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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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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pseudo-intellectual pop

This is the last part of the Grinding Halt magazine interview with Steve, Mike, Adrian and Alec from 1980.  The clock is ticking over at PledgeMusic for the 'Parabolically Yours' project, so please, if you haven't already, don't forget to pledge and help make it a reality.


Grinding Halt:  How would you feel if you became successful?

Steve:  Wealthy – that’s how we’d feel!

GH:  But you wouldn’t consider changing your style or approach just for commercial success?

Adrian:  Not to something that was obnoxious to us – not something we didn’t want to do.

Alec:  Not just for the sake of it.

Steve:  If someone was waving fivers under our nose…

Alec:  Or saying we could have women and big cars…

Mike:  Hold on – you said money first – I wouldn’t do it for money as willingly as I’d do it for women and big cars!

Alec:  I wouldn’t want to change just to get in the charts, but then you can’t tell what’ll get in the charts anyway. We wouldn’t like be like some groups who are just hired to get in the charts. There’ve been a lot of rumours about things being bought into the charts – like Tubeway Army.

GH:  It would give a group with the right potential the chance to be heard…

Mike:  I can see that from the fact that Radio 1 wouldn’t play ‘Are Friends Electric’ until it got in the charts and then they’d play nothing else – that’s one of the reasons why I don’t like the radio.

GH:  Have you had much airplay for ‘Boys Cry’?

Mike:  Independently, and by people like John Peel, Kid Jensen, Mike Read.

Adrian:  We’re getting quite a name with that lot actually, and that’s getting us a bit of a following as well as the local crowd.

Mike:  When we first started playing gigs in London, it was like half the audience were journalists and the other half were musicians.

Alex:  University students like us… what does this mean?

GH:  Why did you choose to put out a cover version as the single?

Mike:  Well when we’d done the album it was only about thirty minutes long, anyway we mentioned Phil Spector to the producer, and he said “Don’t talk to me about Phil Spector” – anyway, he was a total Phil Spector freak, so we decided to do ‘Boys Cry’, just for joke ‘cos we had about four days studio time left over, so we did dozens of overdubs on everything – built up a real wall of sound, and Island really like it so we used it for the single.

GH:  You’ve done a few R.A.R. gigs, do you reflect politics in your music?

Mike:  No, we play pseudo-intellectual pop…

Adrian:  With an edge to it!

Mike:  We don’t ‘cos no-one in the band writes good political songs, and it wouldn’t suit our sort of music, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t got strong political views.

GH:  You’ve supported a lot of groups, notably a long stint with The Members – do you prefer to support at a big hall or headline as a small one?

Mike:  We prefer a small one, but you have to do supports so people can discover you.

GH:  You’ve supported people like Adam & The Ants and The Fall – how well did you get on?

Mike:  Well, we’ve found that the sort of leftfield will listen whereas the out-and-out punks won’t give you a chance…

At this stage The Distractions were called away to do their soundcheck, and the interview this came to an end.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pop with an edge

While we wait for the 'Parabolically Yours' campaign to come to fruition (25 days left), here's the second part of the Grinding Halt fanzine interview with Steve, Mike, Adrian and Alec.  In it the chaps discuss Island Records, who'd just released Nobody's Perfect, and then try to define their sound.


GH:  Why Island?

Mike:  Well, several companies had come to see us, and they’d all said, “We’ll let you know”, but Island were the only ones who actually offered us something, so we just grabbed it.

GH:  No regrets then?

Mike:  No, we’re really happy, getting on really well with them.

Adrian:  We were really pleased about that ‘cos we hadn’t done any London gigs at that stage and we were getting really pissed off with the general attitude of the music business in London that you’ve got to go them, and you’ve got to send them tapes – even the poxiest venue in London you’ve got to send them a tape if you want to do a gig there.

GH:  How did you enjoy doing the L.P.?

Mike:  I think we all enjoyed it.

