For No Doubt Tour, There’s No Doubt about the Virtues of VENUE
After a five-year hiatus, multi Grammy® Award-winning band No Doubt have reunited, trekking across the U.S. and Canada on a summer tour that’s just winding down. Helping the band get the crowd on their feet each night is veteran front-of-house live sound engineer John Kerns, who depends on a VENUE Profile System to handle the band’s high energy shows, rigorous touring schedule, and high 64-input channel count.
Kerns, who honed his chops on analog consoles for over two decades, mixing the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain, and Sammy Hagar, didn’t make the move to digital until a few years ago, when the technology caught up to his liking.
“It wasn’t until three or four years ago that I ran into digital desks that I really liked,” he recalls, adding that “some [analog consoles] could be just as problematic as some of the early digital stuff.
But once he discovered how easy it was to mix with VENUE and how the system eliminated many of the time-consuming tasks inherent with analog consoles, he became hooked. “[It’s the] easiest of all the digital consoles [I’ve used],” he says. “It’s laid out like an analog console… Everything on the console surface itself is totally usable.”
Kerns toured with punk rock band Sum 41 and Australian electropop group Rogue Traders with a VENUE system before hitting the road with No Doubt, citing the system’s recall abilities and reliability as the two biggest advantages of moving from analog consoles to VENUE.
If you have any knowledge of working with analog consoles, then learning this [VENUE] console is a breeze — it’s 10 minutes...[It’s the] easiest of all the digital consoles [I’ve used].
Plug-ins were something new, as Kerns had used analog gear in the studio and on the road for years. But after some experimenting and discovering all the plug-ins available for VENUE that emulated many of the hardware boxes he relied on, he eliminated most of his outboard gear.
“For reverbs, I like the TC [Electronic] stuff,” he says, listing his favorite plug-ins. “I like TL Space… it sounds good. I use Crane Song Phoenix, which a lot of people use for its analog-ness. I use a bunch of McDSP stuff… Analog Channel… Everything that’s in the stock VENUEPack — it has some great compressors in it. The [processing] just on the [console] surface is totally usable — if I had to do a show with just the surface stuff and not a single plug-in, other than ’verbs and delays, I’d be absolutely fine.”
Because he was able to shed the excess gear, VENUE proved to be a cost-effective choice to meet smaller touring budgets. “For Sum 41, we did [shows] all over the world, and it’s usually on a slightly lesser budget than some [bigger tours],” he explains. “Being able to take just three rack spaces [of outboard gear] and a USB key [containing show files and plug-in authorizations] is a lot easier than going in and dialing up a show from scratch on an analog console — or flying [a bunch of hardware] over. It’s easy.”
VENUE also made things easy when it came to mixing festivals, as he was able to communicate the band’s needs with the event coordinators prior to the show over email, and then simply plug in their USB key, which contained a show file with all of the output assignments, into his console and be ready to go at the show. “They’re line-checking as soon as the band gets patched onstage, whereas in the analog world, if you’ve got 60 or 70 inputs, you’re still dialing knobs, looking at pieces of paper to see what you had on the last show. [VENUE] is a lifesaver.”
As for switching to VENUE from an analog or digital console, Kerns has this to say: “If you have any knowledge of working with analog consoles, then learning this [VENUE] console is a breeze — it’s 10 minutes. If you know any of the other digital [consoles] out there right now, you’ll rapidly see that this is by far the easiest and makes the most sense out of any of these digital formats.”