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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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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dark pop

Here's the second part of the Barmcake magazine (Northern entertainment for the middle-aged) feature on The Distractions featuring Mike Finney. Many thanks to Barmcake for the opportunity to re-publish the article.

 


In an interview on Salford City Radio, Mike Finney said the band was formed after Steve listened to him singing along to the songs on the jukebox in the Imperial pub, Stockport. Mike was 'a big soul boy', Steve liked Beefheart and Richard Hell. They both liked The Velvet Underground and when the band first formed, they initially covered Velvets and Stones songs.

But when Steve bought the Ramones album in 1976, they decided to write their own songs. By the time they did their first paid gig in 1977 at the Ranch Bar, Manchester, they had a set of original tunes (bar a Velvets cover).

I asked Mike what made The Distractions stand out from other bands at the time?

We were one of the few bands doing pop tunes. There were the Flamin' Groovies, a few power pop bands, but little in the way of pop tunes. However, if you listen to the words, most of them are pretty dark compared to those guys.


Pete (Shelley) often told us that was the direction we should go in and 'dark pop' became a Manchester thing. Unfortunately, we didn't get the bookings outside, inhibited by all having day jobs. We had never played south of Buxton before we signed the Island deal in 1979!


When people talk about the Manchester music scene in the late 70s, Buzzcocks, Joy Division and The Fall dominate. Do you feel The Distractions never got the acclaim they deserved then and now?

We got massive acclaim within the music press at the time. Many of the journalists are still mates - Mick Middles, David Quantick, and others. Tony Wilson wanted us to release on Factory to provide light between A Certain Ratio and Joy Division at gigs, which worked very well from an artistic perspective, but may JD fans stared at their shoes and said we were not 'serious' enough. That's life!

We played in Victoria Vaults, York, recently. We went down very well, but most people had never heard of us before and the irony of us supporting a Joy Division tribute act was not lost on us.


THE DISTRACTIONS. The classic line-up. Left to right: 
Alex Sidebottom, Adrian Wright, Steve Perrin, Pip Nicholls, Steve Perrin.  
Photo: Adrian Boot.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Breaking the mould

In late 2019, the wonderful Barmcake magazine - Northern entertainment for the middle-aged - published a feature on The Distractions, including an interview with Mike Finney. With huge thanks to Barmcake, we are pleased to publish the piece in three parts. Here's the first.



'We wanted to break 
moulds, but were not sure
which moulds to break'

Signed by Island, praised by Pete Shelley and Mark E Smith, The Distractions could have become one of Manchester's biggest bands. Singer Mike Finney talks about their seventies heyday and plans for the future

"One of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups" is how The Distractions' own website describes the band. It's a fair summary.

When people look back at the city's late 70s music scene, The Distractions appear to have been pushed out by the 'big three' of that time - Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall - and related to passing references.

But the inkies (Sounds, NME) raved about them, comparing them to Buzzcocks and The Undertones. Paul Morley and David Quantick were among their fans; Quantick said Mike "looked like a bookie's clerk and sang like R. Dean Taylor or some other blue-eyed soul god". The band signed to Factory then Island in 1979 around the same time as the latter snapped up U2.

The Distractions were founded in 1975 by Stockport College pals Mike Finney and Steve Perrin and split in 1981 after five star reviews of their first album but poor sales. They have reformed and recorded sporadically over the years and started playing live again more regularly, following a memorial gig for Manchester punk legend Jon The Postman in 2015.

The band now feature Mike and Alex Sidebottom from the classic line-up, with new members Joe Brehony, Chris Dutton and Jonny Poole. They plan to release new songs in the New Year. Meanwhile, The Distractions' first LP, Nobody's Perfect, will be re-released next year in time for its 40th anniversary. It will have at least 18* additional tracks and at least 14 additional remixes.

(C) Barmcake, 2019.


