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“ROGER IS FOREVER STRIVING FOR A BETTER SOUND; THAT’S WHY OUR STAGE IS FULL OF THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY.” hear what I’m doing, and sometimes after a show, he’ll come up to me and tell me the bits he loved and the bits he perhaps didn’t like so much. [smiles] But it’s great that we can communicate like that, really.” Heckers has two master busses on his console: one for Roger, and the other for the PA system. “Because we fly a lot, we don’t take our own console everywhere, but it always has to be DiGiCo; that’s actually in the contract – seriously – we literally won’t do a show without one,” Heckers reveals, adding that they own one DiGiCo which stays in Europe, and in Canada, they either use an SD7, SD8, or SD10. So why DiGiCo, then? “The number one reason is always the sound. That is everything. We used to tour a [Yamaha] PM5D in the old days, as it was the only console available worldwide, but now that’s all changed. I decided to switch over to DiGiCo, and Roger was really amazed how much better the sound quality immediately was – this was five or six years ago. Another 21 HEADLINER

reason is that it’s pretty complicated what we do out there. I mean, I am literally doing in-ears and monitor mixing from the front of house console, so I am wearing a few hats! And it’s not so easy to switch over to another console. In fact, it would take two days to program another one, and I can tell you it wouldn’t sound the same.” Another crucial element to the Roger Hodgson production is the RME inventory: UFX cards, and the new Babyface interface, which Heckers and Hodgson himself are big fans of. “Roger was using a Motu soundcard, and Richard DeClemente at RME offered to change that to a UFX; and again, the quality was immediately so much better,” says Heckers. “Roger has three positions on stage - keys, guitar, and piano - and a lot of time we trigger the piano with MIDI. That’s now going to the UFX in his computer, which is running some plugins - and the same for his keyboards. I was already using the RME MADI face for recording, too, as we record every show to multitrack. That’s how we made [Hodgson’s] Classics Live album, which we recorded all over the world, so each song is recorded in a different venue. Roger likes every show recorded multitracked.” Another bit of RME kit that Heckers has adopted – as have some of Roger’s band members – is the Babyface interface. “I carry Babyface in my suitcase, and I am very happy what RME has done with it, as I

had the old version, which was a real hassle to use,” he admits. “But Babyface has XLRs in the unit itself, as well as the quarter-inch jacks and MIDI capabilities, and I am now using it mostly for two-track recording for front of house. But Roger uses it a lot, too, for recording in his hotel room to try out his rig. He thinks it’s awesome, as do I, because it’s solid, the sound quality is amazing, and you don’t need any cables, just a USB, and you’re hooked up to your computer. It’s a very easy to use piece of kit, and it’s so easy to transport, plus it does the job great. “Roger is doing a lot of recording in his hotel room, and out on the road. He’s working on a new song now, so is probably hooking up a piano or guitar and a vocal and using it to record. What’s nice about everything RME makes is you just download the driver, plug it in, and it works. I’ve had other gear in the past - especially with multitrack recordings where I’ve been halfway into a two-hour show, and the whole thing has crashed! Now I’m recording 56 channels on a USB 2.0, and it’s never crashed. It’s just an awesome product.” And the rest of the band think so, too: “Kevin Adamson, who’s on keys, and Aaron Macdonald, who’s on keys and sax, are both using RME kit. Aaron has a Babyface, and Kevin has a UFX; then Roger has a UFX as well as his Babyface. So we’re all hooked on this gear, basically! Everyone has a computer and an RME soundcard, and all the sounds come from the computer, hooked up with MIDI, and triggered from the computer. Rig up any keyboard, and it works perfectly.” But the show is still fully live, and there’s no playback, right? “Oh yeah, completely. We use a lot of great technology, but it’s all live music, and there are no tracks running during the show,” Heckers confirms. “People say to me, ‘it sounds great, but it’s a shame it’s all playback’, because they see the computers. I am always explaining, ‘no it isn’t!’, as the band only ever use the computers for triggering sounds, so actually it’s just a phenomenal live show.” And what next then? Any chance of coming to that show at the Royal Albert Hall? “Most definitely,” smiles Heckers. Result. “Next year in production rehearsals, we are looking to do everything digital on MADI, so Roger will be sending a MADI stream to the DiGiCo rack, and the same for Kevin and Aaron, so we’ll have all the keyboards going digital into the DiGiCo. Roger is such a tech freak, and we don’t do normal sound checks: it’s 10 to 15 minutes at the most, and then the tweaking starts! [smiles] He tweaks his sounds the same way on stage as he does in his hotel room with his instruments and laptop, and is forever striving for a better sound. That’s why our stage is full of the latest technology.”

Profile for Headliner Magazine

Headliner 13  

Headliner 13