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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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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Manchester's favourite soul-pop outfit

Part one of Mick Middles' post-Perrin piece in September 1980's Sounds.



"I'M SORRY, but the landlord has told me not to serve you!"  I perfected my 'goldfish' expression before turning to the two Distractions with a look of exasperation and total disbelief.  "They won't serve us," I mouthed as Distractions' lead vocalist Mike Finney burst into laughter and pointed an accusing finger at the somewhat infantile new band member Arthur Kadmon.

"It's him, it's his fault," observed Finney rather cruelly, although I must admit I tended to agree.  Partly because Arthur naturally emits an aura of innocent stupidity and partly because of the large red earring that dangled from his left ear.  The Distractions, who recently have received letters from hotel managers complimenting the band on their good behaviour, are in danger of losing their nice boy image.

Twenty-four hours earlier, I'd met The Distractions in a grisly dark-oak ridden pub near their practice studios in Stockport.  They looked happy and with every right.  Only six weeks ago, following the release of their debut album, they suffered the loss of their main contributing songwriter and founder member, Steve Perrin.  This surprising departure caused many doubts in Manchester about the fate of the city's favourite soul-pop outfit.  Personally, in all respect to Steve Perrin, I wasn't over-concerned.  The band had hit a dull patch.  I found the album to be something of a disappointment and their live gigs were lacking in the bubbling charm that had made them such an exciting prospect.  Something had to change and, if their recent gig at Manchester UMIST is of any significance, Arthur Kadmon was a godsend.  I'd known him since his days spent in the sadly declining Ludus and, although his musical background seems ridiculously distant from the pop of The Distractions, a weird sense of belonging has already become apparent.  Mike Finney talked about their decision to introduce the, um, colourful Kadmon.

"We were just about to audition people when I chanced upon him in Stockport.  He agreed to come along for a trial and straight away we knew he was perfect.  He's writing songs as well, plus we've already started work on two of his old numbers, 'Nighttime' and 'Heaven Can Wait'".

Now, I'm familiar with both these songs, which are attractively meandering lightweight jazz injected tunes of a highly personal nature - hardly archetypal Distractions fodder.  However, after recently criticising the ban for displaying a lack of invention, I can see a neat half-way stage between the thick soul that is the band's norm and the thin coldness of the Kadmon material.  Finney sounds happy with the prospect.

"I think they suit us perfectly.  It's a much needed new direction certainly and the new two styles should blend together well."

Kadmon's acid test came when the band recently travelled to Southern Ireland for a short tour.  The gigs were, apparently, the best The Distractions have played for some time.  In Cork the band found themselves sharing the tiny town with Dexy's Midnight Runners...

[to be continued]

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