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Joy Division - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 29 / 10 / 2012

Joy Division - Interview


Anthony Strutt talks to bassist Peter Hook about his second book ‘Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division’, which tells of his life in Joy Division

Peter Hook, who was born in Salford in 1956, was the influential bassist in Joy Division, which he formed with his school friend and guitarist Bernard Sumner after they attended a Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976. They were shortly afterwards joined by singer Ian Curtis, who had also been at the Sex Pistols gig, and then drummer Steven Morris, playing together under the group’s original monikers of the Stiff Kittens and Warsaw, before becoming Joy Division in early 1978. Joy Division recorded just two studio albums, ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (1979) and the posthumous ‘Closer’(1980), but were forced to break up when Ian Curtis, whose marriage had recently broken up and who was suffering from depression, committed suicide on the eve of the band’s first American tour. Peter Hook, Sumner and Morris then formed New Order with Morris’s girlfriend and eventual wife Gillian Gilbert. They recorded eight albums, starting with ‘Movement’ and concluding with ‘Waiting for the Sirens’ Call’, over the twenty five year period between 1981 and 2006. While the rest of the group have recently reformed and continue to play together as New Order, Peter Hook left the group in 2007. Hook has also been a member of Revenge with whom he put out one album, ‘One True Passion’ (1990); Monaco, with whom he released two albums, ‘Music for Pleasure’ (1997) and ‘Monaco’ (2000), and bass trio Freebass which he formed with the Stone Roses’ Mani and the Smiths’ Andy Rourke and recorded just one album, ‘It’s a Beautiful Lie’ in 2010 before breaking up acrimoniously. He is currently touring with his new band the Light, which plays the music of Joy Division. He has also worked as a DJ and has been a club owner, co-owning the Hacienda Club in Manchester with the rest of New Order between 1982 and 1997. Hook published a book about his Hacienda experiences, ‘The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club’ in 2009, and has just published his second autobiography, ‘Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division’, which tells of his life in Joy Division. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Peter Hook about Joy Division and the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ book. PB: When you were growing up,was music played in your parents’ home and was that an early influence? PH: Only stuff like Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra so I can’t really say that it was a direct influence. PB: You have said that bass chose you. Did you ever give the guitar or drums a go? PH: Well, I played a bit of guitar in Joy Division actually on ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ and also ‘The Sound of Music’ and enjoyed it, but, no, I’ve never tried drums! I played a bit of synth-drums in New Order on tracks like ‘Blue Monday’. Does that count? PB: Before the famous Sex Pistols gig, were you a big concert goer? PH: I was definitely a big concert goer. I was mainly into heavy metal bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, and I once took my old girlfriend to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but the Pistols gig was still special for completely different reasons. PB: Joy Division had a Northern grit to their sound. Do you think in your eyes that sound could only have come from Manchester and at that time with the changing landscape caused by punk? PH: Barney (Bernard Sumner-Ed) said that it takes you twenty one years to write your first LP and he was absolutely right. Your first album soaks up everything you have been through since the start of your life, and then they expect you to go in and do another one in six months! PB: Joy Division recorded just two studio albums. ‘Movement’ had Ian lived would have been the third studio album. Had that been the case do you think that album would have sounded like how ‘Movement’ is, or do you think it would have been a different type of beast altogether? PH: If Ian had lived, I think ‘Movement’ would have been a lot more confident without a shadow of a doubt. The music is very confident but the vocals are so tentative they almost sound frightened. If Ian had been the front man on ‘Movement’, I do think it would have sounded a lot different. PB: If Ian hadn't died, do you think Joy Division’s sound may have gone into a different direction, and do you think had you toured the States that you may have cracked it then? PH: I don’t think the music would have been any different really. Ian did pretty well at separating the band from his personal life at the time. If we had gone to America, I think we would have smashed it, which is the heart breaking thing really. PB: Do you think the band's legacy would have been what it is today had these things been in place? PH: I think we would have been the size of bloody U2! PB: Is your book ‘Unknown Pleasures’ your full stop on the matter of Joy Division? PH: Yes, in a way I think it is. It has brought me a lot of closure. PB: Did you enjoy the writing process for both of your books? PH: Yes, it is very hard work but I did enjoy it and I am very proud of them both. PB: Looking back, how do you now view your work with Revenge, Monaco and Freebass? PH: Revenge was a big learning process. By the time I got to Monaco we had learnt how to do it and for that reason Monaco was a lot more enjoyable and better musically. I think ‘It’s a Beautiful Lie’ is a great record to be honest, although the circumstances at the time did not help it. PB: You have been played by two different actors in two films, ‘24 Hour Party People’and ‘Control’. Do you think that they were good portaits of yourself? PH: ‘24 Hour Party People’ was a pretty terrible representation of myself. I really did not recognise myself at all, but because Anton Corbijn directed ‘Control’, who knows us very well, Joe Anderson, who played me, actually got me down to a tee. PB: Your new band is called The Light. Did you choose that name because you wanted a lighter name for your new band? PH: The name was more about seeing the light, as in capturing completely what you wanted to be doing. PB: Is there now a master plan to finally retire from bass playing or are you going to die doing it? PH: Ha, ha. That changes every day. I hope not although there are definitely worse ways to go. I want to go out like John Entwistle did, but don’t tell the wife that! PB: Thank you.

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