MIMR Band Chat @focuswales 2015: Adam Walton

MIMR is very honoured to have spoken to Adam Walton, the man at the forefront of new music in wales. For over 20 years he has graced the airwaves on BBC Radio Wales giving many new bands their 1st national exposure on his weekly show. He makes a appearance at this year’s Focus Wales and we chat about the festival as well as his excellent new book

MIMR: Welcome to the blog, Adam Walton, the man in the know when it comes to exciting new, welsh music i would say. Is 2015 shaping up to be a great year for welsh music?

Adam: I only ever really think in terms of the programme I’m working towards, and particular pieces of music. Most of the time I’m only peripherally aware of the nationality of the music I’m listening to. Music of Welsh origin is the remit of the programme, but I’d like to think that I play good music, first and foremost, and that its geographical source is a technicality rather than the reason for celebration. Otherwise such odd notions (to me) as jingoism and patriotism start to play a part, when – in reality – they have nothing to do with great music.

With regards whether it’s a good year, or not, ask me in December when I’ll feel compelled to make a Best Of 2015 show. It’s always a struggle, trying to pare down a whole year’s worth of music into 3 hours. The true measure of how good a year it has been will be indicated by how much brow-beating and heartbreaking goes on during that process.

This week, though, looks very promising. I adore the Personal Best LP on Specialist Subject. Their song, ‘This Time Next Year’, is my favourite thing in the world at the moment. My daughter, caught in a storm of hormonal teenage denial that her dad might be listening to something good, has been walking round the house singing the chorus. It’s a great chorus.

Riot Formation are great, too. Because they’re the antithesis of all the nice cardigan music that wants to coddle us into thinking about nothing, to a soundtrack of wistful arse.

And Brik Phro. I have no idea how Brik Phro makes his music. No idea whatsoever. And I don’t want to know.

There are 100’s of others. Hundreds.

MIMR: Moving on to Focus Wales in wrexham, this is MIMR’s 1st time this year and looking forward to seeing so many good bands. Are festivals like this important in the nurturing of welsh talent?

Adam: I don’t think “talent” should be “nurtured”. Sorry if I’m being a bit difficult, here. The most interesting music is made by people who’ve been kicked in the face and ignored, or who are regarded as so peripheral they don’t qualify for free teat time.

I know you chose the word lightly and without realising it would be like dropping a chunk of sodium into a toilet bowl, but it’s one that has become pervasive and that is silver foil on my over sensitive fillings.

All I want to do is play music that really excites me on the radio. And go to festivals, like Focus Wales, that stick things on because they’re exciting. Music makers / noisy bastard artists aren’t babies and don’t need pompous, patronising oafs like me wet-nursing them, or helping them to cross the road.

Focus Wales is a great festival. There was nothing like it before in northeast Wales. Northeast Wales (where I’m from) has been one of the most overlooked parts of the UK, in terms of interesting noise. The Joy Formidable, Neck Deep, Catfish & the Bottlemen, and a host of others are changing that. They’re changing that by being ace. Focus Wales reflects and encourages that aceness. You’ll have a lot of fun.

MIMR: Listening to your radio show i hear your a big fan of Future Of The Left who play the festival (MIMR is too) Are they’re other bands on the vast line up that stand out for you?

Adam: Here’s a case in point. If someone had tried to nurture mclusky they’d have had their arms chewed off. People like me play(ed) them on the radio because they’re an intelligent cacophony, with at least half of that intelligence understanding that it shouldn’t get in the way of loud and twisted rock ’n’ roll.

There are a lot of bands on the line up that stand out for me, but – as every seasoned festival goer knows – you’re much better off embracing whatever you happen to stumble into rather than approaching a festival with a schedule.

On my last visit to Glastonbury I saw a lot of people walking round with schedules, getting antsy about needing to get a certain place by a certain time, festivals – if they’re about anything other than the music – are about escaping from all of that nonsense for a weekend.

MIMR: With all the interactive elements to Focus Wales, meeting industry people including your good self, what advice would you give to any band in dealing with people in the music business at these sort of events?

Adam: Focus Wales handles this in a really democratic, accessible way. As I understand it, these won’t be formal sessions, the audiences will be encouraged to participate throughout rather than have to listen to people waffle on according to their own agenda / sense of self importance (which is what can frequently happen elsewhere. I have been guilty of doing this myself. Many times.)

Those of your readers who are music-makers should realise that they’re more part of this industry / business than anyone else, right now. Especially right now. That’s empowering. Talk to anyone who you think may be able to help you or answer a question you have. If they act self important they probably weren’t worth speaking to anyway.

But don’t ask questions while bands are on. If we’re in a room and there’s a band playing, we want to listen to them. 

MIMR: Thanks Adam for taking the time out to be on MIMR, hope you enjoy the festival. Are you pleased with all the nice comments about your recent book? I’m working my way through it at the moment

Adam: The book that I wrote to nurture new artists? 😉

I’m humbled and tremendously excited by the reviews and feedback for On Making Music. The whole intention behind the book is to offer perspectives and encouragement on music making, and to not offer to many boring, didactic RULES. Rock ’n’ roll is like a tiger (I think Blake would applaud the comparison). If you cage it, it’ll get fat, its fur will drop out and it will die of boredom. My book is an anti-cage for music makers. Something like that.

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