Dave Fanning on the Fanning Sessions

As soon as I got my hands on a copy of ‘The Thing Is..‘ the first thing I did was make a beeline for Dave’s comments on the Fanning Sessions. I posted the first excerpt here and this is the concluding excerpt.

To my surprise and delight, in no time at all a session on my midnight Radio 2 rock show became the first rung on the ladder for wet-behind-the-ears Irish bands. It was their apprenticeship. They would then send the tapes to record companies to try to get signed, and while successful submissions were still rare, it was even more rare to find a press release that didn’t mention a Fanning Session.

People have praised me for this over the years and said some very kind things about my positive effect on the Irish music industry but I have always felt awkward accepting these plaudits. Just because I’d already been doing this on my own for a few years, doesn’t mean I would have had the tenacity or wherewithal to take it to the level it needed to go to. Ian Wilson deserves the praise for that. I simply felt that really this was just the sort of thing RTE should have been doing years ago in exchange for it’s licence fee.


So almost immediately, demo tapes came in from all over the country. The Fanning Sessions probably took care of a large part of Radio 2’s public service remit. They cost money, resources and manpower, sure, but as Ian had predicted, these negatives were far outweighed by the goodwill they generated towards RTE – and as many bands licensed Fanning Sessions for EPs and albums, they occasionally made a little money too.

Ian wasn’t content for us to knock out just a handful of sessions. He said from the start we should aim to do at least forty per year. We listened to all the demos, and the bands we invited in usually stood out a mile and picked themselves. The process was hardly an exact science, although Ian’s approach was a little more methodical than mine. Our only aim was to pick the best bands and help them do a good session. If they split before Christmas, it wasn’t our fault.

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