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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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Friday, August 16, 2013

Merseybeat band from the wrong city

Another great article from NME's History of Rock and Roll archives.  This was in the 'After Dark 3' section of Melody Maker on 8th March 1980.  Words by Steve Taylor, photo by Kevin Cummins.




Another roadside Distraction

WHEN a band's manager picks you up from the station in an ancient but well-preserved Morris Minor convertible and the evening restaurant meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is accompanied by the strains of two octogenarian musicians who wander among the tables hissing things like "It's in C" to each other, it's a fair bet that you're well north of Watford.

This is, in fact, Manchester, and the five young people sharing this appalling consumption of stodge in anticipation of a sweaty gig in a small, bright and friendly local club are The Distractions, who sport the curious identify of a nouveau Merseybeat band from the wrong city.

After much banter and wit and a hammering performance from the band, conversation proper had to wait for breakfast the following morning with singer Mike Finney and guitarist Steve Perrin.  Warnings of their combined conversational force proved understated: Finney anchors the exchange in a modicum of sense while Perrin is given to high-pitched flights of fantasy and hyperbole.


Perrin and Finney. (c) Kevin Cummins.


"I DON'T like music," Perrin concludes a discussion of the band's private tastes.  "I like Nico," he relents.  "Phil, our producer, came into the studio one morning," continues Perrin, "and said, 'You know the trouble with this band - everyone thinks they're somebody else: Adrian think he's black, Pip and Alec think they're a heavy metal band, Mike think he's a cross between Buddy Holly and Otis Reading, and you think you're a girl group.'"

This last jibe refers to Perrin's long-distance affair with the Ronettes and the whole band's admiration for Phil Spector.  Both Finney and Perrin prefer the studio to live work, so not surprisingly they've been more active in recording than gigging.

Inevitably, Factory Records wanted to record them, but were initially beaten by Manchester studio mogul Tony Davidson, who released an erratic EP, "You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That", on his TJM label.  Factory went on to release the classic "Time Goes By So Slow", which Island picked up and somehow lost.

The second Island single, "It Doesn't Bother Me", looks in danger of going the same way, but the forthcoming album, a very intelligent production by John Astley and Phil Chapman, ought to correct this drift.

WHAT about their teenage problem-page lyrics, then?  "I like anything that's slightly naive," Finney explains.  "Joy Division have an air of naivety about them.

"Phil the producer once said to me, 'You know the reason why you lot sound so naive - it's because you still live at home.'"  Perrin rises to leave, but pauses, "I must get me mum to throw me out," he concludes. 

- STEVE TAYLOR.

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