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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, December 30, 2013

That was 2013

The Distractions are mentioned in two of the best music books of 2013. In what must have been a popular Christmas present for anyone with interest in music, Manchester or Manchester music, Morrissey's autobiography mentions The Distractions' female bass player, Pip Nicholls. The full passage is about Linder from Ludus (of whom future Distractions, Arthur Kadmon, was a guitarist) and The Fall (who were founded by The Distractions' now label-mate and gig-mate, Martin Bramah).

 (c) Morrissey at Amazon.

"In the exploding Manchester scene, she was the only female, and although she fought fire with sword to render the unreceptive receptive, she is overlooked. The music scene of Manchester is a dark thread of maleness. The Fall have a keyboard player who is female, the Distractions have a bass player who is female, but Linder walks the line alone as the hunter of non-permitted dreams."

In an equally fine book released earlier this year, Tracey Thorn recalls her fondness for Time Goes By So Slow, at Christmas 34 years ago:

(c) Tracey Thorn at Amazon.

It's Christmas 1979, and you can tell Ade and I are the perfect post-punk romantic couple - he gives me The Cure single, and I give him 'Time Goes By So Slow' by The Distractions. I also get London Calling by The Clash, the Mekons LP and a book by Leonard Cohen."

2014 will see The Distractions' own book (of sorts) being published as part of the forthcoming 'Parabolically Yours' set. We aim to bring you news of that very, very soon in the new year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

New Distractions interview

Our friends at Penny Black Music have just published an interview with Steve Perrin, Mike Finney and Neil Storey of Hidden Masters.  They discuss the forthcoming retrospective set, hinting at the content and presentation, and even tease us with mentions of future gigs.  

Read it here, spread the word, and don't forget to keep up-to-date by 'Liking' the new Distractions Facebook page which has recently been established with the help of the folks at Pledge Music.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Deeply strange

Occultation Recordings chief and now Distractions guitarist, songwriter and producer, Nick Halliwell, was recently the subject of a Penny Black interview.  There were more than a few distracting snippets...

* * * 

Occultation owner Nick Halliwell is a songwriter, musician, producer and the front man with his own project The Granite Shore, whose long-awaited debut album is due for release next year.  He formed Occultation Recordings in 2008, which puts an emphasis on high quality packaging and, while it also does CD and download editions of most of is products, specialises in 180 gram vinyl.  Other acts on its small roster include The June Brides whose recent single ‘A January Moon/Clouds’ was their first in twenty-seven years; The Distractions whose second album, ‘The End of the Pier’, from last year followed on thirty-two years after their debut, ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, and Factory Star, the new band of Fall founding member and ex-Blue Orchids front man Martin Bramah.

[Having to rush out The Wild Swans album] meant using the Granite Shore album budget because all the label’s other cash was tied up in Factory Star’s ‘Enter Castle Perilous’, our first LP which was just coming out,  plus I’d booked studio time to record The Distractions’ ‘The End of the Pier’.

* * *

I can’t say too much for obvious legal reasons, but the result was that not only was there no money for a vinyl edition but The Distractions album took a year to come out and the Granite Shore LP’s still pending. We simply didn’t have the money.

* * * 

Then there was The Distractions’ ‘The End of the Pier’, plus I’d ended up promoting the Distractions/Factory Star/June Brides gigs in Salford, as well as performing.  It was a busy year but, after the disappointments of 2011, a very successful one and we’d clawed ourselves back from the brink.

In the meantime the label’s fortunes were looking up in other ways.  The Distractions album did well, the back catalogue was ticking over nicely, the partnership with Fishrider was becoming established and we’d got other things in place so, all in all, the label was starting to get taken seriously.

* * * 

The only record I can think of that came out almost exactly as planned was The Distractions album, but The Distractions are deeply strange in all respects.

* * * 

We’ll also be doing the third Distractions album, and I’m involved in the Hidden Masters retrospective of their back catalogue which’ll be out in 2014.  That should be properly announced over the next few weeks and our friend Neil Storey has done an astonishing job in unearthing all sorts of gems.

It really is astonishing what can be achieved - as you say, our new vinyl and CDs editions are more lavish than the kind of thing even the majors have produced, and we’ve managed to pull it off, by a team effort.  It’s been by far the maddest thing we’ve ever done but there is always method in our madness and we’ve come a very long way.  Although Occultation still doesn’t have those offices, warehouses and staff, people take us seriously now.  We’re working with people who really know what they’re doing, building up something designed to endure.  Right from the very first day we’ve always had huge ambitions - I think back to the insanity of those first two 10” singles and it was all there in microcosm.  We’ve always reached for the skies.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Hacienda

Although The Distractions played at Tony Wilson's Factory Club in Hulme, they had already disbanded by the time Factory Records and New Order opened the soon-to-be-legendary Hacienda in Manchester.  That didn't stop Mike Finney though...


The Hacienda,

THE secret's out: the Seven have risen majestically from the ashes of The Distractions and are now ready to stake their claims for the sovereignty of the new pop hierarchy.  And within a year The Secret Seven will surely be on a par with ABC and the Associates.

Since the Distractions split earlier this year, the Seven have strung together a remarkably strong set of songs which are already inscribed in my mind by the words "pure pop classics."

Pure is the important word.  The Secret Seven present  a form which draws its strength from a sweet mixture of subtle passion and contagious optimism.

Like ABC, they deal in a world where love is help up as a glorious standard by which to live your life.  Love is a bright beacon to follow closely - no a nadir of anger, upset and dirty despair.

This concept of love and life suggests that the Seven are working within a limited scope.  Of course they are: the scope of traditional pop music.  The Seven don't broach "hard" topical subjects and I doubt that they ever will.

