Peter Hook, English singer, songwriter and founder member of English rock bands Joy Division and New Order chats with Kevin Cooper about his altercation with a DJ at Rock City, touring with his son Jack, his litigation with Bernard Sumner and his current tour of the UK
Peter Hook is an English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is best known as the bassist and co-founder of English rock bands Joy Division and New Order.
Hook formed Joy Division with Bernard Sumner in 1976, but following the death of lead singer Ian Curtis in 1980, the band reformed as New Order, and Hook played bass with them until 2007. He is currently the lead singer and bassist for Peter Hook And The Light.
New Order have broken up more than once, leaving Hook to involve himself in other projects. He has recorded one album with the band Revenge and two with Monaco (both as bassist, keyboardist and lead vocalist) with David Potts.
In 1982 he became co-owner of The Hacienda which was opened as a nightclub and music venue in Manchester. Despite its persistent financial troubles it survived until 1997 despite being mainly supported by Factory Records and record sales from New Order.
He is currently involved in litigation with Bernard Sumner and has been for a number of years, relating to his departure from New Order.
Currently on tour, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hooky good afternoon how are you?
Oh hi Kevin, I’m alright thanks, how are you mate?
I’m very well thank you and before we move on can I just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.
It’s my pleasure.
And just how is life treating you?
It comes and it goes we have to say, no more so than anybody else. We all have our crosses to bare (laughter).
You are currently touring the UK, how are things going?
I’m playing Liverpool tonight and I’ve not been back for a while. It is going to be quite interesting because it was always like the twin musical city for Joy Division and New Order. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how the crowd reacts.
Do you get bored when you are not touring, and do you always have to be on the go?
(Laughter) I would like to find out but I have got to pay the legal fees somehow haven’t I (laughter). So I have not had much choice for the past five years. However, luckily I enjoy doing what I do so I suppose that God giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other. At least I enjoy my job which makes it a pleasure for me to do.
You are playing Rock City on Saturday 11th March. Didn’t you once cause a riot here with New Order?
(Laughter) I remember that we had played a really good gig actually but it ended in a riot because we didn’t play Blue Monday. However, the DJ in his infinite wisdom thought that he should play it just as we were leaving the stage. So me and him ended up having a massive shouting argument with me using the PA and him using his mic (laughter). I remember shouting “you fucking stupid bastard” to which he replied “fuck off, you should play your hits. Your fans are here to hear your hits and you should play them”. I then said to him “I will come over there and twat you, you bastard” and it all ended in a massive row with the audience standing in the middle of us looking completely bemused (laughter).
So I don’t know if he is still the DJ or whatever, but that was my memory of Rock City and also the Hells Angels who were laughing at us at the way that we roadied-in because of the way that we were dressed (laughter). However, I am hoping that it might be a little more civilised this time, shall we say.
Didn’t you steal the then manager Paul Mason from Rock City?
(Laughter) yes we did. Rock City was the place where we first met Paul Mason who as you rightly say was at that time the Manager of the venue but we quietly poached him to manage The Hacienda for us (laughter). Let’s just hope that the current management have forgiven us for that.
And just how big a coup for you was that?
Well back in the day Rock City had a very illustrious history. All of the bands who were on the way up had to play Rock City as it was one of the highly esteemed venues and Paul Mason was quite an esteemed character. So everyone within the music business knew Paul simply because of his affiliation with Rock City. So it was great when we finally got him working for us at The Hacienda. All of the bands started coming because of him and the way that he had treated them whenever they played at Rock City and I must admit that it was that ethos together with Paul’s reputation shall we say, that influenced Rob Gretton to get him in. Paul’s reputation preceded him.
So am I to take it that you enjoy your time spent here in Nottingham?
(Laughter) Nottingham really is a great place to play. In the old days the university towns always used to have great crowds and it is such a beautiful city so I am really looking forward to it actually.
Will your son Jack be with you on this tour?
