Nate Coon is an Austin-based session and touring drummer who is currently on the road with independent country music sensation Aaron Watson. Enjoying a busy studio career, Nate has played on over a dozen top-ten hits with Tracy Byrd, Jack Ingram, Josh Abbott, Zane Williams, Cory Morrow, Bart Crow and of course Aaron Watson, as well as many others, all in the country vein of music. Nate keeps a busy touring schedule, appearing at the Grand Ole Opry Cowboy Stadium, NRG Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, and more. Not only that, Nate has started an Instagram video series called “Green Room Sessions”, where he records interpretations of other people’s music that he wants to share with the world.
[LEWITT] Nate, first tell us how you got hooked up with Aaron Watson.
[Nate Coon] Well, playing in the Texas country scene, you see a lot of other musicians and get to hang out with a lot of these guys backstage at their shows and festivals. So, I got to know this band very well over the years, and when they needed a new drummer - they actually needed a new drummer pretty quickly - I got the call. I was on vacation when this happened, and when I got back from vacation, I learned their songs and hopped on the bus with a bunch of strangers. That was a really fun experience, about three years ago.
[LEWITT] We saw that you’ve been borrowing some LEWITT microphones from your engineer Jared Miller. Tell me about your experience with them and what you use them for.
[Nate Coon] Well, I don’t really own any mics at the moment. If I want to borrow some, I ask Jared. He ordered two of the LCT 440 PURE from LEWITT, one he sent home with Aaron, and one he let me use. And I had this idea a little while ago, to multi-track some one-minute-long Instagram videos. Actually, I got the idea when I heard our banjo player, Sterling, play a version of “My Favorite Thing” that I’ve never heard before, just kind of an interesting new way of playing it, and our Green Room at that venue was at the second floor. I stomped my foot down and heard this kind of hollow, really loud sound. I said: “Hold on, I want to record this!” So, I recorded him playing and then recorded that overdub of me stomping and playing brushes on the table, and that was the first video we did. That got a really good response from people, and I thought: “Hey, that was fun. Why not do some more?” It kind of grew through there, and throughout all of this I’m learning how to engineer, I’m learning how to record. And for all of this, I’ve been using that borrowed LCT 440 PURE from Jared. That has definitely progressed to making more and more videos. It’s also progressed to me helping Aaron out on a lot of pre-production for the new record. And believe it or not, on the latest song he wrote, for this bonus track on his live record that’s coming out this weekend, we needed to record vocals for that. He didn’t have time to go to his studio, so he and I actually recorded the vocals in the Green Room. So, this was for real, with Aaron. To skip ahead a little bit – he is going to release a Christmas record this fall, and we did all vocals for that on the road, with the LCT 440 PURE. Yeah, that thing has gotten a lot of use this summer, I can tell you that.
[LEWITT] Apart from the fact that you use it a lot, what do you think about its sound, and what comments have you gotten from other band members and people who have heard your recordings?
[Nate Coon] You know, I hear a lot of mics are good for certain things, and then certain other mics are good for other things, but I can tell you that: I haven’t heard anything that the LCT 440 PURE doesn’t record well! Especially when you’re talking about vocals. People always want to use a lot of different mics for that, and the LCT 440 PURE recorded Aaron’s voice beautifully. It gives a lot of warmth on the acoustic and makes the banjo sound like a banjo. I haven’t heard a thing where I went: “Oh, let’s try something else.” So, this is an incredibly versatile mic, and I get asked a lot of times if I use samples. “No, I just try and get the original sound and make it work!” Whether it’s me slamming my fist into a refrigerator for a kick drum sound or pounding a washing machine to get all sorts of lovely low end. And putting it on the fiddle makes the fiddle sound wonderful. It’s just really versatile and kind of bulletproof, honestly.
[LEWITT] How about those videos, are you shooting them with multiple cameras, all at the same time, or is that one at a time and then multi-tracking?
[Nate Coon] Well, I wish it were all at the same time, but I only have two inputs right now, and I only have one GoPro camera, so that’s multi-tracking. We start with the instrument that’s playing, top-to-bottom. We start with that, and just build it from there.
I’m using Final Cut Pro for the video, and for the audio I’ve been using Logic Pro 10. But as of this week, I switched over to Pro Tools. Yeah, just a whole lot of Final Cut and a whole lot of Logic so far.
[LEWITT] In some of your videos you’re also using the LCT 940 Tube/FET hybrid microphone, is that correct?
[Nate Coon] That one actually belongs to Aaron, and that’s what he was supposed to record his Christmas vocals on. They sent that home to his town, and for whatever reason, he felt more comfortable with me engineering on the road. So, that beautiful microphone was sitting at home while we were using the LCT 440 PURE on the road. I actually asked him: “Why didn’t you bring that mic?” I’m kind of borrowing it right now, and I was able to use it on the last two Green Room videos we did. Damian, our fiddle player, in our last video we did the Game Of Thrones theme, and I was able to use the LCT 940 on him. Today I was able to use it on the acoustic mandolin and the banjo. I’m playing around with the Tube/FET sounds. That mic is absolutely incredible, and I’ve been really impressed with it so far. It’s really warm, on the acoustic especially. So, I’m definitely not done exploring that one yet. But I’ll probably have to give it back at some point… (laughs)
[LEWITT] There’s a lot of people who tell us they like the ability to change from the warmth of the “Tube” to the articulation of the “FET” side. Have you experimented with those settings?
[Nate Coon] For the last video, I used all “Tube” on the acoustic and all “FET” on the banjo, and I used the in-between setting, exactly 12-o’clock, on the mandolin. That got the desired effect, for sure! I didn’t really know that was possible. I didn’t know that you could switch between those settings, but apparently you can. I think it’s a wonderful addition to have.
[LEWITT]: So, what kind of comments have you had from people about the LCT 940?
[Nate Coon]: It’s funny! I don’t get to see this when I’m recording people, but when you’re playing an instrument or singing into it, you have this tube that you can see in the microphone. That makes people go: “Oh, I haven’t seen that before!” It’s a kind of neat thing to know that you’re singing or playing through a solid piece of equipment. Yeah, I’ve been definitely getting a lot of compliments on the warmth of the LCT 940. But I just got my hands on it, like I said, so I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to work with it yet.
[LEWITT]: Are there any final comments you would like to make about LEWITT microphones?
[Nate Coon]: Sure! I was born and raised in Austria by American parents, and I’m a big fan of anything coming out of Austria. So, that’s pretty interesting about LEWITT.
And interestingly enough, that’s a lot of the appeal of Paiste, where you don’t have to go find “that” cymbal that you like. If you like one 17” crash, all of their 17” crashes sound like that. I don’t know if that is the European, German, Austrian or Swiss kind-of precision. I’m not sure what that derives from, but it seems like they’re all drinking out of the same water, and they want to make real quality products. Definitely calls of the European heritage there, and it seems like there are a lot of good microphones from LEWITT that I’d love to check out, like the dynamic and condenser element kick mic, that looks interesting, and there’s a lot of other microphones I’d love to check out. But I’m definitely holding on to this LCT 440 PURE now. (laughs)