There’s nothing more sordid that seeing members of an iconic band in the annals
of rock & roll snip at each other like scorned lovers. The splintering can
often result in two separate musical fronts both tugging at the coattails of the
In Peter Hook’s case, however, it’s not just one seminal
band whose members are at each other’s throat, it’s two. The 54-year-old British
bassist was a co-founder of the shortlived but hugely influential Joy Division,
as well as New Order, the phoenix that rose out of Joy Division’s ashes
following the 1980 suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis.
Joy Division, which
emerged from the robust Manchester rock scene in the late 1970s, struck a chord
among alienated British youth with their dark, dance-driven music, and their two
albums – Unknown Pleasures and Closer – remain standouts of the post-punk era.
However, Hook and Joy Division’s guitarist Bernard Sumner and drummer Stephen
Morris enjoyed a much longer and more lucrative career as New Order, with their
spiky new-wave sound creating a soundtrack for the 1980s.
After moving on
to other projects for most of the 1990s, the band reformed in 1998 for another
successful stint, this time as post-punk veterans. In recent years, though,
relations soured between Hook and his band mates, with Hook effectively leaving
the band and announcing its dissolution in 2007.
Somebody forgot to
inform Sumner and Morris, however, who recently announced that New Order, with
longtime keyboard player Gillian Gilbert, but without Hook, would performing in
London for two charity shows in December, and then possibly going on a
full-blown world tour.
“What they’ve done to me, to tour as New Order, is
frankly disgusting. I don’t mind them touring as New Order, if they’d come to me
and said that... but I think that people are intelligent enough to know that
it’s not [New Order],” an angry Hook told Spinner magazine earlier this
Sumner has his own claims against Hook.
“In our minds he
left the band and now we can’t embrace our heritage and he’s managed to scoop
off the last chunk of it, which isn’t very nice after all these years,” he told
the website Sabotage Times. “Yeah it doesn’t feel good, you don’t do the dirty
on your mates.”
He was referring to Hook’s current musical lineup – The
Light – who have been touring with a show called “A Joy Division Celebration,”
often featuring one of the band’s albums played in its entirety. The show is
coming to Tel Aviv on November 23 at Reading 3.
It sure sounds like the
old punk spirit hasn’t died down in Hook and Sumner. But in an e-mail interview
with The Jerusalem Post, Hook declined to discuss the feud with his Joy
Division/New Order band mates, preferring instead to focus on The Light. He was
particularly jazzed that the band includes his son Jack on bass and guitar, a
situation that fills the often crusty, cynical Hook with delight.
really is a great guy and he really does looks after me,” said Hook.
lucky, really, as it’s not every father who knows exactly where his 22-year-old
son is all the time, do they? He is a great bass player as well and very
dedicated and devoted to the band.”
Hook added that despite enjoying
making music with his son, he’s done his best to dissuade Jack from following in
his father’s musical footsteps.
“I’ve told him plenty of times to pursue
a different profession, and I did it again just the other week,” said
“But he always says the same thing back at me – ‘You’ve got no
qualifications, not had a real job for 34 years and you’ve done alright!’ It’s
very difficult for me to answer that one, to tell you the truth.”
the other members of The Light – Andrew Poole on keyboards, Nathan Wason on
guitar, and Paul Kehoe on drums – also about half his age, Hook said that their
youthful enthusiasm for playing the music which has been codified for decades by
Joy Division fans provided him with a creative spark.
“When I perform
with them, it’s like I am permanently 21. It really does keep you young,” said
“Afterwards I am reminded of my seniority a little. I ache like a
bastard, but they are a great bunch of lads and really fun to play
AS POWERFUL and lasting as Joy Division’s music was, Hook admitted
that part of the reason the band’s legacy is still so strong is due to Curtis’s
premature demise, which turned him into the punk version of Jim Morrison and
“As a musician, I would have to say the music is behind Joy
Division’s continued popularity with subsequent generations. But it’s a sad
truism of the industry that death sells,” said Hook.
“Ultimately you have
to say you would much prefer to be judged on the music without the emotional
baggage that Ian’s untimely [end] brings to all of it.”
and films have been devoted to Joy Division and the enigmatic Curtis. Perhaps
most prominent have been 24 Hour Party People, the 2002 film about the
burgeoning Manchester music scene in the 1970s, and Control, the 2007
biographical film of the band directed by Anton Corbijn, the accomplished
photographer who was an original Joy Division fan in the Manchester trenches and
often photographed the band.
Hook and the other members of Joy Division
worked with Corbijn to enhance the film’s authenticity, and he said that the
efforts show in the film.
“Overall, I was very happy with the
24 Hour Party People I have always thought was very ‘carry on
clubbing,’ but with Control I thought it was much more true to us, probably
because of Anton having worked with us all those years ago,” he
Uncannily capturing the time period was only one of the tasks
Corbijn succeeded in realizing; he also was able to find actors to look – and
play – like Joy Division, one of the most distinctive bands of the
Besides Curtis’s deep baritone, what often stood out in their
music, as well as later in New Order’s, was Hook’s unusually melodic and high
bass sound which set him apart from virtually every other bassist.
confirmed the urban legend that his style developed because he owned a cheap
amplifier that didn’t enable him to compete with Sumner’s guitar, so he
compensated by playing higher up on the fret board. The feedback he received
from the band – especially Curtis – convinced him to carry on that way even when
he was able to afford proper equipment.
“What happened was that Ian loved
it and pushed me to develop it. Ian always had great ideas and really encouraged
me all the time,” he said.
In addition to his vaunted work with the two
bands, Hook also produced other British rockers in the late 1980s like Inspiral
Carpets and The Stone Roses, a group with a stormy past that equals New Order’s.
Their announcement this month of a reunion after over 20 years pleased
“I’m really happy for them,” he said. “Even though they burned
brightly for such a short time, there is a myth and legacy that has grown up
around them and people do want to see them. I hope it works for them. Judging by
the reaction so far, I’m sure it will.”
However, regarding the
possibility that closer to home, a reconciliation with his New Order mates was
in the books, Hook remained mum. But based on what he told Spinner, not all hope
“Musicians are renowned for focusing on stupid, petty
arguments,” he said.
“The things that Bernard and I are arguing about are
absolutely f***** pathetic, and I’m hoping that some grown up will come into the
schoolyard and stop it.”