Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peter Hook On His New Order Book 'Substance': 'I'm Amazed We All Survived'

Some artists are lucky enough to be in one band and make a career out of it. Some artists are lucky enough to make music that changes the world. It is even odder to find an artist that is in two bands that not only were successful but shaped music forever.

Peter Hook was lucky enough to experience an occurrence as rare as Haley’s Comet.

The bassist played in both Joy Division and New Order, two bands that shaped indie music, rock, and generations forever. The 60-year-old has documented his career with New Order in a new book called Substance: Inside New Order.
 We spoke to Hooky about his new book, his legacy with both Joy Division and New Order, and if his favorite club, Manchester United have a shot at glory this season. Take a look:

As music continues to evolve, a new appreciation for the sounds of New Order come to life each year. Why do you think that is?

Well that was all to do with the uniqueness of the sound and equipment that we were utilizing in the Eighties. It really was a new sound that was brought forward by new equipment. It is quite recognizable as being from that period and has a very individual and distinctive sound. If you hear an Eighties record now, even though you know it's from the Eighties, the production values make it still sound contemporary and current. That's why it stands up to the music of today in my view and long may continue to appeal to new audiences and fans. All good music is timeless really, and most of the music we did in the Eighties, we're lucky that a lot of what we did falls into that category.

I have seen you on each and every single tour you have done since you began the albums gigs with "Unknown Pleasures," but I must say "Substance" was by far the best. Were the shows as much fun to play as they were to watch?

It was difficult I have to say. New Order "Substance" is a beast of an album to play so it was a tough nut to crack but we all put a lot of work into getting it right, Joy Division always feels a lot more natural to me to play but yes they've all been great fun, each of the albums in turn. The funny thing is I've developed a fondness for a lot of tracks that I've never been particularly enamored with before such as "Shellshock", "1963" and "State Of The Nation" Now I've grown to love them as much as the other tracks. It has been a strange but gratifying experience rediscovering those tracks.

Still playing with your son, what is it like to have Jack play your parts each night?

The way it works with me and Jack is that he plays the bass parts when I'm singing and we both play bass together, kind of dueling with our instruments during the instrumental parts. It is great to have Jack in the band with me, he's very hard working and also a very gifted musician. He has been on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins as well but he's very dedicated to The Light and to the material. It's fantastic for me as a father to have his son playing in the band. When I look over and see him on stage, I get an enormous sense of pride."

With the new book, you give us the intimate look on New Order as you did with Joy Division many years ago. Looking back on these stories and works, was it harder to put together than the Joy Division stories since there was a beginning and end with that band. While New Order continues to play, but without you?

The weird thing is that none of the books have had a happy ending which is the most frustrating aspect of the whole thing. You would love one of them to have a happy ending. Maybe it'll be the next one. Was it easier, the difficult thing was the length of time. The Joy Division book was my musical childhood, at three, four years. The Hacienda book was 16 years and New Order was 31. So the sheer quantity of time is what dictated how long it took. 

I also wanted to balance out the excesses, the sex, drugs and rock and roll with the hard work and graft that went into producing the music. That was why I included the "geek alerts" about the equipment we were using because I wanted people to realize how hard we worked and how difficult it was to create that sound. You've got to give all of us, Barney, Steve and myself, the credit for doing that.
Has there been any contact with your old bandmates? Will there ever be?

Only through lawyers as it stands.

When putting together the new book, what surprised you the most?

It struck me that New Order were an absolute product of the Eighties, beginning in May 1980 and then finishing in June 1990 with the England World Cup single. Ten absolutely fantastic, wonderful years.  It was action packed, it really was an intense period of time. Looking back on it, I am amazed we managed to survive it all. I was amazed that we all survived The Hacienda after I wrote that book but I'm even more amazed that we managed to survive New Order.

