Peter Hook interview September 2007


This interview with Peter Hook was conducted by Dave Haslam in September 2007 at Peter’s home, around the time the film ‘Control’ was about to be released, and some of it was used in an XFM podcast. It appears here for the first time in a raw, unedited form. Students, journalists etc; please acknowledge the source ( of any quotes taken from here.

So, when you are out and about DJing around the world, you must come across Joy Division fans all over?

Erm, yes sometimes it does surprise me. What always makes me laugh is that we never did t-shirts for Joy Division and yet everywhere you go in the world you see Joy Division t-shirts. We actually got fined by the taxman once because he wouldn’t believe us that we didn’t do them, he said “Well I see them everywhere so I’m fining you accordingly.” Which he did do. Everywhere you go you see these Joy Division t-shirts and they’re not ours.

How do these people explain their devotion, what is it about the band that makes the appeal travel all round the world?

I don’t suppose its about the band really is it, it’s about the music. And the thing is that I suppose luckily – which is purely by fate, it wasn’t by design – the music has lasted. And the thing is what I do, when I get a piece of great music is that I play it to people that I think will appreciate it. So what you’ve got is people playing Joy Division tracks to each other because they think that their friends will appreciate it, it perpetuates all the time.

It does amaze me sometimes; my daughter was telling me that when she went to university that when the girls all meet up in the dorm they help each other you know, get the rooms ready, it’s part of the thing, and she said she went in with this girl from Ireland who was putting her posters up and said “Will you give me a hand putting my posters up?” and my daughter went in with this girl and she was putting her Joy Division poster up on the wall and my daughter went “Oh my dad’s in that band” and this girl went “You WHAT?!!” and she went completely to pieces, and yet my daughter was like “What’s the big deal, it’s just me dad you know!” And I suppose it’s because people like me don’t appreciate the effect that music like that can have on other people, and like my daughter won’t appreciate the awe that someone might hold because to her it’s just her dad, you know, the daft bugger who’d lies in bed on a Sunday morning reading a paper, you know.

The fact that it’s got longevity, it just happened. It was the perfect example of chemistry between four people creating something that’s lasted. And I suppose one of the wonderful things about it is that none of us wanted that; it just happened.

And the other thing is that people talk about Joy Division being a Manchester band, but there’s people who’ve never been to England, never been to Manchester, can still really relate to it. It’s that international thing, I know someone who was born near a beach in Venezuela and she can hardly speak English, but “Joy Deebizzeeon” is like her favourite ever band.

Well I don’t know what it is, I didn’t go into it knowing what I was doing, I think if I’d known what I was doing I probably wouldn’t have done any of it to be honest. I think you just did it because you had to do it; that does sound quite bizarre, but the way that people like me write music is by not knowing what they are doing, they just go in and do it. You know, I watch Mani do it, I watch Andy Rourke do it, they just do it, and that is quite weird. But it’s something that we take for granted you know, and you don’t think, “I’m going to write a piece of music now that lasts for thirty years” you just don’t do that you know, and when you was sat in TJ Davidson’s rehearsal studio, it was just an old warehouse! Freezing your balls off, you didn’t really think that the song that took you two hours to write would last for 30 years you know. You just don’t do you?

And obviously the other thing is that you would never have envisaged is the films that have been made. ’24 Hour Party People’ and now ‘Control’, are you sort of getting used to this?

Well we haven’t had that many! It’s a great compliment, isn’t it? I mean and it’s an even greater compliment that someone’s making a film about you while you’re even alive! It’s weird, it’s just odd. It is odd, I mean I’m going down to London tomorrow for the premiere of ‘Control’, and I’ve seen it three times now, I did a presentation for it and DJ’d after the Athens premiere and it’s funny how much it still affects me even though I’ve seen it. Anton’s managed to tune it into to me as well which I find quite odd. You know, ’24 Hour Party People’ I could take as it was – it was a bit like reading a comic book version of events – but when I watched ‘Control’ its more tuned in to me, it upsets me every time, and I didn’t expect that someone would get that, but Anton’s managed to do it, which is strange. But no, it’s funny. I mean, one of the great things about my job is that it’s really wacky, and really unusual things happen to me all the time and that’s great! And I love it for that, and this is just another aspect of when I picked up that guitar in 1977, you know, it’s led me to this.

