 console on the stage wing: "Zito somehow convinced me to rip my hands away from comfort, and I've been very happy with the console switch. I've used the console I was previously on for years, and it's a great desk, but we needed more flexibility at monitors as far as inputs and outputs are concerned. The sonics of the DiGiCo didn't hurt the decision for me to switch as well.
"We were also interested in sharing head amps and eliminating the analog splitter," explains Manix. "We are sharing DiGiCo I/O on this tour. This decision was twofold: it cut down on troubleshooting time when we ran into issues, and the sonics improved by eliminating extra connections and copper. We are able to hear inputs exactly how each other hears them and see meters react the same way since we have the same desks and headamps. Switching to the DiGiCo has allowed me to effectively and efficiently meet the artistic demands of the band and their evolution from gig to gig as far as monitors are concerned."
Zito, who dually serves as the show's PM, has also been a longtime user of another manufacturer's desk. While he still likes that console, he was very interested in trying out the DiGiCo line. "I really wanted a desk that could live at 96K," he describes. "I did the first leg of the tour on the SD5, and then we both switched to the SD7 sharing stage racks, as Matt mentioned. We both had some hesitation in trying this but, in the end, it has been a great decision. Not only did it eliminate a ton of copper from the splitters, but it has really simplified our patch. We know that if one of us has an input, we both do! This desk sounds phenomenal; it is so clean and the EQ is incredibly accurate. I can't see myself using anything else for a long time."
Zito and Manix have to stay on their toes mixing live sound for OneRepublic since band leader Ryan Tedder has been known to spontaneously rethink tempos and set lists, which naturally include all of the group's hits, like "Apologize", "All the Right Moves" and "Counting Stars."
"This band LOVES audibles; we get them thrown at us all the time," Zito says. "The band will call an audible to our playback guy, who then calls that out to the crew. Things can get pretty interesting at times. That spontaneity is very exciting, I think, and forces us to move quickly and try new things. Ryan is like a windup toy. He'll be all over the stage, the subs, on the thrust, in the pit and, in some cases, under or directly in front of the PA. Sometimes the follow spots have a hard time following him. He's even shown up at FOH a couple times. Never a dull moment!"
With the North American tour leg wrapping up in the band's home state of Colorado on August 30, OneRepublic's UK and European trek kicks off on October 19 in Dublin, Ireland and finishes up on November 21 in Lisbon, Portugal. Visit www.onerepublic.com for more details.