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Mike Alvarez Biography

Mike Alvarez and the late Edgar Allan Poe. Photo by Tessa Vanderhorst

Mike Alvarez

By Dan Cook

Just like an acid trip, musician/entrepreneur Mike Alvarez is unique and unpredictable.  Although he once described himself as "lazy", he is anything but.  The founder of NRT Entertainment Group (music company Not Records Tapes anddocumentary and film company NRTEG), Alvarez has fronted, organized and played in a whole bunch of bands in a whole bunch of towns with a whole bunch of whoever happens to be on hand to play whatever.  And through it all, he has remained a true disciple of pure independent rock n' roll.

Rather than lazy, Alvarez would be more correctly described as selfless.  He had devoted many years of his many lives to keeping alive the legend of Roky Erickson, co-founder of the seminal psychedelic band The 13th Floor Elevators.  Alvarez has produced a documentary about Erickson (Demon Angel, A Day and Night with Roky Erickson) and several music recordings with Erickson.

Born in Hammond, Indiana, just outside of Chicago and raised on the Texas-Mexico border, Alvarez grew up knowing two things:  hard work and music.  He has combined them all his life.

Alvarez hooked up with members of the Austin punk scene during his University of Texas college days, forming a band known as Max and the Makeups.  Max and the Makeups would tour the Southwest for three years, opening for top acts such as Snakefinger, Joe King Carrasco, Oingo Boingo and many others.  The group soon headlined their own major city venues and spent many hours in the recording studio. Beginning in 2010, Fullerton punk label Puke n Vomit Records began releasing these studio sessions with the release of the 4-song EP.  In 2015, Puke is releasing a full-lenghth album of the group's studio work.

In 1983, Alvarez unveiled the first Woodshock music festival to be held in the hills outside of Austin, at the amazing Hurlbut Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas.  The festival would become the world's premiere alternative music festival for its time between 1983 and 1987.  Woodshock was originally conceived by Chris Wing and possibly others in 1981.   A concert was held in the Austin city limits.  Woodshock 81' was Max and the Makeups' first ever public performance.

In 1984, Alvarez founded Not Records Tapes and began to crank out recordings of dozens of unknown or little known punk and psychedelic bands.  In the summer of 1984 alone he produced and/or recorded tracks for some 20 bands, some of which immediately went on to become major-label acts (Daniel Johnston, The True Believers with Alejandro Escovedo, The Reivers).   

In 1988, Alvarez left Texas to take a job as in-house producer with Paramount Recording Studios in Los Angeles.  Although the job turned out to be short-term, he found a support group of Texas transplants and hooked up with the Sony Corporation, where he honed television production skills and began developing his film production techniques as a result of Sony being located on The American Film Institute campus.  Sony enabled Mike to study business at Pepperdine University, graduating with a BS in Business Management in 1994.  Located hard by the Pacific Ocean, where the evolving young man also studied surfing in what little spare time he allowed himself.  His racquetball skills were also demonstrated to all comers, few of whom survived unscathed.  Alvarez is now a guest lecturer at Pepperdine, teaching young students audio recording techniques.

Did he sleep?  No, he did not.  Time flew by as he tried heroically to balance his many passions.  What suffered in the end was his own career as a musician, since he rarely had time to devote to songwriting or playing clubs.

Alvarez lives today in Hollywood, California. Older and doubtless wiser, he he devotes more time to songwriting, recording and touring new releases despite his hectic life as a Hollywood-based entertainment entrepreneur.  No doubt, the internet today has allowed him to carry out his various missions on a grander scale, and what with film, television production, writing and recording music, maintaining various web sites and in general breathing life anew into independent music and film, Alvarez keeps up a pace that few could hope to sustain.  Fueled by his love of his passions, he presses on unstintingly.

 

 

 

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