Interview: Peter Hook on Joy Division, New Order and The Light

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Peter Hook and Jim McGuinn
Peter Hook (Joy Division; New Order; Peter Hook and the Light) with The Current's program director, Jim McGuinn. (courtesy Jim McGuinn)
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Last fall, Peter Hook came into the studio for a wide-ranging conversation with Jim McGuinn about Joy Division, his book, New Order and his relentless tour schedule with Peter Hook and the Light. It was also discovered that McGuinn shared the same birthday, February 13, so we're sharing the full transcript today.

Jim McGuinn: We're going to talk a little bit more about a few different things about Peter Hook and The Light and also I wanted to get your thoughts and memories about some of the classic songs that you've been playing with that band going back to the Joy Division and New Order Days, and I thought we'd start with the song "Transmission."

Peter Hook: You want memories about "Transmission"?

McGuinn: Yeah.

Hook: All the Joy Division songs were written very quickly. We didn't have much money and we were paying for a rehearsal room, so we used to practice for a hour on a Wednesday and then two hours on a Sunday, and the songs would come together very quickly. We couldn't record them, strangely enough, so they would only exist — which I think is absolutely cosmic is this day and age when the four members started playing them. It wasn't until quite late in Joy Division's career that we got a tape recorder. It wasn't a little tape recorder, it was a big tape recorder in those days as well — the reel-to-reel — so we couldn't record it. So most of Joy Division's first LP never existed anywhere apart from in our heads, and then obviously in our hearts when we came to play it together. "Transmission" was written very quickly. We got the riffs together probably Wednesday, then Ian would go home and do some lyrics. He came back. H wanted to write what he felt was The Power Of Radio, which was quite interesting. It did become a very big radio favorite, so he wrote it in a matter of hours. It was really weird. It was the first song when we played it — I remember playing it at a sound check at a gig called Stuff The Superstars, and it was a charity gig where about 10 bands were on — 10 Manchester groups — and we played the first time "Transmission" as the sound check, and everybody stopped while we were playing it, and it was a really weird feeling to look out and see all these people that were talking in groups and hanging around. They all stopped and looked as we were playing it, open-mouthed, and we were looking at each other going oh my god we might have something here, because it was actually written quite early — "Transmission," compared to Unknown Pleasures songs. Because we didn't put singles on the LPs it was released — I don't know if it was released after "Same Time" or something, but it was an old song for us.

McGuinn: You've been playing albums in sequence for the last few years with The Lights. How do you include the bits of chaos and spontaneity when you're stuck to a playlist?

Hook: The interesting thing is that the LPs, funnily enough, for both bands, aren't the majority of the songs. There's a lot of b-sides and a lot of extraneous bits that were left out and done for odd people, odd projects, that you can fit in, so the thing is that you play the LPs in full every time. The reason for that was that I needed a way of playing the group without pretending to be the group, because in my opinion you cannot pretend to be something that you aren't, and the thing is that I was trying to find a way of not just playing a setlist by a group because I felt that was bad and misleading the fans. So I stole the idea from Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. He was doing Screamadelica in full and the reason he was doing Screamadelica he said was because a lot of the songs that they didn't play were now his favorites. And I thought that's like Unknown Pleasures. There you go. Play the LPs in full. The other is that most people, especially with Joy Division, have only ever heard the LPs, and never heard the group play them.

McGuinn: Never came to America.

Hook: No, never made it, so the thing is that you also celebrate the art of the studio. Also, in our case, the art of the producer, Martin Hannett, who added a hell of a lot. He didn't write the songs but he certainly added a lot to the atmosphere of Unknown Pleasures and Closer. So it was a way of celebrating what he did as well.

McGuinn: Do you think that was one of the keys to what separated Joy Division from the other bands in the post-punk era? Was that the sounds that he captured?

Hook: Yeah. Martin Hannett, the producer, definitely made us lust forever because if me and Barney would've done it the way we did the rest of them, at that point in time we would've sounded like Sex Pistols, not to say that they haven't left a wonderful legacy, but it's not as evocative a sound as Joy Division. Joy Division really does have a very unique sound.

McGuinn: You would've been that second or third wave of that '77 punk.

