Mega Sound Studios opens in Ventura
By Liz Soteros-McNamara 06/12/2008
“Nirvana came out, and I had to get a job,” says Mega Sound Studios owner Sam Maxson, referring to the 1990s grunge band of lead singer Kurt Cobain, when asked why he ever left the music business. In a desire to combine music and a way to support his family after several years as a contractor, he and his wife, Bobbi, opened Mega Sound Studios at 3203 E. Main St. in Ventura last week. The store’s grand opening is scheduled for June 28.
Ventura has “the clubs, they’ve got the players and we just want to make this work,” Maxson says. The studio features six sound studios with full backlines and live demo recording and rent per the hour, with rates ranging from $20 for the smallest studio to $28 for the largest. “I’d like to see the Ventura music scene beef up if I could help it at all,” he says.
Maxson grew up around musicians, inspired by his grandmother who was a piano player, and he picked up the drums at an early age.
Maxson returned to his native Michigan after his early drumming career where he became a dry wall contractor, met his wife and had a family. After the Northridge earthquake in 1994, a friend offered him the opportunity to work on rebuilding projects in Southern California. The Maxsons picked up and headed west.
After working in California as a dry wall contractor, Maxson wanted to return to the music industry. “This is the best way to stay in the industry and be the family man I want to be,” he says.
The Maxsons are no strangers to sound studios in Southern California. Maxson’s drumming career meant the family spent several years using different studios in the Los Angeles area, where he encountered problems ranging from cramped spaces with minimal accessibility to alcohol and drug use among patrons. Their completely renovated Ventura studio provides ample space to move equipment and meet all patrons’ needs, and has a strict policy prohibiting anyone who appears to under the influence from using the facility. “We wanted to be a studio that would be for everybody. We have three children,” says Bobbi Maxson, who acts as the business’ marketing specialist. “We wanted people to be comfortable with people dropping their kids off.”
The studio is for all skill levels and all types of musicians, “everything from church groups to heavy metal bands,” Maxson says. “Music is not all sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.”
Starting up the studio in Ventura proved to be challenging — first to find a location, then to apply the necessary renovations to the building. The Maxsons spent two years looking for a space that would welcome their business. After checking out several commercial and even industrial zone sites, the Maxsons found their current location in January.
Their location in Midtown Venutra has been a good fit for them. It was previously just one large room, requiring remodeling to create the six sound studios. Sam Maxson did most of the renovations himself. “We put our heart and souls into this business,” he says.
Sam Maxson says opening the studio would not have been possible without the help the family received from the local music community. “Everyone had their hand in it somewhere.” His brother, Jeff, came from Michigan to help with the opening, and family friend Jason Levy designed the logo. Local band Preachers & Pornstars helped build a mural and donated carpeting and equipment. Even the Maxsons’ youngest son, 9-year-old Alex, joined in the effort. He coined the studio’s trademark phrase, “Mega Sound Studios: Where everyone plays.”
“I’d rather get back to what makes a person tick, and music has always been a part of our lives,” Sam Maxson said.
Mega Sound Studios is open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more info, visit www.megasoundstudios.com.