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Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Soulful pop band

Part two of the Sounds interview with Betty Page in 1980:




Honesty And Feeling With Smelly Feet

The Distractions tell Betty Page: "It’s tough at the side!”

In various attempts to pin tags on this band, descriptions have ranged from “poppy soul band” to “soulful pop band”. Which is it to be?

Steve: “I can quite honestly say neither.  This thing about us being a soul band is really strange.  What’s meant, I think, is feeling rather than soul.  But people might come and expect the Q-Tips.  And we’re better at playing country and western than we are soul.  We’ve never done it straight but we’re all getting Dobros and Framus Nashville guitars and I’m changing my name to Chet Perrin!”

Alec (Sidebottom, drummer/kebab expert): “Seriously, we always try to put feeling into what we do, put a little depth in there.”

Steve: “It's more important than technical perfection.  Touring can push you the other way and make you keep a constant standard, like a machine does.  It can be like watching a lathe when you see bands that've been on the road for years: the must-go-to-soundcheck syndrome."

How do they propose to maintain the hand-on-heart, frog-in-mouth emotion?

Mike explains: We think about dying dogs.  I think about my rabbit that died.  Called Skippy, it was.  I was six.  They sent me to Blackpool while they buried it!"

Steve: “It's a difficult question; sometimes we don’t keep it up.  When you get a critical audience it keeps you on your toes, but an easy audience is easy money.  Nobody’s perfect...”

A careful observer of Distractions music may notice a discreet early Searchers influence tucked away somewhere.  The ever ebullient Steve wasn’t convinced:

“We don’t really have conscious influences.  At least we don’t sound like Talking heads or Joy Division like every other band nowadays.  It’s like a bloody ghetto – I hate bands like that.  Most recent success stories have been due as much to inability as ability; having to choose certain styles to fit into.  We don’t and can't do this.

Mike: “I can see The Searchers resemblance – The Searchers at their peak, mind you!"

Steve: “We’re not a sixties band, though – that’s crap. I was ten when the sixties finished.”

The Distractions view themselves as a non-rock band with no tangible image and so damned Joe Bloggs normal that they often wonder what a real group should look like.  Average Steve says:

“We all look totally different.  I can’t think of another band that looks less like a rock band than we do.  I’ve been refused entry to loads of our gigs.  People don’t believe I’m in a group.  Up at Manchester Poly I stood playing guitar chords in the air just so they’d let me in.  We’ve tried to do things together but it’s no good, after ten minutes we’re driving each other up the wall.”

Adrian (absent half of guitar duo/plastic trousers and pose) is the only one “getting into it”.  He and Steve had decided recently that the former would join Thin Lizzy, the latter PIL and the rest would become bank clerks and carpet fitters.


Lack of popstar charisma is compensated for by warmth of character – image shmimage.  The Undertones made it on anti-image, proving you don’t need white suits and smiles to be a success.  Steve: “But they made a point out of not having an image.  I refuse to make a point out of not having an image.”

(c) Betty Page, Sounds, 12 July 1980.

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