Yes Jack will be playing bass. He is most definitely our stalwart these days, in fact he is the one who drags me along (laughter).
Is it nice to have him with you?
(Laughter) sometimes it is (laughter). Have you got kids?
No not that I know of (laughter).
Right, okay, well I think that most parents will tell you that sometimes it is nice to have them there but other times they can be a complete pain in the arse (laughter). So yes it is just like having the family on the road really, which is quite nice but I have to say that Jack is a great fan of the music. He really does love the music; he loves the groups and he loves to play. And I must admit that if I’m feeling a little bit old and maybe not up to it, then he’s the one that will drive me along which is quite nice. It reminds me of the days when I used to do it to the rest of the band when I was young. Jack does it to the band now that I am old (laughter).
You will be performing both Joy Division’s and New Order’s legendary Factory Records compilation albums Substance both in their entirety and chronological order. Just how long will you be on stage?
Right, let’s make sure that everyone out there knows exactly what we will be doing on the tour. As you have quite rightly pointed out, we will be playing both albums in their entirety and in chronological order. We will play the New Order album first because that came first chronologically, and then the Joy Division one as that came out afterwards. So we will be playing them in the correct order. And we will be on stage for almost three hours I think, which is the main reason as to why we don’t have any support; we are our own support (laughter).
How do the fans react to that?
Most of them seem to really enjoy the show but obviously you do get those who come just to hear New Order and some of them just come for Joy Division. They can pick and choose what they want to hear on the night and arrive accordingly. However, what you have to remember is that if you want to hear both sets then you really do have to be at the venue for six o’clock as we are starting really early (laughter). Rock City have put us under a curfew and they are throwing us out for the student night immediately after the show (laughter).
I have to ask you will you be releasing any more material under the guise of Peter Hook And The Light?
The Light is very much a vehicle for me to take this journey through the old material. And I really don’t think that it would make any sense to do it as The Light to be honest. Pottsy (David Potts) and I have been talking about getting Monaco back together plus I am currently working on several different projects. I am working with Kraftwerk on a new single; I’m working with Reverend And The Makers so as you can see I’m quite busy. I have to say that I do miss the bit of being in a group but I must admit that I don’t miss the fake democracy shall we say (hysterical laughter). Not to put too finer point on it or indeed get involved in the dynamics but I have been in charge and I am sure that Barney (Bernard Edward Sumner) finds it the same in New Odour (Order). It does make life a little easier and more satisfying I suppose funnily enough.
On the subject of Barney, are you any closer to reconciling your differences?
No, in fact we are actually just getting ready for court and as such we are both being as stupid as ever which I have to say, joking aside, is very sad. I have to say that it is the worst thing that I have been through in my entire life without a shadow of a doubt. It’s the saddest thing in the world. The thing is this has been going on for so long that now it is personal. New Order in my opinion did a terribly shitty thing to me which was absolutely disgusting. They stole the group from me behind my back after thirty-one years of loyal service when I was on holiday in China. Not only did they steal the band but they also reduced my twenty-five percent down to one percent without any discussion with me on the matter. From that moment on it all became personal.
The fact that I play Joy Division supposedly drives Barney crazy so I have been informed, despite the fact that he plays it himself with New Odour. That doesn’t seem to bother him which is typical of Barney (laughter). It was never do as I do with Barney it was always do as I say with him. So this has now become a personal fight. So whether they think of me as a threat now that I have become popular because a lot of the time I am now playing the same sized venues as they are which is a great compliment to me, but I think that it is down to the fans of the music. I don’t think that fans are choosing between us; the fans are simply delighted to hear all sides of the music. But sadly I now feel that our fight is personal and when these things are personal I think that all common sense goes out of the window doesn’t it. To me it is like a really messy divorce and the only people smiling around you sadly are the solicitors.
They always say never say never. However, in this instance I think that we can confidently say never regarding you re-joining the band can’t we?