Hook: We've lasted for 40 years, and the oddest thing about playing — it was really weird. I was talking to a young lady outside the gig in Chicago the other night, and she said to me, "I've never seen Joy Division, and I've never seen New Order, but I've seen you three times," and I thought how weird is that. You're celebrating Joy Division and New Order, and she'd seen neither. I thought that was amazing. I take it as a compliment in a funny way. She said she'd heard about the others but she didn't want to see them. Everybody has their take on it. And the thing is that from a fan's point of view I think having both has got to be better than having one. It's quite an odd thing. I know that Bernard [Sumner] finds it very puzzling that there are two bands playing the same material, but we do play them in a different way. When I'm playing the LPs in sequence and I'm playing every track, my ambition is to play every single track that both Joy Division and New Order ever wrote and recorded. I'm really up to speed. We just put in the last New Order song that we hadn't done so far, which is a song called "Too Late" that we're playing on this tour, and the only other song we hadn't played was a cover version of Keith Hudson's "Turn The Heater On," which was Ian Curtis's favorite song, and we're playing that on this tour. And then I'm happy then because every single one has been done up to that point. And then we get to Technique and Republic, which we start in September. So it's become quite artistic for me to do it, and I know that it's difficult, and I like the fact that it's difficult for the audience as well.

McGuinn: Is it difficult for you emotionally to go to this music or have you internalized it to the point where —

Hook: Getting the music together is the emotional part because that's when it's at its most evocative — the little mistakes you make and the things you have to do to get the songs to work, and teaching each other the riffs and things like that is when it's really evocative, especially as [my son] Jack looks just like me 20 years ago. And ironically when we started playing the LPs he was exactly the same age as I was for that LP the first time around, which was incredibly. He was 21 for Unknown Pleasures, 22 for Closer. As he moved into New Order he was exactly the same age as I was when I did it the first time around. It was absolutely unbelievable — a really weird coincidence. So that's why I say it's most evocative. Once you're learned to play them, you're just playing the songs. I've done that before. I've done that for many years. It's actually quite weird because it's my 500th concert as Peter Hook and The Lights on May 18th in LA playing Joy Division, which is really weird. I've actually played more concerts in eight years than New Order have done in 37 years. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. It's quite odd.

McGuinn: You have been on the road pretty nonstop for the last seven or eight years.

Hook: There was a needs must attitude to that, and I had to pay all the legal costs for the unfortunate fight, so I didn't really have a choice. But luckily I enjoy it. I always was at my most frustrated in New Order when we got this wonderful music and we couldn't play it. I was like how did I end up in this situation. I respect other people's opinions, and you do respect it, but it was like having Costco and nobody to open it for you. You just stood there with a lot of wonderful stuff around you, and you can't open the door.

McGuinn: Do you attribute that all to your fellow bandmates, or was that management?

Hook: The other band members didn't like to do what I did, which is absolutely fine. It was just unfortunate for the one that wanted to work, so it was quite weird. But you do respect it. I do think that if I had a group again in that way I'd actually say to the group, "Listen, you don't want to tour, so let's tour it without you doing it." It'd be quite grown up.

McGuinn: Another Brian Wilson?

Hook: Yeah. You stay home and we'll take it out on the road. It would be actually quite grown up because when you think about it most groups today, which there seems to be a bit of a backlash coming if I'm not mistaken, they're not really correct lineups in any way, shape or form. Fleetwood Mac is the one that has attracted a lot of criticism lately, and The Killers, of being the same thing. They're using the name and it's nothing to do with the group. It's quite an odd situation. I don't pretend to be anything other than me celebrating my music in the way that I want to do it, and it's nice to have the freedom. Being in a group is all about compromise. You never get your own way.

McGuinn: As you've learned the hard way, the bass player seldom gets to own the name.

Hook: No comment. I do own the name, actually. Funnily enough I own a quarter of the name, and it's licensed to those three so that they can use it. I'm not allowed to use it — that they can use it for them, for their career shall we say. It's a weird position to be in, but I've watched The Light grow from very small beginnings, and now it's fantastic to be back up there. It's really good. All the people that you play to are exactly the people you want to play to. They're match fans of New Order and Joy Division. I really couldn't ask for anything more. There's no part-timers in there. These are all the die-hards together.

McGuinn: I wanted to ask you about another Joy Division song, one that the bass line has always fascinated me because there's a note that feels wrong, and yet it's part of what makes the song so distinctive. I'm talking about "She's Lost Control."

Hook: I've never noticed that wrong one. You're going to have to enlighten me.

McGuinn: We should play it. There's that one low note. I think it's in the third measure?

