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the official distractions website

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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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Must-have reissue - Sunday Times

You can still pack up the Nobody's Perfect sets from Occultation, but if you're reading this, then you probably have already had them for a month or two! Continuing our round-up of reviews from the national press, this is the Sunday Times website review from 15th March 2020 in the On Record: Pop, Rock and Jazz section.




THE DISTRACTIONS

Nobody's Perfect

Man In The Moon


THE DISTRACTIONS
Nobody's Perfect 
Man In The Moon

After a brief flirtation with Factory records, the Manchester band The Distractions fell into the arms of Island Records' Nick Stewart, who would sign U2 to the label shortly afterwards. Only one of them went on to conquer the world, but The Distractions, whose debut album Nobody's Perfect celebrates its 40th birthday this year, were beloved by both fans and critics for music that, like that of many bands at the time, forged an edgy compromise between their pop past and punk's then insistent supremacy. Reissued on vinyl on Stewart's own label, with multiple fan-pleasing extras, the album is a reminder of one of the key moments of musical collision in British pop. DC

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Brilliant bittersweet pop - Daily Mail

The long-awaited Nobody's Perfect resissue is still available from Occultation and Bandcamp, as well as some online retailers, but it's selling fast, such has been the overwhelmingly positive response from fans and journalists alike. Here's the review that appeared on the ever-popular Daily Mail website and in its English and Scottish papers on Friday 27th March.






THE DISTRACTIONS: Nobody's Perfect (Man In The Moon)

MANCHESTER outfit The Distractions were contemporaries of Joy Divison and released the brilliant Time Goes By So Slow single in 1979. They also signed to Island at the same time as U2, but disbanded after their 1980 debut. The band recently re-formed and this 40th anniversary reissue - with new mixes - reiterates their bittersweet pop credentials.

⭐⭐⭐⭐




Sunday, April 19, 2020

This classic - Sunday Mirror

We hope you've enjoyed the Nobody's Perfect reissue (still available from Occultation and Bandcamp, and that you agree that it was worth the wait! Over the coming weeks we will be taking a look at some of the reviews that have been published in the music magazines and websites. But first, the newspaper reviews, and this from the Sunday Mirror (spot the mistake in the opening line!).


Re-release

The Distractions

Nobody's Perfect

This classic has been reissued, 20 years on. The post-punk New Wave band were label pals with Joy Division before they were signed to Island Records by Nick Stewart, who also discovered U2. He says: "Tony Wilson of Factory Records suggested I check out another local band who'd just recorded a single called Time Goes By So Slow. I loved it from the moment I heard it."



Friday, April 10, 2020

Because they were so good

The third and final part of the Barmcake magazine Distractions / Mike Finney article. Again, huge thanks to Dave at Barmcake for kind permission to re-publish this. Barmcake is essential reading, after all it's Northern entertainment for the middle-aged, but you don't have to be northern to enjoy it. If you can't find a FREE copy at your local stockist (when this madness is over), then you can also pick it, and back issues, up via their tumblr site: https://barmcakemag.tumblr.com


  

Were you mates with members of these bands? I believe Mark E Smith was a fan of your voice, comparing you to Roy Orbison?

Pete Shelley was very supportive, as was Mark Smith. Mark was kind enough to say that he thought the songs were non-original because they were so good, also saying to Mick Middles that I reminded him of the 'Big O'... can't get any better than that, surely?





Our big buddies in the Manc music scene were Buzzcocks (the line-up of Pete, Steve, John and Garth) and Ian, Bernard, Pete and Steve of Joy Division. 

We would meet at Cox's Bar at the back of the Free Trade Hall - a Boddington's pub that was relatively posh for Boddies pubs, and on to the Ranch Bar in Dale Street. JD were Stiff Kittens then. They were a very likeable bunch and privately, they could not have been further from their Joy Division stage persona... excellent senses of humour, which reverted to child-like as we got more pissed. 

This never changed, although I haven't seen Bernard and Pete for many years. They live in the Chorlton area and I live in Holmfirth - yes, I crossed the Pennines. A Manc who chooses to live in Yorkshire - that says a lot about my personality, I'm sure!

I understand that band weren't happy with the way Island recorded the first LP as they felt it didn't sound like you. Was that the main reason for you splitting up in 1981?


THE DISTRACTIONS. The classic line-up. Left to right: 
Alex Sidebottom, Adrian Wright, Steve Perrin, Pip Nicholls, Steve Perrin.  
Photo: Adrian Boot.


