Lollapalooza UPDATE: The below poster is indeed the real lineup for…
- Posted on Oct 6th 2011 1:30PM by Mike Doherty
Before the Light's recent show in Toronto -- during which they played Joy Division's album 'Unknown Pleasures' convincingly, with intensity and power -- the burly bassist stood up at the back of his dressing room, ushered his bandmates out, and made a spirited case for his defense. His craggy features often lighting up with a mischievous gleam, Hooky spoke to Spinner about how Joy Division's legacy is his legacy, too, and offered some choice words about the New Order reunion, his corrosive relationship with his ex-bandmates, and his feelings about a makeup after the break-up.
I understand you started playing Joy Division albums live because Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie never thought that his band's album 'Screamadelica' got the recognition it deserved?
He was saying there were songs on 'Screamadelica' that they didn't play a lot, and he felt now that that was a mistake. That struck a chord with me: there were songs on 'Unknown Pleasures' which we hardly ever played. Once I got out of New Order and was able to look in, I thought, "Why did we never play those songs that three-quarters of us had written?"
I think the main problem was that Bernard didn't like Joy Division -- he preferred New Order, which is fair enough, 'cause it has a completely different sensibility. But for me, who was happy to play both, it just felt quite odd. So at my own club in Manchester [The Factory], I got a group together and played Joy Division's music.
You said at the time there were a lot of "keyboard terrorists" on the web who weren't happy with the idea of that performance. Do you spend time reading what people say about you on message boards and forums?
You do it to gauge reaction, and it's like picking a sore, isn't it? You always want to do it. I have a different attitude towards it now, because it actually scared off a lot of the people I wanted to work with, which made me all the more determined. It's the same thing with New Order deciding to tour without me -- [it] makes me all the more determined to f--- New Order over in any possible way I can. If they think I'm just going to scuttle off to a cabin in the woods, they've got another thing coming. They're dickheads. People go and hide, but I don't. I'm a fighter. I'm going to come out fighting.
You were the one who announced the break-up -- was that because you'd decided you were the one who wouldn't hide from the issues facing the band?
What happened was that I didn't enjoy working with Bernard anymore. I felt that our ambitions for the group and for the music were too far apart to ever come together again. It was a pain in the arse doing the last album [2005's 'Waiting for the Siren's Call'], and the fact that it took three years was f---ing ridiculous. I'll never get that time back again. Everybody towed the line: "Don't upset Bernard." F---ing stupid. Everyone gets hypnotized into doing it.
That said, you managed to accommodate each other for years before...
You have to bear in mind that when we came back, we only did two records. Bernard and I were very, very together when we did [the 2001 reunion album] 'Get Ready.' Steve and Gillian hardly did anything on 'Get Ready'; Gillian left anyway. When we started doing 'Waiting for the Siren's Call,' he started acting the same way as he did on [1993's] 'Republic.'
An album which didn't have very much of you in it.
Well it did, actually, 'cause [producer] Stephen Hague went out of his way to put me in it, but it didn't sound like me. It just doesn't sound like New Order. Also there are songs on 'Republic,' which to my eternal annoyance, I found out later they used my bass for the vocal line, and wiped the bass. The last New Order song was 'Regret.' The rest of them, to me, were electronic songs with bass on them. They had a different feel. And unfortunately I felt we were getting that feel again, and getting into that rut on 'Waiting for the Siren's Call.' It was divisive. [Bernard] was going one way, and I was going the other.
Was it after 'Siren's Call,' then, that things really came to a head?
Once I got sober, I realized what a crock of s--- he was. [laughs] I couldn't live with it.
That was why I split the band... I was suffering really badly from alcoholism at the time, and the unhappiness was making me drink more. When your life's out of control, it's a terrible feeling, and I didn't get my life back in control until I stopped drinking. Once I [did], I thought, "Ooh. It's like a bad relationship." All of a sudden, you go, "Oh my God!" And your mates have been telling it you for years! "She's a cow -- get rid of her!" Being in a group is the same. And when it goes, it's like a death. Well, this one's still f---ing dying!
But at the same time the band produced some great music.
Musicians are renowned for focusing on stupid, petty arguments. The things that Bernard and I are arguing about are absolutely f---ing pathetic, and I'm hoping that some grownup will come into the schoolyard and stop it.
Would there be a chance for all of you to get over it, to say the music you've made together is more important than these disagreements?
I'm not too sure because of the fact that they've decided to do New Order without me. It would have been the same if [The Light] were called "Joy Division." That's not New Order -- they're just f---ing trying it on. It would be like me going out with Stephen and Gillian and saying it's New Order: "Where's Barney?!" They're going to be haunted by it, aren't they? [In] every interview they'll be dying to ask you what it's like without Hooky. It's going to be a hard thing for them to pull off, but they're doing it for financial reasons mainly.
