Welcome to Denver, Colorado, “The Mile High City.”
A city known for its glorious mountain views and its fickle, yet somehow always alluring climate and weather. Denver is home to numerous professional sports teams like the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rockies, and has recently earned a top five placement in USA Today‘s ranking of the “Most Fit Cities.” In and around downtown, you will also find a staggering abundance of indelible, world-class restaurants surrounding the city. And to this day, it remains the origin for restaurant chains like Smashburger, Chipotle and Noodles & Company.
(I’d also be remiss if I failed to mention the 5,280 feet that separates Denver from sea level.)
Needless to say, Denver is a city booming with life, staking its claim as one of the top places to live in the entire country. But, what is often overlooked about Denver is that it is constantly growing in the creative-media industry. It has even become somewhat of a small media hub for the “Four Corners”/”Rocky Mountain” region of the United States.
What most do not know about this creative-media industry that Denver is developing, is that it houses one of the most highly regarded, most renowned multimedia recording studios in the world, and it’s located near the heart of the city …
This is Side 3 Studios.
At first glance, you’d miss the entrance to Side 3 Studios altogether. Hidden in plain view within the confines of a soft white concrete building, this Mariposa Street studio hides among a divvy of scattered small businesses and local residences. Neatly tucked into a small corner portion of the milky structure is the one studio that every musician/band, manager and record label in Denver should know about.
The lights in the front lounge of the studio flick on, revealing a large television screen surrounded by leather couches. An adjacent pool table, foosball table and foosball hockey table fill the room, as the humming buzz of a nearby coffee machine prepares the day’s necessary caffeine. The hardwood floors of the control room beam under the orange-tinted glow and the studio whose client list is comprised of artists like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Faith Hill and Ryan Tedder (among a laundry list of others) comes to life. And there, across from me, was the man that struggled, endured and ultimately sacrificed everything to build this remarkable multimedia recording studio — Adelio Lombardi. But, even with the commercial and national recognition/acclaim, Side 3 Studios has been missing one key component this whole time. A direct connection with the Denver music scene … And that is exactly what they’re looking to change.
But, let’s start from the beginning.
Adelio Lombardi, the owner and CEO of Side 3 Studios, knew that a creative field within the music industry was going to be an arduous, laborious journey, but his dedication and passion for all things music — which originated through his own music performance experience as a DJ in high school — was enough to keep him going.
Upon earning a degree in Economics and after a successful post-college venture into the financial world as a financial planner, Adelio’s passion for music returned. Even with his success in the business world, Adelio knew that his heart was instilled in making music. And making music was exactly what he had in mind.
Resigning from the daily, almost monotonous, business habit — yet a habit that provides job security and financial stability — can seem like a daunting task … Especially when the field that you are entering lacks any and every type of financial and job security. Yet, Adelio pushed forward, starting his first studio near the epicenter of downtown Denver, off of Speer and I-25. “It was a piece of junk, I mean, the walls were made of cardboard,” Adelio so candidly put it. “But, it was all we could afford.”
I busted my butt until I got that opportunity to work with the people I wanted to work with, and show my worth. And then when you get that opportunity, you’ve got to even work harder. — Adelio Lombardi
Things weren’t a cakewalk. And soon enough, Adelio found himself leaving Denver for New York City, where he began working for Sony Records, touring with artists like *N SYNC and Destiny’s Child. But, home is where the heart is, and home for Adelio was always Denver. “I decided to move back to Denver when a good friend of mine that played for the [Denver] Broncos, Trevor Pryce, wanted to start a [record] label with me. So, I moved back out here.”
Adelio then made his biggest move, purchasing and reviving a small Mariposa Street studio on the market — one that has now become Side 3. “It was tough at first because it takes a lot of money and a lot of time. But, we were able to get it rolling.”
And ‘rolling’ is just what Side 3 did. But, not after the hard work, the struggle, and the commitment to his dream of owning his own recording studio had all already taken its truest, most realistic form at some point in his life. “My first two years, I didn’t make a profit — I lost money. Honestly, it was hard. And I busted my butt until I got that opportunity to work with the people I wanted to work with, and show my worth. And then when you get that opportunity, you’ve got to even work harder.”
With this dedication to music and an invested time (and lifestyle) that came in the form of countless hours of recording, producing and studio improvement, an overwhelming success blossomed before his very eyes. And so did Adelio’s first major client/producer, DJ Frank E!
“He came to me as a DJ with a keyboard and a dream. And I basically told him, ‘sell your keyboard and buy a computer.’ So, he parked his butt in my studio for a few years, working 15 hour days, just plugging away … One thing led to another, and now he’s one of the top producers in the game.”
We work with some of the best. And we want to offer that knowledge to the people out here. — Adelio Lombardi
But, even with the success that Side 3 Studios and all of Adelio’s personal clients have had, Adelio says that future progression is always on his mind. “We’re always looking to make the studio better. Whether it’s knowledge or whether it’s equipment or anything, we always want to make sure we’re on par with the best … I’m still like, ‘What can I do to make this a better place?'”
