Leigh Open Air Pop Festival

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The Leigh Rock and Music Festival was a 3-day mini-festival co-hosted by Zoo Records and Factory Records, held in Leigh on 25, 26 & 27 August 1979. Factory gave the event the catalogue number Fac 15 and the title ‘Zoo Meets Factory Half-way’. The roster included A Certain Ratio, Joy Division, Crawling Chaos, The Teardrop Explodes, OMD, and Echo and the Bunnymen. The event was so-titled because the town Leigh is Half-way between Liverpool (the home of Zoo) and Factory. Catalogue number also allocated to a poster for the event which was designed by Peter Saville.

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Bill Drummond was the head of Zoo Records and in his excellent book ’45’ he recalls the event: “Tony Wilson phoned me from Factory Records. They had started at about the same time as Zoo. There was some sort of friendly rivalry between the two labels, which mirrored the less friendly rivalry that existed between the two cities of Liverpool and Manchester. There had even been a rather sad and pathetic attempt at a festival in the summer of ’79 – ‘Factory meets Zoo Half-way’ – on some derelict ground outside Warrington. The bands featured were A Certain Ratio, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division. Tony Wilson tried to dissuade me from signing the Bunnymen to a major label. He told me that it doesn’t have to be this way, that Joy Division, as we spoke, were recording an album to be released on Factory. We should do the same with the Bunnymen. Up until then none of the rash of indie record labels that had sprung up around the UK in the wake of the Punk DIY ethic had produced anything but seven-inch singles. As far as I was concerned, this was part and parcel of some vague ideology. I assumed that most other people out there running small independent labels must think the same way. That they too were going for the eternal glory of pop and the seven-inch single. The Alan Hornes, the Bob Lasts. So when Tony Wilson implied I was selling out and buckling in to the power and money of London, I didn’t get what he meant. As far as I was concerned he was the one compromising, by giving in to the indulgent muso tendencies of Joy Division and letting them record an album for Factory. (There is another side to this. We were skint. Tony Wilson was on telly every night earning loads of money. We needed the cash the southern bastards could tempt us with.)”

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Setlist:

1. Disorder
2. Leaders Of Men
3. Colony
4. Insight
5. Digital
6. Dead Souls
7. Shadowplay
8. She’s Lost Control
9. Transmission
10. Interzone
11. Sound of Music

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“We didn’t know Ian Curtis was approaching his breaking point”

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Thirty five years ago, JOY DIVISION arrived in London. Their mission: to escape Manchester, have a laugh and make a classic second album. Now, BERNARD SUMNER, PETER HOOK, STEPHEN MORRIS and those closest to them tell the full story of those initially thrilling, ultimately traumatic few weeks. A tale of Frank Sinatra, fancy sandwiches, all-night sessions and boyish pranks. And of IAN CURTIS who, unnoticed by his bandmates, was falling to pieces…

Joy Division arrived in London in March 1980 to begin work on what would become Closer, their second album. The previous year had seen the band’s fortunes rise in a frantic, occasionally troubling, way, and the prospect of escaping from Manchester for a few weeks was enticing – not least to Ian Curtis who, away from his wife, Deborah, could live openly with Annik Honoré, a Belgian girl he had met at a London show in August.

Tony Wilson, the owner of Factory Records, installed them in a pair of adjoining flats on York Street, between Baker Street and Marylebone on the edge of the West End. Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and the band’s manager, Rob Gretton – “The loud bastards”, as Hook describes the trio – settled into one. “They weren’t very luxurious but to us, coming from Salford, the fact that they had an indoor toilet and a big kitchen was great.”

Curtis, Bernard Sumner and Martin Hannett, the producer, established themselves in the other, opposite, along with Honoré. “They had the cultural flat,” remembers Morris. The loud bastards’ flat, he recalls, had a larger population of mice.

“They were the boorish unimaginative lot, we were the creative backbone, there to make the album,” says Sumner. “I was sleeping in the lounge, on a dining table. But we didn’t spend much time there; we were making the album at night.”
“A more musing, intellectual flat,” Hook suggests, but all of Joy Division were entirely capable of boorish behaviour, not least Sumner and Curtis. The band would turn up at Britannia Row Studios, Islington, in the late afternoon, and work through the night, subject to Hannett’s whims. Free to put the speakers wherever they wanted, they had the run of the place. “Very good for creativity,” says Sumner.

“One night, we found John Peel’s phone number on reception and phoned him up at four o’clock in the morning, at home. It was Ian’s idea. I think Peel told us to go and fuck off. We didn’t tell him it was Joy Division.

“Me, Barney and Rob had a terribly evil sense of humour,” says Hook. “We would wind Ian up. From a working-class point of view, we were used to getting our own way with the women we knew. Then along came Annik, who was a strong woman. She just went, ‘Fuck off!’ I’d never met anyone like Annik before. We were always messing about and she hated it. She’s Belgian, for fuck’s sake. They weren’t blessed with a sense of humour. Every time her and Ian went out, we’d fuck around, tip the beds up, string her knickers off the lights, just stupid things. And then when Ian came back, he obviously had to defend her honour. She was going fucking apeshit.”

