Interview with Ken “Pooch” van Druten – FOH Engineer Linkin Park

So Ken, how did you get into the music business and become a FOH engineer?I have been a musician all my life. I studied classical piano beginning at the age of three years old. When I was in high school I had started to play guitar because I figured out that guitar players got the girls. The punk band I was in won a „battle of the bands“ contest. The prize was a weekend in the recording studio in Los Angeles. When we went to the sessions, I spent the entire time watching what the engineer was doing, and not caring at all about my guitar playing. I said „I want to do what THAT guy is doing.“ Later that same year I was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. There I studied Music Production and Engineering and graduated in 1991. While I was still in Boston I was working at a local studio and eventually worked my way up to become the head engineer there. After I graduated I had already had quite a bit of experience in the studio, and moved to Los Angeles. I spent my first four years in Los Angeles working as a producer and recording engineer in the LA music scene. One of the bands that I was working with in the studio fired their FOH guy, and asked if I could mix their live show. Previous to that moment I had never mixed NYTHING live. I fell deeply in love with the instant gratification of mixing a live show and have never looked back. My world has come full circle in recent years as I am getting bands now asking me to mix some of their studio projects.

What are some of the bands you’ve done sound for over the years?Kiss, Kid Rock, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Smashing Pumpkins, Ted Nugent, System of A Down, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Courtney Love, Seal, Guns and Roses, Slash, Lisa Marie Presley, etc…

Has there been a favorite band to work for among these? The one that paid me the most….. just kidding…. Slash (by far). One of the worlds best guitar players and an amazing friend to boot.

How were you introduced to Palmer products?
Actually – Brad Maddix (Rush‘s FOH engineer) introduced me to them except he doesn‘t know it. My good friend Robert Long (production manager for Disturbed) did a tour with Brad, and when Robert came back from that tour and said – „you have got to try these speaker DI‘s that Brad was using – they are amazing!!!!!) Which Palmer product(s) have you used? I have tried the PDI-03 and the PDI-09. I primarily use the PDI-09 on all my guitars today.

(you mentioned using the PDI-09) In your applications, you prefer to mix the PDI- 09 with your mic of choice (AT4050?). How do you set this up? Adjusting pan and what not?Believe it or not, my primary guitar sounds are coming from the PDI-09. I use the AT4050 to get the air movement that I don‘t get from a DI. So generally I lo pass the 4050 so that I get the chunk out of the speakers that the DI just can’t physically provide. Today with digital consoles I put a 0.5 to 1 ms delay on the palmer channel versus the mic to make up for the phasing/latency that happens when you combine an electric signal with an acoustic to electric transducer.

What do you like about using Palmer? Any special characteristics you can point out? What you put in, you get out. I have done several instances of the „pepsi challenge“ between mics and Palmers with artists, and asked them to tell me which one is the mic, and which is the DI. 4 out of 5 times they get it wrong.

Would you recommend the PDI-09 in lieu of a microphone for small club applications? What sort of benefit might a person achieve using a PDI-09 versus a microphone on their cab? Absolutely. I believe whole heartedly that the PDI-09 is a viable alternative to a microphone in a club situation. Gain before feedback is the primary benefit there.

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