Starting as an engineer, Buddy Brundo purchased Conway Recording with his wife in 1976 and transformed it from a modest facility into a world-class studio. Besides serving what seems like every musical superstar under the sun, they also accommodate video shoots, most recently handling the interior studio scenes for Straight Outta Compton.
My wife and I moved to Los Angeles in 1972. I got a job at Conway. Susan and I were working there. In July 1976, the co-owners offered me the opportunity to buy it. Back then, it was just a 6,000 square foot lot. From then on, I was busy.
Last of a Breed
My wife would be manager and I’d be engineer. It kept getting busier and we bought more property. We have 54,000 square feet and three studios. The terrible thing is my friends are gone. Of the studios we had in the ‘80s, there are few left. The only original owners are Sunset Sound. Everybody else has been through two or three owners. I’m the last family guy standing.
Hit the Roof
I’d worked in places as an engineer with compression ceilings and hated them. I met Vincent Van Haaff in 1978, and we started talking about remodeling the original Studio A. He came up with this idea of an expansion ceiling. Studio A was built like that and it was a hit. Vincent has built rooms all over the world like that.
Work Someplace Beautiful
As an engineer, I worked in cave-like facilities. Most studios were like that. I quit engineering, because I got claustrophobic. At Conway, there are windows everywhere. Everything is open.
At Universal and Disney I saw the way the studios dealt with sound stages and walkways between rooms. That’s how I developed Conway. Brick pathways between the studios and landscaped like Hawaii. Everything’s gigantic and beautiful. The landscaping has been as big a part of building the studios as the studios themselves. I have to go there every day and I want a place that is beautiful. I love Hawaii and thought, “I’m not going to go in this room inside of a room inside of a room inside of a room.”
I didn’t put toilets close to the control rooms, because I’d worked in enough places where the toilet’s right there. The producer gives you a minute to pee and a minute to come back. I need a break. You have to actually go out of the room and walk into the house to get to a bathroom, which gives you a minute to relax, calm down, change the air, change the environment. Go outside. A lot of people like that and some don’t.
The Cost of Maintenance
There’s nothing that you buy from the factory and plug in at Conway anymore—everything’s custom. The more visionary I got, the more money I spent on equipment and gear and keeping up. Last year, I replaced 6,000 switches on all three of our consoles, because they were getting noisy. Engineers were complaining. I found the switches in Europe. There’s over 1,100,000 solder points. It was a big job, but the boards work perfectly.
After several years, my wife said, “You don’t really need me,” so she became a psychotherapist. That was helpful, because her input was always valuable. I should have paid more attention to it in a few instances. Anyway, you learn from your mistakes.