And when you picked up the bass guitar did you have an idea that you were going to, I mean the way you play bass, and I’m not a musician at all, but the bass plays a much bigger part in the Joy Division sound, you know it’s kind of the main melodic instrument in a lot of the songs in a way that you don’t get in punk…

I know, I was lucky there, wasn’t I?!

What was the genesis of that Hooky bass style?

Well, it came about through necessity really, because Bernard’s amp was so loud that I couldn’t hear myself play in the rehearsal room, and the only way I could hear myself play was to play high on the bass because that cut through and you could hear it. And Ian just picked up on it and said “That sounds really good when you play high and he plays low chords, rhythm or block chords” or whatever, and it was through that discovery that he did ‘She’s Lost Control’ and ‘Insight’ and ‘Twenty Four Hours’, they were all done like that. And it was mainly down to him hearing something that he liked. I mean that was Ian’s role really; that he didn’t write music but that he heard it and he would stop us and go “That was really good that, really good” you know, and “Do that and you do that” and “Steve, out some drums to this like you do on the other one” and you know it was like that, he was like the orchestra leader, which was why when he did go, you know it left us floundering a lot, trying to find our way really because we didn’t have someone orchestrating it, I suppose.

Did you audition other singers for the band that you and Bernard were in before Ian came along, and what was it about Ian that got him the job?

Yeah, it’s funny this because I was watching the Joy Division documentary recently, which is called ‘Joy Division’ and our American manager’s done it which is an amazing thing because I’d never heard Bernard talk about Joy Division, and Steve because they just don’t, we just don’t, unless we’re doing interviews and to watch them talk about it in great detail as they do on the Joy Division documentary is quite interesting, it’s a perfect counterpart to the ‘Control’ film funnily enough.

Bernard says that Ian phoned up to be the singer which I don’t remember. I remember it that we used to bump into Ian all the time when we were out, and punk bands were – or our idea of a punk band – one guitarist, one bass player, one drummer, one singer – and we didn’t want to deviate from that. So we had a guitarist and a bass player, and Ian’s band had a guitarist and a drummer, which meant that we couldn’t get together because we had the guitarists in the way, you see. So we were talking about the bands for quite a while and it wasn’t until Ian’s guitarist had left that we could talk about getting together, which was how I had thought we had got together. Bernard remembered it completely differently, which was quite spooky!

And we got together then, when Ian’s band lost their guitarist, and we went to join up but we lost the drummer on the way so Ian joined Bernard and I, and then we didn’t audition a few drummers; we asked a few mates and that didn’t work out, a kid we used to go to school with called Mike Gresty, he was the one we wanted to sing but he wouldn’t do it – he was too shy – and we put an advert in a record shop in town and got a few adverts – we had a hippy from Chorlton that we went and met, but with none of them, nothing came of it and Ian sort of filled the gap quite quickly I thought.

And what was it then about him that made it happen? Obviously it was when you first met him, did you see him play? Did you know he was going to be such a brilliant live performer, write lyrics like that, there must have been something about him?

No, we’d never seen him, we just felt that you could get on with him. You felt that he was like you. I never heard Ian’s lyrics until we went in the studio to do ‘Unknown Pleasures’, all I heard was “mmaaaaggnnnnmmnn”!! but he seemed to say it in such a way that it fulfilled what you wanted out of the group! I’d never heard Steve’s drums, all I heard was “wwwwwooofffffmmmmmnn” behind me, which I thought was great. You know, we hadn’t heard each other ’til we got in the studio, but I think that you felt and you knew that something was right.

