Chris Lord-Alge combines two rare qualities. He’s first and foremost the ultimate rock ‘n roll mixer. In addition to this he has an unparalleled talent for steering whatever he mixes, hard-hitting rock, pop, country, or any other genre, to the top of the hit parades. It’s a winning combination if ever there was one.
Lord-Alge’s unique gift is exemplified by the fact that his AllMusic credit list contains an astonishing 1100 entries, with big names like Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Avril Lavigne, Cher, Muse, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Joe Cocker, Aerosmith, Madonna, Green Day, Meat Loaf, U2, Snow Patrol, Sheryl Crow, Savage Garden, Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, Santana, Black Eyed Peas, Dave Matthews Band, The Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Melissa Etheridge, Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, My Chemical Romance and many more.
Chris Lord-Alge’s work has been honored with six Grammy Awards, and his position as one of the world’s leading mixers has become so pronounced that his initials have become an instantly recognizable brand name in the industry. Waves highlighted it, for example, with their Chris Lord-Alge Signature series, featuring plugins like CLA Drums, CLA Bass, and CLA Guitars. Because of his commanding position in the mix world, Lord-Alge has also been nicknamed ‘Lord of the Mix.’
Both Lord-Alge’s parents were musical, and they inspired and supported three of their five sons, Jeff, Tom, and Chris, in their aspirations to work in the studio industry, with the latter two in particular going on to major success. Chris Lord-Alge began his studio career in the ‘70s, at the tender age of 13, working as a tea boy at H&L Studios in New Jersey, where engineer Steve Jerome took him under his wing and became his mentor. The studio ended up being taken over by Sugar Hill Records, giving the wide-eyed youngster a front row seat at the birth of rap music.
Chris Lord-Alge achieves his unique sound through an equally unique approach, which has remained largely unchanged since the late 1990s. To this day his two main tools of the trade are a 60-input 4056 E-series SSL desk and his beloved Sony 3348 48-track digital tape recorder. The only major change in his working methods has come from the omnipresence of the DAW, with Lord-Alge now using plugins in Pro Tools to complement the astonishing amount of outboard in his studio, Mix LA.
Lord-Alge is the first to admit that his use of the 3348, a 16-bit/48kHz machine that was first introduced in 1989, is “oddball,” but he continues to favor it because it allows him to reduce today’s sometimes gargantuan sessions to a manageable 44 or 48 tracks. “These days many songs come in as Pro Tools sessions of well over 100 tracks, and with 48-track digital tape there’s nothing hidden. I know everything that is there, and I end up being more creative.”
The mixer still judges the in-the-box approach to mixing as “irrelevant” for his purposes, and to make sure that he can continue with his tried-and-tested working method, Lord-Alge has purchased every piece of Ampex 467 digital tape available. The mixer is also known for his dynamic use of compression, coming from both hardware, especially his battery of blue-striped 1176’s, and plugins.
Lord-Alge has conducted five highly successful seminars at La Fabrique, between 2012 and 2016, and will conduct a sixth seminar during May 11-17, 2017. The seminars give Lord-Alge a platform to elaborate in-depth on the extensive experience and know-how he has gathered during his long-career, particularly how to combine the best of old-school and new-style approaches, the balance of which continues to be at the heart of his mix approach. Moreover, given Lord-Alge’s remarkable success in staying ahead over several decades and in dealing with countless big name artists, producers and major labels, Lord-Alge also has an invaluable wealth of insight and insider’s knowledge to share with regards to what is needed to get to the top and to stay there.
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Q&A with Chris Lord-Alge
Late Night with Chris Lord-Alge and Manny Marroquin
Teaser – 2013 Session