“The strange contradiction with Joy Division was, it was a laugh being in that band,” says Sumner. “We had lots of jolly japery, it was a real good time. But I guess everybody’s got two aspects of their personality, at least, and the music reflected the other aspect of everyone’s personality. With Ian, there were definitely two agendas going on, but I can only really say that with hindsight, because at the time the only clue to his darker side were his lyrics. And we never listened to his lyrics.

“We were very much a band, but very much not a band. The way I like to think of it was, we were all stood on our own pedestals, and there was no cross-fertilisation. We were all making our own record, and we didn’t really talk about it. Which I guess contributed to the rather unusual sound we came up with. No-one sat down and said, ‘Have you read Ian’s lyrics, they’re a bit…’ because he was a normal, happy guy. It was very difficult to tell with Ian what he could and couldn’t handle. We had no idea – we hadn’t known him that long. We didn’t know he was approaching his breaking point.”

Hindsight has endowed the making of Closer, Joy Division’s second album, with all manner of terrible intimations. Entire theses may well have been written parsing Curtis’ every action in the months running up to his suicide, seeing harbingers of doom in the most mundane acts.

The real story of Closer, though, is less melodramatic and poetic, and a lot more human and complex. It is about spirited young men on the cusp of fame, still uncomfortable with the idea of discussing – or even confronting – each other’s emotions. As 1979 came to a close, the quartet found themselves at the centre of a burgeoning cult, with June’s Unknown Pleasures having attracted the attention of Warner Brothers US. Using Hannett as a conduit, the label offered Joy Division – or at least Tony Wilson and Factory – £1 million for distribution rights and videos.

“We never heard about it,” a rueful Morris says now. “The solution Factory came up with was to send Martin and [sleeve designer] Peter Saville to do the negotiating. That’s why it never happened. If it was us, and somebody had offered us a substantial sum of money, we would have taken it.”

“Martin had arranged it,” adds Hook. “An A&R man came down. Martin was very upset, because he felt that was definitely the way to go. He’d been instrumental in getting this whole thing together and Rob and Tony [Wilson] just laughed at it. I think Martin had no illusions that people like Warners could have made life very easy for us, and made us huge.”

Meanwhile, the band themselves innocently got on with their business in Cheetham Hill, more or less fumbling towards transcendence. Their rehearsal room was opposite North Salford Youth Club, where Hook and Sumner had hung out as 14-year-olds. Here, between plays of Low and “Heroes”, Iggy’s Bowie albums and Kraftwerk, the songs of Closer began to take shape.

“We wrote a tune a week,” says Hook. “You could only practise for two hours on a Wednesday and three hours on a Sunday, which used to cost us 50p an hour. And the songs were mainly instigated on Sunday and finished off on Wednesday. We were on £1.50 a day during the whole of Joy Division. Unfortunately, we were happy on £1.50 a day.”

By early 1980, nearly all of the tracks that would make up Closer were at least half-written. “I’d say they were all written,” reckons Hook, “but then Martin [Hannett] got involved in adding more parts.”

“We’d all do our own thing,” says Sumner. “We didn’t really jam, we didn’t talk to each other about it. It was a pleasurable time, but with a certain uncertainty about Ian, because of his health. We’d finally got where we were aiming for, and America was beckoning. We were on the cusp, we were fantastic live. But on the other hand, we worried about Ian’s fits.”

Curtis’ epilepsy had started affecting Joy Division shows seriously when the band toured with the Buzzcocks in October 1979. “Really, we should have stopped then, but we didn’t, we just carried on,” admits Morris. In January 1980, the band made a chilly tour of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, unveiling some putative versions – untouched by Hannett – of the Closer material. With a comical austerity typical of the band, their haircuts were administered by Rob Gretton.

Six more UK gigs in February followed, before the band returned to where they’d recorded Unknown Pleasures, Strawberry Studios in Stockport (owned by 10cc and disapproved of by Sumner: “We didn’t like the sound in there, it was real ’70s gear, carpets on the wall. Everything was dead”) for a first attempt at one of the new songs. “‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ came about due to the bass riff,” says Hook, “and me and Steve getting the backing track. There’s hardly any keyboards and on the first version there’s hardly any guitar. It was written quite simply.”

Morris: “Martin [Hannett] was into sonic experimentation. It was, ‘Fuck what the band want.’ He wanted to make a classic record. ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is best described as a war of attrition. You’d do it, then you’d think you’d done it, and then you’d do it again and again and again…”

Sumner: “We were unhappy with the results. It was this constant to-ing and fro-ing with Martin. We all thought his production on Unknown Pleasures was really interesting, but it just didn’t catch the power of the band live. Peter Hook and I were keen for it not to happen again. We were constantly pushing him to make the sound more powerful.”

