from the Middle of the (well-worn) Road.
Review by Jon Dunmore © 11 May 1995.
up "compromise" in the dictionary - you'll see
a picture of Bobby Bognar & The Distractions. Look up
"marketability" and you'll see a picture of Bobby
laughing all the way to the bank.
Here was a band whose major good point was their sole bad
point. As with any band that becomes Top 40 fodder, as soon
as a major company invests in the Distractions, they'll
have hit after hit of unmemorable yet catchy tunes - but
until the vehicle of MTV makes them appear less sedentary
with camera angles, good lighting and scantily-clad females,
they'll never go up or down in the live excitement stakes,
just sideways. That is, this is as good as a band like this
Now you may ask yourself: just what is my stance
on this band? That's just the point - I'm sitting on a fence,
like they are. They're as marketable as sliced bread, but
in order to get that way, you've really got to sell your
soul and integrity to the devil, or at least one of his
little evil helpers.
All pagan ceremonies aside, The Distractions are a proficient
rock and roll band, but there's nothing about them that
is really all that interesting. (Maybe Bobby just
didn't drink enough goat's blood at that sabbatical?)
Bognar cites his musical influences as Elvis Costello, John
Lennon, The Lemonheads; although live, the Distractions
sound like... well, everyone. From The Beatles to
Nirvana. Like Lennon & McCartney, Bognar is very lucky
in that the music he loves to write and play also happens
to be very saleable. Pure Radio Friendly Mainstream. Unlike
Lennon & McCartney, Bognar fortunately has not got two
other wanna-be musicians in his band who just came along
for the ride - Yell McGuire on bass and Garner Knutson on
drums complete the talented trio.
There's something very classic about a three-piece rock
band: black Les Paul, bass and drums. There's also something
very classic about all three band members on vocals. There's
even some kind of inherent classic overtones in the name
"The Distractions," which conjures images of The
Temptations and that ilk - the Distractions enhance that
aspect by appearing onstage in suits.
Bognar's reasons for wearing a headset microphone are obscure.
Used by dancers like Madonna and showmen like Bowie for
the freedom it affords lead vocalists, Bognar wasted its
utility by moving around an area of no more than four square
feet onstage, all the while looking like he was trying to
find his contact lens by stepping on it. There's just something
classic about moving up to a mic on a stand and belting
out vocals. Call me a traditionalist, call me pedantic,
call me archaic - just call me...
The crowd were generally appreciative of the three-minute
ditties that made up the Distrations' set: Jennifer,
Christi-Ann, One Track Mind, Michael Antony, all of
which blended into one after four songs. Bobby introduced
each song, so I knew they were playing different ones; they
just seemed to avoid the gray matter in my brain quite effectively.
The band's appeal is to a demographic too young to get into
pubs to see them: the 9 - 15 year old pre-pubescents who
never knew records existed; who never knew David Coverdale
was born with brown hair; who think the Stones are a great
new band and who have to buy Bobby's independently-released
CD not with their wages, but with their allowance.