I think I’ve got a handle on the name change from ‘Warsaw’ to ‘Joy Division’ but I’m still in the dark a bit about ‘The Stiff Kittens’.

No, what happens was, we got offered the gig supporting The Buzzcocks and we were in between names then, we couldn’t decide on a name. We had ‘Slaves Of Venus’, no actually to be honest with you, I can’t remember what names we had then, I don’t think we had many then; in fact, the ‘Slaves Of Venus’ was an alternative to ‘Joy Division’, after ‘Warsaw’ – I can’t remember what we were doing but we couldn’t make our minds up and we didn’t know what we were going to call ourselves, and Richard Boon wanted to get the posters done, and he was going “You’ve got to give us a name” and we were going “Right right right” but just couldn’t think of one. So we kept throwing it about and couldn’t agree on it and in the end he got so fed up that him and Pete Shelley came up with the name ‘Stiff Kittens’ and they gave us that name, which we of course hated. It was bound to happen, wasn’t it?

Obviously once you started playing live the chemistry between the four is obvious, but also something kind of big happens, and Ian’s performance was obviously amazing, and Bono is quoted as saying that ‘In his time Ian was by far the best frontman in the world’, you know, there was something about that performance that was breathtaking, wasn’t there?

Yeah, I think it came as much of a surprise to us as it did to anybody really. We never talked about it, one of the weirdest things about our whole musical history is that we never talk about what we were going to do, you know, we just did it. And we never said ‘Oh you know Ian, you should do this’ – we never did, it just came naturally. To him, we didn’t discuss it, he never told us what he was going to do or anything like that, you know. It wasn’t important, the important thing was writing music and getting gigs. We never thought about how we were going to look when we got there; I mean you did with your clothes and stuff but you never thought how you were going to act on stage, you didn’t think about it. So it was as much of a surprise to us I think as it was to Ian when he did it, you know, when his style came about. But it was fantastic, you couldn’t ask for anything more but it wasn’t planned. He never orchestrated it or choreographed it, he just did it.

So you’re kind of lucky you didn’t have that conversation – “We should do it like Kraftwerk…”

No, the only actual one conversation we had to do with anything image-wise was the one when we all decided we were going to dye our hair blond. This was really early on in Warsaw days, and we all went home thinking it was a great idea, and then came back to the next rehearsal and there was only me that was blond. The bastards hadn’t done it.

That kind of post-punk moment, obviously you’d described yourself as a punk band and Steven remembers seeing the advert for ‘Drummer Wanted – Punk Band’ but at what point did you think there’s a world beyond ‘bang bang bang Sex Pistols-type punk’?

I never thought about it, our music developed as it developed and it was funny because I didn’t put much thought into it, it just came quite naturally and when I was watching Bernard on the documentary he said that we were “emulating bad punk”. And I don’t remember that, I just remember writing some tunes! And they were shit, and they were punk, but I don’t remember emulating anybody while doing it, it was just what you did, and what happened was, as you got better and better your music grew and I suppose I don’t know whether that would be luck or skill. (laughs)

A song like ‘Digital’ is sort of half way between the more punky numbers and that ‘Unknown Pleasures’ sound isn’t it?

‘Digital’ is a very unusual song isn’t it? The thing about Joy Division songs that I now appreciate is like when I look at a song like ‘Isolation’ or I look at a song like ‘Digital’ or I look at a song like ‘Glass’ – they’re pretty different to most people’s music you know. ‘Digital’ has got a fantastic bass riff, and most people in most bands would kill for a bass riff like that. We were very lucky in that we had loads of bass riffs like that. (laughs) ‘Digital’ is a very unique tune. You listen to it and go ‘Wow. Phew. That’s pretty amazing that’ and considering how early on in our career it was written.