They're supposed to be charity gigs...
Yeah. It's all bollocks. They're already hawking for an American tour; me mate told me yesterday. They're hiding behind the charity gig.
Who owns the trademark "New Order"?
I used to, but they pulled a cunning limited company hostile takeover and managed to take over the trademark from me.
Did you try and fight this?
I'm fighting it now at the moment.
Do you want to stop them from touring as New Order?
No, no. 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 there's more of them than there is of me, so I get outvoted, don't I? A judge would go, "Well, there's more of them, Hooky, than you. How can you stop them?"
But at the same time, you're an integral part of the band.
Yeah, but I'm not that bothered -- I'm not against it. I think that people are intelligent enough to know that it's not [the same]. New Order Mark 1 was with Gillian; New Order Mark 2 was without Gillian, and now you've got New Order Mark 3, which is without me. They're different New Orders.
If the others were to call you up tomorrow and say, "We're sorry, we should have included you," would you...
[Hook laughs loudly, and smiles.] Yeah.
You'd be on board?
Oh, 100 percent yeah. I'd get a picnic and go around their house as well, so we could spend the day together.
You say they're doing it for money reasons, but wouldn't they do better financially with you in the band?
Yeah, but supposedly they've been annoyed by the fact that I've played Joy Division and the fact that I'm going to play New Order next year, starting with [debut album] 'Movement,' so I think that they thought, "F---, we'd better grab it back before he gets it!" [laughs]
Are you going to be playing New Order songs, then, partially to be adversarial?
No. Once I'd played 'Unknown Pleasures,' I thought it would be fantastic to play every song I'd ever written before I retired, or before I died. So I've actually got the bit between me teeth now. I've played 'Unknown Pleasures'; I've played 'Closer'; I've played all the tracks in-between, and it's fantastic to get them back.
I play music, and it's my life, and it's how I earn my living. What am I supposed to do? Sit at home in the garden, pruning the roses? I can't work with them, so I have to work with people that I get on with and have the same ambitions and ideals -- but what do you play? I went through [the group] Freebass [with Mani from Primal Scream and Andy Rourke from the Smiths], did a new LP; we toured; that didn't work, so I got the opportunity to play Joy Division, which I'd ignored wholeheartedly for 31 years.
I'm a musician. As corny as it sounds, you are a wandering minstrel, aren't you? So why shouldn't I be able to play me own f---ing songs? Bernard and Stephen did it before me: they played Joy Division and New Order in Bad Lieutenant, and they never asked me. And yet now because I'm doing Joy Division, I'm a c--- because I'd never asked them. It doesn't run right, does it, really? But I'm not pretending to be Joy Division. I'm afraid to say that they're going to pretend to be New Order. And the happiest moment in Bernard's life, as I recall, musically, was when Gillian left. So he must actually hate me more than he f---ing hates Gillian, because there's the biggest contradiction in terms I've ever seen in me f---ing life!
Did Bernard and Gillian differ about musical direction?
She's not a very good musician, I'm afraid, and she didn't add that much to the band. It was a problem with both of us. We were very happy when she left. And personally I thought New Order Mark 2 were far superior to New Order Mark 1, but that's life, isn't it? Everyone's entitled to their opinion, aren't they?
Your band is called Peter Hook and the Light, though people have the idea that Joy Division is all darkness and brooding.
Yeah, the cliché was that it was very gloomy music, but it never felt gloomy to me -- always felt f---ing great. It used to make me very, very happy.
The band is called the Light because I'd seen the light. I knew what I was going to do. I don't like the "Peter Hook" bit, personally -- I'd rather be a group, but the promoters always put, "Peter Hook and the Light," and you can't stop them doing it.
Do people have a specific impression of Joy Division that you're trying to counteract?
What makes me really happy about playing Joy Division's music is that people seem to enjoy the fact of you playing it. They love it on record, and then they come and see you play live and like that as well. And I'm like, "Wow, what a compliment!" It's a great compliment to Bernard, Stephen, and Ian, 'cause it's their songs that people are enjoying. I'm sure it's just as much a compliment to Bernard and Stephen when they play it in Bad Order, or New Lieutenant, or whatever they're f---ing called.
Are the seven unreleased New Order songs from the 'Waiting for the Siren's Call' sessions going to surface?
Well, supposedly they're doing this [tour] to coincide with the release of those songs. They're not stupid. It's not by chance, is it?
And it's nothing you have a say in?
I don't have any say in it whatsoever, and they've actually pulled some really dirty business shenanigans to get their own way, which they're not going to get away with. They can play together as much as they want. Good luck to them. I spent most of my life trying to get New Order to play, and I'm not going to stop them now. It was like banging your head against a brick wall. Unbelievable. I'm actually happy that they're going to play.
You'll be watching?
No, I'll be washing me hair that night. And the other night.