Connection

Here's the second part of the piece in Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis, by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade. The first part is here.


"Ian was always extremely open and agreeable with me," says Finney. "When we played with Joy Division he absolutely went out of his way to seek me out and talk about the two bands. It seemed natural at first, because that's how I always knew him. Then, slowly, I started to realise that perhaps he wasn't like that with everyone. I also noticed that the rest of Joy Division, while always being perfectly OK with us, were also a little way because we were very much a live band. I am not saying for one minute that we were on the same planet as them in terms of sheer talent... we weren't. We were a dance, pop soul band who liked to get up on stage and lighten up the crowd."

"He once... it could have been at Leigh... I am not sure... but he once went on on about "Time Goes By So Slow". He wanted to know when it was written. Had it been written immediately after a break up? Was it written in a state of despair, I suppose that, looking back, you could look too deeply into that. My theory is that he was just discovering that song-writing could be cathartic. I don't know if that was ever the point with Joy Division but I did sense that that was what he was thinking. I knew nothing about his private life. I don't remember meeting Deborah and, frankly, The Distractions were a sexual and emotional minefield at the time. I think Ian wanted to know how we dealt with all that. I don't know, frankly. But there was a kind of link between us."



(C) Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade.

A welcome refuge

After last week's lovely return to the Salford Arms (pics and video to follow), the band are having a mid-summer rest, until more gigs in August (Bury) and September (Camden).

For something a bit different, here's the first part of a nice little piece in Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis, by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade.



The link between The Distractions, who performed early on the Leigh bill, and Joy Division is worthy of a mention. Although only fleetingly a Factory band, with one albeit great single, "Time Goes By So Slow", the connection between the two bands was forged on a series of dates during which the lightness of their pop songs perfectly balanced Joy Division's dark introversion. Inspired by these gigs, Paul Morley once claimed: "If Joy Division are the perfect rock band for the Eighties, The Distractions are the perfect pop band". Intriguingly, while the remainder of Joy Division shied away from the hip core who surrounded The Distractions (who have been largely written out of their considerable central role in the Manchester scene), Ian Curtis warmed to Mike Finney, whose cheery bonhomie may have seemed a welcome refuge.

(C) Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade.

Salford 1st June


Tickets are £8 in advance or the same price on the night at The Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford (just off Deansgate near Salford Central station). See you there!


Dublin Castle review at 'Louder Than War'

We will be bringing you photos, videos and comments of our own from last months' utterly triumphant return to London (after a 37 year wait) at the Dublin Castle.  But before that, please enjoy this lovely review by Ian Canty from the essential post-punk indie website and magazine, Louder Than War (thanks, Ian and Rob!).  You can read the full review, including more pics and comments, here



The Distractions – Dublin Castle, London – Live Review

Written by Ian Canty, 30 January, 2018

The Distractions - Dublin Castle

27th January 2018

The Manchester New Wave/Post Punk Legends make a triumphant return to the London stage after a gap of over 30 years… our man Ian Canty was on hand to witness a stunning display of Perfect Punk Pop……

The Distractions, in their original incarnation, only lasted a brief while in the limelight. Formed in 1975 by Mike Finney and Steve Perrin while still at college, after a major reshuffle two years later with the advent of Punk, they added Pip Nicholls on bass, Alec Sidebottom (drummer in '60s band the Purple Gang of 'Granny Takes A Trip fame') and guitarist/song writer Adrian Wright. This was the classic line-up of the band, which only changed very late on when Ludus guitarist Arthur Kadmon replaced Perrin in 1981 and with Debbie Shure coming in too.

The influence of Punk and particularly their near neighbours Buzzcocks showed. The Buzzers’ success demonstrated that emotions, honestly stated, were not taboo subject matter and their influence was considerable on the newly re-aligned outfit. The Distractions’ strengths lay in writing shrewd and unusual songs with classic Pop tunes, talking about life’s trials in a real way which did not feel forced, a bit like whispered truths in unguarded moments. They were fortunate to possess a great natural singer in Finney and also having the Punky Power Pop musical muscle to back him up.

Early in 1979 they released their first record, the 'You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That' EP on TJM, which showed their rare class, the perfect mid-point between Punk attitude and 1960s craftsmanship. In its own way as flawless a document as 'Spiral Scratch', this EP included what could arguably be their most well-known song in 'It Doesn’t Bother Me'. Tony Wilson was clearly a fan, so their next single, 'Time Goes By So Slow', subsequently appeared in September 1979 on the Factory label. It was another stone cold classic and I know it is unlikely that this single influenced The Smiths, but it is feasible if you listen to it, with similar great guitar lines and elegant delivery. This record might just be the best thing Factory ever put out. With this run of form it was inevitable that the majors would come knocking on their door.


