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Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Here's the first half of the revealing Penny Black Music magazine interview with Mike Finney, Steve Perrin, Nick Halliwell, and HiddenMasters', Neil Storey, by Malcolm Carter.  Here, we get confirmation that as well as a remastered version of 'Nobody's Perfect' on 180 g vinyl, the intriguing possibility of 'Nobody's Perfect' remixes are revealed.

The Distractions: Interview
Author: Malcolm Carter
Published: 08/12/2014

Mike Finney and Adrian Wright.
(c) Adrian Boot (www.urbanimage.tv).

Penny Black: Is this the first time any of The Distractions have been involved in a Pledge Music campaign?

Steve Perrin: Yes.

Mike Finney: Yes

PB: ‘Parabolically Yours’ had already reached 25% of its target within 24 hours of the campaign starting. Were you happy with that result, surprised even?

SP: Surprised and delighted, although that probably came from the people who already knew about it. Now we have to convince the floating voters.

MF: Very pleased – but we now have to try and spread the news! I agree with Steve.

Neil Storey: Yes, surprised is a bit of an understatement! Personally, I’d have been happy if we’d hit 10% in 24 hours… It’s quite a long campaign and we’ve still got a good deal to tell people about – the track-listings plus no one has seen any images of the packaging yet either… All will be revealed over the coming weeks. Plus, as you’ve undoubtedly seen, both Steve and Mike are posting videos… and, I suspect more are to come!

PB: There are a number of different packages available. Were members of the band involved with what should be offered?

SP: We’ve been consulted at every stage.

NS: In brief, Hidden Masters put all the different packages together, but nothing was officially included until both Steve and Mike said okay. Luckily they did! Also, from a reasonably early period, they’ve both been seeing the various elements of artwork for the book. I think they both first saw it when it was 60 pages and it's now increased to 100 – and may grow a bit more as well. So far, it’s a thumbs up so that’s encouraging!

PB: Is the whole of the ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ album going to be included?

SP: Yes, it’ll be a remastered version. Also, Nick Halliwell has been working on some remixes to make it sound a little bit less ‘80s’ – basically stripping out the keyboards and strengthening the rhythm section. We might also include some of that.

MF: When I first heard the ‘new’ mixes, I was taken aback a little…I prefer them to the original mix. They are more like we really sounded.

NS: Yes – it’ll be re-mastered by Richard Whittaker from the original analog ¼” production reels. Richard you’d otherwise know from his work on archive projects with the likes of The Who or the Stones.

Nick Halliwell: With the remixes Steve mentions, I’ve just tried to make it sound a bit more like The Distractions. I’ve not tried to deconstruct it or anything like that, just stripped off some of the “new wave” production, trying to play to the band’s strengths and let the songs breathe a little more.

PB: The basic package includes three CDs and a vinyl album. Is the vinyl a reproduction of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ or a selection of the tracks spread over the 3 CDs?

SP: It’s ‘Nobody’s Perfect’.

NS: The vinyl is ‘Nobody’s Perfect’.

PB: Given that ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ is now getting on for being 35 years old and some of the other tracks on ‘Parabolically Yours’ are even older, are you surprised that there is so much interest in that music now, especially as, although loved by the critics at the time of release, not so many put hands in pockets back then?

SP: I find it pretty amazing, though pleasantly so. It’s easier to understand as a fan. When they reissued the first four Scott Walker solo albums on CD I not only had to buy the CDs, I had to buy a CD player so I could listen to them and I was happy to do so. I’ve since bought the vinyl reissues. Music fans are crazy. What can you do?

MF: Not too shocking (although amazing as Steve says) as I still love Northern Soul, Sam Cooke, Otis... all of which are older still. Northern Soul probably sells more now and the time factor isn’t really important.

NH: I’m one of those who put their hands in their pockets in 1980. Essentially, although the production was felt to be a little dated even at the time, the songs are so strong they’ve stood up beautifully.

PB: Looking back, if ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and the rest of your work then had achieved the sales it deserved do you think the band would have carried on longer than it did?

SP: Hard to say. I really needed some time off at that time, but I guess if we had been selling some records we could have afforded to send me to a health farm for a few weeks.

MF: Steve is right. If we could have all afforded to go somewhere for a few weeks, I would have joined Steve at the Health Farm, but he probably would have killed me in my sleep and there isn’t usually a bar.

PB: Who had the final say in the track selection of ‘Parabolically Yours’?

SP: It’s still not been finalised but it will be down to Mike and me in the end.

MF: I agree with Steve.

NS: The short answer is Steve and Mike with Nick H because more recent Distractions material is being included.

That said, the final track listings are work in progress. Why? There are two radio sessions we know of but…they’ve disappeared! The BBC one doesn’t exist at the BBC – we’ve all heard tales of reels being reused and I’d imagine that is what happened there…shame but it is what it is. Same goes for the Piccadilly Radio session.

What we’re hoping… and I stress the word hoping here… is that someone, somewhere, taped either/or off the radio and has a cassette copy. And gets in touch! Meaning, we’ll keep our options open as long as possible on the finalised track listings.

Reasonably soon, however, I’ll put together a draft running order for the three CDs. From that rough map, fine-tuning will begin and, eventually, we’ll reach a position where we have three running orders all agreed.

NH: The decision-making process in The Distractions usually goes like this: I say, “Mike, what do you think?” He says, “I agree with Steve”, I point out that Steve hasn’t said what he thinks yet to which he replies “Well, when he does I’ll agree with it”. So I ask Steve who usually says, “I agree with you”. As I generally agree with Mike and Steve this makes for a happy ship. As the others say, overall it’s up to Mike and Steve for most of it, with me coming in on the latter-day stuff.

PB: Is there anything usable left in the vaults now that’s likely to get a general release in the future?

SP: I don’t think so. This will sort of clear things up. Then we can get on with making the next record.

MF: What about the a capella triple concept album we recorded at St Aspinall’s…?

NS: From day one, we’ve only thought of making this set as comprehensive and as musically and artistically brilliant as is humanly possible.

Without a doubt, there is bound to be music we won’t use… in just the same way there are images we’ll put to one side or bits of interviews that won’t be included. Better to keep quality at 110% rather than include item X for the sake of it.

Obviously, IF something does turn up in the fullness of time something that no-one, at this point, can remember… and all are agreed it is something that has merit / should be issued… then, we’d look into ways of doing that. It’d be great to be proved wrong but, right now, I don’t think there is anything substantial.

NH: Ask us again once the final track listing is decided.


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