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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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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ahead of their time

More post-Distractions stuff from the archives.  This is part one of a piece by Frank Worrall in the 18 September 1982 issue of Melody Maker, and sees Mike Finney discuss The Distractions before going on to explain the Secret Seven venture.


Frank Worrall (words) and Zbysiu Road (picture) regress to the happy days of THE SECRET SEVEN

MIKE Finney beams broadly at my first question. "You do have to sell, yes," he whispers. "But I wouldn't say that I'm as such a mercenary as a realist. I'm a man who's learned his lessons as well."

Mike smiles a lot during the course of our jaunt around Manchester's hostelries. Later in the evening I tell him that he's got a lot to smile about.

He nods in agreement - and smiles! Just a short time earlier he'd been reflecting sadly on the frustrations of the past couple of years, when total disillusionment all but set in.

"The Distractions could have been big, he said. "But it all fell apart after we'd got the record deal with Island."

I tell Mike that The Distractions hold fond memories for me and that in retrospect their music was a foundation  from which many of today's "pop" bands have developed.

"It's true," he says. "The music we were making in 1979 was two years ahead of its time. In fact, there's not much difference between what we were doing then and what Haircut One Hundred are doing now."

WE jump forward to March, 1982 when the Secret Seven - with nucleus of Mike, Julie Middles sharing vocals, AJ playing bass and Bernard Van Den Berg on keyboards - started their great adventure.

"It wasn't at all difficult to start over again," says Mike. "I knew that there was something special in the line-up and the new challenge refreshed me. Now the only different between us and The Distractions is that we've got five less songs and we're already more famous. Can't be bad, can it?"

He talks of a calculated master plan conceived to launch the Seven.

"I didn't want to make the same elementary mistakes as before so I thought about it carefully," he admits. "With the help of Mick (Middles), our manager, I made sure that we alerted all the right people in all the right places."

That means he didn't want to get caught up in the staid, messy "rock circuit" idea. "Instead of playing pubs and playing clubs we decided that the Seven would take an easier route."

And it's worked. Look at the Seven's gig at the Hacienda the other week when the club was swarming with vultures from the big labels. "I'd rather be in the position we are now than still be playing some dingy pub in Stockport," he adds.

That's all very well, but isn't there something basically immoral in manipulation and jumping on the latest "pop bandwagon"?

"You think we're on a bandwagon?" he demands. "I don't. Sure we're a pop group but I've always made pop. I believe that the Secret Seven are ahead, not abreast of music fashion; I know we're different.

How's it different? "Well, there's nobody else, expect perhaps the Human League, who are bringing together synthesizers and pop as effectively as us."

[to be continued...]

(c) Frank Worrall. Melody Maker.

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