Hook: No. What happens is that it's the riff is played on the G string with an open D, so it's a chord. [sings the riff]. So you've got the chord. So what's probably happening is that — it was done a long time ago — as your fingers are moving, if you hit the open G string, then maybe you get a clash between the G and the D.

McGuinn: Are you in a D chord?

Hook: Yeah, and because it's all chorded it wasn't until afterwards when I got to New Order that I realized it would be better to play the open string as an overdub. So on the New Order stuff if there's an open string it's played separately with the rhythm, so [sings riff]. You'd over dub that and then you won't get the clash. You can fix it so you don't get the clash. The interesting thing about Joy Division and all those songs — Disorder is the one that sounds weird to me because it's got bum notes in it, but Martin loved the take. I kept saying, "There's a bum note there, Martin," but he's going no, leave it, this is a great take, this is the one. And we did it and he put it out and he was absolutely right because nowadays with computers with cut and paste you can fix everything to your heart's content and take all the life out of it, which is what most musicians seem to delight in doing, is taking all the life out of music by continually correcting it. It was wonderful in those days to just be able to not touch it. And it led to some really interesting orders. "Blue Monday" in particular has a really weird bar length throughout it in the same way that "Thieves Like Us" does and "Subculture" does, because we had to put the sequences down, and we'd worked out what we thought was the correct length, and then when you came to put the acoustic instruments on you realized it was wrong. And you couldn't change it, so you had to fit in with what was on tape so you could afford it.

McGuinn: So you would then be going back and — would you be chopping lyrical lines and things like that?

Hook: Yeah, to make it fit. It ironically actually gave you a unique, different sound because it was wrong. People liked it because of its mistakes.

McGuinn: People certainly liked those songs you mentioned. We'll talk about Blue Monday in just a bit. Playing the catalog of Joy Division and New Order almost album-by-album as you've been going through The Light's trajectory, and it makes me wonder what's an album and a band that you wish you could see play live.

Hook: I've missed a few.

McGuinn: At any point in rock history.

Hook: I was devastated to miss Lou Reed do Berlin, which is one of my favorite records of all time. I was devastated to miss John Cale do the Velvet Underground. I've been heartbroken many times. I'm always working when they do the — Sparks I would've liked to see in particular. It works both ways though. I did see an interview — an article recently about bands playing LPs, and there was the bass player from Nirvana is playing Nevermind, and the journalist had a wonderful paragraph where at the bottom he said, "I blame Peter Hook for this." I thought I'll take that one. It seems to have certainly — I know people have done it before; not many before I started. But it certainly seems to have accelerated as an art form since then, and for Sparks to do all their albums — they did nine albums in nine days in London, which I would love to have seen. I'm a great fan of Sparks. So it has become an art form and I think the great thing is that in my humble opinion it's led to a little bit more interesting vinyl, which is having a great resurgence, and we're actually getting back to this thing where people listen to an LP as a collection of songs, as a collection of work, and music is all the better for it. I still find it immensely pleasuring to listen to my favorite LPs in full, not the odd track in a playlist the way that everybody would have us believe is the way to devour music these days.

McGuinn: When we were talking about "She's Lost Control" you brought up the song "Blue Monday," and that song was not originally on an album, but it became one of the most popular 12-inch singles of all time.

Hook: It was, yes. We never, in the early days, put the singles on an album because we felt in our own little naïve way that the fans would were being exploited and we didn't like it when people did it to us, so we didn't do it to people — a very naïve way of looking at it these days, I must admit. But it felt good for us. And it worked, and ironically it created Substance because Substance was simply done because our record company owner had a brand new Jaguar that had a CD player and there were hardly any CDs available commercially at that point, and he wanted all the New Order tracks on a CD, and then someone persuaded him to put a new track on, which was "True Faith" to finish it off, and we did that. And then we had an LP pretty much for nothing that went on to be the biggest selling record around the world and did three million of a twin vinyl in America alone. And because of the success of that he came to us and said we should do the same with Joy Division. And we did Joy Division Substance, so we got two LPs virtually for nothing that became our most popular records.

McGuinn: And you guys were also carrying Factory Records and the Club and all that, so it seemed like that was part of the plan, was to keep the finances moving for not just the band.

Hook: I do remember one of very early meetings where we had to agree to take less money for our most popular record because the record company couldn't pay us, so the solution seemed to be for us to take less money of our most popular record so they could pay us for the other unpopular records that they owed us for. I went straight to the pub after that meeting. I was like wow, that's just too much for me. Musicians are musicians not because they're great at business, and we've managed to keep that accolade going for a long time.

