To call the building that houses Colorado Sound Recording nondescript is an understatement. If the name weren’t emblazoned on the front of the converted house nestled among apartments, an RTD station and light industrial buildings on the southern edge of Westminster, you’d probably walk right by the studio.
But Colorado Sound Recording, owned by Kevin Clock, has hosted many of the state's biggest bands, like Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and the Lumineers; even artists such as Eminem and Gladys Knight & the Pips have recorded there over the past 43 years.
“Once artists like these bigger artists that come through — once their managers know that this place exists, this place kind of becomes a go-to off-the-grid destination place for them to come back and record,” says office manager Jess Lambert.
Lambert says people are drawn to Colorado Sound’s off-the-beaten-path location and its mix of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment. It has two studios and a mobile truck used to record shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
“Rare, rare, rare,” Lambert lovingly describes the equipment in the studios. “It’s fully functional and in pristine condition, so people can come here and use vintage tube mics that you can’t find anywhere else.”
A couple of years ago, Clock bought an empty warehouse adjacent to the Colorado Sound, and the company has outfitted it for numerous purposes — a space that bands can rent to rehearse in before they record, host intimate house-style shows and stream them live, or shoot music videos. The cavernous space is also equipped for recording and has a quasi-living-room atmosphere because of the couches in front of the stage. The project has been dubbed Studio W, and the people at Colorado Sound see it as a future community hub for music.
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“It’s an extension for helping artists come full circle with their vision and reach their audience,” Lambert says. “A lot of artists think it’s just about music, right? You come in and you record your song and you release it, and that’s just not the case anymore. We’re in such a content-driven culture now.”
The new space is coming along but has run into a funding snag. Clock has invested a lot of money into the project, but Colorado Sound is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $74,000 to help finish the building and get it fully operational. Work remaining to be done includes acoustic treatments to the interior, installing an HVAC system and buying some missing gear and other items needed to make the space top-flight.
“We have some but not everything we really need,” Lambert says. “We are just not subpar with anything that we do, so kind of cutting corners and doing things half-assed is definitely not our M.O.”
Lambert says the studio plans to convert an old loading dock into an outdoor stage, with music-related businesses in some empty commercial space. Some of the space has been set aside for music engineering and production lessons, part of the Colorado Sound Media Labs.
“We've got two full time students right now that are in here every week, one-on-one with their instructor, learning,” Lambert says. “They work with an engineer, and they come and sit in here and they do everything from learning how to make a drum kit to how to dial in sounds. You know, just all of the stuff that goes into recording.”
Kyle Dickey, a live-sound engineer, says he used to intern at Colorado Sound and learned about basic production and recording techniques, all of which translated to a job afterward. He's toured with groups like Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty by Nature.
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“If it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t know what to do out there,” Dickey says. “I wouldn’t have been able to show my skills to some of the top-caliber artists in the world.”
Dickey says that he wants to see the project finished because it will help bring more music to a community that has been starved for it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There's so many people. They just go there, they listen to the music, they dance and they have fun,” he says. “Metalheads mosh-pitting around and breaking each other's noses and stuff, because that's what they do. Without that, I feel like the community is really suffering.”
The fundraiser ends on August 28 and will only be funded if it reaches its $74,000 goal. For information on ways to pledge, visit Kickstarter. For more information about Colorado Sound Recording, go to its website.