The childhood years revealed early on that Doug Furia was going to be a musician - as toy pianos, tiny wooden guitars, tin drums, and plastic trumpets became the landscape on Christmas morning.
In his adolescence, there would be piano lessons, but only for a few years as it soon became evident that Doug would be more likely to play by ear than by sheet music. Doug's parents, Nick and Erma, followed suit with a low-profile, blonde, Baldwin Spinet piano placed strategically in the laundry room, while a Lowrey Organ found its spot in the living room ready to impress guests with illuminated Bossa Nova presets.
In high school, Doug took interest in marching band and played drums and xylophone - and only the bandmates, and closest friends and relatives know the hilarious story of Doug falling on his ass while marching down the streets of Pueblo, Colorado for the State Fair Parade strapped to a propped xylophone riding on a hard rubber wheel that conveniently locked into a pot hole. Doug's dad, the life-long carpenter and master of Italian engineering, could no doubt only find a HARD rubber tire in the garage for the custom contraption... Thankfully YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were not yet invented or the video would have surely gone viral - but there were witnesses, unfortunately plenty of them.
In college and beyond after landing the first “real job" and moving away from home, Doug added mobility to the music interest as 80’s technology gave way to electronic keyboards, synthesizers, hardware sequencers, and 8-bit MIDI orchestrations managed on ¾ inch floppy discs. Doug became a fan of Roland Corporation specifically because their 88 key work stations best emulated the sound and weighted-key action of an acoustic piano – all accomplished by sampling sounds from a grand piano and storing them on tiny microchips. After graduating from college and getting married, Doug made a home purchase ironically from a retired music director from nearby Denver University. He'll never forget the first impression of walking into the mid-century home to the sight of a black satin Steinway grand piano set atop white carpet in the living room. The home was perfect, complete with a great music vibe and an indoor atrium to suit Doug's green thumb. After the home purchase, Doug had a fire in his belly to get another piano – 88 wooden keys and no plug to stick in the wall. The opportunity first came as an estate sale purchase – a 1908 Stark Upright with nicely refinished walnut, but had a cracked soundboard packed with putty to keep it from buzzing. It scratched the itch for several years, but the urge for the mid-life-crisis piano was imminent. Doug regularly visited piano stores in the Denver area - candy stores like Rockley Music, Onofrio Pianos, and Schmitt Music all became weekend stops, and the smell of these piano showrooms became as addictive as Cinnabon at the local airport.
The dream of having a full grand piano was suppressed for several years as the demands of a growing career and married life took a toll on time and energy. As music took the back seat, Doug’s light began to dim. The career continued to grow but the marriage did not; and after a painful divorce, Doug found himself alone and the silence in his home was deafening. The solitary life was a difficult adjustment, but afforded the time to re-think, re-tool and make some changes in what had become a world of self-pity, depression, anxiety and unaddressed medical issues. It was at this time that Doug returned to music, and music returned to Doug.
Involvement in an unfulfilling Christian band project was a temporary bandaid - just long enough to steal away willing band members and start an alternative music project with the focus on original music. Band meet-ups resumed weekly at Doug’s house, and like the Christmas morning in his youth, the living room again became cluttered with musical instruments, cables, speakers, equipment racks, microphone stands and a Yamaha drum set. The musicians who visited Doug’s house were the original authors who named it “Studio D", as the neighbors either closed or opened their windows to the ever-growing set list of original songs. The pursuit of better equipment and sound made Doug a popular customer at Guitar Center as he befriended the manager, Rob, who gave him the “cool guy discount”. The growing acquisitions ultimately became the capital plan to a music studio startup called Studio D. Music LLC. The regular activity of mailing warranty cards brought a lot of junk mail to Doug’s mailbox – one notable delivery, a SACD sampler of a few Elton John hits. With no understanding of SACD Technology (Super Audio) – Doug played the disc in his CD player, and heard nothing more than the same stereo sound from his own Elton John collection from the 80s and 90s. The sampler disc was abandoned to a closet...
What started out as a group of 4 was downsized to 3 and the more cohesive team charged forward. 10PM was born. The band name was reflective of the exhaustive hours of rehearsing, BBQing steaks, and drinking tequila which served the purpose of sparking music creativity later and later toward the midnight hour- the most productive hour noticeably starting at 10PM.
Doug continued to digitally record the original music on an 8-Track and iomega media. He documented the journey in Studio D which had now overgrown the living room. The already expanded area from the original home layout afforded the perfect spot for what would soon be remodeled to become the new Studio D space. Even the blueprints given to Doug at the time of purchase called the space “STUDIO”. It was meant to be. As the set list of original songs inched toward the 20 count, the core team of Doug, Michael Worthington, and Leo Ferras considered bringing the music out of Studio D and into the world – well at least a few coffee shops and small venues in the Denver Metro area. The small group played java shops, corporate events, private parties, and art festivals for two summers before Leo departed the group. Mike and Doug carried the torch and continued as the core writing team of 10PM and continued to publish and play original music around Denver while promoting the music on MySpace. Remember that?