The change from when we were emulating punk to writing distinctive music that has turned out to be timeless was actually quite short, it was like, six months. Or nine months, or a year at the most. You were doing ‘werwerwerrrrrrr’ to ‘Transmission’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and it’s unbelievable, the rest of your time, twenty-five years you’ve spent trying to emulate those songs. “Oh let’s write one like ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, dead simple” and it’s impossible to do, it’s very, very difficult to write simple, fast songs.

And ‘Digital’ was the first time you were in the studio with Martin, is that right?

Yeah, with Martin was the first time we recorded properly, I suppose you’d say, was ‘Digital’ and ‘Glass’

And what did he bring to the recordings?

We could write the music but we couldn’t make it sound good, you know, and when we’d demo’d before it just sounded awful. Mainly because you didn’t have anyone who loved it, it could have been down to the music I don’t know but it just sounded rotten. So you didn’t have the skills to produce it. I think when you write the music you think you’ve got everything, but that isn’t true. The thing is that we didn’t know how to record music. Martin did. And as he said in that interview in that I was listening to – this band were a gift to him because the music was fantastic. I mean, if I was a producer and someone said ‘Do you want to produce this band?’ and played me tunes like that I’d go ‘Oh what? This is fantastic!’ That’s a great thing to get and I suppose he was in the right place at the right time as well.

And obviously there was a connection with Factory in those early days, but then come early ’79 there were other labels around, what made you decide to go with Factory and record an album?

Because Rob told us to do it! (laughs) It’s funny because I was reading that quote about Tony when he said “We made Art, darling, not money” because if he’d told everyone at the start that they were going to make art not money, they’d have all gone “Oh piss off!”. You know; we were going to go with someone who would make money. We all wanted to be successful, that’s one of the main reasons you do it. But Rob just weighed up the pros and cons, and the thing was that signing as we were going to do which was to Radar we would have lost a lot of freedom and also lost a lot of control – no pun intended – and Rob decided not to give that up. He’d met Tony, we’d done the Factory sample, obviously he felt that that had gone well.

Rob was very much able to look at the overall picture where as we weren’t because we were so closely involved with it, and he just made the decision to do it. It’s quite simple maths really, because on Factory you could sell ten thousand albums and you’d make ten thousand pounds, if you were Siouxsie and the Banshees on Polydor as they were, to make ten thousand pounds you’d have to sell three hundred thousand albums. So that meant that instantly you were on the back foot, you couldn’t take it at your own pace, you had somebody telling you what to do, and you had to do it a different way, you couldn’t survive. So we were lucky in a way because it enabled us to survive quite easily by selling only a few records so you didn’t have to compromise.

And were you put on wages?

All this bit gets a bit shady because I remember us going full time after Buzzcocks, I remember us getting nine pound a week or something and Ian got more because he had a baby, I think he was on thirteen and we were on nine, and it stayed that way for a long time. We never really made any money up until Ian died, and then when Ian died we had the Hacienda so we never made any money again. So it was quite an odd thing, when I was thirty-odd I was on a hundred pounds a week, so we were never, I suppose what you’d have to say is ‘spoilt’. We were removed from that side of it, the financial side of it really, we just carried on doing what we were doing as well as we were doing it and there was no money coming in.

What may be hard for people to get a handle on about Joy Division is that even though you are a legendary group with iconic songs, the actual scene and the network in 1980 it was a small world wasn’t it, the gigs weren’t stadium gigs you know, in a sense you kind of think of bands like the Kaiser Chiefs now in many ways seem like a bigger band.

Well yes, I suppose, it’s funny though because The Killers selling out Manchester Evening News Arena and when I went to see The Killers at the Manchester Evening News arena they didn’t seem big enough to fill it, to me. They didn’t act like a big band, they still seemed like you should be seeing them in the Academy, it was quite an odd feeling. I can’t remember what Joy Division, what our gigs were like, when we finished there were like, two hundred, three hundred people – the biggest crowd we played to was at Futurama festival and we were on at something like two o’clock in the afternoon, something like that. That was the biggest crowd, about a thousand people.

