And Finally Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #82: Peter Hook v New New Order

By | Published on Friday 14 October 2011

Peter Hook

Back in 2007, Peter Hook announced that New Order had split. News which came as a surprise to frontman Bernard Sumner and drummer Stephen Morris, who seemingly hadn’t been consulted on the matter. Time went on, there were various disagreements in the press, and as everyone got on with other projects, it never seemed to reach any sort of conclusion.

Since then, Sumner formed a new band, Bad Lieutenant, whose debut album featured contributions by Morris. Hook also formed a new band, Freebass (which also halted in strange and confusing circumstances), but has spent the last few years mainly looking backwards at New Order and their previous incarnation Joy Division’s legacy.

In 2009, he published a book about New Order’s co-ownership of the legendary Hacienda club in Manchester, called ‘How Not To Run A Club’. Then, the following year, he opened a new venue in the city, FAC 251 – The Factory, named after the band’s former record label and situated in its old offices. One of the earliest events at the new club saw Hook and his new band The Light perform Joy Division’s debut album ‘Unknown Pleasures’ to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis.

It’s that last move which makes Hook’s angry reaction to the news that Sumner, Morris and keyboard player Gillian Gilbert (who originally left the band in 2001) will perform as New Order without him a bit confusing, given he too has been playing his former band’s songs without his former bandmates. Though he argues that he didn’t use the Joy Division or New Order names, which Sumner, Morris and Gilbert will do (well, they’ll use the New Order name) when they play two charity shows later this month (and, Hook seems convinced, when they follow those shows up with a full-on US tour). Hook says he didn’t pull the wool over people’s eyes. Not like they are. The bastards. Because New Order without him isn’t New Order, he says.

All of which led to Hook telling “I’m all the more determined to fuck New Order over in any possible way I can”, which seems a little harsh. But he goes on: “What they’ve done to me, to tour as New Order, is frankly disgusting. I don’t mind them touring as New Order, if they’d come to me and said that… but I think that people are intelligent enough to know that it’s not. New Order Mark 1 was with Gillian; New Order Mark 2 was without Gillian, and now you’ve got New Order Mark 3, which is without me. They’re different New Orders”.

As well as being annoyed over their use of the New Order name, he also seems a bit miffed they didn’t invite him to take part in the upcoming mini-reunion, although he concedes he didn’t approach them about performing at his ‘Unknown Pleasures’ gig last year. But then, he says, that was partly because “Bernard didn’t like Joy Division”.

He does possibly have a point there. Sumner never seemed too happy performing Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with New Order. It was particularly pronounced the first time they did it, when Joy Division and New Order jointly won the Godlike Genius award at the NME Awards in 2005. You rarely get to see an example of a man, or even a band, so uncomfortable with playing their own song. But they still carried on doing it throughout their latter touring activity.

Nevertheless, Hook may be right in saying Bernard Sumner isn’t that comfortable performing Joy Division songs. Very possibly not because he doesn’t like the band’s music, but because he doesn’t enjoy performing Ian Curtis’ vocals. Especially on ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, a song so iconic, and so indicative of Curtis’ uncomfortable relationship with the world that ultimately led to his suicide. Still, he did it anyway, to please the fans presumably. So it was probably unfair of Hook to assume he’d want no part in the Joy Division tribute show.

Hook has since performed Joy Division’s second album, ‘Closer’, again with The Light, and next he plans to start performing New Order’s albums – “I thought it would be fantastic to play every song I’d ever written before I retired, or before I died” he says. And, in fact, he thinks it might be that project that has irked his former bandmates, and motivated their reunion. He continued: “Supposedly they’ve been annoyed by the fact that I’ve played Joy Division and the fact that I’m going to play New Order next year”, he said. “So I think that they thought, ‘Fuck, we’d better grab it back before he gets it!'”

Still, part way through his lengthy rant Hook does have a brief moment of clarity. “Musicians are renowned for focusing on stupid, petty arguments”, he notes. “The things that Bernard and I are arguing about are absolutely fucking pathetic, and I’m hoping that some grown up will come into the schoolyard and stop it”.

Oh, but what fun would that be? Read Hook’s interview in full here.