“People always want to have a cheap shot.” Joy Division, “New Odour” and the world according to Peter Hook
“I got a lot of flak when I opened Factory’s offices as a club. I got a lot of flak when I started doing the Joy Division music again, and I expect I’ll get a lot of flak for doing the fucking book.”
The “fucking book” to which Peter Hook is referring is Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, his first-hand account of the band’s birth, life and tragically premature end. It hits stores this Thursday, 27 September, and will be supported by a book tour commencing in Manchester on October 1 – for full dates, click here.
FACT’s Kiran Sande called up Hooky last week to discuss this and life outside New Order, and found him in surprisingly wry, self-effacing, at times even pensive form. “It’s like me clearing out my metaphysical loft,” the bassist says of his memoir. “I’ve cleared it all up, made a list of it all, and it’s lot tidier than when I first went in…”
“Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? A wonderful thing that you only get afterwards when you can’t do a fucking thing about it.”
“You have to bear in mind it was finished a long time ago – it’s all moved quite slowly [laughs]. The thing is, when New Order split up in 2006, I found myself on the outside for the first time, shall we say? When I was in New Order it always felt perfectly natural and perfectly normal to ignore everything, really, to do with Joy Division. We very rarely had anything to do with it, we never celebrated anything, we never played a lot of the music, we hardly did anything. Once I was outside of that, it struck me as odd, and I thought, why do we never celebrate anything? It just seemed really weird.
“The idea for celebrating Ian’s 30th anniversary was because we’d never done anything before, and it just seemed fucking ludicrous to me, to be honest. I got the idea for playing for the album off [Primal Scream's] Bobby Gillespie, because he was playing Screamadelica in full, and it just struck me that there are certain songs on your LPs that you loved on the record, but that you never played live. And I thought it would be a challenge to play ‘em, you know? It was as simple as that.”
“Everyone was amazed at Ian’s pool playing technique.”
But what about the book?
“The book came about because – well, obviously I knew that I could do it, ‘cos I’d done the Hacienda book. And I was sick of reading books about Joy Division by people that weren’t there. It was Mick Middles’ book that finished me off, actually. Mick Middles and Lindsay Wilson’s [Reade's] book, I thought fuck, this is ridiculous, I’ll do a fucking book, d’you know what I mean? So it came out of that.
“I started it about two and half years ago and I only finished it six months ago. So it took me two years, literally I sat down with partner, Andrew, and we did about 46 hours’ worth of interviews, over a few days. Me going over and over everything I could think of. Andrew collated it all for me, and then I started writing the book. I did this one quicker than the Hacienda book – the Hacienda book I must’ve re-written at least a hundred times. And with this book, I probably only re-wrote it about 80 times. So I’m getting better – by the time I get to the New Order book, I should be whizzing through it [laughs].
“I was sick of reading books about Joy Division by people that weren’t there.”
Did the memories come easily, and perfectly formed? Or was there a lot of head-scratching, a lot of piecing together of loose strands and fragments?
“Well, there were a lot of things that were jumbled up, and to be honest with you there a lot of things that have clarified recently. It’s only now that I’m like, ‘Ah fuck, now I remember!’. Too late, you know what I mean? So there are a few things like that I’ve only now got to the bottom of, shall we say. There are also a few things I’ve since remembered that I now wish I’d put in the book.
“For example, I remembered how Ian used to played pool: he always used to play pool with one fag in his mouth, one hand with the fag, and he always used to hold the queue with one hand, right, and he’d just blam it off the table with one hand. He used to play pool like he used to dance on stage. He’d be running around the fucking pool table – I only remembered this recently, and thought it would’ve been fucking great in the book – and, amazingly, he was really good at it. He’d whack it like a madman and the fucking thing would go in. Everyone was amazed at his pool playing technique. So there are a few little things like that…I might have to do an addendum for the paperback [laughs].”
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