It’s kind of a hard thing for people to get their heads around…

We’re as big as any band has ever been now, which is quite odd, it’s quite an odd thing. We were very much a well kept secret really. I think I’d only been abroad twice, been to Belgium twice, I don’t think we played anywhere else, no we played in Paris once, we hadn’t been far really at all.

Talking of Belgium, how did the arrival of Annik into Ian’s world change the dynamic?

Well, that’s a very strange question isn’t it really? I suppose it was his Yoko Ono moment, wasn’t it? I think we were very careful because financially you couldn’t afford to bring your girlfriend with you, she couldn’t afford to come on the train and she couldn’t come in the car because there was no room, so we never had our girlfriends; we were never in a position where we could afford to bring our girlfriends. But Annik was with Ian because it was the only place that they could be together, on the road. We didn’t have our girlfriends with us. It was quite an odd occurrence really but I suppose it was again like a Yoko Ono moment, isn’t it. Happens to a lot of people.

And did you as a group of lads, was there a sense that it was healthy or unhealthy that situation? I mean Ian was obviously ill, apart from the epilepsy there was some kind of depressive illness maybe?

Well I think Northerners are a bunch of piss-taking bastards anyway aren’t we, so we just took the piss out of him all the time because he had a girl with him really. We were too young really to think like that, we didn’t think like that, we were just having a laugh really “Oh she’s here again aww” – like that you know – “Fucking hell” it was as simple as that really.

When the lyrics to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ came along, they’re kind of very specific aren’t they? Was there any kind of discussion as to whether they were too specific?

No, no, never, as I said to you, I’d never really, strange as it seems, I never analysed his lyrics, I just thought they sounded good and that was good enough for me. We were all happy and that was it, it was only afterwards when you sat down and looked at it with the benefit of hindsight with what had happened that you thought ‘oh my God’. Ian was great at telling everybody that he was alright and he wanted you to believe him; so you did believe him. And I think in your heart as well and your mind you wanted it to be alright, so if he was telling you it was alright then that was OK. ‘You alright?’ ‘I’m fine! Don’t worry about me! Let’s carry on!’ and you’re going ‘But, you know, you tried to kill yourself last week’ and he’s going ‘Nah! Nah! It’s nothing that, I was pissed, come on let’s carry on’ and we wanted to carry on so we just went on, you know. We went along with it.

And one of the elements that was in that deterioration or whatever it was that Ian suffered was the epilepsy and the medication, the medication didn’t really seem to be working did it?

Well there’s an interesting point in the Joy Division documentary when they take Ian’s prescriptions to an expert on epilepsy now, and get him to analyse what Ian was taking as to how successful it would have been in treating his symptoms and the guy who’s an expert in treating epilepsy now was absolutely appalled that they would even think that the combination of drugs that they were giving him then could do anything for him apart from completely fuck him up.

I didn’t realise that – so someone’s been able to go back and research?

If we were bad letting him carry on at twenty three, then the doctors and the psychiatrists who let him out were much worse than us because they were supposed to know what they were doing. Obviously they didn’t have a clue, did they? He was so heavily sedated and then they were giving him uppers and downers together, so it was amazing, they just didn’t seem to know what they were doing.

I was reading about Vini Reilly talking about Ian and saying that when he got the call saying that Ian had died that he wasn’t surprised, was that your reaction?

(laughs) Oh no, I was surprised. Shocked. Again, with hindsight you’d look back and say “Well, that’s not surprising is it? He’d already done a cry for help and he’d basically carried on…” The doctor said to him – in all fairness to the doctor – what he should do was take it easy, get some early nights, have no undue excitement, don’t drink, and look after yourself. And he went on tour with a rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s not really going work is it to be honest. And someone should have said no, and we did, you know; we all said “Come on let’s stop”. Rob said it all the time; we’ll pack it in, just stay at home, do a bit of recording. He didn’t want to do that, he was “No! no we’ve got to carry on, we’ll lose the momentum, we’ve got the impetus now, we’ve got to go to America, we’ve got to do this” and he was always the one doing that.

