For Queens of the Stone Age, Sweethead and Other Projects, Guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen Plugs Into BAE Audio
BAE Audio’s 302A and 1028 Preamps Feature Prominently for Van Leeuwen, Who Craves Modern Technology and Authentic, Vintage Sounds
Since 2002, Troy Van Leeuwen has been captivating audiences around the world with his chunky rhythm guitar and searing leads as a member of revered hard rock band Queens of the Stone Age. His distinctive guitar style has also surfaced in acts including A Perfect Circle and Sweethead. With QOTSA currently on hiatus, Van Leeuwen has been focusing his energy on other projects including Sweethead’s latest album — keeping BAE Audio preamplifiers close by his side.
Tracking both records primarily in his home studio, Van Leeuwen uses a combination of BAE Audio preamplifiers to capture the sounds and performances he and his bandmates create in the studio, citing the gear’s ability to achieve “the coveted performance of vintage British preamps” — coupled with the durability of BAE Audio’s modern construction and hand-wiring.
Van Leeuwen became acquainted with BAE Audio preamps during QOTSA sessions at a Los Angeles recording studio, Pink Duck. “We used a lot of BAE Audio mic pres on the last record,” he says. After hearing the performance of BAE Audio’s 312A and 1028 preamplifiers at Pink Duck — and subsequently meeting BAE Audio President Mark Loughman, Van Leeuwen outfitted his home studio with many of the same BAE Audio preamps that were present in Pink Duck. Since then, the BAE Audio’s 312A and 1028 have featured prominently in all his recent tracking sessions.
Two Sizes Fit All
“Between the 312A and the 1028 you can really get everything you need,” Van Leeuwen observes. “On drums I’m using the 312A on everything except kick and snare. They’ve got a punch to them and a quick attack that really lets the character of a well-tuned tom come through.” The 312A also pairs well with ribbon microphones, Van Leeuwen’s preferred choice for overheads. “Ribbon mics don’t sizzle your ears off with high end from the cymbals which I really appreciate. The 312A has plenty of gain and really captures what they’re doing on the kit.” For the kick and snare, he calls the 1028 into service to add some bite. “I like to drive the input so there’s some extra crack to the attack, and the 1028 is perfect for that.”
Bass guitars also get the 312A and1028 treatment, he says: “I’ll use a 312 with a DI to take a direct signal and then also route it out to an amp, which I’ll mic up into the 1028. I like the attack of the 312 and then I’ll get the roundness and warmth of the speaker cab, which can benefit from the EQ options of the 1028.”
Preserving Sonics in the Signal Chain
But what about Van Leeuwen primary weapon, the guitar? “Whether it’s for Queens of the Stone Age or my other projects, we’re getting the sounds we want for the guitar with our amps and pedals. So what we really need is a preamp that will capture that sound with no frills and the 312A is perfect for that. It has a little punch to it, but otherwise it’s not really coloring the sound, so it does exactly what we want,” he explains.
Van Leeuwen says that BAE Audio preamplifiers will remain a fixture of his recording signal chain for the foreseeable future. “Anything that I’m doing at my studio at home I’m using it. And when we start doing the next Queens of the Stone Age record I’m sure we’ll be using it for that too,” he says.
“I am a big fan of old technology with new components because it’s so much more reliable than vintage gear. With BAE Audio you’re getting everything you love about the sound of that vintage gear, but without the headaches of old technology,” he observes. He and his bandmates are so confident in the performance of their BAE Audio gear that they’re planning to take it on the road for live performances next time around. “We’ve just been getting into patching in our own compression and signal processing when we go on the road, so it would be nice to bring some of those 1028s as well.”
For more information on any of BAE Audio’s preamplifiers, please visit http://www.baeaudio.com.