While playing the Golden Fine Arts Festival in 2008, Doug and Mike were approached and asked to play an event at Stout Street Foundation. It was only a 3 to 5 song gig on a music night for the residents and staff. The evening proved to be rewarding as Doug and Mike were humbled by a standing ovation. 10PM later became the music group to play even more events for Stout Street, an organization with a mission to provide the necessary services and support in a totally structured therapeutic community environment to assist addicts and alcoholics to help themselves in rehabilitation, recovery, and transition in returning to society as productive and responsible citizens. The unexpected crossing with Stout Street brought 10PM to events at the Westin Hotel near the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, the Inverness Hotel in the Denver Tech Center, and Arrowhead Golf Course near Roxborough State Park, and even the parking lot itself at the Stout Street location when family members were allowed to visit the residents in the program. The duo also seized the opportunity to play the Oriental Theater, and was featured in Colorado Music Buzz Magazine in the May issue that year. 10PM then landed a Live at Lunch radio spot on KRFC 88.9 FM in Fort Collins.
The KRFC radio host, Cindy, was an admitted fan of 10PM and passed the audio to her friend Gus. 2 weeks after the radio spot, Doug received a call from Cindy to make contact with her friend Gus in Boulder. During that initial conversation, Gus conveyed that he liked the music and recognized Doug's 80s piano style with influences from Elton John and Billy Joel. Doug was thrilled and made the trek to the Boulder Business Park which had a 4-plex of companies dedicated to high-end music production. The entities included a media duplication business, Airshow Mastering, Immersive Studios, and Gus’ business, Super Audio Center. Doug entered the facility and greeted Gus who led him through a maze of music equipment, computer servers, and a room of master tapes. In the corner of a room near the lobby, Doug noticed a large stack of packaged CDs. A closer look at the cover brought him back approximately 4 years when the same CD ended up on Doug’s doorstep – the Elton John SACD sampler! What the heck? Gus laughed and said that the pile of SACDs was extra inventory from Sony after the samplers were mailed. Sure as God made little green apples, Doug had met the very man, the Sony Engineer, who made the sampler that arrived on his doorstep 4 years prior to their newly formed acquaintance. Doug came to know Gus Skinas, the Sony Engineer and pioneer of Direct Stream Digital (DSD), Super Audio CD Technology (SACD), and a respected sound engineer and audiophile in the music industry still today. Gus engineered DSD and SACD authoring in digital form working with masters in the industry such as: Pink Floyd, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and Nat King Cole in his early career. Holey moley, what an audio jackpot! As Doug researched the history of DSD and SACD, he learned that these high resolution formats were better than BlueRay and DVD Audio, but were never fully accepted in the marketplace just as Beta lost to VHS. Nonetheless, after leaving Sony, Gus carried the torch continuing with SACD technology now in the music underground, and he continues to share his knowledge with music lovers who cross his path.
As Doug continued to raise the bar with the quality of recordings with an ever-growing client base, he’d bring the audio WAV files to Gus for a listening session at Super Audio Center. Gus in-turn shared his music favorites. Not too many people can say they have heard Elton John out-takes while he was recording in England, or witness the classic "Candle In The Wind" in individual audio tracks - what a treat that was. Doug continues to see Gus at least once a year when attending the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest which comes to Denver every fall. Gus is usually in the Sony Room playing the latest DSD remasters on the best sound systems Sony has ever made. It’s absolutely heaven for audiophiles.
As the Studio D client-base grew, more acquaintances led to Dr. Scott, a vocal coach from the music industry and graduate from Juliard School of Music in New York City. Scott coached Randy Travis, Heart, The Fray, Anita Baker, Bebe, and Natalie Cole just to name a few. Doug visited Dr. Scott on many occasions to talk music, and with permission fom Dr. Scott and his students, Doug sat in on the vocal sessions and gained new friends and clients to record. Doug brought his best recordings to Dr. Scott who was now promoting Studio D to his young clients – some of the best singer songwriters in the Denver area. Doug will never forget the compliment that Dr. Scott extended during a visit when a few tracks were brought into his vocal academy. He said, “Doug, you record the human voice with the heart in which I teach it to sing”. That was a truly unforgettable moment, and another indicator that Doug had really found purpose in music creation for himself and others in need of an affordable studio resource.
For many years now since these introductions, the circle of friends and Studio D clients has grown. Doug continues to be impressed by the people and the talent that come into his home and the consistent feedback has been that the experience had far exceeded expectations. There is definitely undeniable good vibration in Studio D, and it brings the best out of everyone who visits.
As a member of the Colorado Audio Society, Doug has found audio geek friends with like interests and he enjoys bringing his story to new ears. Doug now enjoys an ever-growing library of high definition music - a lot of it engineered by Gus. The world is finally catching on to something that he did at Sony in the early 90s.
15 years after their first encounter, Doug and Mike Worthington remain the best of friends and continue to write, record, and perform original music. And while both have pursued individual paths, they would agree that the best feeling is a well-executed song and the energy it brings. Both are grateful for 10PM, Studio D and all the twists and turns that life has brought in between. After all, it's the journey not the destination.
Oh, and a final update... that dream of having that grand piano is now a reality. The Yamaha C7 came as the "mid- life-crisis" piano years ago and has been a true source of happiness for Doug, studio clients, and friends ever since. Hung above the piano is a framed placard which states "In Everything Give Thanks" -- the reminder that the gift of music really does come from something outside of us, and we need to be humble and have gratitude for this and so many gifts we have received in this life and the people we get to shared them with. The story of Studio D has sustained Doug in many ways. He says music connects him to his soul and playing the piano seems to be the vehicle that takes him to that place of peace.
"In Everything Give Thanks"
Thank you Heather Longway for the amazing photograph of me and Studio D.