Hook: “Tony felt the songs we were writing were slower and darker, which I think you can safely say Closer is. I don’t know whether it was half in jest, but Tony suggested Ian listen to Frank Sinatra. And then Rob went out and bought him some Sinatra records and Ian did get into listening to Sinatra, which was quite funny. Quite nice, actually.”

Sumner: “We were at our friend Jasmine’s house in Walthamstow, before we got the ferry to go out to Europe [for live dates], and Frank Sinatra came on the telly. Ian said, ‘Frank Sinatra’s great.’ Either me or Rob went, ‘No, he’s shit.’ ‘No, he’s great.’ ‘No, he’s fucking SHIT!’ ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about, he’s fucking GREAT!’ And the whole argument escalated… I think Ian sang like Frank Sinatra on ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ to fuck us off.”

By the end of the Strawberry Studios session, however, the band were still unsatisfied with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Soon after, they moved the operation down to London, settled into their new flats and, on Monday, March 17, began a formal three-week session for Closer at Britannia Row. “In the short time since Unknown Pleasures, they’d moved from buying out-of-hours time at Strawberry Studios to having a 24-hour lockout at Britannia Row,” says Terry Mason, Joy Division’s tour manager.

“Strawberry was pretty plush,” remembers Sumner, “but at Britannia Row, at lunchtime on the first day, the receptionist brought us tea and sandwiches. I had ham and tomato with a little bit of horseradish. We thought, ‘Fucking hell, we’ve made it now. I can get used to this.’ It was a pretty nice studio, the desk was kind of old-fashioned, but the sound was phenomenal.

The sounds of the speakers were a lot of the inspiration for the sonics on Closer, and also a big part of the sonics on ‘Blue Monday’, which we made in the same studio. The room sounded fantastic; I’d never heard bass like that before.”

Michael Johnson, the house engineer at Britannia Row, had been away in the States on The Wall tour with the studio’s owners, Pink Floyd. “When I came back,” he recalls, “I was assigned to this band I didn’t know anything about. It wasn’t that flash a studio, to be honest, it was kind of rough and ready then. The studio had gone from being Pink Floyd’s base to being a commercial studio, so at that point there wasn’t even a lounge for the artists. They used to use the reception area when the rest of the building had gone home. Ian would go upstairs to listen to a record-player in one of the offices, things like a Frank Sinatra record. He did his vocals in a few days; it didn’t take him very long. After that, we never really saw him again.”

Terry Mason claims that “the band started with the intention of working reasonable hours, but that seemed to go out of the window very quickly” – inevitable, perhaps, when they were working with someone like Hannett, who was also chainsmoking joints.

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Hook: “Martin insisted that we work through the night, because he felt the vibes were better, a condition that Bernard caught off him after that. We were all moaning about it. Martin was a bastard when he felt it wasn’t going well. But on Closer, he was at his best. He introduced us to sequencers, which we used on the more dreamy tracks.”

Sumner: “We messed about with ambient noises on Unknown Pleasures, but I don’t think we had any keyboards then. For Closer, Martin brought a big ARP modular system in, which sounded great, but it’d take a day for him to get a bass drum sound on it, plugging cables in when he was stoned. He just had a very guess-what-I’m-thinking attitude. He liked his drugs, did Martin, and whatever mood he was in depended on how many he’d had.”

Morris: “On ‘The Eternal’, Martin’s thing was, ‘Right, I don’t want you to play on this one at all, I just want you to make funny noises…’ That’s when we did the synths on the sequencer. It’s quite uncanny that the sequencer fucked up – there’s a big mistake in the drums in the middle of ‘The Eternal’, which we couldn’t figure out. We kept it in, but I should have taken that as a bit of a bad omen. I think Martin fucked about more than we did. He loved fucking about with the drummers, it gave him something to look forward to. How can I torture the drummer today? There was method in his madness, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked as well as it did, but he saw his role as producer to weave a complex web of tensions, and he did that very well. He did love winding people up, particularly studio managers.”

Hook: “Martin mixed the first two tracks – ‘Heart And Soul’ and ‘The Eternal’, I think – and I fell out with him because the bass was too quiet. I had a row with him, and he told me to F-off. I had to go back to Manchester for some reason, but I told Bernard and Steve to make sure the bass was loud enough – but the bastards stiffed me! Which became the story for my career…”

“They weren’t friends outside of the studio,” says Susanne O’Hara about the relationship between Joy Division and Hannett, her boyfriend at the time. “They never met up.

Ian had a very intense relationship with Martin. I know there was a feeling between him and Ian; sometimes they were the only two who understood each other.”

