Grammy-winner Chris Vrenna has played with Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails and is currently on tour with Marilyn Manson playing a Novation ReMOTE SL37. ‘Thank you Novation, you make my life easy!’, he says.
Chris Vrenna has a remarkable history as a musician. He has played drums with Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM, produced music for video games like Doom 3 and Quake 4 and, as a producer and remixer, has worked with the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and Hole.
“We were after a very sleek look on stage,” he says of his SL buying decision. Since using the keyboard intensely, though, Chris has fallen in love with many of its other features, not least the fact that it is buss powered. “When you are in the throws of battle up there you never know what’s going to happen. It’s been doused with water a couple of times so with no AC power up there it’s totally awesome!”
“The second really important thing about the keyboard is the backlit LCD which I cannot speak highly enough of,” Vrenna continues. “With the projections and smoke on stage it’s hard enough to see anything but I can always tell what’s up on the keyboard. That’s vital for a live thing – most other keyboards don’t tell you as much information.”
Chris’ set-up is totally software based including soft synths, samplers and Reason, so the SL’s Automapping feature certainly comes into its own.
“Between the Automapping and the templates [the SL] comes with, it is the easiest set-up ever. The knobs are assigned and you know exactly which one you are going to be grabbing. It kind of programmed itself actually!”
Chris uses the keyboard’s many controllers for several live effects which enhance his own performance.
“I like to map the X-Y pad to do different effects and I can just grab different things right on the fly,” he says. “I do some live filter stuff and I like to throw things into delays. The trigger pads have been really cool. There’s the eight across the bottom which you can fire off different sounds with so I’ve been doing that and since I’m also a drummer it feels a little more natural to do it that way! It gives more of an angle to your performance so it’s not just the same thing night after night.”
“The keys just feel great,” Chris concludes. “They have enough weight on them that you get it, but they are not weighted. To me it’s the perfect mix. I hate it when keys are flimsy – a keyboard should take a pounding. It’s been great, just a solid piece of gear. It’s the only piece of gear I haven’t had a problem with, let’s put it that way!”
“Thank you Novation. You make my life easy!”
Vrenna will be touring with Manson until the end of the year and will be producing more of his own music (under the name Tweaker) next year.