As SUSTO gear up to release their fourth studio album, Time in the Sun, due out October 29th, they have opened the doors to their downtown rehearsal space for use by other local artists. The rehearsal space is located at the compound formerly known as Rialto Row, which is now simply called Acid Boys HQ. It’s the same compound where local producer Wolfgang Zimmerman has his recording studio, The Space, and like everything else in the world of SUSTO, there’s a story to be told about it.
Rehearsal space for artists in Charleston has long been at a premium, and that has never been more true than it is today. The continued development of the downtown area has left very few affordable safe havens where artists can come in and play amplified music without getting into trouble.
Even back in the early 2010s, when SUSTO were working out the songs for their self-titled debut album and making a name for themselves around town, they struggled to find a place to practice that wasn’t either too expensive or too far away from where they lived.
As the story goes, SUSTO and the rest of the Acid Boys crew ended up turning a downtown storage unit into a recording studio and practice space, and it’s where Wolfgang recorded SUSTO’s debut album as well as both Brave Baby albums, Forty Bells and Electric Friends, and many more. They got away with running an entire operation out of there until the city caught wind of it in 2015 and shut the whole thing down, citing fire code violations.
Fast-forward to 2017, when Wolfgang took over the compound on Montford Avenue, the idea was to use the compound to start a record label and run an AirBnB out of the front house to help pay the bills. Unfortunately the record label never panned out (some say Budweiser is to blame), and the AirBnB never took hold, and while Wolfgang’s studio and Todd Anderson’s screen printing business were thriving, the front house at the compound often sat vacant and thus became more of a money sink than anything else.
Meanwhile, after the storage unit was no longer a viable option for SUSTO, they were constantly on the hunt for somewhere to practice. They bounced around for several years, finding practice space in Charleston wherever they could while the band continued to become more and more popular. They were able to make it work, it was never a simple task.
Eventually, the original idea for the Rialto Row compound was scrapped and SUSTO took over the front house for use as a rehearsal space and business operations center. They recorded almost the entirety of their new album Time in the Sun with Wolfgang in the studio out back, and now the front house is open and fully set up for anybody who wants to make use of it (when it’s not occupied by SUSTO, of course).
The current rate to rent SUSTO’s practice space, which is simply called Practice Space Charleston, is $25 per hour, with no minimum time limit. The space is loaded with its own PA and a full backline, as well as an in-house engineer in SUSTO’s tour manager and Charleston’s newest resident Van the Good. All of that comes standard with the $25 per hour price point.
The room is set up as a practice space, but it also works as a studio space. In fact when I walked in there, Justin and Van were finishing up tracking on Justin’s part to a collaborative song with a friend in the Netherlands. They also have instruments and amps available upon special request.
Located on the outskirts of downtown with plenty of parking, it doesn’t get much more convenient than the Acid Boys compound. Simply drive off the exit ramp for Rutledge Avenue off 26 and you’ll find the compound is right under your nose, which makes it easy to access from all parts of the Charleston area.
In addition to the convenience of accessing the space, you’ll notice by looking at these fabulous photos of Justin Osborne as he gave us our tour that the walls are decorated with bright and psychedelic spray paint murals. These were commissioned by noted local spray paint artist Douglas Panzone and certainly contribute to the laid-back vibe at Acid Boys HQ, and may help to keep the creative juices flowing while you work on your next setlist.
To book SUSTO’s rehearsal space, send an email to [email protected] and request availability. Follow @acidboys on Instagram to keep up with the compound and other happenings within SUSTO’s extended family, and stay tuned for Time in the Sun coming October 29th.