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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...

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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