The rest of the band, however, were becoming a little more distanced from Curtis, as, in Hook’s assessment, “His illness was getting worse and his girlfriend, Annik, was getting more demanding.” But though Curtis would record his vocals separately, he would sometimes listen in on the instrumental sessions. “He would encourage us to go down certain routes,” continues Hook. “He wasn’t musical, but he started playing quite a lot of guitar by the time we got to Closer. He was very amateurish, but it really had a nice charm to it.

“The most difficult person in all the bands I’ve been in has been Barney. If he didn’t like a track, he wouldn’t play on it – he was a cunt for that. He was generally the most unhelpful person, whereas Ian was so eager to please. The majority of the time it was me, Steve, Barney and Rob in the pub, nursing our one warm pint, on our £1.50 a day, while Ian got on with the vocal takes with Martin.

“Then, because he was with Annik, they would disappear off. She was there when he wrote. He definitely relied on her a lot more than us. We didn’t get involved in the lyrics, because he was always so good at it. Fucking hell, I can’t even remember him asking. Ian did guide vocals on all the songs, mumbling the ones he didn’t have lyrics for.”

“Ian changed when he was with her. He became a bit more lofty; he wasn’t one of the lads,” agrees Sumner. “He also became vegetarian when he was with her, which didn’t go down too well. Once in Germany, we went out to a restaurant and there’s this thing in Germany called schweinhacksen, which is basically pig’s leg with sauerkraut. I don’t know whose idea it was, but we went to a restaurant that specialised only in schweinhacksen, so Ian and Annik were sat at the opposite table eating dry bread, because that’s all they could get. There was a lot of rubbing Ian up the wrong way when he was with Annik, which I thought was a bit uncalled for.”

Morris: “We had to hide all evidence of meat. We were living on lamb kebabs from the kebab shop round the corner. Ian memorably decided he was a vegetarian, then he had to have some of ours when she wasn’t looking.”

Sumner: “Ian got so pissed off with us taking the piss out of him and Annik that he was like, ‘Fuck it, they’re a bunch of bastards. I’m going to leave.’ But it was just reacting against the way he was being treated by the band. For a while, he wouldn’t hang out with us. He started hanging out with this weird Dutch guy, this weird sycophant guy who wore T-shirts with strange slogans on. Which was daft.”

“One night we all went for a meal,” recalls Peter Saville. “Ian and Annik sat on another table, and every time I glanced over at them, Ian was crying. We all have relationships in our twenties and they can be pretty superficial, but it was quite plain to me that was not Ian’s feeling towards her.”

The crying may also have been caused by the barbiturates Curtis had been prescribed for his epilepsy, which appeared to be worsening. “The problem with barbiturates is you lose your grip on reality when you have a lot of them,” explains The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly, a good friend of Curtis, “and they were giving him high doses. He’d be sat at a table and he had a line of these pills that he had to take. They left him finding it difficult to keep a grasp on things, and hold things together.”

One night, Curtis went missing from the Britannia Row studio. After about an hour, Hook went looking for him and found him in the toilets. “He’d had a fit, fallen and banged his head on the basin. Ian was always his own worst enemy, because he always told you what you wanted to hear. He immediately said he was all right, didn’t want to go to hospital, and he was up bouncing around like fucking Tigger. Like nothing had happened. He really was fighting it tooth and nail.”

Nevertheless, the sessions were progressing well, even though the band had barely discussed what they were doing. “We never talked about music ever,” admits Hook. “The only thing we would talk about was, ‘Oh we need another fast, dancey one.’ To me that was one of the beauties of the group.”

They began with the songs they were most familiar with: “Colony”, “Twenty Four Hours”, “Passover” and “A Means To An End”. “We did ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ quite early on,” remembers Morris. “We did it with all kinds of layers. We’d do a guide track and then a lot of overdubbing and funny little noises over the top. There were a lot more tracks other than these that ended up on [1981 album of live tracks and rarities] Still. I think ‘The Sound Of Music’, ‘The Only Mistake’, as well as the flexidisc stuff [‘Komakino’, released April 1980]. We hadn’t learned how to fuck about yet.”

“Decades”, however, proved more complicated, not least because, in Sumner’s words, “We had all these new synthesisers. Perhaps six months earlier, I’d built one, but I didn’t really know what I was building, some sort of weird electronic machine that made sounds. I found it fascinating.”

“‘Decades’ took a long time to sort out. It just didn’t seem to be going anywhere,” says Morris. “Then it suddenly turned into that Martini advert. It was kind of James Bondish. That was the first thing we agonised over. I think we might have been on the point of putting it on the flexidisc, then it just kind of happened.”

Sumner also recalls “some ghostly whistling” that kept being picked up on the PA system on either “Decades” or “The Eternal”, “like somebody was whistling along”. “Psychic vibes,” claims Morris. “Syd Barrett came in, sat down, walked out again.”