McGuinn: What is it about "Blue Monday"? Why do you think "Blue Monday" has continued to carry on as such an important record?

Hook: We're very lucky in that I'd like to say it's skill, talent. But I think it's sometimes in this business mainly luck. We lucked out because Rob Gretton, our manager, was very interested in new technology, and even though you couldn't even pay your gas bill at home he would find £10,000 for a synthesizer. So you could have that, but you couldn't be warm at home. Bizarre. We're talking 1983-ish. "Blue Monday" came out in '83.

McGuinn: Now those synthesizers and sequencers are on your cellphone, but at the time it was a roomful of gear.

Hook: It was incredible. Part of the thing I wanted to portray in the New Order book is that whilst we played very hard and became like an independent Motley Crue we did actually earn in my opinion because of the hard work you had to put in to make that music, which gave you that freedom to act like a complete bloody idiot. So the thing is that the synthesizers' equivalent now would cost $30,000, and you needed four of them. The sequencers were — the drum machine was £1,000. That would be the equivalent of £10,000-£15,000 now. It was cutting edge technology that didn't work, and basically all behind Linn/Moog profit — they were all American — and were using you as the experimenter. They'd do it and get it out so they could earn some money, but it wouldn't work and you'd be phoning them up and telling what to put right to make the bloody thing work.

McGuinn: You were the beta testers.

Hook: Yeah, I know. Not only us. It was quite an odd thing because to create that music you needed a lot of money. It's very middle class music, that synth dance thing.

McGuinn: Kraftwerk were nuts. Poor Kids.

Hook: No. And Kraftwerk were doing it in a completely different way. What we were using was commercially available — very small and set a bit at that time, but Kraftwerk were actually building their own, so they were true innovators of that sound, and we were using — Bernard in fact built his own synthesizer from a kit, and then built with an engineer his own sequencer so he could do — and he actually programmed it in binary code, which people would have to Google to figure out how difficult it was. So when you were doing a song that was nine minutes long like "Blue Monday," in binary code it was very difficult. It really was. If you made a mistake you had to go right back to the start every time. It was nerve-wracking. "Blue Monday" took about six months to write, and was only ever intended, because we were being anarchic and not playing encores, and everybody — there was a few riots because we didn't play encores. So we came up with the idea of using the machines that we were using on other songs to play an encore. So we programmed "Blue Monday" as the encore, the idea being that we could go off in the dressing rom and have a drink and press the button and it would play a song. What happened was that when we recorded it properly at Britannia Row Studios with our engineer, Mike Johnson, he said this is great. And the way the song came together on quite old equipment, but it sounded so fresh and so new he said you've got to put a vocal on this, you've got to do it. And we're like really? No. And I remembered the last thing that went on was the bass. I put the bass on and then Bernard did the vocal after the bass and we all sat there an wrote the lyrics together, and then it was "Blue Monday" and then we were just right on to the next one. We never envisaged for one moment the hold that it would have on people. To be voted DJ's record year after year is such an accolade, and then of course to sign to Quincy Jones's label and have Quincy. We had to force him into doing a remix of it, blackmailing literally to do a remix because he felt that you just couldn't better it. And it was like wow because the production was mainly done my myself and Mike Johnson with the rest of them chipping later when you were doing it and using Martin Hannett's ideas, basically, so yeah, it was amazing. When you hear it now it still sounds absolutely fantastic and it still fills the dance floor. I'm like what? It just shows you, the best six months work I ever did, and then you look at a song like "Transmission," which took hours. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is another song in question. It took literally two hours to write from start to finish. It's still held up as one of the best rock/pop songs of all time.

McGuinn: I read your New Order biography book and I thought it was amazing. You wrote like you had nothing to lose is what I felt reading that book. It seemed like you let it all out. What's it like for you being a writer?

Hook: It was a hard skill to learn. I started blogging in about 2003 because my manager — my DJ — I was a DJ — and my manager then at the time said I should do a blog. They're very popular. Could be the next big thing. So I started doing a blog and then read on to read, and then what happened is we did the Hacienda greatest hits CD and I was telling my friend who's a writer all these stories. He said I should put all these stories down in a book. This is crazy. And I did and it was very successful next to Joy Division. I wouldn't have done the New Order one if they hadn't reformed without me. They reformed — I think it's common knowledge — they did it behind my back and I didn't know and wasn't asked or even informed. I just thought that's it, I'm going to tell the bloody story because there are parts of it that are not nice and parts of it that are nice. Just a lot like life, really. It just shows bad relationships and good relationships and bad stories and good stories. It was a way of me clearing the decks maybe, and being able to say you've gone off now and excluded me. Exclusion is the worse kind of bullying. I think any refugee playground survivor will tell you that. To be excluded after all that work was horrible.

