A Killer’s Hunch

Ronnie Vannucci turns in Big Talk with Earthworks SR40V

LAS VEGAS, NV—In the winter of 2010, following a tour of Australia and New Zealand, the Killers decided the time was right to give it a rest. Not a bad move, according to Ronnie Vannucci, the band’s 35 year-old drummer, especially when you consider that the Las Vegas-based rockers had spent just about the entire last decade in constant company.

Settling back into life at home with his wife in Vegas, Vannucci could easily have chilled by the pool, gone snowboarding in Park City, or simply wandered off into the desert to get some sun and commune with wild burros. There was none of that. Instead, while finishing work on his degree in music from UNLV, he went right back into the studio to produce Big Talk, a record of unusual merit that definitively exceeds most people’s definition of what a side project should be.

Big Talk was tracked with help from producer Joe Chicarelli (the Strokes, My Morning Jacket) and engineer Robert Root. Longtime friend Taylor Milne lent his talents on guitar, as did Weezer founder Matt Sharp, another old pal who stopped by to play bass on a couple of tracks. The rest was pretty much Ronnie, who despite facing the gravity of stepping out from his drum kit to assume a leading role, casually contends that “the making of this record was basically an excuse to drink while it’s still light out.”

Marked by upbeat rhythms, trenchant hooks, and a strong melodic undercurrent that unites pop and rock with some serious synth and grand, looming guitar riffs, Big Talk is also a lesson in the power of spontaneity.

“On one level, we approached the whole record like a demo,” Vannucci confides. “I’d follow an idea or a hunch, and then many times I would track extemporaneously right from the control room. We weren’t always looking for keepers, but they turned out that way, so we left them alone.”

Vannucci’s go-to microphone in the control room was a high-definition SR40V from Earthworks. “Katzenjammer” the album’s first track, was recorded entirely with the hand-tuned, hypercardioid mic, which was engineered for use both in the studio and onstage. “Hunting Season”, the 11th song on the disc, was also captured with the mic, as was “Girl at Sunrise”, a scat-style number done totally off-the-cuff from the lyrics on down.

“There’s a dynamic on the record that screamed out for variety,” Vannucci says. “Plus we had a distinct need for low-end and a great deal of body. The SR40V always delivered, and was our ‘easy’ mic in terms of use. It didn’t require any EQ, and it seems like whatever we did with it exceeded our expectations. Based on my experiences with the mic on this record, I’ll always keep one at hand. I can’t wait to try it live and see what it can do in the heat of battle.”

Released July 19th on Vannucci’s own Little Oil Records in association with Epitaph Records, Big Talk is available on iTunes and at www.epitaph.com. Offering natural clarity, great presence, and depth, the SR40V has excellent on and off-axis performance, a frequency response of 80 Hz to 40 kHz, and a self-noise rating of only 22 dB SPL (A-weighted). Handmade in the USA, it is available from authorized Earthworks dealers around the globe.