Then there was “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, which the band seemed incapable of leaving alone. Michael Johnson suggests the vocal was re-recorded at Britannia Row. Sumner, meanwhile, remembers, “When we insisted that the song was done again, Martin sulked. We did all the music, recorded it, and Steve went home to bed, across the other side of London. I was staying there doing the Beach Boys bit at the end on my crap 12-string guitar. It was three o’clock in the morning, everyone was happy with it, and Martin says, ‘I’m not happy with it. I want Steve to double-track the snare drum, and he’s not here, is he?’ So he got him out of bed, dragged him all across London. I think his attitude was, ‘You’ve made me do it twice, so I’ll make you do it twice.’”

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March 29, 1980. As the Closer sessions came to an end, Joy Division’s wives and girlfriends – with the significant exception of Deborah Curtis – were invited down from Manchester for a visit. Morris was dispatched to pick them up.

“That was just a fucking bad idea,” he recalls. “I got the times wrong, left them waiting for two hours at Euston. It didn’t get off to a good start, and then went downhill.”

“It was disastrous,” says Hook. “I don’t think Ian’s wife came, and everybody else’s wife was as miserable as fuck. We’d been home for Unknown Pleasures and it literally took five days to record the album. Then when we went away for three weeks, it was a period of adjustment for us, and also our other halves were adjusting to the fact that we were away, which was at Martin Hannett’s insistence. There was no communication in those days – nobody had phones and nobody had money. It was a struggle.”

Another night, Michael Johnson went to answer the doorbell at the studio and found “these four little bedraggled Irishmen stood there saying, ‘Is Martin Hannett here?’ This was U2. They’d obviously walked from the bus stop, four little urchins, soaking wet. I can’t recall how long they spent there, but they were talking to Martin about working with him.

“I walked in and saw these really skinny little young kids staring open-mouthed at Martin,” says Hook. “I think I went and got the others, saying, ‘Come and have a look at these turkeys, they’re terrified.’ Because we were 23 then, they were just kids. We were the daddies. Martin was having a meeting with them and they were practically bloody shaking. At the time, it appealed to my warped sense of humour.”

Sumner: “They seemed like pretty nice chaps. I think they were Joy Division fans. I have said some bitchy things about Bono since then, but the truth is, if I’m honest, I’m a little bit jealous of them. They were our peers, but things seemed to go so smoothly for them, whereas things seemed to go disastrously wrong for us at every turn. We seemed to be ill-fated…”

By early April, Closer was being mixed, and Factory booked the band three shows as part of a label showcase at the Moonlight in West Hampstead – “A folly of Factory-sized proportions,” says Terry Mason. “Our major preoccupation was keeping an eye on Ian to look for the signs of a seizure taking hold.”

On the last night, April 4, Joy Division played twice: a headline slot at the Moonlight, and earlier at a Stranglers benefit (Hugh Cornwell had just been busted for heroin), at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park. During both, Curtis suffered grand mal seizures. “I hauled Ian offstage and forced my way to the dressing rooms,” continues Mason. “This time it was different. In the past, Ian would just lock up, but on the way downstairs he seemed to lose every bone in his body and was like a rag doll.”

Two days later, on Easter Sunday and back at home in Macclesfield, Curtis took an overdose of barbiturates. Tony Wilson, Gretton and Lindsay Reade, Wilson’s wife, were driving over to see him, playing Closer in the car.

“I just remember thinking, ‘Bloody hell, this is really amazing,’” says Reade. Remarkably, the band’s next show – in Bury, on April 8 – was not postponed. Instead, Curtis sang two songs from Closer, “The Eternal” and “Decades”, while Alan Hempsall of Crispy Ambulance and Simon Topping of A Certain Ratio filled in for him on the other songs. “Hooky told me of Ian’s suicide attempt and neither of us could understand why it was going ahead,” says Mason. “It brought a new realisation of Ian’s condition. After Bury, the obvious thing would have been to just shut up shop for a while, but yet again there was still the need for bringing money in to help fund the forthcoming US tour.”

“It was quite handy to have the softer, quieter songs for the simple reason that Ian didn’t get as wound up during the sets,” adds Hook. “On the faster, rockier ones he would go off like a rocket. He sang a couple of the quiet ones in Bury, but we shouldn’t have done Bury. That was a really bad mistake.”

“Ian was his own worst enemy,” says Hempsall. “If he’d turned around even once and gone, ‘Actually guys, I’m not up for this, I can’t do it,’ that would have been understandable. But he didn’t, because he wanted the band to be a success. That was all just a by-product of people sweeping things under the carpet and pretending everything was OK.”

“Rob [Gretton] said to me he thought it was a cry for help,” remembers Vini Reilly. “I actually told Rob I didn’t think it was a cry for help, I thought it was genuine. The fact that he told Debbie when she arrived that he’d taken an overdose was neither here nor there. He was serious – he really wanted out because he couldn’t bear it any more. He was in a very dark place in his mind, but because he had the social skills and was so good at just being one of the lads and having a laugh, it was very hard to spot.”

