Having toured Joy Division's albums in full, Peter Hook has now moved on to New Order's first two LPs, Movement (1981) and Power, Corruption & Lies (1983). Along with his band the Light, Hook will be performing these albums on tour in North America in the coming weeks, and the iconic bassist answered Exclaim!'s call to discuss the decades-old material and open up about his rocky relationship with his former bandmates.
Speaking on the line from Dublin, Ireland, Hook talks fondly about these early New Order albums, likening the experience to a phoenix rising from the ashes following singer Ian Curtis's death and the end of Joy Division.
"We really had to find ourselves again, and learn how to write music, and we all had to learn how to write vocals, because Ian had done such a great job without our help," Hook remembers. "The music writing was easy. The vocal writing was very difficult. [Producer] Martin Hannett in particular was not fond of our vocals. I think he felt that he'd been cheated by Ian's death, and he did take it out on us."
Movement's conception was strained, and the members' opinions about the record have been mixed over the years. Now, in hindsight, Hook enthuses in his thick Manchester accent, "I absolutely adore it. It's fantastic to play. It's really strong, musically, and now that I've got the confidence to sing the vocals with a bit of aggression, for me, it actually sounds better than ever."
He speaks with similar fondness about New Order's sophomore effort, Power, Corruption & Lies, noting that his arrangements with the Light preserve some of the quirks and flaws of the original versions.
"The interesting thing about the recording process is, because once you recorded the backing track you couldn't change it, there are some very unusual orders — no pun intended — in New Order's music," he reflects. "A lot of the sequenced songs have 14 bars, 13 bars, 11 bars, seven bars, whereas normally they're all in twos. That gives it a quite unique and very interesting sound, and we've copied that from the record, because I noticed that, in New Order before we broke up in 2006, we fixed everything. I've actually taken great delight in taking it back to its stage before we fixed it."
While Hook repeatedly emphasizes his love of the material, his voice becomes more serious when discussing his drawn-out disagreements with his prior bandmates, who have since reformed without him.
"I'm still seeking a legal remedy to it," he says matter-of-factly. "I don't agree with what they did, I certainly don't agree with the way they did it. I thought it was sly and underhanded, and I take great exception to them pretending to be New Order. I really do. They've licensed the name, and, in my opinion, they're as much New Order as I am Joy Division."
He likens the split to a divorce, with the members battling over custody of the children — in this case, the songs. These bitter inter-band struggles will factor heavily in Hook's in-the-works New Order memoir, which will follow his prior books about the Hacienda and Joy Division.
"I notice [singer] Bernard [Sumner]'s doing one [a New Order Book] as well now, which made me laugh," Hook says. "Y'know what he'll be doing soon is playing the LPs in full." More amicably, he goes on to add, "I can't wait to meet Bernard to ask him he's doing with his book, because I'm finding it very difficult, with all of the problems we went through as a band."
But despite Hook's ongoing spats with his former collaborators, the conversation eventually returns to his enduring love of their music and a discussion about this year's outtakes album Lost Sirens.
"One of the loveliest things about Lost Sirens is that when I listened to it, it actually reminded me of the good things that we did together. All this bickering and this talking through lawyers crap, which is a fantastic way of wasting money that only fat old rock stars can do — to listen to the music and then think, 'Oh my God, we used to have some fantastic moments together.' We actually did create some wonderful things."
See Hook's updated tour schedule below.
09/07 Bridport, UK - The Electric Palace
09/08 Bristol, UK - Bristol Fleece
09/10 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
09/11 Ferndale, MI - The Magic Bag
09/13 New York City, NY - Webster Hall
09/14 Philadelphia, PA - The Trocadero
09/15 Chicago, IL - Riot Fest (Joy Division set)
09/17 Austin, TX - The Belmont
09/18 Montreal, QC - Club Soda
09/19 Toronto, ON - The Hoxton
09/21 Los Angeles, CA - Fonda Theatre
09/23 Vancouver, BC - Venue
09/25 Seattle, WA - Neumos
09/26 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
09/27 San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine
09/28 Denver, CO - Gothic Theatre
09/30 Mexico City, Mexico - Auditorio Lunario