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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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Saturday, February 22, 2014

No headaches

Late last year our good friends at Penny Black Music published another fine interview with The Distractions by Malcolm Carter.  This time Mike and Steve were joined by Neil Storey, ex-Island Records and now head of Hidden Masters, who is managing the (slightly delayed; more news soon!) 'Parabolically Yours' book-set.  Here's the first part of that interview.

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

At a time, even when it seems that almost every album ever made is now given the reissue treatment on CD with anniversary packages, box sets and limited/deluxe versions appearing weekly, most music lovers could still make a list of albums that have long been deleted and never been reissued on any of the ‘new’ formats. On a personal note one such album on my list is The Distractions' ‘Nobody’s Perfect’. Originally released on the Island label in 1980, the Manchester band’s debut album has never been reissued on any format, and of the clutch of 7” singles the band released around that time, few have made an appearance on any of the many compilations of 80's music that are readily available.

It’s been frustrating for fans of the band, although maybe understandable. ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, although receiving critical acclaim at the time, failed to sell in great numbers and once the band parted ways it was probably felt that there wouldn’t be enough interest for a reissue, but that all changed when The Distractions released a couple of EPs on the Occultation Recordings label a few years back. Finally gaining the recognition they always deserved, and not just from the music press this time but from a new generation of music fans who had discovered the band’s now thirty year old recordings and couldn’t believe that they hadn’t aged a day during that time, The Distractions proved that they had lost none of the magic they created over three decades ago.

Two of the new songs on the EPs, namely ‘Lost’ and ‘Oil Painting’, could have been pulled from ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, the timeless, intelligent pop music that the band produced all those years ago was back sounding as fresh and relevant as ever. The fact that ‘Oil Painting’ was written by ‘new’ Distraction Nick Halliwell, but sounded like a Steve Perrin song meant that original members Steve Perrin and Mike Finney had given some thought to the project and were keeping alive the standard they set some thirty years ago. And Mike Finney had lost none of the emotion in his vocals; he still ranks as one of the best blue-eyed soul singers ever.

2012 finally saw the release of The Distractions' second album, ‘The End of the Pier’. While capturing the spirit of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ the ten original, new songs also captured more attention than the band’s debut did on release. Again, timeless, intelligent pop music, coupled with sharp lyrics was the order of the day. The album was more, so much more than we could have hoped for.

We have covered the history of The Distractions over the previous interviews that have been published on this site together with reviews of their Occultation Recordings releases, but news has just arrived that the long promised reissue of the band’s early work is now really underway and finally looks like actually happening.

HiddenMasters, the label behind the 'Jess Roden Anthology', which has been extremely well received, not just for the music that it brings together but for the outstanding way the package is presented, has taken on the task of not just reissuing ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, but compiling a complete retrospective of the band’s work from their early days right up to the present. Given the label's past excellent work, it comes as no surprise that this is not just going to be the standard double CD reissue of an album and a few extra tracks but the complete Distractions story. A PledgeMusic campaign is being set up shortly and this link www.pledgemusic.com/widgets/6874?get_widget=true will point you to a free download of a previously unreleased Distractions song as a taster of what is to come.

We took this opportunity to put a few questions to Neil Storey from HiddenMasters and Steve and Mike from the Distractions about the new collection, and their answers reveal that ‘Parabolically Yours’, the title given to the project, is going to satisfy the needs of the most dedicated Distractions fan.

Penny Black:  It’s been over two years since the initial murmurings of a re-issue of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’. Is it now really going to happen? The fact that a title, ‘Parabolically Yours’, has now been revealed has given us a little more hope! Has a date been set?

Neil Storey: 
It most certainly is! And yes, that’s the title. There’s no official date currently set due to a number of factors, not least of which is we’re still wrestling with the budget which will also impact on the actual pricing. Due to the nature of what we have planned, this won’t be a cheap-as-chips manufacturing process either; careful consideration has to be given to the weight of paper being used, the quality of that, the board being used to house the actual book and having bespoke packaging made in which to ship the finished set.

All of those things (and many more, for example, where we actually manufacture which is currently either going to be in the Czech Republic or maybe Germany) have to be firmed up before we get to the stage of working out the actual price. I’ve a rough figure in mind but we won’t confirm that until the actual pre-ordering process begins. So long as all goes according to plan, then I’m reasonably confident we should have finished copies by approximately May/June 2014.

PB:  Obviously organising such a project takes time, but this seems to have taken an especially long time to come to fruition. What caused the biggest headache on this project?

NS:  Firstly, there are no headaches involved in a project like this; a few problems and issues to resolve but, because HiddenMasters projects are what some might describe as labours of love, that means there can’t ever be headaches, just ‘stuff’ to figure out. We’ve also had to find all the source tapes and, in fact, we’re still short of one. So, if any of your readers knows the whereabouts of the BBC session recorded in October 1980, I’d love to hear from him/her!

Steve Perrin:  I would add that the fact that this is coming to fruition is largely down to Neil’s dedication and tenacity. Others have tried in the past and been put off by endless wrangling with former labels. I guess Neil having contacts in the Island/Universal organisation helped, but he’s had to put a lot of hours in to get to where we are now.

[to be continued] 

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