Peter’s Hooks: Peter Hook isn’t shy in coming forward. The former Joy Division and New Order man currently is on a North American tour with his band the Light, performing the music of Joy Division. It’s been 15 years since he ceased to be a member of New Order, that band splitting in 2007 and then reforming without him in 2011, but the legal battles between Hook and the other NO members rage on.
That feels incredibly sad; Hook, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris in particular were in two era-defining bands together, and co-created a huge amount of staggeringly good music. That they can’t get their shit together feels ridiculous – a fact not lost on Hook.
“I have no relationship with Barney and Steve, and in fact, they actually tried to stop me playing this music when I started,” Hook says via a Zoom interview. “It’s still very much like a fight to death with them lot, over New Order and Joy Division, which is incredibly sad at our age with all we achieved. 31 years [together], and yet they take the New Order name and treated you like shit. It’s disgusting behavior. I’d love to know what I’m supposed to have done, to warrant it. Unfortunately, the legal procedures involved are not straight-forward. As one wealthy bloke, which I am, to fight three wealthy people is virtually impossible. It’s just all about money. The angst, the stress and the pain involved in it, not only for you but also for your family.”
Yeah, these wounds are still fresh. Getting locked down during the pandemic didn’t help, although he did initially enjoy a break from the relentless touring cycle.
“It’s an interesting point, because the thing about it is, I thought it would be the end of the world, sort of like when New Order split up, I thought that would be the end of the world,” he says. “And yet, it wasn’t. In fact, it was the start of something much better. So the thing is, when you’ve had something taken away from you, it’s a bit of a shock. There’s that struggle about being unable to work, because my work is all about traveling. So yeah, I actually did not miss it at first. It was nice to be at home and be able to fucking sort out your sock drawer. And it was really nice to find out that me and the missus still got on, even when we were thrown together for a long period of time. That was a test, believe you me, and she wasn’t looking forward to it either. So the thing then was, once it settled back down, I thought ‘Oh god, this business is all about getting yourself out there.’ So, we tried to find a way to get out there.”
The lockdown forced Hook, like many other musicians, to think outside of the box, and so he and his old Hacienda pals hosted livestreams that proved to be enormously successful. As things started to open up again, Hook found that he had a backlog of gigs.
“This year has been like being in a washing machine,” he says. “It’s wild, and fantastic. At my age, maybe I shouldn’t get as excited about touring as I do. By god, it doesn’t half take it out of you. I’m sure Air Canada is out to kill me. The world may appear to be back to ‘normal,’ but it isn’t. A lot of the things that we took for granted, like moving around this beautiful planet of ours, is proving to be very difficult. But oh my god, the audiences could not be better.”
This week sees Hook and the Light perform a Joy Division set at the Ace Hotel Theatre – plush surroundings considering that post-punk band’s humble beginnings.
“If we went into the club and it had a toilet, it felt like the height of bloody luxury,”Hook says. “I remember coming back after a long time off, and I did a gig at Manchester Academy, and I went in and I was absolutely gobsmacked to find that, not only did it have a toilet seat, it also had bloody central heating. When I think of some of the shit holes! But in music, we call that paying our dues. I did that again when I formed the Light. Nobody thought we’d get past one gig so to be here 12 years later, celebrating Ian Curtis’ 40 year legacy, is absolutely wonderful and I couldn’t be prouder.”
It seems tragically inconceivable that Ian Curtis was just 23 when he committed suicide in 1980 – his life has barely gotten going. And yet he left the world with so much.
“Ian sadly had nothing out of Joy Division,” Hook says. “It was really just beginning. That’s the wonderful thing about him. The legacy that he’s left, and the joy (no pun intended) was done completely innocently. Not for money or fame. It’s a very pure thing. He was confused and ill, but I like to think the music gives people something to hang on to. There is hope. It’s about using it to get through to the next stage.”
Joy Division were on the eve of their debut US tour when Curtis died, so it means a lot to Hook that he can bring this music over here. He has particularly fond memories of L.A.
“Of course we bloody enjoy it – we come from the middle of the north of England,” he says with a laugh. “The first time I got to L.A. I was over the moon and I felt like Billy Big Bollocks. To be a group member in L.A. brings a hell of a lot more credence and kudos than in England. You try to get into a club in Manchester for free because you’re in a band and they’ll tell you to piss right off. In L.A., they’re laying out a red carpet for you.”
As we will again, sir.
Peter’s Hooks: Peter Hook & the Light performs Joy Division: A Celebration on Thursday, Sept. 8 and Friday, Sept. 9 at the Ace Hotel Theatre.
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