Let’s talk about Rob, in the film ‘Control’ Rob, a bit like yourself, the characters provide some of the humourous moments in the film, but talking about Rob, what did he bring to Joy Division?

I don’t know, he was perfect wasn’t he? He was the piece of the jigsaw that made it perfect; his attitude helped create the myth of Factory, the myth of Manchester, the Hacienda, everything, it comes from Tony and Rob really. It was their job I suppose you’d say, it was their job to think about what we were doing and which they did. With Tony’s death, and after he’s gone it makes you think about how important he was and important somebody like Rob was, but you only realise it after they’ve gone really, which is the saddest thing, it’s a sad fact of life isn’t it?

Rob was instrumental in creating the myth of Joy Division. The reason that we had dark and moody lighting was so it didn’t send Ian in a fit because all the lighting guys used to flash the lights all the time because that’s what you do in rock ‘n’ roll. So Rob developed this thing of having mean and moody lighting and it became Joy Division’s and then New Order’s kind of image, so he was instrumental in a lot of things like that. Also he had the foresight to realise that we could keep control and earn more money by sticking with Factory, and his only thing about it was that I’d say if you’ve got music like Joy Division’s then it’d be very difficult to make a mess of it, really.

Unless you were signed with a major label and then…

But even then the music would still live on, it’ll still live on, wouldn’t it? It was a very interesting thing, Rob’s thing about interviews was that he’d say to me and Barney “Oh you two shouldn’t talk because you’re fucking stupid, so shut up! Let Ian talk, or Steve”, because Steve’s completely bonkers and Ian was always quoting all his favourite authors and me and Barney were just a couple of meatheads! That worked, it gave us an air of mystery, you know! When you see Rob’s notebooks, they’ve got Rob’s notebooks, and he was forever planning and writing down, what he was going to do next, and there’s sheets and sheets of it and there’s a bit in the Joy Division documentary about what he was going to do with the group and that to me is the sign of a great manager who never stops thinking about what he can do with his group that’s different to what’s been done before, and Rob never stopped, he was fantastic.

I think that idea of doing something that’s not been done before is so key to it, I’ve never really thought of it in that way, if you think about so many other groups and labels and so-called creative people, a lot of them are wrapped up in ‘What’s everyone else doing?’ and there doesn’t seem to be that in your career and the career of the people around you.

Yes, but its quite odd though because it seemed quite natural to us when we came to do the sleeve and Barney came up with the design, and you know we never thought about putting us on the cover, it never crossed anybody’s mind at all, it was just not of interest, and it wasn’t until years later when we signed to Quest, Quincy Jones’ label, in America, when someone said to us “Hey guys, you ever thought of putting your pictures on the front?” and we were like “What do you want our pictures on the front for, are you joking?” you know it was like, as simple as that really, there wasn’t much ego in it. And to watch The Clash, even though it was a great album, The Clash sprayed on a wall and them all stood in front of it, just didn’t appeal to us at all.

Also, I know I’ve read the interviews and all that, but you’re the one who slightly debunks the artiness and the intellectual adventure that was around at that time, but there was a sense wasn’t there that bands and someone like Ian could read books, could have deep thoughts or could dress differently to the mainstream or be different to the mainstream – there were other groups, the Pop Group, Throbbing Gristle, Gang Of Four – there was something in the air wasn’t there at that time?

Well I suppose it’s very difficult for me because there was very much a culture, very much a class division which I found from Magazine to The Buzzcocks, they did look down on you because you were working class, there was no doubt about it. Maybe it was our working class antics that they didn’t like, I mean I know for a fact that I’m not an idiot, but I’m not the way people perceive maybe Ian to be, I’m more, I don’t know, it’s a funny thing, it’s in your character isn’t it, I mean whether you read great books or not wouldn’t have made Joy Division’s music any better. I could have read Dostoevsky or whatever but it wouldn’t have made that music any better, would it? I can only debunk the myth from how it affected me. I found a lot of the time Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto to be quite pretentious and it was a bit arty and middle class art school what I consider to be bollocks. Can’t say anything more than that!

