Sennheiser’s Pro Talk Series on YouTube features interviews with the industry’s most respected audio professionals and musicians, including independent Metal band, Our Last Night. Through the years, the band has made quite a name for themselves by covering some of the world's most popular hits and releases them on YouTube and Spotify. Among these are Imagine Dragons' “Radioactive,” Taylor Swift's “Blank Space,” and Ed Sheeran's “Shape of You,” which has earned the group millions of views and followers.
Hailing from Hollis, NH, USA, Our Last Night is an alternative hardcore/metal group founded by brothers Trevor and Matthew Wentworth in 2004. Today, the group, which also includes Timothy Molloy and original member Alex "Woody" Woodrow, has taken a rather unconventional approach to today’s music industry. With everything from music and video production, to booking tours and selling merch, the group manages all their publicity from under one roof at their Nashville-based studio/facility.
Having toured with the likes of From First to Last, We Came as Romans, A Bullet For Pretty Boy, Asking Alexandria and Attila, among others, the group has built an incredible fan base over the years. “We don’t tour as much as an average band in our scene. We focus on what works for us: videos, YouTube, Spotify and all of that,” explains Trevor, co-lead vocals for the band. “When we do 10 covers and put out a record or two in one year, the following tour is going to have way more fans than the previous one did. It’s really about keeping up and being active as much as possible. We see the dip when we take a break from the videos, that’s why we tour so little and do so many videos.”
Our Last Night reaches a near unlimited audience with a single cover. “It’s realistic to say we can play [live] for 2,000 to 3,000 people a night, or we can be in the studio making music and videos. There’s no limit to the amount of people that can see [a cover] which is very powerful,” adds Matt, co-lead vocals and guitarist. “That doesn’t mean 'don’t go on tour.' But, you do have to value being in the studio creating music videos, I think, a little bit higher than going on tour.”
When it comes to recording music and shooting cover videos, the band prefers the Neumann U 47 Fet and U 87 for vocals, along with Sennheiser’s e 914s for acoustic guitar and percussion. The brothers also turn to a one-of-a-kind, engraved e 935 for vocals when recording in a live format. “I’m going to hang [the engraved 935] up on my fireplace in a nice glass box, maybe have it rotating constantly,” says Trevor jokingly, who has used an e 935 for over 10 years. “If we use anything else, there would be way too much bleed,” adds Matt.
During a typical day of recording, the band relies heavily on the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO Headphones. These are a staple item for Matt who, in addition to singing and playing guitar, handles record production for the band. “When I’m mixing, I’m almost always going back and forth between my monitors and headphones...They’re awesome headphones, super-accurate while still sounding not punishingly flat at the same time.”
The band also relies on Sennheiser for live performances. “We’re using pretty much all Sennheiser,” adds Matt. “All of the evolution series for the drums and evolution wireless G4. I use the MMD 935 capsule and [Trevor] uses a 945. We also use the MK 4 mics under the cymbals for the overheads - it’s kind of cool. They stay out of the way, you don’t even notice it there, but they sound really awesome. Our sound guy Jimmy loves them for overheads.”
As a producer, Matt says the band keeps things relatively simple with no big mixing board and a heavy reliance on Pro Tools. “This live room [we’re sitting in] is the first time, pretty much ever, that I’ve had a really good room to track live drums in,” he shares. “The last year or so we've been doing everything live, and it's been really awesome.”
During live recordings, Matt depends on Sennheiser for his miking needs. “We did a really cool thing where we used the MK 4 in a song (and a video) for every single [channel] on the whole song,” he recalls. “We did a kick drum, acoustic guitar, vocals, literally everything. I think we did some cymbal swells. It was an acoustic song, but there was still some percussion, and it sounds awesome.”
“We always tell our fans, if they’re looking for a mic to use for their studio or just starting out, to get the MK 4,” adds Trevor.
Having cultivated a following by producing viral videos of them performing, it's safe to say that Our Last Night is a true internet sensation. “Sometimes, we stretch our limits a bit on covers and try our best. But, most of the time we just cover any song that we like on the radio,” says Trevor. “The [Adele] ‘Skyfall’ cover was the first song we did. That was right after our contract ended with our label. I think the amount of press we got from that one cover alone was more than [we got in] eight years on a label.”
For Matt, that release was a pivotal moment in his career. “Skyfall was the first song we released that I recorded and mixed, and it was kind of exciting for me because I finally got to show our fans what I could do,” he recalls.
Since 2013, Our Last Night has recorded hundreds of covers, with occasional collaborations featuring artists such as Attila, Dance Gavin Dance and the Baha Men. During a sit down ahead of a recent recording session, Trevor remembers coming up with the idea to reach out to the Baha Men to do a cover of “Who Let The Dogs Out.” Many fans have had a considerably positive reaction to that cover, claiming it among their favorites. But, not every cover is a crowd-pleaser.
“It’s definitely important to say there’s going to be a large percentage of people who like it and then another percentage of people [who don't]. If you’re going to try and please everyone, you’re just never going to make anything that’s of value or an interesting piece of art. Not everything you do will please every single one of your fans,” says Matt.
Among the list of top memorable collaborations for the band is a cover that features five fans who entered a contest to join the group for their rendition of Selena Gomez’s “Back To You.” “To this day, it’s probably a top 10 song on our Spotify, so our fans love that,” recalls Matt. “It was definitely a challenge to do, but sometimes the ones that are most challenging to make, you usually do the best.”
As far as advice for fans or aspiring musicians, Matt shares his wisdom. “Do the best you can with your knowledge and the gear you currently have. If you’re putting time and effort into it, and you genuinely care about what you’re doing, I think people will see that and it will be recognizable through your work.”
In looking back from where they started, the group considers their transformation to producing covers to be a 'game changer’ from what they once were. Their do-it-yourself mentality has granted them full ownership of every song they write and full creative control over everything they do. “I can’t really say signing to a label is the right or wrong approach. I think it completely depends on the artist. I think it would be a horrible decision for our band to ever do that because we are so willing to put in the work and effort. Without knowing it, we’ve developed a lot of skills.”