So indeed they did and The Distractions signed their names on a contract for Chris Blackwell’s Island label around the time the Factory single appeared. This should have been the prelude to them going onto chart success, but for some reason it didn’t happen. Perhaps Island didn’t have a handle on this new-fangled New Wave stuff? Maybe, but a re-recorded take of 'It Doesn’t Bother Me' and the version of Eden Kane’s '60s hit 'Boys Cry' did not make the expected breakthrough. The parent LP 'Nobody’s Perfect' emerged in 1980 and despite critical acclaim and appearances in the music press including Smash Hits and The Face (despite being a pretty much the antithesis of the usual bands featured in those mags) again they missed out on the charts.

After one more single (the cheekily titled 'Something For The Weekend') they were back on an Indie, the That label, for their '24 Hours' EP. Again the reviews were broadly approving, but momentum had been lost and the band ground to a halt in 1981. A few low-key reformations happened in the '90s, but the band began in earnest again in 2010 and since then have issued two more albums, 'End Of The Pier' in 2012 and 2017’s “final” (say it ain’t so?) LP 'Kindly Leave The Stage'. As a live entity they have been revitalised too and when a gig at the Dublin Castle (with a set list that revisited those glory days) was announced I was always going to go along. So I did.

On the night the Wah Wah Club warmed up the crowd well and Kajiki Volt impressed with some novel interpretations of Garage Punk (was one of them in Silverfish?). So that nicely set the stage for The Distractions, who were absolutely stunning. With an excellent new line up featuring Mike and Alex with newcomers Johnny Poole and Chris Dutton on guitars and bass player Joe Brehony (also in The Things) they stormed it, in their own unassuming manner. Starting out of the traps with three songs from that first EP 'Maybe It’s Love', 'Too Young' and 'Nothing', we’re not so much sent back through a time machine to 1980 or whatever, this is just the greatest now, thrilling, fast songs full of heart and soul, Punk but with melody, Power Pop with more grit, more feeling.


Mike Finney is a revelation – still relentlessly anti-fashion, he looks like just an average guy but when he sings… well with some bands you’ve just got a person going through songs, but watching him, he’s singing about life in a way that is so true and clear, perfectly fitting in with the the energy of the band. I think David Quantick said he was perhaps the only Soul singer to come out of Punk, he’s rarely incorrect and spot on in this case. In addition to that The Distractions are a fiery live band, with Alex on drums like a man a fraction of his age and both Johnny and Joe more than play their parts. Chris I’ve seen play with three bands, and they’ve all been brilliant, and he’s right on the money tonight too.

Contradicting their song, time with The Distractions goes by so quickly – they’re one of the few bands that can play something as great as 'It Doesn’t Bother Me' almost midway through the set, when others would have to leave something of its quality back for the encore. 18 songs were played and most all of them are perfect, heart-breaking Pop/Punk. 'Looking For A Ghost' is wonderful, a great change of pace and the Island-period hit that should have been, 'Something For The Weekend', lovely. 'Time Goes By So Slow' is simply beautiful, one of the very best of the era and still a brilliant song today.

There is a shout out of course to Mark E, how could there not be, the man was so well respected. Mike says he helped them, although they are probably the only five people from Manchester who weren’t ever in The Fall, before realising he had miscalculated and Alex might have had a spell behind the kit for them! The crowd (not all older folks as you might be thinking) are totally into it and having a great time and why wouldn’t they be? The smiles on people’s faces are ear to ear.

They finish the main set fittingly with 'Nothing Lasts', but they stay on stage for encore of (their own) Valerie and a nicely chaotic version of the Velvets’ 'Sweet Jane'. I’m late for the train, but I’m going nowhere until they reach the very end. Transfixed, because I am watching a great band on at the very top of their game, all these years on and they are undimmed by time. Simply majestic.

If The Distractions play anywhere near you it is a total no-brainer – the magic they still weave in 2018 might be seem simple on the surface, but rarely is it carried off so well, hugely appealing and full of vim. Go along and you are simply watching masters at work – these opportunities are seldom, so make the very most of them and get yourself along to support one of Manchester’s best kept secrets – you won’t regret a moment of it.


Dublin Castle, Camden gig

Next weekend sees The Distractions live band return to London for the first time in at least 36 years! The band are headlining at the legendary Dublin Castle in Camden next Saturday 27th January, with several other bands providing support for what will be a long and loud night.

More details on The List, and you can buy tickets in advance, saving a couple of quid, from WeGotTickets. The gig starts at 7:30pm, and we'll try to bring you approximate stage times a bit near the time. UPDATE: Distractions about 10pm.


The Distractions

The five-piece outfit from Manchester play post punk originals. With support from Kajiki Volt, Master Thieves and Wah Wah Club.