And when Paul Morley was writing about the band in the NME?

I didn’t understand it! I’d try and read it and I didn’t understand it. It was interesting because we asked Paul Morley to write the sleeve notes for ‘Still’ I think and this wonderful piece of writing that had obviously come straight from his soul, you read it and it was wonderful, it was straight talking conversation and then he withdrew it and put in this big thing of arty rubbish. I’ve still got that piece of paper that he originally did actually, I’ve got it downstairs. And the contrast is like, why are people doing this, are they doing it to appear intelligent?

We did a gig with the Birthday Party once, and the Birthday Party thought that we were very arty and we thought that the Birthday Party were wild and a bunch of lunatics you know, and it was exactly the opposite – we were wild and a bunch of lunatics and the Birthday Party were all sat there reading books! It was peoples’ ideas though, it wasn’t the truth. The thing about Joy Division was when those four people came together, they made very deep, very lasting, very impressive music. You just have to be good at what you do, you know, if that sounds right or wrong, I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say there. I mean, I didn’t realise the enormity of what we were creating while we were creating it, and I was maybe a little bit flippant and a little bit yobbish, but that was just the way I’d been brought up and the way I like to act! (laughs)

There was obviously very little time between the effective end of Joy Division and New Order…

There was a week, less, four days before we started New Order if you consider carrying on. The next rehearsal which we scheduled in for Joy Division was the one with New Order where the three of us started playing again, we didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to go back to the docks, that was for sure, I went to the rehearsal room because the rehearsal room seemed a damn sight more attractive than the docks!

And you were singing some of the songs?

Yeah we all sang, and we sang three each I think, Bernard, Stephen and I, we shared the vocal duties. We all sounded amazingly alike actually .

Obviously the ‘Movement’ album there’s a bit of that classic Joy Division sound in there as well, that must have been an uncomfortable, difficult album to do generally.

It’s funny, I was reading that review of the Joy Division album when the guy said “If you want to hear a desolate, lost album listen to ‘Movement'” and funnily enough I understand what he meant now. Terrible time, very unhappy album actually. The jockeying for position and trying to sort everything out was very difficult.

And Martin Hannett was also, for what ever reason, maybe connected with Ian’s death, Hannett was going through a few things as well wasn’t he?

Yeah, cocaine, heroin, morphine… he was going through a lot of things, yeah. (laughs) His head was up his arse basically, he was going through a massive drug addiction that I now realise and he was very hard to work with and very, very difficult to work with. So what Bernard and I realised very early on was that he was a genius, and what we should do was just learn how to do it ourselves and get rid of him, because that was all you could do, you know, he was killing you. Terrible things; the way he was acting at that very delicate stage that we were in, you know we were literally about quarter of an inch from falling apart completely and he didn’t help us at all. He didn’t get us all together, he didn’t say “Don’t worry lads it’ll all be alright, stick with me”. He just said “I’ll be in the tape room if you want me and if I hear anything good I’ll come out”. And that wasn’t the most helpful thing in the world.

I think if anything one of the reasons why you’re as strong as you are, or became as strong as you were maybe musically and or as people, was you had to pull yourselves right back from the brink of that, it was a very, very awful period and the way that Martin treated us, and Bernard especially, with regards to his singing was sometimes was vile and disgusting. He was terrible, he was so vague, he was no help what so ever, it was murder. It really was difficult. But he hated our voices, he loved Ian’s voice and he hated ours.

When in 1998 when New Order played The Apollo, I think it was the Reading year, I only remember because it was such a brilliant gig, and also New Order had also started playing Joy Division songs. What caused that kind of change, maybe a bit more accepting of that period, or what was it that you brought out the New Order songs?