Being on par with the best, also meant having something that no other studio in the entire world could claim as their own — Side 3 Studios‘ own 360 degree spinning control room. An untouchable attribute to Side 3 that Adelio himself hadn’t even noticed upon purchasing the studio space. “I was actually confused the first time I came in here [Side 3 Studios‘ control room]. I was like, ‘Why the hell is this [here]?’ There was a circle cut in this carpet, because it was carpet at the time; it was just really old-fashioned looking and half the studio wasn’t even finished off in the back — we did a lot to get it to what it is.”
Upon figuring out that the panels underneath the carpet controlled a rotating floor, Adelio sought out a way to fix the machinery without tearing apart the entire studio. With the help of a soon-to-be friend, about a week later the entire floor was operational, spinning a full 360 degrees. “If you have a live band in the big room and the engineer wants a straight line of sight, you can spin the room and just look at them … Everybody loves it.” (You can scour the internet and find multiple award-winning artists, such as Kanye West, messing about with the controls to the highly celebrated rotating floor. It’s become quite the spectacle.)
Side 3 Studios, with their 360 degree spinning floor, Adelio’s undeniable musical knowledge/charisma, and a team of talented engineers, became the go-to studio for major artists across the world. Along with the aforementioned clientele, Side 3 has worked with a myriad of talented musicians, producers and even athletes like Carmelo Anthony, on multitudes upon multitudes of projects over the years.
And while national artists, major record labels and heavy-hitting clients like ESPN and NBC provided Side 3 Studios with an innumerable amount of possibilities that led directly to a new-found, prolific success, the Denver music scene was, and still is, all but unaware of Side 3 Studios‘ existence.
“I don’t think a lot of the locals even know we’re here. We need to make them aware of that. We really want to work with a lot of the Denver people and Colorado artists.” Adelio’s pride and joy, a business that he has built from the ground up within his own hometown, has yet to gain the attention of those closest by. “To this day — we’ve been here for a while — I still don’t think a lot people know we’re here and what we have to offer … Not even just the equipment and the rooms, but the ‘know-how’ and ‘industry secrets’ and stuff.”
Let’s get this straight. Not only does Adelio want to work with the musicians, artists, and companies that operate in and around Denver, but he also wants to help them succeed in any way that he can, utilizing studio resources and ‘industry secrets’ that will allow artists an opportunity they may not have elsewhere.
This should give true insight into the integrity and character of a man whose had the opportunity to live in the largest of cities and work for the most prodigious of record labels, and how none of that has inhibited him from staying true to who he really is.
Humble, modest and downright fervid about his craft and his ability to help others succeed in achieving their own dreams. “We work with some of the best. And we want to offer that knowledge to the people out here … We want to make sure that the people in Denver know that, ‘Hey, this is an option.’ It’s not too far-fetched; we’ll work with you guys.”
Adelio’s dream of owning his own successful recording studio had been realized, coming to fruition as Side 3 Studios. But, just because he had accomplished this specific goal in his life, doesn’t mean he isn’t still striving to progress as the owner of Side 3 Studios, as an engineer/producer/artist manager, and simply, as a person — he aims to help those whose dreams in the engineer/music production industry are just beginning. “You have to work hard all the time … It’s about being fully committed to something you want in your life and being consistent.”
You have to work hard all the time … It’s about being fully committed to something you want in your life and being consistent. — Adelio Lombardi
He also wasn’t short on giving advice to anyone that is truly committed to making a career within the entire music industry itself. “I would recommend that they really took a hard, long look in the mirror and asked themselves if they really, really want to do this … It’s as competitive as it gets. And it takes more dedication than you can ever imagine, because so many people want to do it and there’s almost zero payout in the beginning. You’re working for free, basically … You have to put that time and effort in, whether it’s an intern or whatever it may be, so that when that one opportunity shows itself, you can blast that door open and show what your worth is.”
Truer words have never been spoken. Adelio Lombardi knew exactly what his dream was, however plausible (or not) that it may have seemed at the time, and he took action, dedicating himself to an unparalleled work ethic and focus.
Upon leaving Side 3 Studios, my gaze was captured by the walls scattered with Gold and Platinum certified records that had been produced and/or recorded at Side 3 Studios. If this itself wasn’t inspiration to continue a committed work ethic, striving to be the best at your own craft, then I’m not sure what was. But, what I was sure of as I exited onto the snowy sidewalks of Denver, was that having a zealous vision incorporated with the most devout, most stringent of work ethics can certainly pay off — both Side 3 Studios and Adelio Lombardi are living proof.
What the future holds for this profound multimedia recording studio and its owner is unknown, but I’d bet my money that only the biggest and baddest things are in store.
If you are interested in working with Adelio Lombardi and the Side 3 Studios team (comprised of Tyler Soifer, Andy Flebbe, Zach Dare and Chase Thompson), it is always best to give them a call (720.515.2649), which will allow you the opportunity of coming in to tour the studio and meet with the engineers to discuss your session. You do also have the capability of booking a session online at the Side 3 Studios website (Side3.com).
Written by Samuel Lang of 303 Magazine.
Photos courtesy of Chase Thompson and Side 3 Studios.