KEN "POOCH" VAN DRUTEN
SYSTEM OF A DOWN
Pooch has been a musician all his life, starting with classical piano studies at the age of three. When he was in high school, he started to play guitar because he had "figured out that guitar players got the girls."
The punk band he was in at the time won a Battle of the Bands contest, and later that year he was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. After studying Production and Engineering there, he graduated in 1991 and moved to Los Angeles, and the LA studio scene became his life.
Van Druten has served at FOH for a myriad of artists over the years, including KISS, Whitney Houston, Kid Rock, System of a Down, and Limp Bizkit, but he is perhaps best known for his association with Linkin Park, with whom he started working in January 2007. Impressed with the VR1s and having subsequently tried a wider selection of sE mics, when Linkin Park began to gear up for a tour, Van Druten recommended that the band add more of the brand's models to its inventory.
"I said, these microphones are awesome, you should check them out; we need to get them for the tour," he recounts. "I'm lucky to work with guys who, number one, listen to what I say and, two, have the respect and the money backing to do whatever we would like. The point is, there are now sE microphones all over Linkin Park's stage."
Linkin Park drummer Rob Bourdon's kit is miked using a variety of sE models. "We use the Rupert Neve-designed RN17s on all of our cymbals, high-hats and rides; we mic from the top on hats and from the bottom on rides," Van Druten reports. "And we use the sE4400a for overheads. The 4400a has a lot of breadth. With a lot of other overhead microphones, you put them up and then you high-pass them, of course, because you're in a live situation and you don't want feedback. But some of the super-high frequencies—6k, 8k, 10k—are often harsh in overheads. The first thing the monitor engineer and I noticed with the 4400a's was that when I high-passed them up they were flat—I didn't have to make any of the normal adjustments in the super-high end."
On LP's snare drum: "We're using an sE4; it's the first condenser microphone that I've able to use on the snare drum and not have the capsule collapse, and also have it survive over time. It has to handle 132 dB of snare drum for two hours every single day. And it sounds amazing. I think some of that is due to the way that our drummer plays. He does a lot of almost jazz stuff in between snare hits that's really super nuance-y, so you can't gate the snare drum because you won't pick it all up. That was what we liked about the sE4—it captures all of those nuances and yet survives getting clobbered."
"We have three complete groups of equipment that leapfrog around the world, so anytime we replace something it's a three-time purchase. When you're talking about spending $25,000 on microphones, you're actually talking about spending $75,000 on microphones, and that gets the attention of an artist real quick! But they agreed at the end of the very first rehearsal, sE microphones are so worth the investment. The mics had improved the mix, and the band were happy about it.”
"I'm one of those guys that would not talk about a product that I don't believe in. When I find a product that I like, then it's a no-brainer. Let's face it, this is a people industry, so if the people are cool, (like the sE folks), then, hell yeah, I'll talk about them all day long."
"Nothing tricky here. I learned as an assistant engineer in the 1990's where to place my microphones from the best engineers/producers in the business - how would I improve on that?"
"I really like the overall design of the mics. There is something very sexy about the Voodoo VR1 - as soon as you pull it out of its case, it beckons you to use it. Very cool. Also, the mount design for the 4400's is really smart. I use it in its 'standard shock mount' mode or in its 'mic something close' mode. Really helpful."
"sE microphones are among the best microphones I have ever used. They are rugged, and take the day-in, day-out beating that microphones take on the road, and still keep on ticking...it would have been nice to use these all along. They have significantly improved my mix."