Professional Sound - February 2018 - Page 21

PROFILE Mark Scola By Andrew King M ark Scola is an accomplished veteran of the Canadian pro- fessional audio community, recognized and respected across the country even though some – even longtime collabora- tors – know him only by his last name. His background in audio and production is remarkably diverse, as is the current bunch o f hats he wears. In addition to his “day job” as an audio engineer and systems designer with Mississauga-based integration firm Dy- max, Scola also tours with Burton Cummings as his stage manager and recording engineer and takes freelance work doing everything from system design and commissioning to DSP programming and automation to live and studio engineering. Scola was born and raised in Rexdale, ON, and was put on the path to his future career at an early age. His father was the co- owner of a custom wire and cable assembly company, and as Scola explains, “I devoured [his] old DeVry school books, teaching myself basic electronics, and summers were spent working at his shop on the assembly floor.” A serious car accident at 10 led to him spending a full year at home, where he had the chance to become “intimately familiar” with an Apple IIe and the world of computers. The catalyst to it all came when his older brother started playing in a band, and would let a pre-teen Scola fiddle with their mixer. That’s when he says he was “bitten by the live sound bug.” In high school, he assembled his first live rig and a small portable multitrack recording system. “There was quite the garage band circuit around Rexdale in the early ‘90s that kept me busy,” he says of the period when he became known simply as “Scola.” Comfortably sitting at the crossroads of music and technology, he tried a stint at Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto, though laughs when he says the program dean told him he was “a little too rock and roll for theatre.” Instead, he sought to expand his knowledge base and took a year to venture into the world of security systems and CCTV. “This gave me a whole new skill set,” he says – “installations, troubleshooting, customer service, and overseeing projects.” Finally, in late 1998, he decided to at- tend Toronto’s Harris Institute and had the chance to study audio technology under veterans like Bob Roper, Bo Cairo, and Doug McClement. One of his first gigs post-Harris was touring with Halifax’s Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra, which led to a chance encounter with Cam Butler of BCB Pro Au- dio in 2000. Scola had been “obsessed” with Clair Brothers’ S4 system since seeing it in action with U2 at Maple Leaf Gardens, and BCB had one in its inventory. “Soon, I was in his full-time employ,” Scola says. “Working there taught me many facets of professional audio that simply couldn’t be taught in a classroom. It was truly the university of, ‘Out of the frying pan and into the fire.’” Scola went from being a system tech to VP of touring and engineering in three years, and in that time, had the chance to work with a diverse range of artists including April Wine, Kim Mitchell, David Wilcox, Blue Rodeo, and Finger Eleven. From 2003 to 2006, he was also the go-to FOH engineer for guitar virtuoso and Triumph frontman Rik Emmett. In 2006, BCB was sold to Metalworks Production Group, so Scola stuck around for a year to make the transition before deciding to go freelance. During his stint at BCB, he and colleague Paul Caccamo met Burton Cummings’ tour manager, Sam Boyd, and were invited to join his crew. “He tapped my live recording skills to come out on the road and capture shows,” Scola begins. “One of the first projects I recorded was ‘American Woman 2007,’ a live recording from a rehearsal during produc- tion of the Bachman-Cummings First Time Around DVD. The relationship with Cummings contin- ues to this day, and Scola has also had the opportunity to work with acts like Saga and Buckcherry in the time since. In 2010, he joined Richard Kuris’ team at Dymax as a system designer, program- mer, and AV tech. “I liked the idea of doing something completely different and decided to give it a go,” he says. “Thankfully, I’m able to balance my freelance work and Dymax. It’s pretty cool to keep one foot in each world.” With a hand in so many areas of the industry, Scola’s list of career highlights thus far is remarkably diverse. He and a team led by Dymax’s Peter Lima designed and installed the expansive QSC Q-Sys paging system at Calgary International Airport. He also oversaw the DSP and amplification design for the organ at Toronto’s famous St. Michael’s Cathedral. With Cummings, there was the trip to L.A. to cut the 2008 studio album Above the Ground with engineer Joe Vanelli, and recording the Massey Hall live album in 2011. But the biggest highlights of his life thus far live at home with him in Mississauga: his wife, Jordana, and their two children, four- year-old Haley and six-month-old Enzo – the latest addition to “the crew.” While he says his main hobby is just spending time with the family, he also enjoys collecting vintage hi-fi tube gear and art deco and Bakelite lamps. The best of both worlds is when his daughter joins him for their shared Sunday flea market hunts. Scola says he’s looking forward to a much-needed vacation in the near future – somewhere “far out of cell phone range” – though in the meantime, he’s just a call away for virtually any pro audio project one might have on the go. Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief of Professional Sound. PROFESSIONAL SOUND 21