Paul Languedoc Mixes it Up
JW: What do you listen to in your spare time? Do you have a favorite band? Is Phish your favorite band?
PL: I couldn’t possibly listen to Phish. You know, I think they’re a good band, but I can’t listen to that off-tour. It’s not something that would relax me. I would be too critical. I listen to a lot of jazz. I’m not as up on music as people may think, to be honest. I like bluegrass and jazz, especially Miles Davis and some of the earlier bee-bop stuff. I like some of the old big band stuff. I also listen to some classical music occasionally.
JW: Were you familiar with a fan organization called “People for a Louder Mike”?
PL: I may have heard about that.
JW: Did that ever get back to you? I noticed that Mike’s tone is a lot different now.
PL: The bass is probably one of the hardest things to get out into the mix, depending on the way he’s playing and what he does with his settings. I don’t want to make excuses, but in the past I feel like it sort of has been out of my control. I mean, I could turn him up, but it wouldn’t help, you know? (laughs) I mean, I’m a big fan of bass. I love low end. PA systems now have improved to the point where you can hear that low information. It didn’t used to be that you could hear anything below 80 Hz as a clear note. You would maybe just sort of hear it as a muddy thump kind of a thing.
JW: Or feel it in your chest…
PL: Yeah. Mike plays a lot of low notes. He’s got a low B string on his bass and he really plays as lot of low notes, a lot more than most bass players. So, it’s really hard to get that right. I mean, if he was a different kind of bass player and he was playing up the neck a lot more, I have a feeling people wouldn’t be saying “we wanna hear Mike more.”
JW: I noticed when the whole funk phase began, that a lot of people were raving about how loud Mike was in the mix. Was that a conscious decision that you made because they were playing a funkier style or was it because Mike was playing a different bass? I know he switched to the Modulus…
PL: Yeah, I think things have improved bit by bit. I think the PA system is better, particular the low frequency information. It seems to be working better. I love the bass. I’ll turn it way up. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too loud.
JW: I’m going to get to the new stage set up in just a moment, but with the old stage set up that you used for fifteen years, there used to be a turquoise coffee mug on Page’s piano and it looked like Trey would speak into it. (With the reconfigured stage set up, it has now moved to Trey’s rack system). Is there a microphone in it that he uses to speak to Page’s in-ear monitor?
PL: Oh, I don’t know if I can tell you that.
PL: I think that maybe I have to keep that a secret.
JW: Is that a secret?
PL: Well, I can’t answer everything.
JW: We’ll keep everyone wondering…
PL: Yeah that’s better.
JW: So why the new stage set up after all these years?
PL: Well, Trey did this little tour with Tony Markelis and Russ Lawton and that’s where he set up on stage. I think that had a lot to do with it. It’s always been a little funny, although I think kind of interesting, the way (the band used to set up). I mean, you never see a drummer set up way off stage like that. Band’s usually set up drummers in the middle, usually in the back. I think the only reason that Phish ever did that was because when they were playing at Nectars, that was the only place to put the drums. There was no other way for them to set up, so that they could all fit on stage. So, that was how they started doing that years and years ago and they just kind of stuck with it.
JW: On a technical level, do you have to do anything different because of the new set up?
PL: Maybe a bit. I mean, Trey and Mike’s vocal mics now pick up more drums and cymbals than they used to, but in general I think it’s better than it used to be. It hasn’t made that big a difference though.
JW: Is it a permanent change?
PL: Yeah, I think they like it. I’ve heard nothing but positive (feedback).
JW: Do you work with any digital software at all? I mean, for some of the venues that you mix at regularly, do you have a file that you save so that you don’t have to start from scratch as far as the EQ?
PL: No, my consoles are still fully analog. We do have some things that are programmable like equalization and stuff like that and all of our EQs are digitally controlled and there’s quite a few of them. When we’re in arenas, there are so many different zones of speakers that there’s something like fourteen different EQs. All of that stuff can be stored and recalled, but I used to do that, but it ended up not being helpful, so I don’t really do that anymore. I don’t think I would want to do that. I’m starting to get interested in digital consoles, but I don’t think that being able to recall settings you did like a year ago would be helpful.
JW: Are you always constantly working during the show or do you ever take a second and say to yourself “wow, they’re really going off right now”?
JW: And your favorite song is still Dog Log?
PL: I wouldn’t say that’s my favorite song. (laughs) I don’t know how that rumor started.
JW: I believe Trey said it from the stage, didn’t he?
PL: Yeah. They’re kidding me. The only reason that happened was because they used to go up on stage and mess around and I would ask them to play a song, you know, for sound check. I mean, this was a long time ago. I would just want them to play a song that had vocals so that I could get a mix and I just remember one time Trey going, “well, what do you want to hear?” And I said, “Oh I don’t know, Dog Log.” And from that point on, for some reason that became my favorite song. It’s not my favorite song, but it’s an OK song.
Jeff Waful is a Jambands.com columnist and manages and books Uncle Sammy.