Interview: PETER HOOK / Intervju Petrom Hookom
Peter Hook & The Light are finally coming to Slovenia. On March the 22nd they will present the entire Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures at the venue Kino Šiška in Ljubljana. For that occasion we asked Peter Hook for the following e_interview.
You're the author of some most memorable bass lines in popular music. Your bass line is the foundation of She's Lost Control, Isolation, 24 Hours, Transmission... How came you started to play bass that way?
Well I suppose it happened by accident really! When we were in Joy Division, our equipment was very, very poor - I started to play very high basslines high up the neck of my guitar because this was the only way I could hear myself when were practising! So songs like Insight or She' Lost Control were written due to this - I was playing high up the neck of the guitar and came up with the riffs. Ian would listen to us jamming and say 'that sounds good!' or 'play that again!' And this is how we formed the songs in the earlier years of the band. I am very proud of my bass work in Joy Division as I think it shows that there can be more to the bassline than just holding down the root notes and staying in the background...
As I know your son is playing bass in The Light. How does it feel as he is now at the same age as you were in Joy Division?
Yes my son plays bass too in The Light, he is doing a great job! Its a wonderful feeling to be able to tour with him and we now have a closer relationship than ever which as a father is a fantastic thing to have. Sometimes it is a very strange feeling when I look over at him when we are on playing on stage and it is like looking at myself 30 years ago!
I mean he has the same bass playing stance as me and everything! But he will never be as good as his dad haha! When I we first played Unknown Pleasures in 2010 he was 21, just like I was when we wrote it, and when we played Closer for the first time in 2011 he was 22, just like I was.... When we played 'Still'.. 23... It's brilliant.
I guess all the tours so far were successful, so what is the structure of the audience, old fans, young people?
Yes so far we have had a very good run and we are approaching our 150th gig! Which is an incredible achievement in under 3 years. And even after almost 150 gigs there are still some places that we have not visited yet so it will be good to finally arrive in Slovenia! Before we started, I thought the audience would be older people, like myself haha! But I was very surprised to find that the audiences everywhere we go contain a very wide range of people - from people even younger than my son, to people even older than myself! It is great to see that even after over 30 years the music still reaches out to different generations of people, it is a nice compliment to all 4 members of Joy Division and to the music we created.
Your have written two books, on Hacienda and memories on Joy Division. So book on New Order would be the third?
Yes, after the success of the Hacienda book I was inspired to write 'Inside Joy Division', and now I am planning to complete the set by writing the New Order book. It will certainly be a very different story to the Joy Division story!
As I know Freebass project was financial disaster. Was that one of the reasons you started playing Joy Division?
Freebass was not a financial disaster - yes we had some problems with it in terms of the personel in the band and the fact that it ended up taking a very long time to be released, but it was not a disaster. I really enjoyed the short UK tour we did as Freebass and I am proud of the record, it has some great songs on it, 'Plan B' for example I think is a great tune. Playing Joy Division's music again had nothing to do with Freebass really - after a big event in ian's hometown of Macclesfield that was planned for 2010 fell through and was not going to happen, I had always planned to celebrate the music again myself in may 2010 anyway - someone had to celebrate this fantastic music and mark the anniversary of the great man, so why not me? It was only supposed to be one gig in my club the Factory in Manchester but after that we were asked to come and play it all over the world which has been lovely.
It seems you divided the Joy Division fans. Did you hesitate, did you have any doubts about it? Did you consider the feelings of some hard-core fans?
Well when we initially announced the gigs there was a division amongst the fans - some people were happy that you were going to play the music again and could see that it would be a fitting tribute to mark 30 years since Ian left us, whereas other people were attacking you and saying that you were doing it to make money or something like that - despite the fact that every time we play an album for the first time we do it to benefit two charities - Mind, A Mental Health Charity, and Forever Manchester, a charity which invests in social projects in the cities of Manchester and Salford. I was quite upset about the level of the backlash which we received from some people, there were some very hurtful comments from anonymous people on the internet, but that is the problem with the internet, it gives everyone a platform to attack you if they want to, and it can be quite sad to read such things. But there were also a lot of positive comments too. Its a shame that some people still do not agree with what we are doing but in life it is impossible to make everybody happy. I would hope that we are doing justice to the songs, and after almost 150 great gigs its nice that so many people agree with me. Lets see what you think in Ljubljana!
The status of Joy Division is secured for another few decades, it seems. Many documentaries, movies, books... What do you think, why are Joy Division still important today? Is this because their music still carries some universal feeling of urban living, loneliness, dispear and will?