The Distractions - One of the great lost bands of the New Wave era (Blurt magazine, USA). The Distractions in the late '70s and early '80s were very well known on the post-punk music scene. They released records on the TJM, Factory, Island and Rough Trade labels to excellent reviews, as well as sharing bills with Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Fall, The Members, Squeeze, and many others. They played all corners of the UK and Ireland as well as doing gigs in New York before splitting up. David Hepworth described their debut album, 'Nobody's Perfect' as, "An enchanting and vaguely disturbing collection of vulnerable pop". Last year two of the original members, vocalist Mike Finney and drummer Alex Sidebottom, got together with some friends after being asked to play at a memorial gig for Manchester punk legend, Jon the Postman. It went down so well they decided to continue as a live act playing their singles as well as songs from the album 'Nobody's Perfect'.


Kajiki Volt - Post punk through a surf guitar- garage punk lens, think a more frenetic Gun Club via Magazine, shades of Gallon Drunk and the sorely missed Penthouse too. Great tunes interesting arrangements, played with conviction. 



Desert Falls - An eminantly danceable melange of of Folk, Klezmer, high life and surf played by an (sort-of) all-star indie-alt cast of  Dom Green (Penny Orchids), and featuring Caz Hellbent (Desperate Journalist, Yeah And She Has Red Lips Too), Jasper Future (Art Brut), Phil Whaite (Penny Orchids, Thee Faction), Tom Harrison (Penny Orchids), Ellie Khan & Shona Macmillan (Rebekah Delgado band), Lucy Morgan & Melissa Reardon (Thee Faction), and Andy Cooper (Cursors). 

Wah Wah Club - Good 'ol indie pop with a high melody quotient hooks a plenty, trace elements of Vaccines but pretty much their own sound, great stuff.



Manchester's best kept secret

Here we have one of the earliest pieces of Distractions history, courtesy of Stuart Murray and Mark Windsor of those other legendary Manchester post-punk groups, Fast Cars and V2. It was in Sounds in late 1978 or early '79, featuring TJM Records, Tony Davidson's famous Manchester label. 

Tony takes up the story. "The advert was in Sounds music paper and it was of the first 5 releases on the TJM label. It was a half-page advert and cost £600 plus VAT. At this stage of the record company it was all systems go, to get as much profile and sales for TJM as possible. Looking back, I was taking the profits from the rehearsal rooms and pouring them into the record label. Many thanks to Stuart Murray for the memory."

You can hear Mike, Alex and The Distractions live band belt out the EP in its entirety (and many more of the late '70s and early '80s classics!) at the live gigs coming in 2018. First stop London, and the Dublin Castle...



TJM RECORDS 
announce the inception of a Manchester based Record Company.
The label for the discerning record buyer.

TJM RECORDS
The sound of tomorrow
made for today

35 Little Peter Street
Knott Mill
Manchester
061 236 2717

Distributors: Virgin Records, Rough Trade, Small Wonder Records, Bonaparte Records, Lightning, Discount Records, Wind-up Records

Watch out for the TJM tour this spring



"Manchester's best kept secret"
MICK MIDDLES, SOUNDS OCT '78

TJM2

THE DISTRACTIONS 

"You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That"

4 tracks, Limited edition of 6000

12 inch EP, Availble Feb 1st



Spinning Top pics

December's gig at the Spinning Top in Stockport was possibly the best Distractions Live show of the year. Following a brilliant and amusing acoustic set from The Trend's Mark 'Rev' Revell, The Distractions opened with a slight false start but then followed that with a long, loud and and lovely set chock-full of all the classics.



Perhaps only 'Pillow Fight' (almost the A-side on the Factory single) and 'Sick & Tired' (the superior version is the unreleased rockabilly track on the as-yet unreleased Cargo EP) are missing from their early repertoire of classics.


A couple of old Man City chaps from back in the day actually got up to dance, while a few of the crowd enjoyed the luxury of front row seating.


Old and new fans alike enjoyed the gig, and the famous Tony Davidson of TJM popped in to see the band too. Tony had a few words to say afterwards...


"The Distractions never fail to deliver a brilliant gig. The band were on their A-game: Alex, Joe, Johnny and Chris were really tight musically. As for Mike, it's all been said about his voice, his delivery of his songs, and the interaction with the crowd was great to watch. So pleased I saw them tonight, great entertainment. The crowd loved them!"


T-shirts sporting the 'Time Goes By So Slow' artwork are now available from Alex (look him up on Facebook and message him for details), as are badges showing the Adrian Wright-inspired Parabolic Hulme arch!