* the reissue has 20 bonus tracks as well as the 14 album remixes



Thursday, February 20, 2020

End of the Pier-fect

The reviews for our Nobody's Perfect reissue are already coming in. But before those who pre-ordered from Occultation get their hands on their vinyl LPs and 2CD sets (about a month ahead of the official release date), here's a review of The Distractions' comeback album, 2012's The End Of The Pier (which you can pick up in good value bundles from Occultation and SDE) from our friend Rarebird that we somehow overlooked at the time:


The Distractions - "The End of Pier" (2012)

The Distractions were an overlooked Manchester band who broke up in the early ‘80’s after releasing only one full-length album called Nobody’s Perfect. They have recently re-formed, and have finally issued their second full-length album – 32 years after their first. The End of the Pier was recorded in June 2011 by a lineup consisting of original vocalist Mike Finney, original guitarist Steve Perrin, keyboardist Nick Garside (who was a part of the band’s short-lived mid-‘90’s lineup), guitarist Nick Halliwell (who played on the 2010 EP Come Home), bassist Arash Torabi, and drummer Mike Kellie. The album was released this week in the U.K. on the Occultation label, and the CD will be available as an import from Amazon.com next week. The mp3 download can be purchased now. 

The music on The End of the Pier is surprisingly mellow and understated. After the band gets some lingering new wave intensity out of their system on the lead-off track “I Don’t Have Time”, they tone things down to achieve a gently melancholic pop sound. The End of the Pier does not quite match the emotional poignancy of the Nobody’s Perfect album, nor does it deliver the same concentrated cogency as the more recent Black Velvet and Come Home EPs. It probably wasn’t meant to do either. 

Finney and Perrin do not pretend to be young men anymore on this album. Both musically and lyrically, they come across as former new wavers who have grown up over the past three decades. Finney’s vocals still have power, especially when he reaches down deep on “When It Was Mine”. However, he does not communicate the same sense of emotional anguish as he did in the past. He no longer sings like a young man who feels like his feelings of longing and heartbreak will never subside; now he comes across more like an older and wiser man who has learned how to cope with such feelings. 

Some of the songs (“Boots”, “The Summer I Met You”, “100 Times”) do echo the new wave aesthetic of the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, but they substitute mature refinement in place of youthful tension. “Girl of the Year” and “The Last Song” (not the Edward Bear tune, although it does bear some lyrical resemblance to it) are reminiscent of more old-fashioned pop music. Although it is still clear that Finney and Perrin appreciate a wide range of musical styles, they mainly aim for simplicity on The End of the Pier. Halliwell (who also produced the album) fits into The Distractions very well. His compositions “Wise” and “Man of the Moment” stand out as intelligently constructed ballads. 

The Distractions’ earlier work has held up well over time; it’s hard to predict how The End of the Pier will be regarded years from now. Then again, the band was probably not concerned about that. The Distractions who recorded this album were not na├»ve young men trying to please record executives or hoping to become the next big thing. This version of The Distractions merely seemed to be aiming to create a fine, respectable album, and at that, they have succeeded. 

The Distractions “The End of the Pier” (Occultation YMIR7DC017) 2012 

Track Listing:  

1. I Don’t Have Time -- (Perrin)  
2. Wise -- (Halliwell)  
3. Girl of the Year -- (Perrin)  
4. Boots -- (Perrin/Halliwell)  
5. When It Was Mine -- (Perrin)  
6. Too Late To Change -- (Perrin)  
7. The Summer I Met You -- (Perrin)  
8. Man of the Moment -- (Halliwell)  
9. 100 Times -- (Perrin)  
10. The Last Song -- (Perrin/Halliwell) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Win a Nobody's Perfect 2xCD set

Congratulations to the winner, Veronica!

COMPETITON! 


For a chance to win a 2xCD set of Nobody's Perfect 2020, please email your answer to the below to dan(at)thedistractions.co.uk.

Name the Rhonda Fleming film featured on the 'It Doesn't Bother Me' sleeve.


You can also enter via Twitter (@DistractionsMcr) and Facebook ('The Distractions - UK').

Thanks to Nick Stewart (the man who picked the photo for this release which was 40 years ago this week!) at Man In The Moon Records

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Nobody's Perfect is here

Occultation Recordings and Man In The Moon Records are proud and thrilled to confirm that the 2xCD and LP reissues of Nobody's Perfect have now been manufactured. 

Pre-orders placed with Occultation will start to ship out next week as soon as the 5" art prints and posters are delivered. We hope you agree that they look great...

 The 2xCD and LP in their shrinkwrap.

 The LP with printed inner sleeve and sleevenotes.

A close-up of the CD front cover.

 The three-panel digipack CD outer artwork.

A look inside the CD booklet.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Pre-order the Nobody's Perfect reissue now

Occultation Recordings are thrilled to be taking pre-orders of the Nobody's Perfect 40th anniversary double CD and LP reissue that is being released officially on 20th March 2020 in conjunction with Man In The Moon Records.