The album was a mix 'of its time', not what any of us wanted, so a compromise. The re-release that is being completed by Nick Stewart (the A&R man who signed us to Island) is being re-mixed to a more Distractions sound - removing many of the keyboards, a lot of effects, etc.

I still see Steve Perrin each year when he comes over from New Zealand, we have been friends since 1974 and that will not change.

The version of The Distractions doing the stuff now would have had Steve, if he was here, although he is no keener on playing live now as he was back then! 

The fall-out really was musical differences, along with me becoming more and more into 'socialising''; the whole thing pissing off Steve; Ade Wright leaving to become a student. Pip Nicholls, Alex and me carried on with Arthur Kadmon (ex-Ludus and The Fall) for a while, when it just fizzled out. 

I set up The Secret Seven, we recorded for Bronze Records, but not for long, then I joined the Art of Noise, again - not for long...


 


Did you regret leaving Factory for Island?

There are times that staying with Factory would have made artistic sense, but the whole Island thing was just so attractive - they just didn't know what to do with us. U2 signed the following day and always wanted to be rock stars in the conventional way, which was much easier. I don't blame them, I just don't share their passion for it. We wanted to break moulds, but we were not sure which moulds to break.

We were the first Factory band to play Hurrah Club, in New York so we got a lot of attention there; Warhol's team out in force; Lou Reed in the audience. That was a great moment, that and the great review in the NY Times.


For details about the re-release of Nobody's Perfect and new material, go to www.thedistractions.co.uk or Twitter @DistractionsMcr. The band play St Joseph's Hall, Leigh, on February 15, in aid of The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dark pop

Here's the second part of the Barmcake magazine (Northern entertainment for the middle-aged) feature on The Distractions featuring Mike Finney. Many thanks to Barmcake for the opportunity to re-publish the article.

 


In an interview on Salford City Radio, Mike Finney said the band was formed after Steve listened to him singing along to the songs on the jukebox in the Imperial pub, Stockport. Mike was 'a big soul boy', Steve liked Beefheart and Richard Hell. They both liked The Velvet Underground and when the band first formed, they initially covered Velvets and Stones songs.

But when Steve bought the Ramones album in 1976, they decided to write their own songs. By the time they did their first paid gig in 1977 at the Ranch Bar, Manchester, they had a set of original tunes (bar a Velvets cover).

I asked Mike what made The Distractions stand out from other bands at the time?

We were one of the few bands doing pop tunes. There were the Flamin' Groovies, a few power pop bands, but little in the way of pop tunes. However, if you listen to the words, most of them are pretty dark compared to those guys.


Pete (Shelley) often told us that was the direction we should go in and 'dark pop' became a Manchester thing. Unfortunately, we didn't get the bookings outside, inhibited by all having day jobs. We had never played south of Buxton before we signed the Island deal in 1979!


When people talk about the Manchester music scene in the late 70s, Buzzcocks, Joy Division and The Fall dominate. Do you feel The Distractions never got the acclaim they deserved then and now?

We got massive acclaim within the music press at the time. Many of the journalists are still mates - Mick Middles, David Quantick, and others. Tony Wilson wanted us to release on Factory to provide light between A Certain Ratio and Joy Division at gigs, which worked very well from an artistic perspective, but may JD fans stared at their shoes and said we were not 'serious' enough. That's life!

We played in Victoria Vaults, York, recently. We went down very well, but most people had never heard of us before and the irony of us supporting a Joy Division tribute act was not lost on us.


THE DISTRACTIONS. The classic line-up. Left to right: 
Alex Sidebottom, Adrian Wright, Steve Perrin, Pip Nicholls, Steve Perrin.  
Photo: Adrian Boot.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Breaking the mould

In late 2019, the wonderful Barmcake magazine - Northern entertainment for the middle-aged - published a feature on The Distractions, including an interview with Mike Finney. With huge thanks to Barmcake, we are pleased to publish the piece in three parts. Here's the first.



'We wanted to break 
moulds, but were not sure
which moulds to break'

Signed by Island, praised by Pete Shelley and Mark E Smith, The Distractions could have become one of Manchester's biggest bands. Singer Mike Finney talks about their seventies heyday and plans for the future

"One of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups" is how The Distractions' own website describes the band. It's a fair summary.

When people look back at the city's late 70s music scene, The Distractions appear to have been pushed out by the 'big three' of that time - Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall - and related to passing references.

