The newest location – Pacific Beat Recording, at 926 Turquoise St. -- is also one of the longest running. The venue opened in 1974 as Seacoast Studios and has had several owners in the years since. It is now owned by Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Alan Sanderson.
Working behind the board for such artists as Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Madonna, Sanderson has spent time in many of the best studios in San Diego and Los Angeles. But now, after 20 years of nomadic recording (including in Africa and Brazil over the last few years), he has a place of his own. He said that whereas he’s pleased with his work at other rooms, Pacific Beat’s address is what held the biggest appeal.
Although the bulk of his clients will be local, Anderson hopes to attract major-label attention.
“Location is everything,” he said. “Most of the San Diego studios that I’ve worked at are in business parks. Why would someone want to record someplace like that when they could be in, for example, Hollywood? So, here, we have a centrally located room in close proximity to the beach. It’s got a great vibe.”
Sanderson said Pacific Beat’s proximity to the airport and to major music venues is a plus. “It’s great,” he explained, “when a chosen studio is just a hop, skip and a jump for an artist to get to. That’s especially important, as a lot of times recording is scheduled when a performer is on tour.”
In 2005, he worked with The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards and Toots Hibbert of reggae icons Toots and the Maytals when the Stones stopped in town for a show at Petco Park.
“I had to put the whole [show] together in two days,” he said, “but what I think surprised Keith the most is that he had to drive to Rancho Bernardo from downtown San Diego to do the session.”
At 1,050 square feet, Pacific Beat is smaller than some of the area’s other major studios, which, depending on amenities, can even include living accommodations.
“This is manageable,” Sanderson said. “There’s a lot of overhead on a 3,000-square-foot room. This is perfect. It’s got a nice feel to it. It’s a comfortable room for the artists.”
The music business in general is reported to be in a downward spiral, but Sanderson sees things as pluses and minuses.
“Budgets,” he said, “aren’t what they used to be. But on the other hand, a lot more people are recording. There are also a lot more studios around, so doing a project is a lot more affordable these days.”
He said San Diego’s music scene is healthy and that he’s an enthusiastic supporter. He cites a range of notable locals, from 15-year-old Jason Mraz protégé Cody Lovass to legendary tunesmith Jack Tempchin, as indicative of the area’s burgeoning pool of talent.
“There’s a lot of great talent in this town,” he explained, “and the great weather helps to keep it happening year round.”
Though he still works on projects around the world, Sanderson is happy to have his own home base.
“I’ve done a lot of traveling,” he said. “But I always keep coming back, because San Diego is, as we know, paradise on earth.”