McGuinn: You write with such an honesty in that book, and if anybody hasn't seen it or wants to pick up a great rock book I thought it was amazingly entertaining and also the way you give praise where there's praise to be given. But you also are unsparing not just at some of your former bandmates' behavior but also your own behavior.

Hook: There was no point to not tell the truth. It seems ridiculous, and you generally always get caught out when you lie anyway. So the thing is it seemed daft to me not to warts and all the whole thing. It was cathartic. You should've it before the lawyers got it. That's a book I'd love to come out. I keep thinking maybe when I die I could release it. That would be incendiary.

McGuinn: The last word from Peter Hook.

Hook: Yes. It's very difficult. Bernard wrote his version of the truth and I wrote mine, and the thing is then it's up to people to make their own mind up where it lies.

McGuinn: Is it hard for you at all, the way the relations fell apart with the band when you're singing words he wrote?

Hook: The New Order songs were written together. Me, Bernard and Stephen [Morris] wrote the lyrics with Rob Gretton's help — our manager — right up until Technique. There were very few songs that Bernard wrote on his own. True Faith was another that he did on his own, but all the rest were group collaborations. So that doesn't feel bad at all. The thing is that I'm actually used to it now and it doesn't bother me. So Technique will not bother. I think Bernard is a fantastic lyricist. I like the way that he does it. The way that we did it schooled him to get him to the way that he did it. And what happened was that on Technique he decided that he didn't enjoy the collaboration process anymore. He wanted to do it on his own. That's fair enough. If it works it works. He still would come in and ask us for help when he was stuck or whatever, which was nice. It was his gradual tapering, and then Republic he did it all on his own, and I think that's where our tastes were exposed. It was obvious. It sounded so unlike Technique for instance, that there was an obvious change of musical taste on his part. I didn't think we'd ever get back together again after Republic. I'd actually resigned myself to forgetting it, and I was very happy in Monaco. And then for some insane reason we decided to get back together again.

McGuinn: One more album.

Hook: We didn't have to do the next album though. The next album was actually done for enjoyment — Get Ready. And Bernard and I wrote the vast majority of Get Ready alone. Stephen and Gillian [Gilbert] were busy doing other things. So it did bring us back together for that album. But unfortunately by the time we got to the next album I felt we'd clicked back to the way it was in Republic, which didn't work for me. And it wasn't making me happy. It was the end. It's always sad when any relationship sours in life, never mind in professional life. My one regret is that I couldn't walk down the street and shake the hands and say wow, didn't we have a great time and achieve so much. Can't do that.

McGuinn: So that's never going to happen anymore.

Hook: No. It's really sad. And don't forget that they feel the same about me. It's not just me saying me about them. It's them saying it about me as well. We're all agreed on that one.

McGuinn: It seems like from reading your book that you really value that experience of being in a band, and we were talking earlier about the song "Love Will Tear Us Apart," which has become such a classic song. Can you take us back to the making of that?

Hook: My idea on a group is that it's all about the group. I think that what happened was that we changed, in that it all became about the song and not the group, and I didn't agree with that way of looking. To me, you look after the members of the group. You don't go along with the producer who says, "Wouldn't it be great to leave the bass off?" There's different tastes, different ways of working. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was — again, Joy Division was so prolific. We'd come up with an idea. We were bursting with them. We'd written so few songs. When you've got very few songs it's easy to add to the catalog. When you've got 300 it's not as easy. The thing is that we were so young and energetic and fired up with what we were doing that we were coming up with an idea every rehearsal, which was an hour on Wednesday and two hours on Sunday. And we came up with "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Stephen and I wrote the drums and bass together, and Ian loved it and we did it at the end of the hour session, and he said he was going to do words to that and bring them in on Sunday. We all went out and had cheap Chinese buffet in Manchester. Sunday he turns up with his little scraps of paper in his plastic pack, and he gets it out — "Love Will Tear Us Apart." We were like wow that sounds good. Bernard did the keyboards. We got the end bit where it changed key at the end, which was unusual for us. I think we stole it off the Beach Boys. And that was it. "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Two hours.

