If you're Canadian, over 30, and into heavy metal, then you've probably heard of Piledriver, or maybe, The Exalted Piledriver. A staple in the Northern metal scene and lead by Gord Kirchin - sometimes referred to as Goober VonPilehoiven De Turd - this is one underground band whose live show and stage antics probably proceed their music. Well, for this year's installment of Calgary Metalfest, the band played their first-ever Western Canadian performance and fans went nuts. Thankfully for us all, we snagged some interview time with Kirchin and talked about gear!
What one piece of gear did you use to obtain your signature sound on stage at Calgary Metalfest? Kirchin: Being a vocalist, performing at a festival event, I will most probably end up being handed an industry standard Shure SM58 to bark into. Sometimes it's a Beta58. Nonetheless, they are the seminal workhorses of the live performance industry. On the rare occasion that I do bring along my own mic, I use a Sennheiser EW100 G2 with the MD835 dynamic capsule.
What about it makes it so important to you? Kirchin: Like I said, the Shures are the industry standard for workhorse reliability. The Sennheiser has a much more HiFi response, so I do enjoy that, but, I don't 'require' it per se.
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album? Kirchin: In studio I tend towards large diaphragm condensers such as the ubiquitous Neumanns and the AKG-c414 ubls. Ocaisionally for 'colour' I'll use a Sennheiser 441.
How did you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set at Calgary Metalfest? Kirchin: I don't like 'recreating' an album onstage... I prefer each night to be it's own creation. If people want to hear the album, play the album. Onstage it's about the energy, the excitement, the non-reproducabilty of live performance. I like to think that each audience gets their own personalized take on the tunes. Sure, we'll be in the ball park, and the songs will sound generally like what people are used to hearing, but hopefully the performance will be edgier, wilder, and more spontaneous than what was captured in the studio.
What are the major pros and cons of your gear? Kirchin: The pro is that the audience will hear some reasonable semblance of my vocals and sound techs know the SM58's response and capabilities. The con is that with the mask I wear onstage, and my dislike for the 'disconnect' from the audience that in-ear monitoring presents if no audience mics are in the monitor mix, I don't properly hear stage monitors or the sound quality of whatever mic I'm singing through anyways, so, really, I don't care all that much. Luckily, the mask allows me some 'self-monitoring' by dint of reducing the instrument stage volume in relation to my bone/body conducted vocals, so it kind of works for me.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what? Kirchin: Phlegm, bile, and big inhales.
How long have you had it, how do you use it, would you ever change it? Kirchin: I've been faced with SM58's since the 70's, and know and love them.
Give us your best "gear goes wrong" story. Kirchin: Worst case is bad grounding and lip/teeth shocks. I HATE that. It hasn't happened to me in a long while, and I'm thankful for that, haha. I wish I would bring my wireless more often, but, I understand the need for festival techs to get 'er did fast and smoothe, and have no problems with that at all. I'm easy, really. Whatever works.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear? Kirchin: The SM58 is an industry standard for a reason. It works, and it works well. Plus, if you left your hammer at the last venue you played, you can use it to nail up your backdrop, it's so solidly built.