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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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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scream City 5

Get your hands on a copy of Scream City 5 from cerysmatic at eBay as soon as you can for exclusive articles and tracks from the Factory Records roster, including David Quantick's article and a special, unreleased number from our very own Distractions:

Scream City 5. (c) Facebook.

Scream City, the Factory Records fanzine from the people who brought you Cerysmatic Factory plus special guest contributors, is back (finally) with its fifth (and biggest ever) issue. Scream City is still an old school fanzine and is made from paper, ink and staples.

Scream City 5 (60 pages in colour and black & white) is priced 3.00 GBP + Worldwide postage and packing via eBay (Buy it Now with Paypal only).

- A Factory Trip Around The World - the art of international collecting by Andrew James
- An interview with FAC 51 The Hacienda's (and Smack The Pony's) Fiona Allen
- The Distractions by David Quantick
- An exclusive extract from James Nice's new book about Factory Records 'Shadowplayers' plus a Q&A with Mr Nice
- Closer, Karamazov and K550 by Ian McCartney
- Looking From A Hilltop... at Lytham St Annes (or "When Interviews Go Wrong") - a salutary lesson about the dark art of the interview and a touching tribute to Larry Cassidy by David Nolan
- An interview with Shark Vegas man and remixer extraordinaire Mark Reeder
- Matthew Robertson talks to Factory Australasia man Andrew Penhallow
- Factory Over America - Scream City talks to the US wing of Factory Records with new interviews with Michael H Shamberg and Ike Yard's Stuart Argabright and Michael Diekmann

Initial copies come with a free 10-track compilation CDR featuring live/rare/unreleased material by Section 25, Ike Yard, Thick Pigeon, The Names, The Wake, The Durutti Column, The Distractions, Biting Tongues, Shark Vegas and Fidelity Kastrow & Spartak (produced & remixed by Mark Reeder).

The tracks by Section 25, The Wake and Biting Tongues were recorded live at Plan K in December 2010.

The CDR is a strictly limited edition of 160 copies available on a first come first served basis.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Distractions in the studio

The first Distractions recording session for almost 30 years got underway at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool at 10 a.m. on Wednesday 16th June 2010. The goal was a new Distractions single which will come out on Occultation hopefully later this year and the line-up was:

Mike Finney: vocals
Steve Perrin: guitar, vocals, tambourine
Nick Garside: bass
Nick Halliwell: guitar, vocals
Stuart Mann: drums
Richard Turvey: piano, organ

Three songs were recorded, two written by Steve Perrin, a new one called "Lost" plus a completely revamped version of "Nicole", originally written for (and demoed by) his post-Distractions band The Escape Committee, plus "Oil Painting", written by Nick Halliwell of The Granite Shore. All three tracks were recorded live, without a click track and with Mike singing guide vocals, then minimal overdubs (including some fine piano and organ work by Richard Turvey of The Wild Swans) and vocals were added. Mr Finney is in very, very fine voice... It really is great to have them back.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Occultation catalogue

Those of you wise enough to have purchased The Granite Shore's epic new 7", Flood of Fortune, from Occultation will have received a special bonus insert in your parcel. So, just in case you couldn't quite believe that the forgotten/lost/unappreciated* Manchester band were releasing new material, there it is on the reverse in black and white. Occultation Recordings Catalogue 2009-2010: The Distractions - Black Velvet EP Digital release. And of course we hope for at least three further additions to the list... the CD Nothing and the new single (being recorded tomorrow!) from The Distractions, plus the long-awaited comeback album from Liverpool's not-quite-as-forgotten/lost/unappreciated* legends, The Wild Swans.

