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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, September 28, 2013

Factory product

In this article, in the 29th September 1979 issue of Melody Maker, Mary Harron discusses Factory Records and their bands - Joy Division, Orchestral Manoeuvres, A Certain Ratio and The Distractions.  Article thanks to NME's History of Rock and Roll; photos by Kevin Cummins.

Factory Products: food for thought

Lots of people thought that Operation Julie was a bit of an anachronism.  Who, in the late Seventies, could be dropping all those tabs?  It almost certainly isn't the folks at Factory Products, but MARY HARRON knows it's no accident that they called their company after Andy Warhol's legendary Sixties sweatshop.  Is granny taking trips all over again, this time in Manchester?

Tony Wilson thinks The Distractions are like one of the early psychedelic bands that sprang up in Austin, Texas in 1966 - the ones found on the "Nuggets" albums - but I think he's letting his theory run away with him there.  They are much more of a new wave version of Merseybeat.  Mike Finney, the lead singer, says: "When we started, everyone saw us as post-Hamburg Beatles, but we didn't intend it to be that.  We hoped we were doing something original."

On stage Finney looks like an engaging junior bank clerk, in his glasses and three-piece suit; the bass player, Pip Nicholls, looks like Tina Weymouth's kid sister.  Seeing them perform in Manchester was a reminder of how different the atmosphere is in clubs up North.  There, unlike in London, you find the true Saturday night - the undercurrent of excitement that comes from dressing up for the week's evening out.  On the dance floor, a froup of teenage boys went through a strange, ritual scrimmage - pretending to attack but touching only lightly - like cubs play-fighting.

The group have only been playing a year, and the inexperience shows.  The first half of their set was clumsy and boring; the second half confident and exciting.  At their best they are full of energy and charm, with only one danger ahead: if they get any more charming, they will be cute.

The Distractions are the only group on Factory records who can say, without hesitation, what their songs are about: "They're all love songs, ranging from disappointment to hatred."

Guitarist Adrian White [Wright] explains that "everyone has this perfect image of love.  It's like an image of paradise that can never be.  And when it doesn't work out, you hate it."  Mike Finney adds that "in real life - which none of us know much about, apart from signing on - there's no way you can make love last forever.  But it was be nice if it did, which is why we sing about it."

Their modern love songs include "Waiting For The Rain", about bi-sexual love, and "One Way Love" - "When we sing that everyone thinks it's about this imaginary girlfriend.  Actually, it's about masturbation."

The Distractions. (c) Kevin Cummins.

What makes The Distractions more than just charming, and more than a revival, is the rawness in their music and the fact they deal with aspects of life that the early boy/girl songs wouldn't touch.  "Pillowfight", the B-side of their new single, is a song about infidelity that manages to pack a whole range of conflicting emotions - jealousy, hurt, curiosity, pity, resentment - into a few words:

     What did you waken up to find lying next to you
     Just a man whose taken up your time is that really you
     Did you fall for sympathy made you easy game
     Is he your kind I bet you don't know his name.

AFTER this single, Factory Records expect The Distractions to sign with a major label, and hope the same for all their groups, as only the major companies can pay musicians a living.   Factory sign no contracts, and say that so far mutual trust has worked out.

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