McGuinn: Did you know that the song was that good?

Hook: No. The only thing that interested then was the next song. We were taught by Tony Wilson from Factory Records, and Rob Gretton, the next one is the one. Forget that now. Move on to the next one. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was a real enigma for Martin Hannett because he had so successfully handled all of Joy Division's songs that when he got to that one he just couldn't — he didn't know what to do with it. And he actually got banned by Tony Wilson because he was going into studios all around the north who knew him, and going oh, I've just come in to mix this. Send the bill to Factory Records. I think he remixed it something like 20 times. And in the end Tony Wilson had to phone all the studios and say if Martin comes in without tape I'm not going to pay. He just couldn't get it. It didn't feel that he ever got it.

McGuinn: In retrospect did he ever feel that way or not?

Hook: I don't know. Sadly our relationship — he became a massive drug casualty and the relationship soured with Factory, so we never found out whether he was happy with it. But there were so many mixes of it in different guises that it seemed to be the thing that he couldn't get over. And then we did work on New Order together and Movement, which was a very unhappy alliance on that record. So I don't know whether it was "Love Will Tear Us Apart" that broke the camel's back.

McGuinn: When you guys saw the words to "Love Will Tear Us Apart" did you have a clue to where Ian was at?

Hook: Yeah. The juxtaposition of the awful lyric — I would not like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" to be written out me. It's an awful lyric, and funnily enough we did a concert here. I think we were in Brooklyn and a young lady came and asked me about the lyrics after it. And you're going this is not a pleasant lyric. It's about relationship breaking down very badly. It's the music that belies the lyric. The music carries it because it's joyful and it's uppy, and it's invigorating and you don't realize how dark the lyric is. It's very insidious concept. It's a lot like Lou Reed stuff. He disguises a really dark lyric the way that Velvet Underground used to do in quite a joyous celebration of music. That's a great way of getting it through, but the lyrics are cutting on that relationship. I didn't see him for a while. All I heard was the "Love Will Tear Us Apart." I thought it was fantastic. It was funny because the equipment was so awful in those days. The only time you would hear Ian's lyrics was when you went in the studio. And you'd be like oh my god that's good. Then again, the only time I heard Bernard's guitar was in the studio because I couldn't hear it live. The only time you'd get the bass would be in the studio. And you'd go oh, that's good. Blimey. Because you could hear the throb but you wouldn't get the detail — the finer parts of it. So it was actually quite strange. Ian was fantastic because I looked at him and I just knew he meant it from the bottom of his feet to the tip of his head. There was not one part that didn't mean what he was doing. He was a wonder to be with. He's the best lead singer that I've every played with, and he was a very generous man in all — he always wanted you to have everything that he had, which, again, sadly, is unusual in the world that I work in. But he was a different kind of cookie. People look at him — I was watching — we got sent a wonderful tape on YouTube of four 6-year-olds in a group playing "Transmission," and the singer was emulating Ian. He really did have a very unique stage presence and intensity in what he was doing, and it was an absolute pleasure to stand next to him on the stage to deliver that message. It was really was, and sadly, far too short.

McGuinn: He's immortalized in this image that we have of him, and it seems like the image wasn't all; that there was more to him than —

Hook: He was very young and he got married very young and he had a child very young, much younger than I'd like my kids to be involved in either. And the responsibilities that came with that, and then to go in a group and then to get ill the way he did, and to be treated very badly for his illness, because they didn't have the knowledge. It's a controllable illness now. In those days it was uncontrollable. One of the most telling moments of all I felt was in the Joy Division documentary that Grant Gee did, they took his prescription to a present day epilepsy pharmacist and said what do you think of this. And the guy looked at it. He didn't even know whose it was, and went oh my god, this is guaranteed to kill him. Uppers and downers. This is going to really — he said, "Who is it?" Oh my god. The treatment was so barbaric in those days. Thankfully it's so much better now. So really, with hindsight, you could say it's not surprising that he suffered so badly. But what a wonderful legacy to leave the world, and he was Joy Division's greatest fan, and he would sit there and say one day we're going to play Mexico. We're going to be in Brazil and we're going to be here, and we'd be like oh my god, this is going to be great. So every time it get to one of these places — Mexico; Mexico City we played to 5,000 people. I think 4,999 of them were under 23. I'm looking and thinking Ian, we made it. I'm playing the LPs and playing the music the way that we do with the amount of heart and soul and effort that we put into it. I'm very proud of that, and very proud to look at those and think I'm sure if Barney and Steve were here they'd go wow, that's great. Because as a musician the only thing you want in the world is for your music to be heard. And Ian Curtis just wanted — he thought we were fantastic. He was so proud of Joy Division. And he didn't write the bass. He didn't write the guitar. He didn't write the drums. But he was equally as proud of us as he was of himself. In fact he was actually less proud of himself. I think he always felt that he was the weak link in Joy Division. It was us that were the thing — a wonderful even thought for him to cross his mind. So every time I get somewhere — when we get to Mongolia — we did a festival in Mongolia playing Joy Division — every time we get there I'm thinking that's for you, Ian. Go on, mate.