Susanne O’Hara recalls a time in early May when she was loading a film projector into the back of her Volvo. “I bent over to push it into the back seat and Ian smacked my bum,” she says. “He made some remark about a nice bum. He was cheerful.”

Sumner: “You never had a heart to heart with Ian. But he did say to me late one night that he felt like he was in a whirlpool, and it was dragging him down, and he couldn’t get out of it. He also said all his lyrics seemed to be coming to very quick conclusions, like they seemed to be writing themselves.

“As far as his relationships go, his marriage [to Deborah] and being with Annik, I regarded that as his territory. There was group business, and what he wanted to do with his private life was his own business. Ian had a certain unpredictable quality as well, and his way of dealing with problems was very extreme and explosive. He wanted our music to be like that.

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In Bury, Curtis told Lindsay Reade that “he saw it going on without him. He felt very removed from it. With the epilepsy, he just knew he couldn’t carry on with the performances. He’d sort of hit a pinnacle with Closer, and he knew he couldn’t go on.” Afterwards, Wilson and Reade invited Curtis to recuperate at their cottage in Charlesworth near Glossop, in rural Derbyshire. There, he wrote love letters to Honoré and, during a long phone conversation with Vini Reilly, insisted his suicide attempt was serious.

“I think he was able to tell me because I was considered loopy, anyway,” says Reilly. “I was on all kinds of anti-depressants; they were messing about with medication to try and get me functioning. I think he realised that I would be a bit more simpático and understand that state of mind, where you are capable of ending your own life.”

Wilson was busy with Factory and his day jobs – television work for Granada Reports  and World In Action. “I don’t think he read the signs at all, but then again the signs weren’t visibly there,” says Reade. “Ian was with me for a week, and he was obviously very depressed. It was just me and Ian, driving each other around the twist. I’ve always been very empathetic, so I ended up really depressed, too. And we didn’t have a single visitor.

“Tony’s father was gay, and his partner, Tony Connolly, was a very good friend of mine. He said to me he thought Ian was very depressed and would commit suicide. But the only person who saw it was Annik, as far as I’m aware. She actually warned Tony about it. She said, ‘He means what he’s saying.’

“None of us had really listened to the words before; they just sounded like good lyrics to us. We just didn’t think he was going to go.”

“I honestly thought Ian’s lyrics were really brilliant, but that he was writing about somebody else,” says Morris. “That’s how naive I was. I thought it was brilliant how he could get in the mind of somebody else. Even after he attempted to commit suicide, it didn’t seem that he was that hellbent on destruction.”

“There was never a moment when I was with Ian when he acted anything but normal,” says Peter Hook. “He never, ever led me to believe for one moment that he was depressed. He never let you know what he was feeling, really. Whether that was bravado or foolishness, the thing you most wanted to hear in the world was that he was OK.”

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On Monday May 19, Joy Division were scheduled to fly out for their debut US tour.  About midday on Sunday 18, Kevin Cummins, a photographer working for Factory who was booked on the same flight, got a call from Gretton. “‘That silly cunt’s killed himself.’ That’s all he said,” remembers Cummins, “and I knew immediately who he meant. We knew Ian was a bit down about going to America, but there was no hint he was going to kill himself. Rob would’ve had a 24-hour guard on Ian if he thought something was going to happen.”

The news was announced by John Peel on his Monday-night radio show, followed by “Atmosphere”. Curtis had hanged himself in his Macclesfield kitchen the previous day, discovered soon after by his wife, Deborah. The incident merited, according to Cummins, “a two-paragraph story on page 8 of the Manchester Evening News, or something. They weren’t known, they were just a local band.”

In Grant Lee and Tom Atencio’s documentary, Joy Division (2007), an epilepsy specialist analysed Curtis’ prescription from the time and concluded that it was guaranteed to kill him. “They didn’t know much about the condition back then,” says Hook. “That made you feel a little better, because you realised you couldn’t have done anything about it anyway.”

“After he died, we did listen to his words and thought, ‘Well actually, this is someone who sounds like they’re in a lot of trouble emotionally,’” says Sumner. “But the person you had in the room wasn’t like that. And Ian wasn’t in trouble emotionally until perhaps a month before he died. Then we tried everything under the sun to try and help him, but obviously he wasn’t interested.”

“It was a shame Annik wasn’t with him, because she understood him,” says Reade. “But you do blame yourself, and I did. It was horrific, the guilt I had. I also blamed Factory – Factory became very dark for me after that. They shouldn’t have been doing those gigs. They should have given him some downtime.”

Hook: “I can’t really remember anything. The only thing I do remember was sitting in my car one morning. I went to tax my car at a place in Stretford; I drove there in my old Jag that cost £135. Just as I got there, I was listening to the Top 20 on the radio, and they went: ‘New in, No 13, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by Joy Division…’ It broke my heart. It was things like that which brought home to us what we’d lost. It was awful.”

