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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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Monday, January 25, 2010

Dressed Like That?

One of the most frequent observations about The Distractions was their image (or rather, lack of). Whilst the bands of the day could hardly be considered standard bearers of fashion...

...The Distractions were particularly untrendy and were (and are) frequently reminded of this.
"We all look totally different. I can't think of another band that looks less like a rock band than we do." - Steve Perrin, The Distractions.
"The Distractions had a bassist called Pip Nicholls, who wasn't wild about being called a girl, and a singer called Mike Finney who looked like a bookie's clerk and sang like R. Dean Taylor or some other blue-eyed soul god." - David Quantick, NME.
"Mike Finney, lead crooner, variously described as being a bank clerk / accountant / friendly uncle, and Steve Perrin-Brown, half of guitar duo and often dubbed boy-next-doorish. The Distractions view themselves as a non-rock band with no tangible image and so damned Joe Bloggs normal that they often wonder what a real group should look like." Betty Page, Sounds.
"I liked Mike Finney's gold lamé jacket and sexual ambiguity of the band's bassist, Pip Nicholls. They wore T-shirts that read 'Distractions Fail Sex Test'." - Bob Dickenson, Magazine [1].
"Even for a native of Manchester, a city that prides itself on turning out pop stars who neither look nor act the part, Mike Finney, lead singer with The Distractions, could well be the ultimate case of miscasting. Were you in the market for a dodgy photocopier, you'd expect to run across scores of similar types - the fuller figure, the sensible spectacles, the incorrigibly jolly manner - but rock'n'roll?" - The Face.
"A Manchester group like The Distractions were media darlings, with their Factory connections, but their sound and in particular their great single, Time Goes By So Slow, was very mod. The Distractions though weren't a threat. They looked terrible." - Kevin Pearce, Your Heart Out.
"The band's problem was - there's no getting away from it, I'm afraid - they looked like the junior staff of a bank who'd jumped up on stage at a party. [Mike Finney] looked like a chubby, bespectacled bank clerk, although this for me enhanced rather than diminished his stature. As a fellow wearer of glasses he was one of my heroes." - Nick Halliwell, The Granite Shore.
"It's a shame The Distractions' lovingly-crafted pop vignettes never reached a bigger audience. The big problem was they never looked like the part, the singer and drummer especially (respectively the wrong side of 34" waist and 34 years old. It's a tough gig this pop malarkey). They had a male guitarist and a female bass player who wore matching outfits, I remember. They should have formed a duo, they looked great." - Paul Hanley, Reformation The Webzine.
"The Distractions look like real live 70s people and not the art-schoolers who invented punk rock. Check the cover of the You're Not Going Out Like That EP: the drummer is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and one of the guitarists sports a 'Distractions Fail Sex Test' t-shirt, the kind with the iron-on fuzzy letters you could use to spell out whatever message you wanted." - Reckless Country Soul.
"Mike Finney was a kind of Martin Fry [style] spangly frontman and they had a girl bass player." - Stephen Morris, Joy Division / New Order.
"The Distractions were fascinating, a whole messy tumble of sexual dynamic." - Mick Middles.
1979, on the cusp of the most image-conscious decade since the eighteenth century, against all prevailing trends, The Distractions weren't for changing. Not even the chaos of Factory or the prestige of Island would do that.
The Distractions - the original band that let the music do the talking...

(c) Drowned in Sound.

1. Robb, J (2009). The North Will Rise Again - Manchester Music City 1976-1996. London: Aurum Press.

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