(laughs) No, I think that the only kind way to put it was that we had a certain fragility with Gillian’s playing, she wasn’t very gung-ho, we were more fragile as a group, and when Phil came along he sort of played more like Bernard, which enabled Bernard to sing like Ian, and we sounded more like Joy Division. It was as simple as that. I think if anything, musically that was a change in New Order, and by getting Phil in we became rockier. And we lost a lot of our – which a lot of the fans didn’t like actually – our vulnerability. I don’t know how to put it, ‘delicateness’ maybe might be a nicer way of putting it. We lost a bit of our fragility when Gillian went, we became more like Joy Division and less like New Order, if that makes sense. So those songs that were very rocky and heavy, I suppose you’d have to say, they felt right. They felt stronger, more the way you’d written them. And also I think there was a period of getting over what you wanted to do, you know, you definitely had enough space from then to ’98, there was definitely enough space for you to enjoy doing it again.

And if there was one Joy Division song that you had to say, you know, if the end of the world was coming and you were allowed to save one, which one would it be?

(long pause) Hmmm, (pause) my favourite Joy Division song has to be ‘Atmosphere’, and it’s funny because while Robbie Williams gets ‘Angels’ at weddings, we get ‘Atmosphere’ at funerals. I’d save that one, because it was like a game, one of those songs you wrote in a matter of hours, and it was just so powerful and so wonderful, and I don’t know, I have a real fondness for Joy Division songs, because I was so close to New Order that I don’t get an objectiveness with New Order, I can’t be objective about New Order where I can be objective about Joy Division and listen to it and think it’s fantastic and just enjoy it as music, I haven’t got to that stage yet with New Order. So I enjoy listening to Joy Division a lot.

One more question, it’s a bit of a difficult one, when you were on stage with New Order and you had all that history with the band and Joy Division and all that, were there times when it was almost like Ian’s presence was still kind of there?

No, I never felt like that because it always felt like, we always completely ignored Joy Division, we never relied on it, we never even mentioned it most of the time, we just put it to bed when we began New Order, and New Order felt like a very long climb up a very slippy hill, so we never, it was such a struggle.

I didn’t think about that, you know. If we’d carried on playing Joy Division with someone else singing then maybe that image of Ian living there or being round you, you know, would have felt like that but we didn’t. We just literally put it away completely to one side and just carried on and ignored it for years and years and years and years. And it was a very odd thing to do actually, now I think it’s an insane thing to do but it worked for New Order. And also I think it gave you a stature in your new endeavour that you might not have done had you mixed the two; I think it gave you a class, that people appreciated the fact that you realised that that was different, that belonged to Ian, this was now you, this was different, we’re not asking you to judge us because of that, we’re beginning again, that took a lot of guts that, and I don’t think that we would have done that without people like Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton with us – and Martin Hannett, to be honest, even though it didn’t seem like that when he was working with us! But I think that those people gave you the strength to carry on, you know, and obviously did have a belief in you as people to do it, but I mean, it is quite an odd thing to do actually as a group, I’ve never known any other group do it. And it was quite interesting, it is quite difficult and quite odd to find somebody who was a guitarist in a band then becoming a singer. And I never thought about it because he just did it with us and it was quite natural. And when I sat down and thought about it, and I thought ‘God that is quite weird isn’t it?’ for somebody to do that, and I suppose it was an odd thing. New Order were very groundbreaking and, I don’t know really, it was a weird thing to do, yeah. It makes me wonder now that New Order have split up and have finished, whether the next thing I do, “Will I Play New Order songs or will I not do that?” (laughs) Because everybody wants you to play New Order songs, they want to hear it, and it does makes me wonder, when I get Freebase up and running or whatever. I mean in Freebase for instance we’ve got Mani who could play Stone Roses songs, Andy Rourke plays Smiths songs, I could do Joy Division and New Order, it’s quite an interesting thing, do you ignore it or do you enjoy it? There’s a conundrum, isn’t it?