Pre-ordering now means that your order will be sent to you as soon as they are received from the manufacturers, several weeks before the official release date. As a thank you for your support (and patience), initial copies ordered from Occultation will come with extra content:

- Initial CD orders will come with an exclusive limited 5" laminated art print with a hot-foil effect.
- Initial LP orders will include the 5" print plus a poster.
- All orders come with an immediate download of the 14 tracks administered by Occultation (standalone download available at Bandcamp).

Order Nobody's Perfect from Occultation HERE. You can also pick up previous LPs and CDs in bundles that save you a fair bit.

Our friends at SuperDeluxeEdition are also offering similar, exclusive deals on this set as well as the other Distractions albums.


Track listing for the 2CD and LP versions are as follows:

CD1: "Nobody’s Perfect”, 1979-81

1. Waiting For Lorraine
2. Something for the Weekend
3. Boys cry (when no one can see them)
4. Sick and tired
5. Leave you to dream
6. Louise
7. Paracetamol Paralysis
8. (Stuck in a) Fantasy
9. Nothing
10. Wonder Girl
11. Still it doesn't ring
12. Untitled
13. Looking for a Ghost
14. Valerie
15. It doesn’t bother me
16. One Way Love
17. Something for the Weekend
18. What’s the use?
19. Twenty-Four Hours
20. Ghost of a Chance
21. Love is not for me
22. Leave me

CD2: "Ride Your Ideas Ragged”, 1978-80

1. Pillow Fight
2. Sick and tired
3. Still it doesn’t ring
4. Valerie
5. Doesn’t bother me
6. Nothing
7. Maybe it’s Love
8. Too Young
9. Time goes by so slow
10. Pillow Fight
11. It doesn’t bother me
12. One Way Love
13. Waiting For Lorraine
14. Something for the Weekend
15. Boys cry (when no one can see them)
16. Sick and tired
17. Leave you to dream
18. Louise
19. Paracetamol Paralysis
20. (Stuck in a) Fantasy
21. Nothing
22. Wonder Girl
23. Still it doesn't ring
24. Untitled
25. Looking for a Ghost
26. Valerie

LP: Nobody's Perfect 2020 remix 

The LP version features CD2 tracks 13-26, i.e. the remixed version of the album.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sign up to pre-order now

Sign up to The Distractions mailing list HERE so you can be the first to pre-order Nobody's Perfect 2020 on 2xCD and LP, plus extra goodies and bundles from Occultation:


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Paul Slattery on The Distractions

An extract from Paul Slattery's new photobook, Joy Division at Strawberry Studios.


In the evening we went to the Funhouse at The Mayflower to see Joy Division play along with The Distractions, The Fall and Ludus at a gig entitled 'Stuff The Superstars'... tickets were £1.50. I thought Joy Division were excellent - they came on very early in the programme and I remember them sounding so much better and far more powerful live than on the album.

Everything about Joy Division seemed to stand out - Steven Morris's electronic drum sound... Peter Hook's low-slung bass driving the rhythm... Bernard's clanging guitar... and amazing baritone vocals and dancing from ian Curtis... this was new and special.

I had to be careful about the amount of pictures that I took as I only had a few frames left to photograph the rest of the gig - The Fall and The Distractions, who had just signed to Island Records, were bigger bands and I had to save some film for them. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

   * * *

From another interview with Paul Slattery: "There were some great bands on there – Ludus, The Fall, The Distractions were a really great pop band from Manchester, and Joy Division. I never knew whether Joy Division’s band of music would surpass The Distractions. I’d seen the Distractions a few times and I like that kind of pop music."

And on this audio interview with Paul Slattery: "The headliners of the night were The Distractions - Manchester pop band, The Distractions - who I loved. I thought they were fantastic."

   * * *


On 26th Ocrober 1979, I'd been asked to do a photo session with The Distractions, backstage at the Electric Ballroom - Joy Division were headlining that evening.

Unknown Pleasures had already become a cult record and Joy Division's status and reputation had grown considerably since I had met them at Strawberry Studios three months earlier.


The place was really packed and the photographers had to fight their way to the front. I had about half a roll of film left I  the camera, and after I finally managed to get a reasonable place in the crowd, I was able to take these images.

I didn't realise at the time that my pictures would be so poignant, and in many ways, moving.


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