Hidden behind the wall that graced the cover of Elliot Smith’s Figure 8, where the mural still exists, sits one of LA’s best-kept secrets.
Sunset Lodge Recording, founded by Chris Rakestraw in 2006, is the result of his passion for music which was spawned in his youth — growing up in Chapel Hill, NC amidst the legendary indie rock scene revolving around the Cat’s Cradle. After making some music of his own, he quickly found that his abilities were better suited for the other side of the glass helping bands to get the most out of their music and nail down their sound.
After moving to Los Angeles, Rakestraw, aka “Rake” worked at various studios until he found a home at Paramount Recording. “I used to work at Pacifique Studios in Burbank, when they sold their J9000 SSL to Mike and Adam at Paramount, I got in touch and asked if they had anyone that knew how to use that board. I had been on that console for over a year so it was an easy hire for them.”
It was during Rake’s five years at Paramount Recording, where he credits Mike and Adam for exposing him the business-side of the recording studio and found the inspiration to start his own. He learned the trade, beginning as an Assistant Engineer and working his way through the ranks to House Engineer. Rake figured out how to deal with everything from drinking bourbon with Lemmy Kilmister, to having salad thrown at him by Roy Thomas Baker, to making a solid recording. “I’ve learned a lot over the years,” according to him, “mostly what not to do. These days I get paid to not fuck up people’s records,” claims Rake modestly. It was also at Paramount where Rake “found a similar set of ears,” in Matt Hyde, who soon became Rake’s mentor.
In 2005, Rake struck out on his own as an Independent Recording Engineer, combining the skills he learned at Paramount with his vision of a studio built for comfort and quality. Aesthetically influenced by country dive bars and early 1970’s LA recording studios, such as Sunset Sound and Sound City, Sunset Lodge was built to make artists feel welcome…like they can get down to work and use everything available, or, as Rake says, “if you’re here, you’re probably not ordering sushi and champagne from some asshole Hollywood joint.”
Sunset Lodge opened its doors in the spring of 2006 and was christened with a session by Danzig and Hank III Duet. They were supposed to be rehearsing for their 6/6/06 show in Hollywood, but Rake hit the red button and turned it into an infamous recording.
Sacrificing plenty over the years, Rake puts nearly everything back into his creation and catering to clients’ needs; constantly striving to make it a better place for artists to get the most out of a recording. These recording artists sounds run the gamut from Children of Bodom and Bring Me The Horizon To Diplo and Cass McCombs. See a complete list of clients here.
And no, to answer a frequently asked question, Elliot Smith never recorded at Sunset Lodge, but Rake will gladly charge you more if you believe he did.