Peter Hook Interview / Part I
In the first part of our interview with Peter Hook, we talk Joy Division, New Order, Ian Curtis, The Hacienda and much more.
MIKE BURNS / 2013 seems to have gotten off to a great start for you Hooky. What have you been up to?
PETER HOOK / Well you’re right in a way, 2012 doesn’t seem to have stopped at all. Last year was really busy with the Hacienda 30th Anniversary celebrations, lots of touring with The Light, the publication of the Joy Division book, and DJing all over the place. Then at the start of this year we went straight into rehearsing and performing Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies for debut gigs in London and Manchester in mid-January, then a week in France for the book publication over there, followed by a two week book tour of the States. I also had the NME Awards in February, where the book was nominated for an award. I like to keep busy, but it has been very hectic. I will be touring Europe in March and April before heading over to Japan to play the Hacienda Festival at the end of April, which I’m looking forward to very much.
MIKE BURNS / We heard great reports from your gigs at KOKO and Manchester Cathedral. How were the gigs for you, and how did it feel playing Power, Corruption & Lies and Movement for the first time in so many years?
PETER HOOK / We played our New Order set for the first time in January and I must say it was fantastic. The lads in the band did a great job and put so much hard work into doing all of the songs justice, like they did with the Joy Division material. It does feel like having the songs back, and it was a great feeling to play those two albums again as there are a lot of songs on them which were ignored in the later years of New Order, like ICB, We All Stand or Leave Me Alone – and there are also a lot of forgotten B-sides which are great too, like Hurt, Cries and Whispers. I was so nervous before the gigs but the reactions were fantastic, both from fans and reviewers alike. We sounded great so it’s given me a lot of confidence for the future gigs, bring em’ on.
MIKE BURNS / You’ve always said that you wanted to play Joy Division’s back catalogue, live, in full. That’s something that you have now achieved with your band The Light. Why was that so important to you, and does it bring some kind of closure now that it’s done?
PETER HOOK / I wanted to do it because I did not like the fact that the music had been locked away and ignored for so long, put on the shelf if you like. The songs are too special to just be left behind, so it has been great to rediscover them. The songs also reach out to a new generation of younger fans all the time who never got the chance to hear them live, so I hope that I can help with that situation a little bit. Okay it is not Joy Division and I have never said it was, unlike New Order calling themselves New Order, but it is nice when fans say “thank you” to us for helping them hear the songs in the live format. The band I put together have been truly fantastic and always put the effort in, they are very, very respectful to the influence of the songs and the attachment people all over the world have to them.
MIKE BURNS / You must be reminded constantly of the influence Joy Division, and later New Order, has had on music, as well as so many peoples’ lives, but how does that feel and is it something you’ll ever get used to?
PETER HOOK / It is a nice compliment really to all of us in Joy Division and New Order that people say we are an influence, and it is nice to hear other bands saying nice things about us and being inspired by our work. To me, that is what it is all about, inspiring people just like I was inspired by punk and then the people I worked with in the bands, Factory and by Manchester as a whole.
MIKE BURNS / You recently released your second book, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. It must have stirred up a lot emotions, good and bad, happy and sad, re-calling all those memories…
PETER HOOK / Well writing is a hard process, and dragging it all out it was, as they say, emotional, but I am sort of used to that now. It wasn’t particularly just Ian Curtis either, it was more the tough time that I’m having with the other members of New Order at the moment, which was unsettling and confusing. I’m more used to the stuff about Ian than I was with the others.
MIKE BURNS / Do you have a stand-out memory of Ian, who ultimately was a best mate of yours?
PETER HOOK / There’s far too many and I did try to do him justice in the book. I suppose it’s unavoidable that everyone has concentrated on Ian’s depiction in the book but really it is a story about all of us, but I suppose that the cult and mystique that surrounds Ian overpowers the truth sometimes because of the impact of his short life and untimely end.
I always felt that we went through some very, very funny happenings and Ian was always a
part of it. He was never separate; he was never locked in his own dressing room with an “I do not want to be disturbed” sign on the door. There was that aspect to his character, but he was always part of the… jollity, I suppose you have to put it. He wasn’t separate. I think one side of him has been much characterized and the other side hasn’t – and that’s the bit I lived with him and wanted to portray.
MIKE BURNS / The Hacienda… the club which was famously ‘paid for by New Order’… do you have any regrets at all about being involved in The Hacienda and losing so much money?!
PETER HOOK / None whatsoever, I wouldn’t change anything although I think certain people might not agree. I had some fantastic times there and had some of the scariest nights of my life there as well. I was out with all the bouncers the other week and they were are laughing about it with me and I think that shows how far we’ve come with it all. Doing the Hacienda book really helped me, it reminded me that there were great times within the disaster and it did change the world. It provided me, and I hope other people who read it, with some perspective- that the Hacienda was never a failure, in many ways it was a huge success, keeping it open for fifteen years certainly was.
For me, there’s nowhere nowadays that seems to have that blend of idealism and creativity with no boundaries, lacking any sense of financial considerations or consequences that The Hacienda had and that is a huge part of the legacy and the respect for The Hacienda. The fact that we did it and lost a fortune gives it a certain edge in music history, and I’m very proud of that.
MIKE BURNS / Is there any particular gig, party or event that you can personally define as the ‘beginning’ of Madchester?
PETER HOOK / Not really, it’s very hard to pinpoint a particular event as it was growing throughout the eighties and especially from 1986 onwards. In many ways it came out of all the musicians enjoying the acid house nights, so that collective of wanting to draw those influences into your own music and what was around you. That’s what happened with a lot of bands; us, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses. There were so many memorable and special nights that stand out, especially the Northern House Revue in 1987, which was the first time Graeme Park came to The Hacienda, and the Chicago party, where artists like Adonis played for the first time outside the US. Also Hot, where Mike Pickering and Jon DaSilva properly introduced acid house to the club.
There were many, many nights, and the one that always gets talked about is when New Order headlined G-Mex in Manchester with Happy Mondays and A Certain Ratio in December 1988. Bummed had just come out, the Mondays’ second album, and it was a sensational gig – we had an afterparty called Disorder beneath The Hacienda which has passed into legend. I didn’t even get to go to that in the end because Iris, my first partner, dragged me away. You know we earned ten thousand and seven pounds at GMEX and Disorder cost ten thousand pound… so we made seven quid on GMEX! Fucking Rob Gretton man, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry!
That was one of ours, but in truth the great nights and gigs came in quick succession from 86 onwards, it just got bigger and bigger. After that concert, The Roses played The Hacienda in February 89 before they released the album, and then The Mondays went onto headline G-Mex on their own. It really had momentum though following on from 88.
Peter Hook will be playing at The Hacienda Oiso Festival 2013 on April 28, while you can check out the second part of our interview with Peter Hook in the coming days.