The Neighbourhood is a five-piece rock band hailing from Newbury Park California. Formed in 2011, The Neighbourhood comprises vocalist Jesse Rutherford, guitarists Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels, bassist Mikey Margott, and drummer Brandon Alexander Fried. Every inch a contemporary rock band, The Neighbourhood (who use the British spelling of their name on their manager’s advice) mix elements of indie-rock, electronica, pop and R&B to create their signature sound.
Debuting in 2012 with songs such as the haunting Sweater Weather, it took less than 12 months before the band were picked up by Columbia Records. Following appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Coachella festival, the band collected number one positions on the Billboard singles and albums charts.
Translating the band’s sound to the live arena involves instruments and technical logistics beyond the scope of a regular rock band. It also involves an epic computer rig along with some of the most innovative live processing and MIDI implementation you’ll ever see on a live show.
Enter Musical Director and playback genius, Tyler William Johnson Fortney. Tyler is, in many ways, the 6th member of The Neighbourhood, having originally joined the band as a touring musician.
Tyler,’s original role within The Neighbourhood saw him doubling on multiple instruments as well as managing playback.
Over time Tyler found ways of automating the stage duties through the computer, leading to a full-time role as the band’s MD and playback tech. Tyler is the man responsible for designing, operating and understanding the band’s incredible playback rig, dubbed “Gargantuan”.
It’s called Gargantuan because of it just being a beast of a machine!
Tyler isn’t kidding either: Gargantuan is composed of no less than four separate computers, three PlayAUDIO12’s, and an iConnectAUDIO4+. All of that is then networked via Ethernet to two mio10 interfaces which sit on stage.
Tyler designed Gargantuan to provide incredible processing power over 20 channels of redundant playback audio outputs, as well as redundant real-time audio processing for the band’s vocalist, Jesse Rutherford.
Two MacBook Pro laptops running mirrored Ableton Live sessions are connected to two PlayAUDIO12 to form a redundant failover rig. Should the primary computer fail during a show, PlayAUDIO12 automatically switches to the “B” computer.
Additionally, two Mac Minis are configured with a PlayAUDIO12 and an iConnectAUDIO4+ for the real-time vocal processing, much of which Tyler “performs” live.
I like to do them [the vocal effects] on the fly becuase I feel more comfortable doing them instead of automating them. We kind of play off each other, so he’ll be yelling something on a mic and I’ll be catching him on a delay, we kinda have like a good time doing it.
On-stage, The Neighbourhood employs a wide source of MIDI dependant controllers, instruments and processors. It’s here where the huge MIDI I/O of two mio10 interfaces come into play.
The band’s drummer, Brandon, utilises numerous trigger pads alongside his acoustic drums. Crucially, he uses a Novation Launch Pad controller to cue each song from on stage. Those MIDI commands, in turn, cue the tracks in Ableton.
Currently, all the instruments are connected via a mixture of USB-MIDI and DIN-MIDI directly to the mio10. From there, all the MIDI signals are sent over Ethernet back to Gargantuan.
Tyler was keen to point out that it’s really important to him that all the MIDI data goes to the mio10, then goes back to his playback world and is then redistributed under his control across the stage.
Our thanks to Tyler and The Neighbourhood for taking the time to show us one of the most inventive, exciting and truly gargantuan playback rigs we’ve ever seen. We’d like to wish them nothing but success and hope to catch up with them at another gig soon!