Visually the Seven reply unashamedly on the antics of Mike Finney and his lovely female co-singer, whom he enigmatically introduced as Janet.

Together they plat out a predictable, but none the less cute drama - singing coyly to each other, looking lovingly into each other's eyes and generally giving the impression that they wouldn't object to be labelled another Dollar.

Then again, why shouldn't Finney manipulate and build upon a current trend to get a slice of the commercial action?  He's definitely done his first stretch of hard groundwork and the Secret Seven are now on the verge of the big time, as a result of it.

In fact, if tonight's adoring audience response is anything to go by, the Secret Seven will soon have to change their name to the Famous Five.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Soon to be familiar

This is the third and final part of Mick Middles' piece in Sounds, September 1980, after Steve Perrin had just left The Distractions and Arthur Kadmon stepped in.



FOR THE uninitiated, The Distractions have, for the past year, been Manchester's most likely looking chart contenders.  They seem perfect.  An endless stream of intriguing, original and yet unbelievably instant pop tunes poured out of the Finney / Perrin partnership.  The band should have broken the chart at the beginning of the year with the admittedly delayed 'It Doesn't Bother Me' but it didn't even cause a ripple.  Next came the band's godawful cover of 'Boys Cry', which, although it gained extensive airplay, still somehow failed to penetrate the charts.  I was almost relieved, had 'Boys Cry' succeeded we could have seen The Distractions moving away from their normal highly personal pop and into a much more bland musical environment.  Then, of course, the album.  Packed with the very best pop songs, the standard of which our pathetic chart never sees these days.  However, on the album the songs merged together in one large, sweet, sticky mess.  The production was like a layer of cotton wool, the effect muffled.  Although the album has sold well, no-one seems over pleased with the finished result.  The album contained everything except. . . .

Variation, experimentation and guts.  The more I think about it, the more I understand that the answer may indeed lie with Arthur Kadmon.  His brittle biting rhythm would have created a nifty diversion, added another dimension.

The three remaining band members, Adrian Wright, Pip Nicholls and Alec Sidebottom are the solid basic driving force of the band.  They create the 'soon to be familiar' Distractions sound and hold it firmly together.

And Mike Finney, who writes lyrics directly from experience.  Romantic depression, hopelessness, emptyness, coldness, loneliness.  All the emotive subjects were filtered through the thick, fruity soulful voice of Finney and delivered neatly and sweetly.  Are they still as excited about their future as ever?

Finney: "I'm very excited.  We are writing more and better now.  Steve was great but he wasn't particularly prolific."

The band, as you read this, are about to depart on a lightning five-day visit to America's East Coast.  Whether or not their brand of English pop will appeal to the Americans is a matter of some doubt.  However, Arthur is happy, he is going to finally realise one of his ambitions - to spend an evening inside a seedy New York jazz club.

I wonder if they'll serve him.

(c) Mick Middles, Sounds, 13th September 1980.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dexy's & Distractions

Part two of Mick Middles' article in the 13th September 1980 issue of Sounds.



DISTRACTIONS with new man Arthur ('Don't call me the Northern Captain Sensible') Kadmon, second from left (pic by Kevin Cummins)

...In Cork the band found themselves sharing the tiny town with Dexy's Midnight Runners.  Mike tells the tale.

"Dexy's were really cheesed off because we drew a bigger crowd.  It was ridiculous because every P.A. in Cork had gone to Dexy's and we had to make do with this tiny tinny thing.  Well, although they were big pop stars they only drew about two hundred compared to our six hundred.  It was so silly when we got back to the hotel.  One of their road crew kept ringing our managers during the night making false death threats, really silly."

According to rumour, the flamboyant Kadmon revelled in taking the piss out of Dexy's by playing in a donkey jacket and woolly hat kindly supplied by the towns youth.

BACK IN Manchester however, the feeling about Kadmon's arrival is strangely mixed.  His onstage brashness tends to alienate many of the band's most loyal followers.  This doesn't appear to worry him, although he does have a few misgivings.  Sitting in the pub, guzzling Guinness and flashing his newly acquired Bing Crosby album, he talks frankly about his doubts.

"No, I'm not worried about fitting in.  I'll last forever, but I'm very concerned about the whole popstar approach.  I'm concerned about you and what you'll cast me as.  I'm certainly not the new Captain Sensible or anything like that.  I hate those people, I really do.  Like Lou Reed, you say he is your idol.  OK, he may have made some great music, but his attitude is pathetic.  All this treating people like nothings, it's wrong and basically I'm worried that it might affect me.  On a much smaller scale of course.  I mean, look at Mike, it's unintentional but he's started to name-drop."

Mike:  "There's nothing wrong with name-dropping, it's harmless really and pretty unavoidable."

Arthur:  "But it's wrong.  It shouldn't happen because it makes other people feel bad.  It's wrong.  There are people walking about whose sole ambition is to meet Debbie Harry or Sting and when they hear someone name-dropping it makes them feel bad."

Mike:  "I agree to a point, but really, well, I really admire people like The Fall who just completely destroy the whole star system by turning their backs on it.  I wish I could do that, I think it's incredible.  It must be really hard to be that way."

Exchange over, Kadmon talks more about his mistrust of the workings of a pop band.

"Look don't get me wrong.  I love being in The Distractions, it's just that I also feel a little guilty.  I mean, I used to love working for a living, it was great fun.  But now I'm earning more for doing a lot less and having fun at the same time.  I'll just need time to grow accustomed to it.  But listen, you can't label me as a northern Captain Sensible."

Actually, I never had the slightest intention of labelling Kadmon as anything, but as long as he continues to wear ski pants, orange socks, golf shoes and long red earrings.  As long as he continues to remain hyper-enthusiastic, then he's obviously going to attract the kind of attention he deplores.

[to be continued]

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