...* delete as applicable

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nothing sleevenotes

As followers of The Distractions (UK) facebook page will know, David Quantick has kindly written and interviewed for the sleevenotes that will accompany Nothing. These feature insight from some key names, many of whom were instrumental in the late '70s, early '80s Manchester scene - the likes of Mick Middles, Kevin Cummins, Cath Carol, Liz Naylor, Kevin Hewick and Tracey Thorn as well as Mike, Steve and Alex. Stunning original artwork - a feature of all Occultation Recordings' releases - will also adorn the record. As mentioned here, this forthcoming album, The Distractions' first on CD, will feature:

- Doesn't Bother Me
- Nothing
- Maybe It's Love
- Too Young

- Time Goes By So Slow
- Pillow Fight

The 1995 recordings:

- Black Velvet
- Where Were You When I Needed You
- Still It Doesn't Ring
- Good Girls Don't Get To Paris
- I Thought You Were Dead Josephine
- The Land of Opportunity

Watch this space and Occultation's website for details of Nothing's release.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You've been framed

Fast forward this video to about 5 minutes 50 seconds or try this link here. Rocking against Racism!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The Distractions, 1981. Pip Nicholls, Arthur Kadmon, Mike Finney,
Alex Sidebottom.

This is another of Alex's photos: "The front of a publicity pack we did ourselves just before the final EP (And Then There's...) came out. We had been royally screwed by our management and were managing ourselves. It ended (for me) not long after this and I was playing with a lot of other bands at the time. One of them was a mean Rockabilly outfit called The Renegades (hence the attempt at a quiff and the James Dean stare!)." The Renegades are described as "the legendary rockabilly outfit that headlined over New Order at the Video Workshop Benefit at the Squat (on Devas Street, near to The Academy, Oxford Road, nowadays)" [1]. This was Gillian Gilbert's first gig with New Order on 25th October 1980 [2], just weeks after they played at Hurrah's, New York. It was also the first time that their seminal track Ceremony was ever performed with Bernard Sumner on vocals [3].

Fittingly, today Steve Perrin touched down back in Blighty for more Distractions with Mike and guests. More on that later, but rather excitingly the artwork for the first Distractions EP since 1981 is almost ready (and looking superb) and mastering is about to be completed. All tracks stemming from the 1995 sessions, lead track, the epic Black Velvet, is backed with a new version of Still It Doesn't Ring, plus an incredible vocal from Mr Finney on the never-before-heard If You Were Mine. The EP (and fingers crossed, maybe some promo CDs) will be available from Occultation Recordings, ahead of the album Nothing, plus the new single which is being laid down next week...

2. Thompson D. (2005). True Faith: An Armchair Guide To New Order. London - Helter Skelter.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Publicity shots

The Distractions, Hulme, April 1980. Photo credit: Daniel Meadows.

Here's a couple of nice promo photos done for Island Records from Alex's personal collection. This one is more familiar to most of us at a 90ยบ angle. It was taken in Hulme Crescents in April 1980, the notorious flats where, as Alex describes: "Hulme at this time was an example of an urban planning disaster. A series of eight-storey semi-circular tower blocks linked by walkways. It was a robber's paradise. I used to regularly visit people who lived there and the thieves were really polite. They used to push notes under the door asking people to please leave their valuables outside to minimise the damage of a break-in. They did as well!"

Hulme Crescents, Manchester, 1970s. (c) exhulme.

Despite being a complete disaster for the council and town planners, the Crescents were an incredibly rich source of musical talent, with punks, poets, students and DJs moving in towards the end (along with many problem families and petty criminals). The famous PSV/Russell Club which hosted The Factory nights where The Distractions played was nearby.

The Factory, Russell Club, Hulme.

The second Island publicity shot was taken in the equally salubrious inner city area, Salford, not sure exactly where though. Same order in both - Mike, Steve, Pip, Adrian, Alex.

The Distractions, Salford, April 1980. Photo credit: Daniel Meadows.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Occultation Recordings

We're thrilled to welcome Manchester's The Distractions to the label with their "Black Velvet" digital EP, then "Nothing" - an album featuring their debut EP, classic Factory single "Time Goes By So Slow"/"Pillow Fight" (FAC12) plus the legendary 1995 recordings - and a new single to be recorded in June.

The above is included the latest email update from Occultation Recordings. To keep up to date with the latest from The Distractions and more from Occultation, we recommend signing up to their email list at the website!


