By Alex HudsonHow has it been to share the stage with your son Jack and have him play your old bass parts? I was very jealous at first, because obviously I wanted to play bass. But I soon realized, because of the lack of interest from the singers, that I was going to have to do it myself. I've sung many times ― I sang in Revenge, I sang in Monaco, I sang in New Order ― so it wasn't such a huge step. But with Joy Division, you're taking a lot of responsibility. The critique by many people for even attempting it is compounded by the fact that I was going to sing it. But I've enjoyed it, I have to say. It was terrifying. It still is terrifying. But I love the words, I love the songs, and I love the music. And if anything, I've actually grown to love it more now that I've been playing it. We've only been playing for 18 months, and we haven't played Closer much at all. I know we're playing Unknown Pleasures for you lot, aren't we?
That's right. It's interesting that you're doing Unknown Pleasures in Canada and not Closer. Well the reason is, hopefully we'll get to come back. So if we're good enough, people will allow us back to do Closer, which is of course what's happened in America. I'm delighted. America was always great. And Canada. The biggest gig we ever did as New Order was in Toronto. It was at the sports stadium, was it? The massive stadium. We played to 35,000 people in Toronto. So New Order had a huge audience in Canada. And I was very upset, actually, that we didn't get to go to Canada last time. I've been there DJing many times ― to Vancouver, to Montreal and to Toronto ― so I was very happy to get the band there this time.
Playing such celebrated material, how do you deal with audience expectations coming in? I don't, because my expectation is higher than the audience's. And my nerves, and my fear of getting it wrong, is much higher than the audience's. So I don't worry about that. I'm a great believer that if you do a job well, then that's as far as you can go. And people know my history. After 34 years in Joy Division, Revenge, Monaco and New Order, let's face it: when they come to see me, they do have a pretty good idea of what they're going to get. The most fascinating thing for me, playing this music, is how young the audiences are. I thought it'd be a bunch of old geezers like me. But it sounds like it's a lot of young people like you. Literally the age range is 18 to 50-odd. And when you go out there, it's not a bunch of greying old granddads. There's a lot of young people there, which is a wonderful compliment to the strength of the music and to the chemistry of the band members.
Well there's so many bands right now that seem to be influences by Joy Division. The legacy certainly lives on. Yeah, I know, thank God for that, eh? You can say that again. I've got a lot to thank Interpol for, funnily enough, haven't I? [Laughs] Interpol, the Editors, White Lies, my God. Arcade Fire in some instances. The bloody list is endless, isn't it?
Do you like hearing bands reference Joy Division? In an odd way. Because my bass playing style is so unique, if I say so myself, I'm sort of used hearing a lot of people emulate it. I hear a lot of people emulate New Order. There's a lot of bands in Manchester right now that I think sound like New Order: Ting Tings, Everything Everything, Delphic. I'm very lucky to have been in two bands that are deemed to be inspiration and also deemed to be worth ripping off, shall we say.
It's the highest compliment they can pay. I wish you could make them pay, but you can't, can you? [Laughs] Well, sometimes you can.
I hear that you're working on a Joy Division book. What can we expect from that? The reason I did the Joy Division book was because the last one that was written, which was by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade [Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis, 2006], to be honest with you, I thought got a lot of things wrong. And the inspiration came from the success of the Haçienda book. I didn't think I'd be able to do it ― to be one of you, to become a writer ― but I managed to pull it off. It was very, very hard work. I didn't think it'd be as hard. I thought you lot had an easy job. Honestly, I thought you lot had the easiest job of them all, and as soon as I came to do it, I realized how difficult that was. The thing that really surprises me about all the Joy Division books is that they're done by people who were not anywhere near Joy Division. So I'm hoping this one will put my demons to rest in the same way that the Haçienda one put my Haçienda demos to rest. I hope this book puts my Joy Division demons to rest. And then I can put my New Order demons to rest. And then I can rest.