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Friday, Jan 27, 2023
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Musical Friends Kicking Out the Jams in New Recording Studio

Longtime friends Phil Alterman and Juan Suarez have opened a new recording studio on Victory Boulevard in Burbank. This 1,200-square foot, three room recording space replaces a smaller one the pair had operated for several years but had limitations due to size and location. It had been a good start, Alterman said, but the new studio named Stone Heavy Sound allows for a better fit to record the rock and heavy metal music he and Suarez have a passion for. Plus, it is closer to their respective Burbank homes. “We can have the drums pounding and amps cranked up and not disturb anybody,” Alterman said. Stone Heavy was built from the ground up and will become a playground for Alterman and Suarez to record their dream music and help foster a heavy metal scene reminiscent to what took place in Los Angeles in the Eighties. Any band or performer looking to do something cool and unique is welcome to come to Stone Heavy, Alterman said. Both of the studio’s founders have strong musical backgrounds. Alterman played guitar for 15 years and later published a heavy metal music fanzine. Suarez was active in the Miami area before moving to Los Angeles where he played with bands, produced albums and composed movie trailer music. Stone Heavy Sound was self-financed by the business partners. The name was Suarez’s idea, having read the term “stone heavy” in a review of a reggae record. While recording heavy metal music is what interests the two most, they are open to any music that has a heavy emotional sound. Any career in the music industry has not been easy save for that small percentage of top performers and those associated with their musical output. On the studio side, the number of commercial studios has dwindled in recent years as they closed, were put into private hands or were sold because the real estate was more valuable than the work taking place inside. So opening a new studio comes off as counter-intuitive, especially in a recession when spending of all kinds remains sluggish. Alterman recognizes that the studio cannot just cater to a high-end clientele but he also wants to limit the open door policy. “We are definitely trying to be a boutique studio and approaching bands that we like and we want to work with,” Alterman said. Working in the heavy metal genre and its many sub-genres, Alterman knows that many of the bands that may come to Stone Heavy don’t have a lot of money to record. But he also knows that the fan base, as limited as it may be, is quite fanatical about the music to the point that they still appreciate a physical product as opposed to only wanting downloads. “The passion people have for (this music) is what we are trying to tap into and make it relevant,” Alterman said. Album Goes “West” Valley musician Adam Marsland releases a new disc this month, a double album titled “Go West” that was mostly recorded at his home in Reseda. The album marks the first time that Marsland extensively recorded and produced himself and when he realized that he could be both artist and producer the tracks began to pile up. Much of “Go West” was completed in less than three months. Still, studio time was required to get the drum tracks needed. Marsland puts the studio expense in the range of $5,000. While a double album is pricier and more copies need to be sold to recoup the costs, spreading the songs over two discs makes for much more manageable listening. Some fairly big themes are explored over the 18 songs the progression of life; youthful ambition giving way to reality; the struggles of adult development. “The more I added to it the better it got and the story developed,” Marsland said. “It felt right at 18 songs.” The distribution and marketing of “Go West” differs from the approach of Marsland’s last disc, a greatest hits collection titled “Daylight Kissing Night.” With that 2008 release, Marsland reintroduced himself to the record buying public at a price of $5.99. The disc was not available through his website, only online through Amazon and at Hollywood record store Amoeba. It was a decision that turned out more effective than originally thought. For “Go West” a more traditional approach was taken, following a pattern that labels have perfected over the years of doing promotion through different mediums. Radio promotion is more elaborate this time around and a filmmaker offered to make a video now available at YouTube. A tour will follow after the album’s release. One change that Marsland has faced since the release of “Daylight” is that Facebook has become the dominant social media site, taking over where MySpace had once been. For promotional purposes Facebook is a big improvement in that links to the videos can easily be integrated, and listeners can give instance feedback as each song from “Go West” gets previewed for a 24-hour period in the weeks leading up to its release. That proved valuable for one track on the new album that is Marsland’s take on disco music. “It was enlightening seeing everyone’s reaction,” Marsland said. “Everyone was shocked, and that was satisfying.” Staff Reporter Mark Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or by e-mail at mmadler@sfvbj.com .

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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