Arts

Let there be Light: Peter Hook on 'New Odour'

Former Joy Division and New Order bassman Peter Hook will play a rescheduled Belfast gig in March. He spoke to David Roy about re-isiting the Low Life and Brotherhood LPs live with The Light and his putting his lawyer's health at risk with his upcoming New Order 'tell-all'

Peter Hook & The Light will play The Mandela Hall at QUBSU in March

HI PETER, you've been working your way through the Joy Division and New Order catalogues in an attempt to play every recorded song live. What's it been like revisiting Low-Life (1985) and Brotherhood (1986) recently?

It's strange, because every time we move on to do a new record, I discover so much.

You don't really listen to your own records so then when you have to go back and transcribe them in order to play the songs live, which you have to do in great detail, all of a sudden you are thrown right back to the moment when you first made them – good or bad.

I must admit, Low-Life (which includes classic single The Perfect Kiss) was pretty good. Brotherhood wasn't so good – it was getting a bit fractious between us then.

What's quite odd is that my son Jack plays bass in The Light and he's the same age as when I did them in the first place. It's been like that with every record that we've done actually – it's been really strange.

But it's nice. I mean, these songs are really great if I do say so myself – there's not one duffer among them, which is something we can't say for a lot of modern records.

Presumably the last time most of the songs on these records got a live outing was back in the 80s. Can you remember?

I actually checked Setlist.fm about that: so, for example, I know that Way of Life and Broken Promise (both from Brotherhood) hadn't been played for 26 years before we first did them with The Light.

We did keep playing Sunrise (a Low-Life stand-out) for a little while until Barney (Sumner, New Order singer) got a bit p*****-off with Gillian's (Gilbert, New Order keys) guitar playing and sacked it.

But it's such a great tune, I love that we're playing that one again.

How do you view this pair of New Order LPs in particular?

They're very evocative records, these two. They do capture that mid-80s feel very very well. And they capture a lot of New Order at our independent peak – I think by the time we got to Technique (1989) we were very smooth.

I mean, Technique is a great record, but we weren't as edgy or taking as many chances as when we were still very punky in our attitude to writing music.

Stuff like Broken Promise, Way of Life, Weirdo and Paradise are a bit like Movement (1980's very Joy Division-sounding New Order debut) to be honest. You have to be really on it with each other to pull them off, it's the interplay between the instrumentalists that's the tough part.

You've got to be pretty rehearsed, which I probably think is why New Order were a bit s*** most of the time – because we never bloody used to rehearse!

One thing that helped us when we were making those albums was that we'd started using Japanese-made Yamaha gear that was so much more reliable than the American stuff we'd been using previously.

You can really hear that Yamaha electronic sound on the second side of Brotherhood and when I first listened back to the record I did think to myself "ooh, these sound really dated."

Me and Barney were fighting like f*** in the studio – which was in Ireland, actually, at Windmill (U2's studio) – because he wanted Brotherhood to be all electronic and of course I wanted it to be all rock as a reaction.

But when we rewrote them to play live with The Light, they actually really took on a life of their own. They sound great now – we do a very very good job, I must admit.

I'm very proud of these boys. In fact, sometimes it sounds so good I really do wish they had actually written them with me. But it's the very chemistry that makes great music that tears bands apart – so maybe it's a good thing they didn't.

Any more word on your upcoming book about New Order, Power Corruption and Lies?

The lawyer has just recovered after reading it, I think we're going to have to get him on an ECG and jolt him back to life!

He gave me a big long list of things I couldn't say, which was heartbreaking to be honest: I'd been sat there thinking to myself, "right: what goes on tour goes in Hooky's book, definitely, straight in, chapter one".

But the thing is that you can't always get what you want. And it's still really good, I must admit.

Supposedly it's going to be released on October 16. It's over 1,000 pages and it really goes into a lot of detail, which I was very happy about – because when I read Barney's book (Chapter and Verse, published last year) I was really shocked.

He never gives you and insight into how he writes, which was such a great waste because he is such a wonderful musician on guitar, keyboards and vocal.

Thirty years of New Order were condensed into 100 pages – and 60 of those was him calling me a bastard!

:: Peter Hook & The Light, Thursday March 31, The Mandela Hall, QUBSU, Belfast. Original tickets still valid for rescheduled date.

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