Industry Profile: Peter Fiori amps up Sweetwave Audio, looks toward festivals

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By Brian F. Johnson

WhenPeter Fiori was just 14 years old, he borrowed money from his father to purchase a small Peavey mixing console. He didn’t know it then, but he had just made the first step in a career that now, more than 20 years later, is flourishing.

Fiori’s quest for sound ushered him through the doors of more than 100 GratefulDead shows and eventually to Colorado, where he has played in several bands, most notably Runaway TruckRamp, which garnered moderate success in the mid- to late-1990s. But realizing that it’s difficult, at best, for a local musician to “pay rent” by performing local gigs, Fiori continued his sound engineering and business and last year, officially incorporated Sweetwave Audio, a pro audio equipment sales and rental business, that also offers installations, event production, backline, sound reinforcement and recording.

Fiori has moved the business out of his garage and into a Louisville shop where he now has a showroom and a 6,000 square foot warehouse, and while Sweetwave had no employees last year, this year sees the business employing five people.

Marquee: What was the first album you ever purchased?

Fiori: The Eagles, The Long Run. I was born in 1966. (laughing)

Marquee: What was your first concert?

Fiori: The Eagles inWashington D.C., during their tour for The Long Run.

Marquee: When did Sweetwave Audio begin?

Fiori: Technically, it started in April of last year, but I’ve been doing sound for 20 years. My previous company was Moss Man Sound. I started doing installs and realized that I needed to create a market beyond just the local market and that’s what we are. We are an online store with a local showroom. We do installs and we work with some venues, but venues can’t typically afford the installs of the caliber P.A.s we offer. Our flagship speakers are Meyers Laboratories (Meyers Sound). That’s the feather in our cap. It’s what I bonded with after seeing over 100 Grateful Dead shows and listening to Meyers Sound throughout the ’80s and thinking that this is the best sound I’ve ever heard.

Marquee: What was the impetus for Sweetwave, though?

Fiori: I’ve always done sound. It came out of a necessity, but also a true love. I loved being at shows and it’s why I went to school for it. I was actually a studio engineer for a while. I’ve built probably 8 to 10 recording studios in the last 15 years. I built one in Ned (Nederland, Colo.), thinking that I was going to supplement my income, but it’s too hard and there’s too much competition. Right now there is a ridiculous amount of competition and now that we’ve entered the digital age, people can make a recording of the quality that used to cost a hundred dollars an hour. Now you can spend a few grand and have the same quality in your basement. There have been very big studios going up and going down because of this.

Marquee: What’s the next phase or goal for Sweetwave Audio?

Fiori: We want to buy out Guitar Center. (laughing) Sweetwave  is a dual company. I want the production side to pick up and start doing more festivals and I also really enjoy the idea of setting up good sounding P.A.s in smaller clubs and smaller theaters, so that people have better audio. My goal is to have sweetwaveaudio.com be a self-sustaining entity so I can focus more on the production side. We did High Sierra last year and I would like to be doing about 15 festivals a year, where we actually produce the festival. But the most immediate goal is to create the local market. We’ve got everything from $10,000 pre amps to $200 pre amps and people can come in here and demo all of them.

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