Spinning Platters Interview: Peter Hook

by Dakin Hardwick on September 12, 2011

Peter Hook performs at Mezzanine in San Francisco last year. Photo by Jonathan Pirro

A few weeks ago, Spinning Platters had the pleasure of chatting with Peter Hook, the legendary bass player for Joy Division, New Order and Monaco, as he prepares for his upcoming North American tour. (He is coming to Mezzanine in San Francisco on Saturday, September 17th) This conversation happened about a week before it was revealed that New Order were recording and touring again without Hook. Instead, Hook is bringing his ace band The Light around the states to perform the classic Joy Divison record Closer in it’s entirety, as well as other key tracks. We did get to discuss the tour, the general response to the gigs from people close to Ian Curtis, the Joy Divison vocalist that passed away 21 years ago, and about other projects in his plate.

Now that you have been doing Joy Division songs (with The Light) for about a year, have audiences responded differently?


Well, it’s really only been a year, and it’s been great. A lot of people have said negative things on message boards, but everyone that actually comes out to the shows has had a good time.

Have Natalie or Deborah Curtis (Ian’s daughter & his widower) seen The Light yet? What do they think of the project?

They were invited to the shows, but neither of them have seen us yet. I was surprised to find that Annick (Honore`, Curtis’ mistress) saw us in Manchester, and she said that it was really good. Bernard also came to a show, and he told the sound guy that it was alright, but didn’t come back to to say hello.

You are currently about to release your 2nd book. What inspired you to start writing now?

Well, my first book (The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club) had a lot of compliments, which I happily recieved because it took a lot of hard work and effort- 3 years effort. As for the Joy Division book, I’m about halfway done with it or so. I probably have another 6 months or a year on it, and it should be out by next September I would think. In a weird way I’m enjoying it. In a masochostic way. It’s a lot like picking a scab

You are one of the few bass players that are thought of before the guitarist in a band. How did you develop you unique playing style?

Well, when I used to play low, you couldn’t hear it, because our equipment was so bad, so I had to play high, because I had a bad amplifier. When I played high, Ian Curtis in particular loved it. And whenever we’d come to write, he’d always say “Play High! Play High! Sounds Better Play High!” And then we’d come up with another high bass riff like “She’s Lost Control” and he’d go “Bernard play some guitar on it. Stephen, Play some jungle drums!” And there you have it, Joy Division! It sounds pretty easy when you think of it that way, doesn’t it?

I honestly never thought that Ian had that much control over the arrangements in Joy Divison

He was the spotter. We played, and he’d say “That Sounds Great!” Because he didn’t have any recording equipment, most of what he’d compose would be in his head because we didn’t have a tape recorder. I guess now that would be quite shocking, but that’s the way things were done then. He was very instrumental, no pun intended, in developing our sound, and when he passed away, it was like we were literally starting from scratch.

The Warsaw Album. Is that ever going to get official release?

Well, seeing as it was stolen from me… I’d be delighted, so if you ever find out who took it let me know. But, I don’t know. I’m right in the middle of investigating it. It’s very, very frustrating. It was stolen from my private collection from either an associate or a friend, and I’d love to know who it was. I can’t find out, because as soon as they grabbed hold of it, they started selling it. If it was just a gig tape, I’d be happy with that getting out, because that happens all the time. The fact that somebody stole this from my private collection, copied it, and is selling it, I find absolutely disgusting, and I’ll do my level best to find who stole it.

So, does that mean the masters are simply not around?

I had it for 34 years. I tried to get the band to release it and they wouldn’t let me. So, I had it out at a Joy Division exhibition, and somebody stole it, copied it, and then sold it to a bootlegger.

Would you consider doing the Warsaw sessions live with The Light?

(Laughs outloud) That’s an interesting question. The music is so punky, in a wonderful way, so simple, so passionate, and quite corny, because we were just aping other punk bands. We literally copying other punk bands that we would see. I don’t think that it was great music, but I think that it’s a great document of how a band starts. And how a band evolves. It’s a weird one- I’d consider it, just to put a lid on it. You wouldn’t say they were great songs, would you?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

racecar September 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

I had a great time at the show in NYC. The set list was amazing and they sounded great live, my favorites were Isolation, Heart & soul, Decades, & Atmosphere.After the show I was Lucky enough to go backstage and meet Peter Hook and took some pictures and got some autographs.

Here is the pic of the Venue

joonbug.com/media/soudKj9gPiF/peter-hook-001.jpg

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Here is a pic of the setlist.

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Here is Hook signing some autographs for me.

joonbug.com/media/vZFEhXYLQB8/peter-hook-009.jpg

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This is a little souvineer that I bought for myself at the show for $20, which is not bad at all, usually they are $30

joonbug.com/media/uAs9fMYpFNL/peter-hook-030_.jpg

Sorry that I could not take any pictures during the show, because my camera sucks in the dark.

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