Do you remember that incredible bassline in Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the one that sounds like a lead guitar, the one that sounds like the only thing stopping the song from hurtling into a void of self-destruction? That's Peter Hook, the man responsible for providing the rhythmic anchor in Joy Division, New Order, Revenge, Monaco and now the Light. The man's seen it all, heard it all, (probably taken it all), done it all, and lived to tell about it in a series of three excellent and wickedly funny memoirs. This year, the legendary musician is revisiting his back catalog with an incredibly ambitious gambit: playing the twin "greatest hits" albums of New Order and Joy Division (both called Substance) back to back for audiences.
Going into the interview, the Orlando Weekly was more than a little nervous due to Hook's infamous gruff-and-tough demeanor, but Peter was elated to talk about the legacies that he helped build, especially that of Joy Division. "It struck me that while I was in New Order, I never celebrated anything to do with Joy Division, none of us did. And when you're on the outside looking in, it seemed ridiculous to not celebrate Joy Division when they were getting bigger and bigger and bigger," he recalls. His recent tours with the Light have brought Joy Division's music live to a U.S. audience for the first time, and now New Order fans can hear their classic catalog in its purest form.
"We basically started playing remixes," he says of his last days in New Order. "I felt we had sort of veered away from our original concept, shall we say. So it's been nice to actually get my own way."
Any Joy Division or New Order fan knows just how important Peter's bass playing was to the sound of those groups; it was the beating, pulsing human heart at the center of their sound. "New Order's strength, in my opinion, was the counterpoint between the bass melody and the guitar melody," observes Hook. This became a point of contention in the band as he and lead vocalist Bernard Sumner struggled for creative control. This same struggle, once responsible for the dynamic spark in New Order songs like "Bizarre Love Triangle," culminated in Hook leaving New Order in 2007. Even now, it's still a sore point. "When I listen to them now, they sound like a watery version of New Order," Hook laments.
In November 2015, Peter sued his former bandmates, charging that he had been robbed of his share of the band's royalties. When asked if this had besmirched the legacy of the band, he responded, "Yes, it tainted it for me for a long time. Until I wrote the New Order book (Substance: Inside New Order), I was just convinced that everything about New Order was absolutely shit." But he says that after delving back into the band's past while writing, he realized the impact the band had on their audience.
"It's like any relationship, any love affair, any marriage. When it goes wrong it tends to dissatisfy, and the people left hurting the most are the children, or in our case, the fans."
And that, simply, is why Hook is on the road, night after night, playing these songs. Fans want to hear the music they love and Peter Hook, who finally can enjoy these songs again, is happy to oblige. "I mean really, the only thing that lasts, mate, is good music."