T-shirts and badges will be available at the next Distractions Live show, which is a cracker, headlining at the famous Dublin Castle in Camden, London on Saturday 27th January. Get your tickets here for just 6 quid! www.wegottickets.com/event/422662


Penetration + The Distractions review

16 November 2017

The Distractions' tenth 'Live' show (yes, we're counting 2015's Jon The Postman tribute night at the Tiger Lounge) was a triumph here in support of punk legends, Penetration, and after local band, Three Day Weekend. The large crowd at Preston's brilliant venue, The Continental, was admittedly mainly here for Pauline Murray and Co., but the reception after a tight Distractions set full of energy was terrific.  

Soundcheck

Kicking off with tracks from the debut EP, Maybe It's Love and Too Young, a strong set of 45-minutes plus included all the favourites, Nothing, (Untitled), Stuck In A Fantasy, It Doesn't Bother Me, Something For The WeekendStill It Doesn't Ring and Waiting For Lorraine. Mike briefly missing his line just seemed like part of the show!


Plenty of the knowledgeable punk crowd seemed familiar with Time Goes By Slow, and the now standard closer, the stunning reworking of Adrian Wright's Nothing Lasts, brought the show to and end. It earned a tremendous and well-deserved reception from the crowd, as well as the lively Distractions fans down the front.


Penetration need no introduction or review from us - just check the glowing reviews they are receiving during the current '40 Years' UK tour! The set from Pauline and the band, and the huge, loud and loving crowd, crowned what was surely the best night for the new Distractions Live line-up yet.


There was plenty of positive feedback on the night and we have had more since via social media:

  • "Great set gents. Good to see a band happy in their work. My first intro to you last night. Will be investing in your music."
  • "Really enjoyed seeing & hearing you for the first time last night. I'll definitely look out for you again."
  • "We really enjoyed seeing you in Preston and will definitely come and see you again. I will be hunting down a copy of the first album."
  • "Really enjoyed your set."
  • "Well done Distractions. Best gig so far!"
  • "@DistractionsMcr superb again."

(c) www.shanksticketprinting.co.uk

Next up is a return to Stockport at the Spinning Top on Friday 1st December. Then, the one that many have been waiting for, The Distractions Live in London - at the famous Dublin Castle in Camden on Saturday 27th January 2018.

Back to Stockport

11 November 2017

The Distractions Live return to the venue where they played a homecoming show in summer, the Spinning Top in Stockport. This cracking venue is close to Stockport station, and several of the town's best pubs, on Wellington Road South. The gig is on Friday 1st December, entry is free, plus support comes from The Trend's Mark Revell, so see you there!


Friday 1st Dec – THE DISTRACTIONS + support from MARK ‘REV’ REVELL (front man from THE TREND & ex ICICLE WORKS)

Welcoming back The Distractions after their great gig in the summer!

The Distractions were around in the late '70s and early '80s and were well known in Manchester and beyond on the post-punk music scene and released records on the TJM, Factory, Island and Rough Trade labels. They played with Joy Division, The Fall, The Members, Stiff Little Fingers, Squeeze and many others as well as touring the UK and Ireland as well as doing gigs in New York before splitting up.

About a year ago two of the original members, Alex on drums and vocalist Mike Finney, got together with some friends after being asked to play at a memorial gig for a huge fan of the band, Manchester punk legend, Jon The Postman. It went down so well and they had such a great time they thought it would be a good idea to continue as a live act performing the singles and the great songs from the album.


After extensive rehearsals and finalising the line-up they have been playing headline gigs since the beginning of 2017 as well as supporting bands such as Eton Crop, The Flamin' Groovies and Penetration. In January 2018 they will be playing the iconic London venue The Dublin Castle, which gave a start to bands such as Oasis, Madness and Amy Winehouse, as well as several major festivals next summer.

The Distractions are attracting a new generation of fans who appreciate classic songs and storming live sets!

They have a major retrospective box set, Age + Geography, on the ‘Hidden Masters’ label coming out soon.

Check out the band’s Music Glue page for lots more information, videos and downloadable tracks: www.musicglue.com/thedistractions.


They are: Mike Finney (lead vocals)

Joe Brehoney (bass)

Johnny Poole (guitar)

Chris Dutton (guitar)

Alex Sidebottom (drums/percussion)

Live at the Peer Hat, Manchester

3 October 2017

The next Distractions Live date is again in central Manchester, this time supporting Dutch band, the Eton Crop, with Faerground Accidents, on Thursday 26th October. The venue is the new Peer Hat on Faraday Street, which is between Lever Street and Newton Street in the Northern Quarter, off Piccadilly.




The Distractions

They shared bills with the likes of Buzzcocks, Magazine and Joy Division, and their debut EP, 'You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That', released in 1979, led to a deal with Factory Records, who released the follow-up, 'Time Goes By So Slow'.

See the Facebook page for the gig:  www.facebook.com/events/1977289259157321

Buy tickets here from just £5.50:  www.seetickets.com/event/eton-crop-nl-support/the-peer-hat-manchester/1124164