Yes, you are right, there are many things that document the band but I think that it can only be a good thing - it helps to maintain the legacy of the music and the legacy of Ian Curtis and it means that new generations of people are always discovering the music for the first time. I think Joy Division remain important today because it was a group that made great songs but most importantly great songs that people can relate to - the 4 of us were just working class, normal people from Manchester, and I think people can relate to that as it shows that band members can feel human.
Is there any band today that carries the similar 'weight on their shoulders'?
Everyone in the world has different music tastes, and everyone loves different bands - so I think every band carries a great weight to the people who love them, and hopefully that will never change because the power of music is something that should never be stopped.
Could you relate the circumstances in which Joy Division operated with the situation today (only fans buy records, music industry is falling apart...)?
Well Joy Division operated in the late 1970s which of course is an extremely different time to the time that bands operate in today, it almost feels like a different world. The rise of the internet is what changed things the most I think. When we were operating as Joy Division we knew that bands made albums to sell as records, and that was how it worked. Now you have downloads, online streaming, mp3s.... Its a totally different world. I find it hard to relate the circumstances because they are so very different.
After you left New Order in 2007, Bernard Sumner started new band Bad Lieutenant but soon finished it. It was just logical to put together the original New Order again. Did you discuss that possibility with Bernard?
Well it was 2006 actually when New Order split up, after we finished our last tour which was in South America. Barney eventually started Bad Lieutenant and I was happy for him because he was making music again and was always talking about how great Jake Evans (their other singer) was and how happy he was in his new project. But to put it in a nice way, Bad Lieutenant was obviously not the success that Barney had hoped for, I think they lost a lot of money on that record. That, combined with the global economic situation, I think shows the main reason he decided to "reform" New Order. I did not discuss anything with them. They changed the business side of the band while they knew that I was out of the country so I could not attend the meetings, and then they reformed with this new lineup without telling me. I found out when everybody else did when it was announced on the radio. I think it was a very bad way to handle it.
When New Order started playing live again with the new bass player, Peter Hook and The Light started to play Movement and Power Corruption & Lies in concert. Coincidence?
No, I don't think it is a coincidence - this version of "New Order" started playing live again in late 2011, but before then we had been very successful with our own project and had already decided that after we had played Unknown Pleasures, Closer and Still, we would go on to play Movement and PC&L. The others touring again did not make us change our plans, we always planned to play that show for the first time in 2013! They were great shows, I really enjoyed it and we got great reactions from the audiences. We will be taking that show on tour again for dates later this year.
Now you're going to play Unknown Pleasures again. Is this your favorite Joy Division album?
But yes, despite playing the New Order setlist in the UK, when we come to Ljubljana we will be back to playing Unknown Pleasures. This is just because we have never visited you before. We try to make the whole thing work chronologically - that means that the first time we come, it will be Unknown Pleasures, the first album - then if we come for a second time, it will be the second album, Closer, and so on... In the UK we have toured a lot with the Joy Division set now so there it is time for New Order, but in Ljubljana it's Unknown Pleasures, I hope we can come back many times to play all the albums! I would actually say that Closer is my favourite Joy Division album, but I do love Unknown Pleasures too.
I can't help myself (and I believe many others) but try to imagine what the next Joy Division album would sound like? Can't really imagine Ian Curtis to sing songs like Blue Monday or True Faith.
I disagree with you there, because I can imagine that the band would have progressed the same way into more electronic sounds and I do believe Ian would have sang on both of those tracks. Barney and Steve in particular were becoming more and more interested in electronic equipment and sounds even when we were operating as Joy Division, I think the progression into more of an electronic based band would have happened even if Ian had not left us. You can hear the start of more electronic influences on the Closer album I would say.
You re-recorded Pictures In My Mind, early unreleased Joy Division song. At the end of Deborah Curtis book Touching From The Distance there are some unused lyrics by Ian Curtis published that Joy Division had no chance to turn into songs of their own... Well, just a hint...
Yes, we finished off Pictures In My Mind on our EP that we released in 2011. I had always wanted to finish it because Ian always used to say to us that we should finish everything we started because there will always be at least one person out there who will love it! So we finished it off and I am proud to have completed that one for Ian. There are a few more unfinished things that remain from Joy Division but at the moment we don't have plans to finish them like we did with Pictures In My Mind but who knows in the future we could come back to it...
Will The Light release any new, non-Joy Division songs in the future?
Yes, we hope so. The rest of the band have already been writing new material and have recorded some demos which sound great but because we are always so busy touring we have never really had the time to go into the studio properly to finish things off. One day we will do it because I am starting to feel that I really would like to put out a new record again, and it would be great to do it as The Light because the lads are all fantastic musicians.
Thanks for your time, see you finally in Ljubljana!
Thank you, see you there!
(Rock obrobje, March the 8th, 2013)