McGuinn: I'm going to throw something at you. Let's see how quickly you pick this up. I'm going to start with me, Peter Gabriel , Peter Tork, Peter Hook, Henry Rollins.

Hook: Sounds like a hell of a super group doesn't it.

McGuinn: Same birthday.

McGuinn: You and I have the same birthday.

Hook: When's yours?

McGuinn: February 13th.

Hook: Wow. How amazing. So yes, Peter Gabriel has the same birthday as me. It was quite interesting being in the studio with him because he'd always bring me a present. Whenever we were in Real World and it was my birthday he'd [crosstalk ] he got all our money. Whenever it was our birthday he would always bring a present.

McGuinn: And what did you get him?

Hook: Nothing.

McGuinn: Just gave him a lot of pounds for making those records, right?

Hook: He was so thoughtful. Fantastic. He'd bring me a video or he gave me a book one time all signed and everything. It was lovely. It was so embarrassing.

McGuinn: I wanted to ask you about one more New Order song that is one of my favorite bass lines of all time in rock history. It's so simple and yet it is so difficult to play because it's kind of the same line throughout the entire song, and I'm talking about the song "Age of Consent," which to me was one of the big moments in New Order when you guys first began to really merge the punk rock roots and your very rock and roll bass playing with the electronics on that record.

Hook: It's funny that you say it's the same riff, because actually the riff is very different. If it had a guitar I'd show you. It changes a lot because the chord inverts and it goes [sings riff] it goes through an open G with the other chord, which is very difficult to play. And it changes and it's got the drop down. It's a hell of a riff. It may sound deceptively simple, but it's a fantastic riff. It's funny, our new keyboard player, Martin, was telling me that he went on Spotify to listen, because we're listening to Technique and Republic getting ready, and was amazed to find that the second most popular — I think we knew which one the first one most popular New Order song, which is "Blue Monday" — but the second most popular New Order song, not far behind it — "Age of Consent." Great tune.

McGuinn: I have been corrected on the complexity of this bass riff.

Hook: I wish I had a guitar here to show you. I suppose this is where the different tastes come in. I view "Age of Consent" as our zenith, and that's what we should be working for. And yet there was a shift from that LP towards more electronic, where you part was played down. It's the most disconcerting thing in the world to do something like that, and then from then on, as you're detailing the book to watch yourself be very gently pushed out the door. Weird, weird way of working. Weird thing. I suppose you'd have to say it's mainly ego, isn't it. Ego — I did an interview the other week and they guy was saying to me, "I've seen the others play, and they play 'Age of Consent,' and it's so different to the way that you play it as Peter Hook and the Light." He said ours is more like the LP version. I just said I can't comment, can I. It's just taste, isn't it. It's just how they prefer it. Probably if they'd had their way that's how Age of Consent may have turned out. But it's quite interesting for the fans to have both ways of looking at it. Who's to say who's right and who's wrong? The thing is that to my mind you should just show respect because both of you are there. Perhaps in this day and age to be able to do what we do and especially to extract the level of wonderful way of life that we take from it, we should be thanking our lucky stars. There's so many groups out there that have got nothing, and we had our moments. As the book details, the way that we were treated and the opportunities we missed were amazing. The fact that we're still here and still have a great degree of success, both camps, is amazing. It's a great compliment to the songwriters. It has to be a great compliment to the songwriters that we're still here and still doing it.

McGuinn: Thanks for spending time with us today.

Hook: You're welcome.

Peter Hook is to hold an exhibition and auction of his wide ranging and historic collection of Joy Division and Factory Records memorabilia which, which can be found here.

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