GH:  Were you under any pressure from Island about how to do it?

Mike:  No, none at all.

Adrian:  It’s not as if we were with E.M.I.

Mike:  There’s a big difference between the E.M.I. ‘He who pays the piper…’ sort of attitude and like the Indie attitude where it’s up to the band, but there again the Indies aren’t backing you to the same extent.

GH:  So if it wasn’t for financial considerations you’d prefer an Indie.

Adrian:  In some ways, yes, but of course financially, no.

Mike:  I think we’ve got a kind of comfortable middle path with Island.

Adrian:  I suppose if you can afford to be with an Indie then do, but otherwise you need a major.

Mike:  The local position would be to be a successful group on an independent label.

GH:  How would you define your music?

Adrian:  I wouldn’t try, I can’t really do that.

Mike:  We leave that to other people.

Steve:  It’s like blowing your nose really, then spending two hours there looking at it and explaining what’s there – if other people want to play with our dirty handkerchiefs that’s…

Mike:  It’s very difficult to say what you do, because you might want to change and if you start saying ‘Oh we’re a such-and-such band’ then you’ve more or less tied yourselves down to that.

GH:  Isn’t it tempting to corner part of the market by putting a label on yourself so fans of that sort of music will come and see you?

Mike:  Yes, that’s all very well, but it’s much nicer to have it your own way.

Alec:  If someone’s narrow enough to come to one of your gigs just ‘cos you’ve put a particular label on yourself, then they’re not going to let you get away with playing anything except that sort of music.

Mike:  Some of us want to progress.

Adrian:  Pop. That’s what it is! Pop!

Mike:  Pop’s such a broad label…

Adrian:  Pop with an edge to it!

Alec:  It’s not broad enough for me. I’d like something that was totally meaningless!

Mike:  Like, we say this, and a lot of other bands are saying it too – there’s a lot of bands who don’t want to be labelled.

Alec:  We’re not really pop – pop is stuff like Racey – pop – popular – stuff that sells records.

[to be continued]


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Leaving Factory

London, 1980.  'Nobody's Perfect' has just been released (35 years later and we're preparing for its reissue in the 'Parabolically Yours' set).  Grinding Halt fanzine sat down for a chat with Steve, Mike, Adrian and Alec ahead of their Fulham Greyhound gig.


Meet The Distractions – Steve Perrin, guitar and vocals. Pip Nicholls, bass and vocals. Mike Finney, vocals. Adrian Wright, guitar, keyboards and vocals. Alec Sidebottom, drums and vocals. At least this talented group are starting to gain a reputation for their catchy, straightforward pop. Shortly after the release of their debut L.P. ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, I went up to London to see them play, and beforehand held an interview which was more of a chat, but I’ve cut out the long discussions on politics, Joy Division, Menace, Tubeway Army and telephone answering machines, and I think the residue makes interesting reading…

Grinding Halt:  When did you start?

Adrian:  We played our first live gig on the 14th of July 1977, but we’d been going out for a bit before.

GH:  How long before you got your first record out?

Alec:  January ’79 – we recorded it in October ’78.

Mike:  That was the E.P.

GH:  How pleased were you with it?

Adrian:  At the time we were really pleased with it, but the more we listened to it…

Steve:  We did it in one night you see, so it was a bit of a rush job. I think it’s always like that – you look back afterwards and think, well there was a lot more we could have done with it.

Adrian:  People were always saying we don’t sound like that anymore, but that’s because we haven’t just got back from working all day so we’re not completely knackered like we were when we did the E.P. Also, of course, we’ve learnt to play our instruments rather better than we could then!

GH:  What about ‘Time Goes By So Slow’?

Steve:  That was the second single – it was on Factory.

GH:  Why did you leave Factory?

Adrian:  They didn’t have a lot of money to put up.

Mike:  They did offer us an album but by then we’d already signed to Island.

[to be continued]


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