On the Cover: Chris Lord-Alge's Mix L.A.
Sep 21, 2010 7:01 PM, By Maureen Droney
Does Chris Lord Alge really need an introduction at this point? From Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Hole, Nickelback and My Chemical Romance, to Faith Hill, Bon Jovi, Melissa Etheridge and countless more, Lord Alge has had a long run of mixing hits. He’s smart, funny, outspoken and has a unique way with words. He likes to keep the energy up, and he’s legendary for the speed at which he mixes. He’s extremely efficient, but he’s also full of heart and passion for his work. And yes, he is very self-confident. But the real key to Lord Alge is that he’s a true believer—a front-running torch carrier for the magic of rock ’n’ roll. Here are excerpts from a recent phone conversation we had on a Wednesday morning in September just before he got rolling on his day.
You’ve had your own studio for a while now. How’s that working out?
I like it because I live close by. I commuted all those years to Hollywood, then to Burbank, and I finally had enough of driving. I never had any time with my wife and daughter—it was always too late.
Years ago, I’d mixed a Damn Yankees album at Can Am Studios in Tarzana, so I thought I’d drive over and see if it was still there. Sure enough, I pull in and it’s just like I left it, and 3.6 miles from my house! After a bit of negotiating, we got involved and spent weeks and weeks refurbishing Studio B. It was in disarray, but had the bones of a great studio. It was built by Vincent Van Haaff to mimic Studio A of A&M, and really, it is one of the last bastions of sound in the San Fernando Valley. It’s been two-and-a-half years now. I got lucky; it was kind of designed for my needs. Big SSL, big control room, lots of room for my plug-ins, gear, what not. Halfway through I ended up acquiring the Studio A side also. Now we have Don Gilmore moving in there.
Oh, you have the original Can Am SSL!
Yes, a 72-input 4000 E Series. Perfect. I was on a 60 all those years, so I’ve actually upgraded to a bigger console. We rebuilt and recapped it. It was just unused. You know, for 10 years they’d only used two channels. So we fixed it up and brought the room back to the glory days. I call my side Mix L.A., and we keep the Can Am heritage Studio A the way it was. Now we’re expanding, adding a third and fourth studio. So we’re making a facility here. And I could not be happier.
You enjoyed the process.
I love the action. All those years, I kind of sat back and let other people do it because I was busy with the music. But now I prefer to do it myself because I’m in control. Obviously, the music is always Number One, but the studio thing is a lot of fun—if you have a great staff. And I have the best staff in town.
How many people work for you?
Five. I have two assistants that alternate every two weeks, and three other engineers: one that manages the place, one that does all the editing and one that’s a full-time tech. Everyone kind of shares shifts. These are guys who’ve been tolerating me for 10 years. When I said I needed a team that works hard and has the same goals I do, they all wanted to come to the party. They actually all moved to be within like 10 minutes of the studio. Like me, they learned the commute thing is a big problem.
Do you still work “regular” hours?
We try to make it 10:30 to 6:30, or 9 to 7. That’s the goal. But look, this is the music business. You just go with what works. It ebbs and flows, and many times it goes till midnight. It’s all about taking care of your clients. Whatever they need, we just do it.
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