"Playing in a live band is something we’ve always done, since we were young, and for us it’s the most natural way to showcase our music. I also think that it’s dependant on our music style, which in its original live form seems to suit venues over clubs, as well as earlier set times. They’re both important to us though, DJing and live, they just have to be approached individually and correctly."
How did you initially intend your setup to work?
"We’re very proud of running little-to-no backing tracks"
Liam: "On my side there's a Dave Smith Prophet-08 thats run through a Strymon Blue Sky, Korg MS-20 running through Spring Theory Sub Decay, Dave Smith Tempest drum machine going through: Spring Theory Dub Decay; Moog MF Drive and Mooer Delay, Roland SPD-SX through a Space Echo, various shakers, tambourines and a cowbell, Akai MPD266 – controlling a sampler built within Ableton – Novation Launchpad as well a playback rig running Ableton. In the playback rack there is a multitude of DIs, conditioners and interfaces sending and receiving audio and MIDI all over the setup. It’s mostly MIDI and we also run the timecode for our visuals here too."
What are the main challenges in the setup as a whole?
"The main challenge for this setup is preparing the tracks to be able to play them. It requires a lot of time spent programming and bouncing sounds out prior to playing a new song: because there are so many elements to it. Once it’s running it’s a super efficient setup that feels intuitive and has little room for error or malfunction."
"I think you just gotta have fun with it. When we first built the show for the Portraits tour, there was quite a lot of audio tracks running on the playback and at times it didn’t really feel like we were fully playing the music. There was a disconnection and it resulted in us growing tired of the show quite quickly and feeling a bit stifled with our setup. We started pulling parts off of the track until there was almost nothing left running on the laptop, which made the show much harder to perform but it put the fun and challenge back into it and kept us all fully engaged and connected to the music. Ultimately you just have to have fun with it and challenge yourself. A big tip also would be to understand you kit inside and out."
"I think there are many sides to it. One part would be due to the ease in which people can now perform their music live. For very little money you can grab yourself a computer, a copy of Ableton Live and some kind of sampler/controller and you’re ready to go. The technology is better and cheaper than it’s ever been and that must be playing some part. There is also more suitable spaces for artists to play their music live. Venues have upped their specs a lot and are capable of hosting larger electronic setups. Not too long ago the spec wouldn’t have mattered as much when guitar music was leading the live scene as bands could just turn up and crank their amps up.
"It takes a lot of prep and also a lot of trial and error. Initially, we mostly try and play the songs as they are on the record and then in some cases we develop them further to either suit the live environment better or to suit the live set up better. In terms of what is being played we just sit down and go though the session file of the track and pick off parts that suit our individual setup and discard parts that we think won’t be needed."
"From a practical stand point I’d like to add a redundant laptop set up into the playback rig: to make sure we don’t have any issues with laptops failing us on stage. I’m currently playing an MS-20 mini so I’d like to swap it out for an original one. More guitar pedals are always welcome and we’ve always loved the idea of adding a big marimba into the show!"