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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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Friday, April 10, 2020

Because they were so good

The third and final part of the Barmcake magazine Distractions / Mike Finney article. Again, huge thanks to Dave at Barmcake for kind permission to re-publish this. Barmcake is essential reading, after all it's Northern entertainment for the middle-aged, but you don't have to be northern to enjoy it. If you can't find a FREE copy at your local stockist (when this madness is over), then you can also pick it, and back issues, up via their tumblr site: https://barmcakemag.tumblr.com


  

Were you mates with members of these bands? I believe Mark E Smith was a fan of your voice, comparing you to Roy Orbison?

Pete Shelley was very supportive, as was Mark Smith. Mark was kind enough to say that he thought the songs were non-original because they were so good, also saying to Mick Middles that I reminded him of the 'Big O'... can't get any better than that, surely?





Our big buddies in the Manc music scene were Buzzcocks (the line-up of Pete, Steve, John and Garth) and Ian, Bernard, Pete and Steve of Joy Division. 

We would meet at Cox's Bar at the back of the Free Trade Hall - a Boddington's pub that was relatively posh for Boddies pubs, and on to the Ranch Bar in Dale Street. JD were Stiff Kittens then. They were a very likeable bunch and privately, they could not have been further from their Joy Division stage persona... excellent senses of humour, which reverted to child-like as we got more pissed. 

This never changed, although I haven't seen Bernard and Pete for many years. They live in the Chorlton area and I live in Holmfirth - yes, I crossed the Pennines. A Manc who chooses to live in Yorkshire - that says a lot about my personality, I'm sure!

I understand that band weren't happy with the way Island recorded the first LP as they felt it didn't sound like you. Was that the main reason for you splitting up in 1981?


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


The album was a mix 'of its time', not what any of us wanted, so a compromise. The re-release that is being completed by Nick Stewart (the A&R man who signed us to Island) is being re-mixed to a more Distractions sound - removing many of the keyboards, a lot of effects, etc.

I still see Steve Perrin each year when he comes over from New Zealand, we have been friends since 1974 and that will not change.

The version of The Distractions doing the stuff now would have had Steve, if he was here, although he is no keener on playing live now as he was back then! 

The fall-out really was musical differences, along with me becoming more and more into 'socialising''; the whole thing pissing off Steve; Ade Wright leaving to become a student. Pip Nicholls, Alex and me carried on with Arthur Kadmon (ex-Ludus and The Fall) for a while, when it just fizzled out. 

I set up The Secret Seven, we recorded for Bronze Records, but not for long, then I joined the Art of Noise, again - not for long...


 


Did you regret leaving Factory for Island?

There are times that staying with Factory would have made artistic sense, but the whole Island thing was just so attractive - they just didn't know what to do with us. U2 signed the following day and always wanted to be rock stars in the conventional way, which was much easier. I don't blame them, I just don't share their passion for it. We wanted to break moulds, but we were not sure which moulds to break.

We were the first Factory band to play Hurrah Club, in New York so we got a lot of attention there; Warhol's team out in force; Lou Reed in the audience. That was a great moment, that and the great review in the NY Times.


For details about the re-release of Nobody's Perfect and new material, go to www.thedistractions.co.uk or Twitter @DistractionsMcr. The band play St Joseph's Hall, Leigh, on February 15, in aid of The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign


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