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The view from the studio

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 16:18 UK time, Tuesday, 29 September 2009

My phone always rings when I'm, you know, indisposed.

As soon as I had washed my hands I called the number back.

The woman at the other end, after a little small talk, asked for a session for a band she "knows".

"They're the best band in [insert name of Welsh city]", she said.

"I like them. I've played them a few times. But I won't be offering them a session," I said.

I was more diplomatic than that (I was initially, anyway). But that is the essence of what I said.

"It's difficult," I continued. "There are lots of excellent bands and musicians in Wales. We've had budget cuts. We can only afford to pay for 16 studio-based sessions a year. They're exponentially difficult to get. Sorry."

"But they're the best band in [insert name of Welsh city]".

And this is where it gets difficult, this business of dealing with new musicians.

Someone has to make a decision as to who gets played and who gets sessions. But because of the amount of bands in Wales and the limited number of such opportunities on the show, the "noes" always outnumber the "yesses"  and this means that it's inevitable the majority of bands are going to be unhappy. And mostly they end up unhappy with me.

I understand this.

Making music is an emotive business.

Bands are protective of the music that they make. It's the embodiment of their dreams and aspirations. It's the result of many hours spent banging their heads against the mildewed walls of a rehearsal room.

They're lucky if their parents don't belittle them five times a day with demands that they get "a proper job".

They trundle up and down the highways and byways of the nation in clapped-out, death-trap vans to play without soundchecks in rooms you wouldn't stick prisoners in.

Then they get a know-it-all neverwas like me saying that I don't think they're quite good enough to get a session on my piffling radio show.

No wonder, then, that a few vent their emotions in my direction. On this occasion there was a turning point in the conversation where the woman had decided she wasn't going to get what she wanted out of me and therefore thought it'd be okay to slam the phone down without so much as a, "Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?"

You need a thick skin doing this job, sometimes.

Fortunately that is one thing that the comfort eating after all these hard thought decisions is giving me.



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