Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner in happier times (MJ Kim, Getty)
In the fall of 2011, Hook told Spinner he was "determined to fuck New Order over in any possible way." When I later spoke to New Order singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner in Toronto between the last two gigs of the band's year-long worldwide tour, Sumner quoted that line back to me and sighed.
Making clear that he wanted to "answer his criticism of me and the band, rather than dish out fresh criticism of him," Sumner detailed his and Hook's irreconcilable differences -- to do with touring, the legacy of the long-shuttered club The Hacienda and, inevitably, money -- and why he feels that despite all the negativity, the split is a positive thing.
Shortly after New Order started playing live again, in December 2011, you recorded the album Live from the London Troxy. What are your memories of that show?
We didn't really plan to do this world tour. We did Brussels, Paris, and The Troxy, and they were benefit gigs for a friend of ours, Michael Shamberg, who directed all the early New Order videos. He's very ill, in a wheelchair. The first two were fundraisers for Michael, and the one in London was to pay the road crew. We didn't know what to expect. People might not have accepted the group without Peter Hook being in it, but they did.
When we were getting ready for this tour, we couldn't let anyone know about it [until] two or three weeks before, because we had to make sure that we were on a firm legal footing. We knew that Mr. Hook would come after us like a great white shark and try and do everything he could to stop it. Making quite a few of the videos, it was actually me, my son, and an engineer. All the ones [that showed] at The Troxy we made in secret; we couldn't farm it out to anyone because then [word] would get out.
When I spoke with Peter Hook last year, he said, "The things that Bernard and I are arguing about are absolutely fucking pathetic, and I'm hoping that some grown-up will come in the schoolyard and stop it."
It's not true. That's not the case. That's his way of painting over it. What were the things we were arguing about? They weren't pathetic.
One thing that he said was that he felt you were ultimately reuniting as New Order for money.
[laughs] OK, there's one of the things: hypocrisy. We gave all the money to Michael, so the first gigs were for charity.
I think he meant beyond that ...
Well, to put what happened before that into perspective, he'd rubbed us all up the wrong way by buying the name of the Hacienda club... We'd all put a lot of money each [into the club]; when it went bust, he bought the name, we felt, behind our backs, and he started selling it for various uses, like there's an apartment block there now where it was, and he sold a license to the developers to build it. That was when we'd just got back together in 2001. So we lost respect for him and trust after that.
Then there was an event which he doesn't want me to talk about to the press, during the recording of Waiting for the Siren's Call ... He says it's OK for him to talk about it. [Hook told Spinner, "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."]
When he came out of treatment for this event, he was a worse person, in my opinion. [On tour in Japan], he tore strips off me and said everything that had ever gone wrong with New Order was my fault; everyone was really puzzled. The rest of us had finished that album off, and he wasn't available. So I was pissed off. And then he just started attacking everyone else -- the management -- everyone was "shit" except him.
We did a tour of South America, in which he was a very angry man, and he got really into the celebrity DJ circuit. We did the music for [the Ian Curtis biopic] Control, and [director] Anton [Corbijn] wanted ambient, quiet music. I said [to Hook], "If you want to play on it, you're quite welcome." "Can't do that; I'm DJ-ing." We were supposed to be completing an album, which is now known as the Lost Sirens -- seven tracks; we were going to write another three and we'd have a finished album. "Can't do it. I'm DJ-ing."
He announced without discussing it with the band that we'd split up, and suddenly it was news all around the world. And he did it just before the Cannes film festival, so every question was not about Anton's film; it was about New Order splitting up. We released a press statement saying, "New Order haven't split up. It's a unilateral decision by Peter Hook." And we haven't split up. New Order continue. So to us, he left, but didn't want to say, "I'm leaving." [laughs]
So the next thing: Gillian [Gilbert] has got some health problems; Steve [Morris] needed to look after her. I go off and make the [self-titled] Bad Lieutenant album [in 2009, with New Order guitarist Phil Cunningham, featuring Morris on three tracks]. Me and Steve, the other two members of Joy Division, suddenly read in the press that Peter Hook is actually going out and playing [the Joy Division album] Unknown Pleasures in full! And he announced his intention to play the other Joy Division albums, and all the other New Order albums one by one, which he's just started now. So who's doing it for money? That's where the hypocrisy creeps in.
But wouldn't he be better off financially playing with you?
Much better off, yeah.
It seems odd that he would be playing those albums with The Light for money.
Well, he did that because we weren't doing anything with New Order at the time. And when he did that, we just thought, "Fuck it. Why are we holding back with New Order?" So we [announced some shows], and he went apeshit about it, but we'd had enough of him by that time. And this is where we're at now. There's more, detailed stuff, but we have an expression in England: don't piss on your chips. And that's what he's done. Well, hopefully he's happier, because he wasn't happy within the band.
- Joy Division 'Closer'
- Amy Winehouse 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures'
- The Notorious B.I.G. 'Life After Death'
- Elliott Smith 'From a Basement on the Hill'
- Johnny Cash 'My Mother's Hymn Book'
- Bob Marley & The Wailers 'Confrontation'
- Joey Ramone 'Don't Worry About Me'
- Otis Redding "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay"
- Janis Joplin 'Pearl'
- John Lennon 'Milk and Honey'
- Makaveli (a.k.a. 2Pac) 'The Don Killuminati: The 7-Day Theory'
- Michael Hutchence 'Michael Hutchence'
- Nirvana 'Unplugged in New York'
- Ray Charles 'Genius Loves Company'
- Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros 'Streetcore'
- Sublime 'Sublime'
He didn't seem to be entirely negative towards the band and his experiences in it. When I asked him if New Order were to call him up and say "We're sorry, we should have included you in New Order, would you be board?" he said, "One hundred percent, yeah. I'd get a picnic and go around their house as well, so we could spend the day together."
Yeah, "let's talk it all over" -- we did do that. After the announcement that New Order had split up, we had a meeting, and I said, "You've got real ego problems you need to get sorted out," and he said, "Don't talk about that!" And he stormed out [of a second meeting], shouting at us. Because we found out that Leslie Gretton [the widow of New Order's former manager, Rob Gretton] had the other shares in the Hacienda name, and we tried to buy those shares, and he was like, "I want them! The Hacienda's me." So whatever he says, he's contradicted by what he does.
Someone said [to him], "Why are you playing Joy Division without the other members?" and he said "Bernard never liked playing in Joy Division and thought he was miserable." Why were we playing Joy Division before he left the band? Was it him making me play Joy Division? It's just not true. He's just trying to get at us, isn't he?
We've been on tour, 50 dates; none of us have had a bad word to say against each other. Everyone's smiling, happy on stage. So why go back to a situation where he's going to argue with us? I just hope he's happy; let him get on with his life. We're happier, without a doubt, is the bottom line.
How hard is it for Tom Chapman to step into Peter Hook's shoes as your bassist?
Not that hard. He just goes on stage, has a good time, and plays bass really well. It was a bit daunting at first for all of us before that first gig in Belgium, because we didn't know what sort of reaction we were going to get: "People might throw bottles at us." But it hasn't been like that, which is good... The touring party, which includes the management and the road crew, have all got jobs and [are] supported financially.
I don't want to slag Hooky off, but I just want to right some of the wrongs that he's been saying about us, and [sigh] this kind of split attitude where one minute he's slagging us off and -- how it's all been.
I hope there'll be a détente at some point.
We've tried it. But whatever he says in public, he's not like that in private. Believe you me.