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Interviews

Peter Hook: Tragic Joy, Electrified Order

By Published: April 30, 2013
AAJ: It seems that with any legendary band, like the Doors or The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
, people always have a thirst for new information, new stories and, with all the books, movies, interviews and more. Is there anything left to be said?

PH: I think that as with any band that is not around anymore, there will always be a desire from people to hear more and to discover more, because there is no chance of any more music, so the only thing left to discover is as many stories as possible. Such is the desire to always have something new. I think it's just a natural thing. The fact that so many great films and books are made about so many bands, it's just great to be able to have that information at our fingertips.

AAJ: The book sheds a light not only on the times when the music was made, but also analyzes the group's two albums in detail. What are your thoughts on them now, with the passing of time?

PH: Looking back now, over 30 years later, I can say that I love them both and that I am very, very proud of them, and always will be. It is a real pleasure to be able to play both of them live all around the world now. A lot of people have said that the best part of the book is when I analyze the music—I recommend that people listen to the music at the same time and then I go through it track by track; I think it works quite well. At the time of the albums' release, we were not really in love with the sound or the feel of the records, because all we wanted to sound like was the Sex Pistols or The Clash, but looking back now I can see that we were wrong because they sound fantastic—even after all this time.

AAJ: Were you aware of just how revolutionary the band's sound and songs were at the time and were you surprised at the impact they made?

PH: No; we had no idea. Like I said, we just wanted to sound like a real punk band, The Sex Pistols or The Clash for example, because essentially we still saw ourselves as punk. Our producer, Martin Hannett, actually gave us a very different sound to what we wanted and at first we did not like it that much, we did not understand it. But obviously we are more mature now and I can look back and see that we were wrong and he was right. Martin gave us a gift: over 30 years later, the recordings still sound fresh and interesting. As for the impact of the albums, we knew we had some great songs but nobody could have predicted the impact those two albums would go on to have.

AAJ: Were there parts you really didn't look forward to when writing in the book?

PH: Yes, obviously it was not easy to write about Ian's death. Writing about that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Time helps you to get over things but even now, over 30 years since Ian's death, it is still a difficult subject for me to talk about.

AAJ: What's your most enduring memory of Ian Curtis?

PH: My most enduring memory of Ian is definitely that of Ian as a friend; at the end of the day he was one of my closest and best friends. Regardless of also being band mates or anything like that, he was a great friend. I will also always remember him as a wonderful lyricist and wordsmith, a very gifted musician, and also as the leader of the band—if anything negative happened to the band it would always be Ian that would pick you up and tell you that everything was going to be ok.

AAJ: Do you ever think that the cult of Ian Curtis overshadows the other band members' contributions to Joy Division?

PH: I think it is inevitable really that sometimes this can happen; the fact that Ian left us while he was still very young means that sometimes there can be a cult following or there can sometimes be quite a mythological aspect to the band. But it is important to remember that Joy Division had another three members who were also equally important in terms of making the music. I had managed to create some good bass lines and started to develop my own sound, while Bernard and Steven also pushed the boundaries of their instruments and developed very distinctive playing styles of their own.

AAJ: To your opinion, how would have Joy Division's sound and music evolved for the next record if circumstances with Curtis had been different?

PH: That is the big question, I suppose. I think that we would have continued to write great songs and that, yes, we would have progressed into a more electronic influenced style of music, as New Order did. While we were in Joy Division we were experimenting more with electronic styles, some of this you can hear on tracks like "Isolation"; Bernard and Steven, in particular, had become very interested in synthesizers and drum machines, so I think that we would have progressed the same way but obviously the difference would be that Ian would still have been our front man.

AAJ: How does it feel like emotionally to be revisiting those two watershed records in their entirety years after they were recorded?

PH: It feels really nice, actually—it's nice to be able to get the songs back after all this time, because when we were touring as new order we did not play many Joy Division songs, and we didn't actually play any Joy Division material again for a long time. So I am really enjoying getting the music back again, and the band I have put together play the songs really well which is just a bonus for me; they work so hard. It's great to perform the album as a live set because it demands more concentration than just doing the same old greatest hits set every night, like certain other bands do.


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