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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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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.

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