Yes we can. However, we all know that time is a great healer but even Grand Old Father Time must be looking at this one and thinking ‘oh shit. I’m not too sure about this myself’ (laughter). I think that even the Grim Reaper is looking at it and going ‘shit, I’m not too sure about this myself’ (laughter).
Going back to the Joy Division days and in particular Ian (Curtis). Do you think that he gets the recognition which he deserves?
The thing is that the mythology around the ‘live fast die young’ tends to outweigh his skill and his talents, sometimes. The thing that is always remembered is the music so I’m not too worried because when we recently played up in Newcastle a lot of the audience were very young and they went absolutely nuts for the Joy Division stuff. So Ian is still speaking to people, very much so and I think that he always will. Joy Division were one of those groups that were just fantastically equal in the way that Barney, Steven and I worked with Ian. He didn’t overshadow us; the music was just as strong as the vocals and lyrics in my opinion. So I think that it was a perfect cocktail to last forever. So in answer to your question, yes I think that Ian does get the recognition that he deserves and I think that he always will. I just hope that it doesn’t override the suicide thing which is very attractive to a lot of people.
In 2002 Michael Winterbottom released the film 24 Hour Party People which focused on Factory Records. Did you enjoy the film?
Yes I did, I really did enjoy the film despite being played by Ralf Little (laughter). Look, what you have to remember is that the film was a light-hearted comedic look at what Michael Winterbottom thought was a bit of a farce and he was absolutely right in that assertion (laughter). It was very farce like and it seems even more farce like today (laughter). It was one of those things. He went out of his way to make a comedy film and it was perfect. I have to say that Michael did give us the party in The Hacienda that we never had because of the way it finished and went bankrupt. He rebuilt it for the film and we had a fantastic party there which was one of the most surreal moments of my life. And I have to say that the film is good. I have to admit that it is a little weird seeing all of these comedians pretending to be rock stars but all in all I did enjoy the film.
And then in 2007 Anton Corbijn’s film Control focused on Ian’s life. Did he get that right?
Well, firstly what you have to say is that Control is totally the opposite to 24 Hour Party People, in fact it couldn’t be more opposite if it tried. I think that is what was good about Factory, The Hacienda, Joy Division and New Order, they all had a very cool artistic side and yet really we were all quite normal (laughter).
What was the first record that you bought?
I didn’t buy it, sadly I stole it. It was Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town because I always had a very big place in my heart for Kenny Rogers.
Who did you first see playing live in concert?
Don’t laugh but that would have been The Nolans at Salford Rugby Club.
What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?
Wow that’s an interesting question, let me have a think. I was watching The Hacienda documentary the other day which is all about the people who bought the relics from the club. There was a piece of music playing at the end of the documentary as they showed some old footage of the club. I don’t even know what the song was but taking it in that context and me being wonderfully melancholy, looking at old pictures of myself in the 90s when I was off my trolley, and when legal disputes between you and your friends seemed ridiculous; that was what bought a tear to my eye.
The reason I ask that question is that I once asked Burt Bacharach the same question and he said to me ‘that’s easy it was The Stranglers cover version of Walk On By’. I asked him if it was their interpretation of the song that had moved him and his simply replied ‘no it was shit’ (laughter).
(Laughter) but that is not true. I thought that it was a great version of the song but maybe not if you are Burt Bacharach (laughter). It actually inspired me to seek out Jean-Jacques Burnel’s amplifier and speakers. Its funny isn’t it how a song can have different effects upon different people.
Taking aside all of the legal wrangling’s, where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
I see myself in five years’ time in The Hacienda old folk’s home drooling in a corner with Grahame Park at the lunchtime rave-up, waiting for the pretty nurses from Lithuania to come and wipe our bottoms (laughter).
On that note Hooky let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been great and I will see you here in Nottingham. Take care and bye for now.
Thanks Kevin it was a pleasure and it was nice to hear from you again. Just make sure that you give us a wave from the pit at Rock City. You take care man. Bye for now.