Today, many a drummer’s role has evolved from that of basic timekeeper to multi-tasking production manager. This shift has largely resulted from the pressure on feature acts to try and faithfully reproduce their oftentimes loop-, sequence- and sample-heavy recordings live. No longer playing basic acoustic drum kits, drummers must manage a wide array of electronics, samples, loops and sequenced tracks during a live show, on the fly.
Christopher Patrick Bounds, drummer for pop singer/ songwriter ZZ Ward has found a simple and versatile solution to this challenge. Whether it’s on the Mojave Stage at Coachella or opening for Eric Clapton at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Bounds relies on the new Mackie 802VLZ4 8-channel ultra compact mixer to create a personal monitor mix that he can adjust during performances as needed.
Having the 802VLZ4 at his side helps ensure no surprises in a role with a lot of variables night after night. “I use the Mackie 802VLZ4 mixer so I can have my own personal mix because I don’t want to depend on the house engineer all the time to give me exactly what I need every night,” says Bounds.
And getting exactly what he needs is essential to the performance sounding great. Ward’s sample- and sequence-centric songs such as “Til the Casket Drops” or “Blue Eyes Blind” require Bounds to trigger – and monitor – sampled sounds while locking in with sequences used on the recording, cueing off a click track only he can hear. “Counting off a song is like I am conducting, as well as playing at the same time. The click track is essential for me to set the tempo, since everything else is triggered around that. I couldn’t do it without the Mackie mixer.”
Since each venue is different, Bounds needs as much control as possible over what he hears onstage. “With the 802VLZ4, I can control everything I have. On stage, we split the mix up into drums and background vocals and the musical cues. With the Mackie next to me, I can turn each part up or down, whatever I need. And I get a line from the soundboard to the 802VLZ4 as well so I can control the mix coming from the stage. This way, I can hear everything.”
With eight models to choose from, ranging from 4 to 32 channels, Mackie’s new VLZ4 Series extends the legacy of the company’s rugged, no-nonsense line of compact line mixers. The compact 802VLZ4 that Bounds uses onstage is an 8-channel mixer featuring Mackie’s signature high-headroom/low-noise design.
The VLZ4 Series mixers feature boutique-quality Onyx mic preamps (three on Bounds’ 802VLZ4) for an ultra-wide 60dB gain range. Additional features include 128.5 dB dynamic range, +22 dBu line input handling, and extended frequency response and distortion under 0.0007% (20Hz – 50kHz). Phantom power, four high-headroom line inputs, selectable instrument inputs on the first two channels and 2-band EQ (80Hz, 12kHz) round out a short list of the VLZ Series’ professional features.
Ultimately for Bounds, it’s all about making sure the music sounds and feels great, night after night, and his Mackie 802VLZ4 gives him the flexibility to design his live setup to do this.
“I am the kind of person that loves to play with a lot of energy and force, but I try to save my ears as much as I can,” says Bounds. “With the Mackie I can control the sound going straight to my in-ears. The Mackie 802VLZ4 really helps me create that presence in my in-ears that I need. It works great, every single night.”