The release of Closer was postponed until July, when it became Factory’s first Top 10 album. “You’ve just done an album, you’ve put a lot of work into it, what do you do?” asks Morris. “Do you just bin it? We had made the decision we were going to carry on, but it still wasn’t easy.”

In fact, Sumner, Hook and Morris had resolved to continue as a band on the night of Curtis’ death. By June, they had gone so far as to try out another Factory artist, Kevin Hewick, as their new frontman.

“I thought they were just doing a session as my backing band,” Hewick remembers, after Tony Wilson had offered the band to him the night before a shift at Graveyard Studios in Prestwich. “We did two of my songs, no rehearsal. Martin Hannett came in and, very droll, said it sounded like something by Fairport Convention, then lay down and fell asleep under the mixing desk. As the day wore on, I found Bernard a little edgy. At one point, he threw his guitar on the floor and stormed out. But Peter said to me, ‘Bernard’s taken Ian’s death the worst, and he’s finding it really hard, because you’re standing where Ian would have stood.’

“I overheard Peter Hook tell the recording engineer that they’d decided on the New Order name the night before. When I helpfully chipped in that Ron Asheton of The Stooges had already used that name for his band, Hooky just said witheringly that only somebody like me would know that.”

Now, Hook says that New Order actually began for him on the Monday after Ian Curtis was cremated (on May 23, 1980). “I really didn’t care about Joy Division until years later, when we started playing the songs again as New Order. His lyrics, when you look back, say it all. We just chose not to listen. We were too inexperienced in the ways of the world. We were too young, and none of us handled it well.”

Hook plays Closer “quite a lot” these days. “In a strange way, it seems somehow divorced from me.” Morris thinks it’s brilliant, and treats it similarly: “The only way you can listen to it is when you can put it on and pretend you had absolutely nothing to do with it.”

Sumner, on the other hand, doesn’t listen to an album that he prefers to Unknown Pleasures, but which he calls “very claustrophobic. It’s been so long since I played it. Once the past is past, that’s it.”

“It was only the second bloody album we made,” says Sumner. “He hung himself a bit prematurely. You shouldn’t joke about these things, but…”

Music Complete Deluxe Vinyl Box Set

box_set_updated_square

8 piece deluxe vinyl collection.
New album on double clear vinyl.
Extended versions of all 11 brand new tracks on 6 pieces of vinyl.
Coloured vinyl 12”s plus 1 sided black etched vinyl.
Packed in an archival acid free box, using 1300 micron grey white board and a wire stitch. Box is debossed on the lid and base.
Art Direction by Peter Saville.

200 copies will be signed by all 5 members of New Order; the signed editions will be dispatched at random and are exclusive to the New Order store.

All orders receive Music Complete HD and MP3 digital files on the official release date 25th September. HD and MP3 digital files of the Extended Versions will be available when the box is dispatched.
THE ACTUAL BOX SET WILL DISPATCH EARLY NOVEMBER. 
Instant grat download of first single ‘Restless’ available immediately.
Please note: Price does not include postage and packing.

Pre-order here: http://store.neworder.com/uk/music-complete-deluxe-vinyl-box-set-1.html

New Order just dropped their best song in decades, “Plastic”

New Order just sliced off their second cut from their forthcoming Music Complete, and it’s easily their best song in decades.

Led by the ever calm vocals of frontman Bernard Sumner, “Plastic” grooves with stunning ease, climbing higher and higher as he sings: “It’s official/ You’re fantastic/ You’re so special/ So iconic.” And that breakdown … it’s so addicting.

New Order: ‘We want music without any of the peripheral rubbish’

Somewhere on the southern outskirts of Manchester there is a graveyard. Next to the graveyard is a rehearsal room where the four members of New Order come to practise their spells. The joke is not lost on them.

“Maybe that’s why we sound so gloomy … if we do. People say we do.”

Peter Hook prowls warily around any definitions of the group or their music. His defensive skin is easily riled. He sits idly strumming an unplugged bass guitar. Propped on his knee is a US visa application for New Order’s forthcoming tour.

“Listen to this!” he shouts. “It looks like they’re on to us: ‘Have you ever aided in the persecution of peoples for reasons of race, colour or creed, including any involvement with the Nazi state … ’”

Are New Order Nazis? The charge, which has surfaced before in the music press and was hurled at them again in a recent issue of Private Eye, appears to be dogging them. Well, are they?

The answer is a bemused negative. “I don’t know,” shrugs Hook, “why does everyone think we’re Nazis?”

They chose the name New Order – among other things, the Führer’s term for what he wanted to impose on the world – because it seemed neutral. “They used it in Tron, but no one calls Walt Disney a Nazi!”

Sumner

Guitarist Bernard Sumner – whose real surname is not Albrecht, as appears on their early sleeves – doesn’t take the accusation seriously.

“You should have seen the other names we had on the list,” he laughs. “Temple Of Venus, that was a good one … It was implying a change, that’s all.”

