Ever since party ways with New Order, Peter Hook been revisiting his past in the company of his new band The Light, touring the entire Joy Division catalogue and the first couple of NO records to rave reviews from all over the world. He returns to Ireland next week for a show as part of the Bulmers Live At Leopardstown series, prompting us to ask him what we might expect this time around…
“We’ve been playing the records in full at most of our shows which I really enjoy doing. But at festivals and other gigs like this one we have been asked to mix it up a bit and make it all a bit more festival friendly shall we say. So at Leopardstown we will be playing a set of Joy Division tracks that draws from the whole back catalogue, not just one album. I’m looking forward to it”.
Having done every Joy Division song there was, and a previously unheard tune to boot, has singing Ian’s lyrics given you any insights into the man?
Yes, lots and lots of new thoughts about Ian have popped into my head since I have been doing it. Back when were in Joy Division, our equipment was so poor that we had to play so loud just to be able to hear ourselves, and this meant that we never heard Ian. I had no idea just how amazing his lyrics were until I came to sing them myself. Some of them just blow me away.
Did you read his lyrics before you started singing them this time out?
I locked myself away and read them all. It was quite cathartic to do it and it really made me realise what a genius Ian was and really appreciate what a way he had with words. It is essentially poetry that was then put to music, remarkable.
Aside from the work with NO, Monaco, Revenge and the Light, you’ve also collaborated with loads of artists. Is there a Peter Hook solo album in there somewhere? A load of acoustic numbers maybe?
There is definitely another album in me. I would really like to release new material with the lads as The Light. They are already kicking around some great ideas so it’s just a matter of finding the time to sit down and go through it all and then go in the studio. It’s really difficult because we tour so much but hopefully we can get into it soon.
Do you prefer to collaborate than to work alone?
Working alone is nice because it allows you a free reign and you can then do exactly what you want. But then again it is always nice to be collaborating with other people because they can then suggest things and point out new aspects or ideas that you would never have been able to get on your own. So I would say a bit of both really.
I was in a Joy Division tribute act for years. If you were playing a set of cover version, the songs that influenced you, what would they be?
The Stranglers, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Lou Reed, John Cale and the Velvet Underground. It would be a very whacky set but a great one.
Were there any bassists that influenced you? Was there any band that Warsaw wanted to emulate more than any other back in the seventies?
Warsaw were not really trying to emulate anyone really, we were just four young guys who had just got our first instruments and were basically just having a great time learning how to play. As for bassists that influenced me I would definitely say Paul Simonon of The Clash and JJ Burnel from the Stranglers, both in terms of sound as well as style.
Legend has it Joy Division hated the sound of Unknown Pleasures, is this true? And how do you feel about the sound of it now? Thirty something years later, it still sounds like it’s from the future.
Yes that is true, when we heard it we were very unhappy with Martin’s work on it in terms of the sound. This was because Joy Division live sounded nothing like that at the time and we were very loud and brash, we loved the Sex Pistols and we were punks, so we wanted our record to sound like that and it didn’t! But now looking back as a more mature person I can see that we were so totally wrong and in fact what Martin gave us with that production was a true gift because that album really has stood the test of time. I wish I could thank him.
Speaking of legend, have you seen any of the films about that time, and what do you think of myth being portrayed as fact? Such as Stephen playing drums on the roof for hours. That never happened, did it?
That did happen! That one is 100% true about the drums on the roof. I must say on the whole both films Control and 24 Hour Party People are very accurate. Obviously they are very different in that Control is at times very serious while 24HPP is more of a comedy, Carry On up The Factory as I like to call it.
Sometimes it seems like it’s a case of “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”….
That was one of Tony Wilson’s favourite sayings! So yes I guess there could also be a sense of that.
To the outsider, Factory records looked like the ultimate record label. Artists owned their music, the art direction was impeccable, the music was terrific. What was it like on the inside?
The atmosphere surrounding Factory was always very positive, it was a great thing to be a part of. Tony was a visionary and no other labels were doing what he was doing. Yes it’s true that he made mistakes, as we all did, but that only adds to the legend.
What are you currently listening to? Any new music floating your boat?
I listen to a lot of dance music these days as well as bands. And then I also listen to lots of other stuff through my kids. Our house is always playing all kinds of different music.
Peter Hook and the Light play Leopardstown on Thursday 10th July.