Imagine being asked by a genuine rock star to spend three days in Spain at his expense to play a gig and basically chill out in the sunshine.

That’s exactly what happened to The Sneaky Peeks. The band, from York, had recorded their music at Tim Walker’s Voltage Studios in Bradford and their single, A Little Bit Red, had reached the Top 30 on the indie chart.

Andy Taylor, former guitarist with Duran Duran, spotted them on MySpace, thought they were good, and asked them to join a few other up-and-coming bands at a one-night concert in Ibiza last June.

He paid for the lot.

Tim Walker went with them. “He thought the band were brilliant. Everybody was saying they were fantastic, “ he said.

They are now managed by Darren Henderson, former senior vice president with SonyBMG, and the man instrumental in reforming Take That. If the Sneaky Peeks are signed to a major record label, that would represent a significant highlight in the two decades that Tim, a former guitarist with Bradford band Harlequyn, has run or jointly run Voltage Records.

This year sees the 21st anniversary of Voltage. In his pomp as a glam rock axeman, Tim had big hair and wore outrageous clothes, and says it was the best way for him to grow up. Harlequyn put out two singles and an album, and were quite successful.

“I’ve never made a million, but I’ve had an amazing life. For five years I lived like a rock star – a skint rock star. It was all about how you looked. If you are going to look outrageous you’ve got to be able to handle yourself, talk your way out of trouble.

“We used to go shopping on Saturday mornings to buy the most outrageous clothes, or one of the band would say, ‘I’m going to dye my hair blue’. We used to go to ‘towny’ pubs full of lager louts, just to annoy them.

“I was in the Oak Leigh pub with the manager, Andy. He said, ‘You’d better go, it looks as though there’s going to be trouble.’ I was punched on the shoulder. I looked round and there was a group of rugby players. One of them said, ‘Are you a man or a woman?’ I stood on a chair, held out my arms and said, ‘I’m neither a man nor a woman: I’m a musician!’ They all cheered.”

Tim, gaunt of face, hair closely-cropped to his skull, doesn’t look like a glam rock star now. As he said, looking outrageous is for the young. But don’t infer from this that he is past it.

Down in the cellar of Voltage there is a skateboarding ramp. Tim Walker is an ardent skateboarder, in fact he’s made several compilation albums (each one called Gnarly Dude) by skateboarding rock musicians, including Steve Caballero who, he told me, was the great American skateboarder of the 1980s.

It was while he was with Harlequyn that Voltage sparked into life. At first it occupied a space not much bigger than a cupboard in the former Flexible Response studio in Little Germany in Bradford. The studio was called Revolver and was run by Tim and a fellow musician.

The studio’s next home was what had been rehearsal rooms of the old Theatre Royal in Manningham Lane, Bradford.

His partner left and Tim bought out his interest and changed the name to Voltage. Four years ago, he was obliged to move his studio and chose its present location, a rented post-industrial building at the back of Ripley Street, near Manchester Road, also in Bradford.

Razor wire on the roof denotes that this corner of Bradford is targeted by criminals. The building is wired up with alarms and CCTV cameras. Lower windows are barred to deter opportunistic neighbourhood druggies from raiding in the vain hope for cash – there isn’t any. It’s a pain.

Like other legitimate local business, Voltage Records gives that corner of the city a bit of life and hope.

Tim, born in Bradford in 1964 and raised in Undercliffe, spent the best part of a year and under £8,000 converting and refurbishing the capacious building, removing dead rats and pigeons, installing three recording studios, six rehearsal rooms, ample storage space, a relaxation space and a skateboarding ramp in the cellar.

Tim’s parents, uncles and friends helped to transform the interior. Sometimes he had to borrow money to survive; at other times he was on the breadline. But he persevered and has built up a reputation as a producer, recording engineer and mentor to bands in varying states of becoming.

Tim said: “There is a huge amount of talent in Bradford. Part of the local music scene is the healthy hip-hop and grime scene, especially among Asians. Too often that’s overlooked.”

Mentoring bands doesn’t mean teaching youngsters how to play drums or guitar or sing.

“Bands ask me what they need to do to get to the next level. A lot of it is about how to get gigs, do records and get press; it’s more about self-marketing. That’s where a lot of bands fail. Harlequyn succeeded through sheer determination and hard work, really,” he adds.

Playing music – Tim’s current band is Worm – recording bands, mentoring musicians, running a recording studio sounds like every young person’s dream of a great life. Tim says: “The bulk of my job here is cleaning the loos and vaccuuming.

“The public face of the music industry is the people making vast amounts of money; but most people are just making a living – if they’re lucky. There’s that many people who try to get into it and fail.

“I spent three days in Brighton with the Scissor Sisters and Yoko Ono. Then it’s back to Bradford for three months sweeping up cola cans. The glamour bits are great but they are few and far between.”

Reality kicks in with each electricity bill.

With up to 20 bands rehearsing at Voltage in a good week, the demand for power can mean quarterly bills in excess of £700. Tim charges only £4.50 an hour for use of a rehearsal room, £21 an hour for recording and £20 a month for storage. That’s why he doesn’t drive to work in a Bentley.

Now in his mid-40s, is he contemplating another 21 years running a studio?

“Not at this level. I’d like to change and develop and take it to the next level. We’ve paid off what it cost to refurbish the building and create the studios and rehearsal rooms – without a penny of grant money, I’d like to say. That’s an achievement.

“Part of doing the Voltage label is about building the bands – The Sneaky Peeks, for example – giving them an opportunity. It builds my reputation as a producer. I’m now doing things that are getting into the indie charts.”

Though he is something of an altruist – he believes in helping local bands because he wants to help his home town – Tim strikes me as being one who, in the words of humourist Garrison Keillor, keeps his hopes high and his humour dry.

“Nobody cares if a band sounds great; they just want to know how many they’ve sold. It’s not a business to go into if you’re into business. The Dragon’s Den wouldn’t be impressed.”