Occultation Recordings proudly announce advance orders for the second Granite Shore single, "Flood of fortune" b/w "Highway code", a 7" featuring Nick Halliwell, Phil Wilson (June Brides), Arash Torabi and Andy Fonda, plus full strings and brass, recorded in Devon, London and Los Angeles. The single is only £4+P&P from us and there's also a very limited promo CD available to buy with the 7" (while stocks last), plus special package pricing when purchased together with previous Occultation releases. Vinyl orders qualify for free 320k MP3s and we now have an automated system sending links immediately by e-mail - just check your inbox after paying. We expect to have the vinyl and promos over the next week or so and will send them out as soon as we get them.


The single is also available as a digital download from the MP3 Shop.

The Wild Swans album is nearly done and as soon as Paul Simpson gives us the word we'll get it out. We're also releasing Jonathan Beckett's "She's A Vampire" digital EP and we're thrilled to welcome Manchester's The Distractions to the label with their "Black Velvet" digital EP, then "Nothing" - an album featuring their debut EP, classic Factory single "Time Goes By So Slow"/"Pillow Fight" (FAC12) plus the legendary 1995 recordings - and a new single to be recorded next month as icing on the cake.

If you've any questions, want to order singles in a combination missing from the "Packages" page or have any problems with our new automated system please drop us a line.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's supported us - we simply couldn't do this without you.

Diversion ahead

The Distractions at TJM Studios, Little Peter Street, Manchester, 1978.
Pip Nicholls, Steve Perrin, Adrian Wright, Alex Sidebottom, Mike Finney.

This snap was taken outisde TJM's rehearsal rooms and studio near the old Boardwalk club, which was later to gain fame as a Madchester venue then a rehearsal venue for Oasis. It was taken at the same session as The Distractions' debut EP, You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That. The group are in identical and typical poses - Steve and Pip reserved; Adrian in whatever mode; Alex a touch distant; Mike hands deep in pockets. It's arguably a better shot than the EP cover, especially with the symbolic - some might say prophetic - sign.

The session at TJM was shared with the legendary Buzzcocks, The Fall and (the not-quite-so legendary) V2. As Alex explains, "My partner at the time was Ann Clayton who ran a rock 'n' roll clothes shop. She made all the shirts in this picture as well as other stage clothes for the band. It was a volatile relationship but we had some great times and many adventures together. She died in 1994."

This volatile relationship partly explains Alex's bloody nose in the Kevin Cummins photo below accompanying Paul Morley's 1979 missive from the great pop wars, "Happiness is just a Distraction". This article appeared in the NME around the time of the great Factory Records single, Time Goes By So Slow. Alex again: "Morley was an early champion of the band and still name-checks us as one of his favourites. I had just come back from Greece where I had a fight with Ann. We were both shit faced and I fell down a concrete hole on an unlit road on some Godforsaken island. I smashed my face up and broke my leg and she left me there for ten hours! Hence the handsome features! Happy daze!"

Paul Morley NME article, 1979 (photo, Kevin Cummins).

The article partly reads:

...the Factory single was Finney-Perrin's 'Time Goes By So Slow' [incorrectly credited; TGBSS was, of course, Adrian's] backed with Wright's 'Pillow Fight' [this was Perrin/Finney!]. I could do nothing but make Factory 12 single of the week. Ripples reached Island Records.

On a quiet, grey Sunday afternoon a few weeks later, sat all alone in my London flat, I phone Steve Perrin. Hey, I say, I go to America for a couple of weeks and when I get back you've signed with bloody Island Records. No longer on the outside looking in!

"Yeah, it happened quick really," he tells me. "People at Island seem to want to update their images, and we were encouraged to sign because they'd signed The Slits and the B-52s and seemed good people to go with. It wasn't really surprising when it happened. And now we're getting gigs in London and we can't get any in Manchester." He sighs at the injustice.

The group have arranged a free gig at Manchester's Fun House on December 1st - the first date... They've re-done 'It Doesn't Bother Me' with John Astley producing for their first single, and will be preparing an LP in January...

Ann Clayton (1949-1994)

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