The biggest problem with interviewing celebrities is that they get to call the shots. Sure they want the publicity for whatever they’re selling, but the reality is that once they’re big, they know you’re willing to put up with a lot just to get the story. Which is why, every now and again, demands such as “don’t ask about the celebrity girlfriend,” come through (my personal favourite being, “don’t ask Xzibit about Pimp My Ride). However, legendary Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook is famously outspoken, having spent years refusing to shy away from a war of words with his former band mates, so it was a surprise to get sent the instruction: “Don’t mention New Order.” Luckily, it seems Hooky hadn’t got the memo.
“You know I’ve just found out that New Order are touring Australia at the same time as me,” blurts the Salford man, without any encouragement. “Ha, maybe I should pack my boxing gloves.”
The ongoing spat with his former partners comes down to them still using the New Order name, and inevitably cash, with Hooky arguing the band split, while they suggest he actually quit the group. Either way, the legal wranglings roll on. “I’m actually meeting my lawyer about the situation today,” he continues. “It’s one of those days of the really good and really bad. I’ve been finishing up my book on Joy Division, which has been a really mind-blowing experience, reliving those days. But now I’ve got to deal with this shit.”
But whatever the outcome of the current dispute, Hooky’s place in musical history is without doubt, being one of the creative forces behind two of the most important bands of the last few decades – he was a founder member of Joy Division before singer Ian Curtis committed suicide, leading the rest of the band to then reform as New Order.
And it’s those early days that the bassist is now concentrating on heralding. They’re already been immortalised in two films, both Anton Corbijn’s Control, in 2007, and 2002’s more raucus 24 Hour Party People (in which Hooky was played by Ralph Little – “while I’m not sure how many of those things happened,” says Hooky, “it got the feel pretty right”). Now, he’s building on that rediscovered popularity with both his book and an upcoming tour with new band The Light, on which they’ll be playing the album Closer (with himself on vocals), widely considered one of the 80s’ best records, in its entirety.
“Having not really played these songs for 30 years,” says Hooky, “it’s been fantastic. Songs like “The Eternal” and “Decades” and “Passover”, I had to really relisten to them as a stranger because we stopped doing all that stuff when Ian died. Having to really interpret it and approach it as a listener, it’s just made me appreciate Joy Division more than ever before.”
However, while he’s keen to keep on the Joy Division topic, with the Euro 2012 championships fast approaching, I can’t resist asking him about New Order’s “World in Motion”, which the band recorded for the 1990 World Cup. After all, it’s a song that still holds up as one of the few genuinely good football songs ever released and will inevitably soon be getting massive airplay in England once more. “You know that was actually our only number one?” he reminsces, clearly fondly. “We should have made a Christmas song, that way we could’ve got that payday every year, instead of every two or four!”
I ask if the rumour is true that other players in the 1990 squad actually auditioned for the song’s famous rap, which was ultimately done by Liverpool’s John Barnes.
“Ha yeah, a few of them had a go, like Beardsley, Gazza. Somewhere there must be a tape of Gazza having a go. I’ve got no idea how that has never been leaked!”
Peter Hook’s Closer tour visits Melbourne (Apr 12), Brisbane (Apr 13), Sydney (Apr 14) and Adelaide (Apr 16). ticketek.com.au