Ends Tomorrow: Vocal Plugin Sale | Shop Now »

Mixing the American Idiot Musical with Waves Plugins

Jan 10, 2017

FOH engineer Oscar Söderlund (The Cardigans) and monitor engineer Peter Fredriksson (Roxette) have chosen Waves MultiRack and Waves plugins for the West End production of the rock opera American Idiot, based on the music of Green Day.

We caught up with the two engineers as they were working on the UK production of the popular musical. Oscar Söderlund was running Waves using MultiRack SoundGrid, working on an Allen & Heath dLive console with a DM64 and a S7000 surface, while Fredriksson was using the Allen & Heath S7000 with an M-Waves V2 card and M-DL-ADAPT card adapter.

FOH engineer Oscar Söderlund on the American Idiot production FOH engineer Oscar Söderlund on the American Idiot production

Fredriksson notes: “I use the Waves CLA Classic Compressors bundle to smack guitar and drums up a bit, and to get that 'CLA' feel, which is very significant to the Green Day sound. Chris Lord-Alge, a.k.a. CLA, who helped develop the CLA Classic Compressors plugins, had worked on both the musical’s cast recording and the original Green Day albums. Doing a Green Day musical, you must have that CLA sound. I also use the Vitamin Sonic Enhancer for widening the strings, and the H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb is a favorite on a lot of stuff – it sounds amazing, and it is very easy to use. H-Reverb is great when you need to really fine-tune your reverbs. I’m using the C4 Multiband Compressor to control the dynamics and frequencies on some head mics.”

Promo for the UK production of American Idiot

Söderlund remarks: “In one of the local card ports I have an A&H M-Waves V2 card, connecting to two SoundGrid Server One units in a redundant setup. A Waves MultiRack SoundGrid is installed on a MacBook Air; I use it to house and manage my Waves plugins. As this musical is based on Green Day’s album American Idiot and some of their other work, it was very important for me to get as close as possible to Green Day’s signature sound. I wanted to get a loud, in-your-face rock sound, but still keep vocals and dialog in focus, without losing attitude. There is a full punk band and 21 singers with head mics, singing on stage and backstage nearly all the time. The orchestra pit has a string section together with the musical director, who also plays keyboards and operates an advanced Pro Tools project, controlling multiple clicks, LTC, backtracks etc. I knew I would need some clever Waves plugins to give me the sound, width and depth required in order to control the difficult and demanding composition of a live punk rock band, multiple head mics and a string section.”

Söderlund adds on using Waves plugins: “There are different ways of approaching and using plugins; sometimes I use them to season a mix, to add that little extra; sometimes I need them to be problem solvers. At times I use them to change the whole feel and sound of my entire mix, and occasionally I do all of these things at once. I love the Chris Lord-Alge Signature Series bundle, CLA Classic Compressors, and especially the CLA-76, which I use for parallel compression on drums, and also on vocals and guitars. On the vocals, it gives me that rich, smooth, expensive-sounding vocal sound. With this plugin, it’s easy to forget that I have 21 head mics up there at the same time; the CLA-76 gives me a phenomenal large choir sound with individual vocal leads. On rhythm guitars, it gives me thick and punchy sound that is still highly detailed and separated. Other than that, Vitamin Sonic Enhancer is my new favorite – it really helps me make room in the full mix. My other Waves go-to plugins are the PuigTec EQs on guitars, REDD, the NLS Non-Linear Summer, and of course the C6 Multiband Compressor.”