But the inkies (Sounds, NME) raved about them, comparing them to Buzzcocks and The Undertones. Paul Morley and David Quantick were among their fans; Quantick said Mike "looked like a bookie's clerk and sang like R. Dean Taylor or some other blue-eyed soul god". The band signed to Factory then Island in 1979 around the same time as the latter snapped up U2.

The Distractions were founded in 1975 by Stockport College pals Mike Finney and Steve Perrin and split in 1981 after five star reviews of their first album but poor sales. They have reformed and recorded sporadically over the years and started playing live again more regularly, following a memorial gig for Manchester punk legend Jon The Postman in 2015.

The band now feature Mike and Alex Sidebottom from the classic line-up, with new members Joe Brehony, Chris Dutton and Jonny Poole. They plan to release new songs in the New Year. Meanwhile, The Distractions' first LP, Nobody's Perfect, will be re-released next year in time for its 40th anniversary. It will have at least 18* additional tracks and at least 14 additional remixes.

(C) Barmcake, 2019.


* the reissue has 20 bonus tracks as well as the 14 album remixes



Thursday, February 20, 2020

End of the Pier-fect

The reviews for our Nobody's Perfect reissue are already coming in. But before those who pre-ordered from Occultation get their hands on their vinyl LPs and 2CD sets (about a month ahead of the official release date), here's a review of The Distractions' comeback album, 2012's The End Of The Pier (which you can pick up in good value bundles from Occultation and SDE) from our friend Rarebird that we somehow overlooked at the time:


The Distractions - "The End of Pier" (2012)

The Distractions were an overlooked Manchester band who broke up in the early ‘80’s after releasing only one full-length album called Nobody’s Perfect. They have recently re-formed, and have finally issued their second full-length album – 32 years after their first. The End of the Pier was recorded in June 2011 by a lineup consisting of original vocalist Mike Finney, original guitarist Steve Perrin, keyboardist Nick Garside (who was a part of the band’s short-lived mid-‘90’s lineup), guitarist Nick Halliwell (who played on the 2010 EP Come Home), bassist Arash Torabi, and drummer Mike Kellie. The album was released this week in the U.K. on the Occultation label, and the CD will be available as an import from Amazon.com next week. The mp3 download can be purchased now. 

The music on The End of the Pier is surprisingly mellow and understated. After the band gets some lingering new wave intensity out of their system on the lead-off track “I Don’t Have Time”, they tone things down to achieve a gently melancholic pop sound. The End of the Pier does not quite match the emotional poignancy of the Nobody’s Perfect album, nor does it deliver the same concentrated cogency as the more recent Black Velvet and Come Home EPs. It probably wasn’t meant to do either. 

Finney and Perrin do not pretend to be young men anymore on this album. Both musically and lyrically, they come across as former new wavers who have grown up over the past three decades. Finney’s vocals still have power, especially when he reaches down deep on “When It Was Mine”. However, he does not communicate the same sense of emotional anguish as he did in the past. He no longer sings like a young man who feels like his feelings of longing and heartbreak will never subside; now he comes across more like an older and wiser man who has learned how to cope with such feelings. 

Some of the songs (“Boots”, “The Summer I Met You”, “100 Times”) do echo the new wave aesthetic of the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, but they substitute mature refinement in place of youthful tension. “Girl of the Year” and “The Last Song” (not the Edward Bear tune, although it does bear some lyrical resemblance to it) are reminiscent of more old-fashioned pop music. Although it is still clear that Finney and Perrin appreciate a wide range of musical styles, they mainly aim for simplicity on The End of the Pier. Halliwell (who also produced the album) fits into The Distractions very well. His compositions “Wise” and “Man of the Moment” stand out as intelligently constructed ballads. 

The Distractions’ earlier work has held up well over time; it’s hard to predict how The End of the Pier will be regarded years from now. Then again, the band was probably not concerned about that. The Distractions who recorded this album were not na├»ve young men trying to please record executives or hoping to become the next big thing. This version of The Distractions merely seemed to be aiming to create a fine, respectable album, and at that, they have succeeded. 

The Distractions “The End of the Pier” (Occultation YMIR7DC017) 2012 

Track Listing:  

1. I Don’t Have Time -- (Perrin)  
2. Wise -- (Halliwell)  
3. Girl of the Year -- (Perrin)  
4. Boots -- (Perrin/Halliwell)  
5. When It Was Mine -- (Perrin)  
6. Too Late To Change -- (Perrin)  
7. The Summer I Met You -- (Perrin)  
8. Man of the Moment -- (Halliwell)  
9. 100 Times -- (Perrin)  
10. The Last Song -- (Perrin/Halliwell) 

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