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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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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

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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