Read Our 2014 Interview with Peter Hook

One thing I did realize is that time flies by so quickly, that was the biggest surprise. To be here and think that this is 41 years since we started the group as Joy Division following the Sex Pistols gig. I can't believe its gone in a heartbeat. I long for it constantly, to have it again, I wouldn't mind that 41 years back.

What was it like to remember all of this? How did you manage to recall all of these stories and incidents?

The writing process has become easier as it's my third book but as I think people can tell each book has taken a lot of time and they're quite in depth. The New Order book is some 800 pages long but it does deal with twenty six years of the band. As for rediscovering the past I find it sometimes weird, especially when you're concentrating gig by gig, session and trying to remember precisely the details but it can be interesting when a revelation appears. It can sometimes be a little unnerving but I have learnt to deal with it by now.

Considering Bernie has his book out as well, many of his accounts seem to be different than yours, which is the real tale?

Well the audience will be the judge, jury and executioner there. It's a matter of who you choose to believe. Bernard and I were never able to agree on anything so ultimately it's down to the reader to decide.

New York plays a massive role in the story of New Order. Does the city still inspire you?
Yes it does actually. I had a little downtime a couple of days ago on the book tour in NY and I had a wander around West 44th and a meal in the Red Flame Diner for old times' sake. It really does make me smile, the Iroquois is now a four star hotel. I might have to book in.
New York is a very vibrant city. It's never changed. It still rocks. When you walk down any hour of the day and night, it is still very, very vibrant. I'd love to go to a few clubs again to see what they are like nowadays. I suspect they'll be similar to what we have in Manchester, people going nuts having a great time. 

Looking back on it, working with Arthur Baker, who remains a great guy and great friend, as well as the clubs of the New York, especially Danceteria was an absolute inspiration to us. Every time I go back there, I almost feel like it's a second home. We owe a great debt to Ruth Polsky for bringing us over.
 As you have toured both of your old bands works, has there been discussion of original material featuring The Light?
We've discussed it many times but I'm not really looking to record with The Light because I consider The Light as a band for playing my back catalogue. That's what people have come to expect so I'm not sure it would work. However since Pottsy, David Potts has joined The Light, he was my writing partner in Monaco and we're planning to work together on new material for Monaco this year so you can look out for that.

Dance and electronic music owes a great debt to you and New Order, do you listen to the modern electronic and dance music of today? If so, who?

All the time, most bands now use a combination of dance and rock. In fact most acts are like that, even if you listen to Rihanna or Beyonce, it's the same recipe so I listen to all of it. I'm a great consumer but I tend on the whole to prefer groups at the moment.  There's a band from Stockport, near Manchester called Blossoms doing very well, the NY band, Cults and a London band, Savages, those are my picks for now.
You have seen and been a part of all facets of the music world, what advice do you have for a young musician wanting to make a career out of this?
Never, ever, give up.
As we always do when we chat, let's discuss another passionate topic --- Manchester United. Do you think the price tag for Zlatan and Pogba were justified?
Well Zlatan was a free transfer although obviously he's on a good screw out of it. Bringing Pogba back also made a statement but of course it was justified. To make our team great again is worth any price.
I was there when Rooney scored that 249th goal to equal Bobby Charlton's record which was a great moment. I was delighted to be at the ground when that happened. I felt sorry for Bobby but happy for Wayne who has taken a lot of stick but been a great player and guy for both United and England
Where do you think United will end this season? Will they make Champions League?
Top three and definitely. I think we could also wind up with a couple of cups, we're in the league cup final and I wouldn't be surprised if we added either or both of the FA Cup and Europa League to that. I think we have some very strong players and after a bit of bumpy start, we are looking formidable in the cup games.
Is Jose Mourinho still "The Special One" or has that gone to the Italian managers that have invaded the Premiership? 
No, he's definitely still the special one. It's nice that it's made United fans come up with a new song, based on the Herman's Hermits track "Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good". We're playing well and seem to be looking good, and we have Jose to thank for that.