The long and winding road from Alboraya to LA for a triple Grammy recording engineer.
Perhaps it was the writings of his father Manolo about his experiences in Equatorial Guinea that awoke the wanderlust in Alfonso, or perhaps some film that spoke about the American dream to ‘Go West!’
Alfonso Garcia Rodenas served his apprenticeship as a studio engineer in the well known Tabalet music studios in Alboraya, a small town just outside Valencia, mostly known for its ‘horchata’, a sweet drink made from Tiger Nuts.
It’s a long way from Alboraya to LA, but a short step up onto the stage of the Staples Centre where, in 2009 Alfonso took his place among legends such as Robert Plant and modern heroes Coldplay to accept a Grammy Award for his sound engineering work.
Now resident in smoggy Los Angeles, Alfonso has not forgotten Valencia’s beaches and clear Sorrollan light, nor his first tentative steps in the world of music in a rock band called Vitamina Vil, a small local group that, even so, had an international touch, including as it did a Canadian guitarist called Larry Fedorowick.
From an early age Alfonso loved to mess around with cassettes and turntables and he quite naturally took care of his group’s technical side, plugging in and unplugging the group for its regrettably few concerts.
Alfonso went to Valencia to study at a technical college in Manises, next to Valencia’s airport, and his group won a prize in a local competition that permitted them to record a single at the Tabalet studios.
Once there Alfonso’s talent was spotted by engineer Fernando Brunet, who offered him a job doing this and that, which eventually lasted twelve years.
A chance meeting in Valencia with an American businessman, Robert Misick, gave Alfonso the necessary impetus and contacts to try his hand in California.
Not everything was Guns and Roses at the beginning however, and Alfonso had to wait with the impatience of a 38 year old novice before getting his opportunity. For this he had the local producer Benny Faccone to thank.
In time his merit was recognised and he began to receive offers to work with musicians such as K C Porter, Khaled and even Santana. The award itself was for his engineering on the record by a Mexican group ‘Los Tigres del Norte’ called ‘Raices’ (Roots).
Like Alfonso, Los Tigres had to struggle for acceptance, wading across the Rio Grande like other illegal immigrants before finding their part of the American dream.
Alfonso received a second Grammy in 2010, once more with The Tigres, for the album ‘Tu Noche con Los Tigres del Norte’, and he opened his own recording studio in Malibu where he works mixing and mastering all sorts of Indie, Bluegrass and Country/Alternative American bands, and also collaborating with the ‘rock en español’ scene.
He has produced, collaborated and played live with the multitalented British singer songwriter Victoria C. Scott in the band ‘The Blue Dolphins’ too with enormous success in the L.A. scene.
Alfonso didn’t have to wade the Atlantic, but he had to show some of the same tenacity in order to be able to cook his paellas at his home in the hills of LA, or more specifically in Malibu Canyon, where he mixes and masters most of the time. He also works in other studios all over the city, although he prefers to work at home where he can manage his time better and continue with his little routines such as running, doing yoga or meditating.
In 2012 he remixed and mastered 17 tracks with Los Tigres Del Norte and has managed to do some other projects working with producer Jorge Calderon at Jackson Brown studio in Santa Monica. He also mixed an album for Cesar Lopez, the famous guitarist of Los Jaguares, whose band Flores Acidas is expected to make some noise with its new album.
Alfonos also mixed an album for ‘El Pescao’, the guitarist of ‘El Canto del Loco’, and other artists, both American and Spanish, such as Jay Spears, Monoh and Raúl Abellan.
More recently he began working with with well known percussionist Luis Conte.
Closest to his heart however is a project with his girlfriend, singer songwriter, Victoria Scott and a band called ‘The Blue Dolphins’ for the label ‘Las Virgenes Music’.
He hasn’t forgotten his roots however; the nights spent partying in the medieval Carmen district of Valencia, the smell of gunpowder during the March Fallas festival, the smoke from the burning of rice stalks in October or the open air concerts in the Viveros Park.
His family all seem to have a creative side. Younger brother Miguel Angel studies classical guitar in Albacete and has recorded three works, Rodri works in the port of Palma to pay for his passion for writing, brother Nel also plays with various groups and his mother Maruja is a painter.
Like so many Spaniards living away from home he is angry and saddened by the current situation and misses the greatest country in the world.
To those young, talented Valencians who like him are sadly contemplating a life away from their beloved homeland, his advice can be summed up in one word: “English! English! English!”
Or is that three words?