Q&A with Joy Division & New Order’s Peter Hook

Photo courtesy of Craige Barker.

Hook answers questions about his musical past, current shows, and revisiting classic songs.

It is difficult to know where to start when discussing an individual whose contributions to the history of music have been incredibly influential. That being said, Peter Hook is one such individual. If you are familiar with iconic British post punk band Joy Division and the subsequent alternative sounds of New Order, or the bands Monaco, Man Ray and The Light, then you have been privy to the brilliant work of Peter Hook. From playing bass guitar in Joy Division and New Order to starting his own nightclub and creating a Master’s program in Music at the University of Central Lancashire, Hook continues to engage in many facets of the industry. He is currently on tour with The Light, which includes members who form the band Monaco, as well as his own son. Peter Hook and The Light will be performing songs from the New Order albums: Low Life(1985) and Brotherhood (1986) on their current tour, and will be opening their sets with selected works from Joy Division. They are not to be missed.

The Concordian (C): I know you played Joy Division albums on tour before, so what inspired you to tour again, playing New Order material specifically?

Photo courtesy of Craige Barker.

Peter Hook (PH): It’s all been part of a process, really. I plan to play every track that I’ve ever recorded before I shuffle up to join [deceased] Ian, Rob and Tony upstairs. It began when I saw that Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream was planning to play Screamadelica live back in 2010 that I had the idea of performing Unknown Pleasures as well. The gig sold out in just a few minutes, which was amazing, so we added a second night. That really was supposed to be it, but then we were invited to come and play all around the world, to some truly great audiences. When I saw that people were enjoying it, we decided to progress the show and perform the second album, Closer,  live. We followed this by performing the last Joy Division album release, Still, live which meant that we had then played every single Joy Division song live once again.

As we had played all of this material, going on to perform the first two New Order albums was the next step in the journey of this project. Now we’ve come to perform the next two albums, Low Life and Brotherhood, and the singles from New Order from 1983 to 1987. That includes some great material including “Confusion,” “True Faith,” “Bizarre Love Triangle” as well as the lesser known and lesser heard album tracks like “Let’s Go.”  I am very proud of the members of The Light and I think they do a great job in performing this material live.

C: Were other members of New Order interested in touring with you? Or did you set out to do a solo tour?

PH: I have to stress that it’s not a solo tour, the band (Pottsy, Kehoe and Andy Poole) are all people who were in Monaco with me, and because I’m doing vocals, my son, Jack, fills in and doubles up on bass duties with me. It’s called Peter Hook and The Light, but I  would much prefer it to be called just The Light. However, the nature of what we’re doing, playing the back catalogue means that its becomes necessary to use my name.

C: Are you finding younger or older audiences at your shows? I realize this probably depends on what material you are choosing to play, as in old vs. new albums.

PH: Not really, in fact if anything you find that the Joy Division audiences tend to have a greater make-up of young people than the New Order albums we are playing, but both attract a mixed crowd which is testament to the ongoing influence of both bands. Joy Division does seem to hold a greater fascination with young people if anything. I’m surprised in a lot of ways at the amount of Joy Division t-shirts that we see at the gigs, more than New Order even at the New Order gigs.

C: As a musician, do you find you need to be in a specific space or mindset to work? Can you write on tour or do you need to be at home?

PH: Ideas come to me all the time, on the road, at home, but yes to work properly and write new material you do need to allocate time and also get into the right mindset. It is something that has been lost with the advent of technology, sitting in a room as a band and knocking out ideas on your instruments. That was how we always worked with Joy Division and in New Order prior to sequencers, drum machines and technology coming in. There are advantages in the use of technology, but for pure songwriting, I do believe the best results come from jamming with band members on ideas.

 C: A lot of bands have cited you, New Order and Joy Division as inspiration for their own music and material. So, do you ever listen to music and hear your influence or similarities in sound?

PH: Being an inspiration to other bands is quite funny really. It’s a great compliment but sometimes I hear it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it is really apparent like with White Lies and Interpol, but other times bands are compared to us and I don’t really see it. Nonetheless, I still find it hugely ingratiating to have been in two bands that have shaped the course of popular music over the past thirty years. It is always good when people cite you and say you’ve had a positive effect on their lives.

C: From playing in bands years ago in Manchester, to creating house music inspired by the Hacienda, how have you seen the music scene in England shift?

PH: There have been so many changes, not only in England, but across the world since I started out—that [is] a difficult question to answer. You have to take into account technology and the Internet, the nature of the industry and how it has changed, the decline of vinyl and CDs as a mass market product (which I don’t believe has been replaced by downloads) and much much more.

I suppose The Hacienda did inspire the advent of dance music in the U.K. but there were other factors and influential people championing dance music throughout the ‘80s. Now it has become the staple of the charts where all music seems to owe a debt to house music. Yet bands are still current and exist alongside dance music, and there are even live dance acts like Underworld and The Prodigy. There’s so many new developments, but in a lot of ways, performing live, gigs and club events are relatively the same arts they always were; just in the modern day and modern versions of them.

C: I know you’ve dabbled in electronic genres, but a lot of your work is considered to have a more new wave, rock/pop sound. Is there a genre of music you prefer to listen to? Is there a genre you prefer to perform?

PH: I listen to a lot of dance music at home for DJing and also make dance music as Man Ray with Phil Murphy but also listen to bands and hip-hop. I really do have diverse tastes, from Metronomy, to The National to Drake. I tend to listen to things at the gym three mornings a week, so I get through a lot there. As for playing live, I think I’m very much in the band/rock bracket although with the New Order material, a lot of it is electronic. As a DJ, I play a lot of upfront dance music and classics, so I have a foot in both camps really.

Peter Hook and The Light play Club Soda Monday Nov. 10

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