Chester French on tour with Electro-Voice microphones
With an original sound that is equal parts indie rock and hip-hop, duo Chester French has been on the fast track to fame ever since their first hit single “She Loves Everybody” debuted on Nov. 18, 2008.
After months of shows and TV appearances, the release of their first album, “Love the Future,” and a US tour with Lady Sovereign, the pair of Harvard alumni will embark for Europe, returning home in July to begin opening for punk rockers Blink-182 on their North American summer tour. For every performance Chester French will perform through Electro-Voice microphones, enthusiastically mixed by Tour Manager/FOH Engineer Sean Peel.
Peel, a longtime Electro-Voice user, is a busy freelance tour manager and FOH Engineer who trusts his EV mics to stand up to the rigors of touring. For years, EV’s first generation PL80 mics set the world standard for live performance microphones. The new PL80’s sound, along with its rugged, natural-feeling design, has made it Peel’s go-to vocal mic.
“I love the PL80,” says Peel. “It’s awesome — I’m glad it’s back with a vengeance! The PL80c (with classic finish) is just like it was back in the day, but with all the advantages of state-of-the-art materials. And not only is it a great live microphone, it even works great when we’re recording TV and doing in-studio stuff like that. But it still makes its real mark in live sound because it does what other mics can’t. To me, a lot of vocal mics start to have problems when they get to high-frequencies and the sound gets really weak and brittle, but the PL80 has a very warm-sounding high end – you get all the top end you want without any shrillness. It’s especially good in louder live rooms. For these reasons it’s just a cut above the other standard-issue vocal mics out there. Plus it looks really cool!"
And not only does the PL80’s sound impress, its design is also encourages users to hold the mic correctly for optimal effect. Peel explains: “Singers tend to cup the mic with their hands around the element with other mics; with the PL80 they grab the handle of the microphone, and hold it right. When you hold it better you’re going to sound better, too.”
In addition to PL80 vocal mics, Peel uses EV N/D468s mics on drums, RE200 condensers on cymbals, and the N/D868 on kick drum.
“The N/D 468 is basically the best standard drum mic there is,” says Peel. “You can’t get any more standard than the 468. It’s been on drum kits forever. Because of its design, it can stick in really tight places – you can’t get any better than that. And on top of everything it’s got that incredible sound that EV mics have always had – a great combination of warmth and definition. I put 468s everywhere on drums and RE200s on cymbals. I think The RE200 is the best cymbal mic out there. It really captures that swishy sound that I always want out of a cymbal. And of course the 868 on the kick is another industry standard mic from EV. I like the 868 because a lot of times it’s not about the click, it’s about what the drum sounds like, and the 868 delivers that.”
Chester French were recently featured as musical guests on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on April 21, 2009, the same day as the release of “Love the Future.” Peel brought his PL80 vocal mics to the Late Night studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for the performance:
“Of course I wanted to use these PL80s on the show because I knew they would sound better. But, understandably, the NBC engineers were used to their own mics and were hesitant. When I took one of the PL80s out, one of the older engineers said, ‘Hey I remember those mics from when I was a kid!’ Long story short: I convinced them to use my mics, we did the show, and they said, ‘Wow! This is a great microphone! It sounds great, has great rejection around it, and it sounds awesome on television.’ Everyone was very impressed.”
Peel also reports that even before their appearance on Late Night, the band was sold on performing with EV microphones.
“The band loves the mics, too,” says Peel. “They’re holding up on the road, they sound great, and our lead singer can hear his in-ears really well – that’s another thing about the PL80 – people can actually hear their vocal mic and it doesn’t sound distorted in your ear. And the mics are holding up really well, night after night; they’re solid, they’re metal, they’re tough – you can’t bust them. Even when your singer decides to drop the microphone.
“Electro-Voice rocks my world,” adds Peel. “These are my tools of the trade. EV puts out a great microphone – when it comes to mics, EV has more that are warmer sounding than any other mic manufacturer out there. And that’s what counts when you’re doing a live show and you’re trying to capture a recording sound at a live performance. It’s all about warmth at EV, and that’s what it’s all about for me.”