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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Here's the second part of Malcolm Carter's latest interview with Mike, Steve and Neil Storey (Hidden Masters), published by our friends at Penny Black Music

The Distractions : Interview
Author: Malcolm Carter
Published: 14/12/2013

Penny Black:  We’ve heard that a PledgeMusic campaign is getting underway. When it is that likely to happen?

Neil Storey:  Only when we have all the ducks lined up and in a satisfyingly neat row. A project like this cannot be rushed because otherwise something’s bound to go horribly wrong and bite us in the arse. (Our lawyer is responsible for that quote… and he’s right).

As much as I don’t want to, I’ll delay any HiddenMasters project until it is exactly right. Because, unless it is precisely as it should be, then ultimately one is letting the artist down, and letting the fans down. And, that simply doesn’t happen so far as I’m concerned; it’s not an option. One example – with our recent 'Jess Roden Anthology', we changed the packaging and overall design at the last minute. It caused a considerable delay, but it was the right decision. The fans were a bit pissed off initially because that project had been more than three years in the making, but they stuck with us, and all we’ve had are enthusiastic responses for what we ended up putting together. Jess was, and continues to be, thrilled with what we did.

PB:  Are there going to be any ‘limited edition’ versions of the album?

NS:  The 1st edition of the set is limited to 500 copies worldwide. Pre-ordering will be exclusive to PledgeMusic.com and any copies remaining after that process will be exclusively available from HiddenMasters.net – in other words, this will not be found on, say, Amazon or via any other carrier whatsoever.

PB:  Apart from the fourteen songs on the original album are there going to be any bonus tracks included like the Island and Factory singles?

Steve Perrin:  It’s best not to think of this as a reissue of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, but as a Distractions retrospective. Over the years people have asked me if there’s any unreleased stuff, to which I have always replied ‘no’. Things have, however, been unearthed that I’d totally forgotten about. Happily I’ve been surprised by the quality of most of it and, yes, the Island and Factory singles will be on there.

NS:  I don’t think in terms of ‘bonus tracks’; that’s not how we work. To me, that’s just a bit of a cop out. Reissue an album and chuck in a few (so-called) bonus tracks, singles, B-sides or maybe a couple of live tracks. Frankly, that’s a bit rubbish and doesn’t really offer any kind of value for money as I see it. No: this is a different beast altogether, and we’ll be including a good deal of material that has never, ever, been heard before. Be prepared for a few surprises.

PB:  We’ve heard that the packaging of the album is going to be something a little special? Can you tell us a little more about that?

NS:  Sure. It’s a 12” hard-backed, case-bound book format. The inside pagination is currently at 80 pages (and I don’t think that’ll now change). So, pretty substantial! Images inside include between 80 and 90% that have never been previously seen alongside a lot of other ‘things’.

SP:  Again, there’s stuff in there that I didn’t know existed. I would have sworn that some of it didn’t, but it’s hard to deny the existence of a photo when somebody who looks like a younger version of your self is in the middle of it

NS:  We are not really wanting to give the game away too much as I’m sure you’d understand, but it looks pretty good. Actually, you asked about delays previously and, I guess one of the ‘delays’ was caused by the fact that it did take quite a long time to figure out just how the layout would best work.

The cover is quite graphic (for want of a better word) and, while a picture of Hulme Arch Bridge in Manchester may not sound very exciting, it sits perfectly. That, too, took time to figure out. The genesis of that was, I knew in my mind’s eye that, with the title suggesting curves, we needed something quite stark to represent that. One afternoon, while walking along a canal near where we live, we came across a set of canal bridges that, if shot from the right angle, made the most fabulous curves. We experimented a bit, then Jayne (who is overall responsible for the design and layout) saw a web image of the Hulme Arch Bridge and we realised if we shot that just right, we should have what we were after. We shot that in Manchester on a very dull day (exactly what I’d hoped for).

With only a teeny amount of PhotoShop work, we had our front sleeve for Mike and Steve to approve. Obviously, if they didn’t like it we’d have been back to the drawing board, but it got the thumbs up!

We also struggled with the opening pages for quite a while. Neither Jayne nor I could get a layout going that worked, until, in the middle of one night, she put the first eight or so pages together in about half an hour flat. They worked absolutely perfectly – from which I’ve been slotting the rest in from that beginning. We’re now pretty close to having the entire book sorted out; just a few more images need attention and some more text to drop in. After which, Jayne will do her not-inconsiderable thing and tweak away until it’s as good as it humanly can be (it’s not for nothing that she’s won the design awards she has over the years).

The text, by the way, consists of interviews with all those relevant to the band. In other words, there is no journalistic essay (however worthy that might be). This is the Distractions, and those who played a key role telling their story in their own words.

PB:  Is the early version of ‘It Doesn’t Bother Me’ and the other songs from the ‘You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That’ EP going to be included too?

SP:  All the tracks from ‘You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That’ will be included and there’s other stuff from earlier, and later, than that.

[to be continued] 

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