His huge shadow hung over the conversation from the second it started. Plain fact: Welsh band The Storys have been handed the coveted support slot on Elton John's
"Totally surreal," said singer/guitarist Steve Balsamo. "Our manager called and said, Brace yourself. Elton John is going to call you in 10 minutes. So I spent 10 minutes dancing around the room and then he called, 'Hi Steve, it's Elton'. I have met a lot of famous people but I've never been so tripped out as I was speaking to him."
Elton's backing clearly pays off - just ask James Blunt, Anastacia, Ryan Adams or the Scissors Sisters.
"There's no guarantee it will happen for us, but if nothing else happens with this album, having Elton John validate the songs like that is worthwhile."
Validation is a big but accurate word and there's no hiding the fact that Balsamo is unashamedly parading that validation (who wouldn't?) hoping his career of aborted launches is finally paying off.
"I've been close a few times, yeah. I think we have a lot of respect from artists we have worked with, but we do want commercial success. In medicine, if you put in 12 years work you will be a consultant and we've put in our 12 years, we want our consultancy."
Their unusual set-up of four singers - Balsamo plus Andy Collins (bass), Dai Smith (guitar) and Rob Thompson (guitar) with Brian Thomas (drums) and Alan Thomas (keyboards) - is bleached with experience and Radio 2 loves their 1970s West Coast influence.
"We were in a pub called the Red Lion in Barnes,
Those words show Balsamo has trodden this road before and knows promises often lead nowhere.
"When I had a deal with Sony it was very much a case of 'Let's throw some money at it all and see what sticks'. But it feels very different this time. I hope it is."