But they are being disingenuous. Because it clearly wasn’t all. They knew the connotations of the phrase. The change was from their former name of Joy Division, warranted by the death of singer Ian Curtis. The name Joy Division – wartime slang for the prostitute wing of a concentration camp – was heavily ironic, a mordant jest on their position vis à vis the entertainment industry and perhaps the world at large.

Calling themselves New Order was more likely an act of sullen antagonism, part of a wider action to preserve themselves from the morbid fixations of the London media on the group, their late singer, their music and what it certainly represented in the dark, looming depression of 1979/80. Since then, they have withdrawn into an enigmatic shell, shunning the limelight and its hothouse power, shrouding themselves in a reclusive silence.

Their infrequent sell-out appearances in London have been confined to obscure Irish ballrooms. Their record sleeves – rich, flat, plain expanses of colour with bold typography and opaque logos – bear the minimum of information: New Order, title,producer, label, date. Their new member, Gillian Gilbert, the 22-year-old girlfriend of drummer Stephen Morris, joined two years ago, but has yet to be credited on any sleeve.

As a result of all this, they have a reputation for being awkward, insolent and, at the very least, difficult to interview. One music paper that recently tried was invited to go with them on tour in Texas. Good background for a story, but there was a catch. The paper would have to pay their own way – a fair request from a group with no major label backing, but not one the music press is used to hearing.

Their refusal to climb aboard the carousel of the music business and music fashion stems partly from principle and partly from an instinct for self-preservation. Already an insular quartet, their inner strength must have been tested and toughened for them to survive the death of their compelling singer. Virtually alone amongst their contemporaries, they retain their independence. Proud, stubborn, unique, they court resentment and – perhaps for the same reasons – inspire devotion.

With no advertising, no promotional videos, no new clothes, no pictures on its sleeve, their recent 12” single sold 250,000 copies in Britain alone. Blue Monday, a thin melody nailed to a hard motor beat (with no apparent connection to Fats Domino’s lament of the same title) did however receive a truncated but absolutely live airing on Top Of The Pops – which, significantly, altered its chart position hardly at all.

Yet throughout Europe, Japan and North America, the chic discos throb to Blue Monday – its extended mix jammed into the latest New York variant of Planet Rock. Not such a fluke, really, for their music transcends parochial tastes. It has the virtue of a universal simplicity; it’s often little more than an atmosphere, distinct but not specific. The moody one-word song titles – Ceremony, Isolation, Transmission, Temptation etc – are vague and interchangeable at first glance, like the sleeves that bear them. There is a strong flavour of mystery which, having contrived, they are in no hurry to dispel.

But they would quibble with the word contrived. “What we want to do is present music without any of the peripheral rubbish around it,” argues Bernard Sumner. “It doesn’t matter who played what solo or what instruments we used or even who we are. If people like the music, that’s what’s important; that’s what they’re buying.”

Their self-imposed anonymity has reached the stage with their new album where only those who know the music will know what they are buying. Wherever they keep it, their heart is not on their sleeves. Designed by Peter Saville, the sternly titled Power, Corruption & Lies has no information at all apart from the catalogue number and a legally required credit for the French impressionist painting of roses on the front, a chocolate-box image lilted by a fake colour print key in one corner.

“Peter wanted to have a classical painting on the cover,” says Sumner. “We liked the idea, so he showed us a selection he had and we chose the one we wanted.”

So much for surfaces. In its first two months of release, the album has already sold 75,000 copies in Britain, and more abroad, particularly Holland, Belgium and Germany. New Order are still approached to do deals with foreign record companies, but no longer get many overtures in Britain. In any case, they are content to remain with the independent Factory Products label started in 1978 by Granada TV broadcaster Tony Wilson.

“There’s no real reason why we should go to a major,” says Sumner. “The advantage would be that they would hype you, give you money for videos and advertising, but what’s the point?”

Hook

Peter Hook puts it in perspective. “On a major label we would probably make the same money we do now if we sold all the records Culture Club sell.”

How much do they make? They pay themselves a wage of £72 a week each. But they all drive late-model cars: Bernard Sumner has a W-reg Mercedes 200; Stephen Morris owns a Volvo Estate; Peter Hook has an Audi Coupe, but not the four-wheel-drive Quattro – “Oh no. I wish I had. They’re really expensive.” The rest of their earnings – in fact the bulk – is spent on equipment.

But they say their personal circumstances have changed little. They still live in the same places: Bernard in Macclesfield, Peter in Moston, Stephen and Gillian in Peel Green. They dress soberly, as they always have. Apart from Peter Hook’s ponytail, they could all pass for young, suburban bank clerks. For the want of a few O-levels, and without whatever it is that sets people in motion – be it only seeing the Sex Pistols and the Clash at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1976 – their futures might have been most ordinary.

*

Bernard, Peter and Ian Curtis first met at Salford Grammar School. Seizing the moment in 1976 with their friend Terry – now their soundman – and later Stephen Morris, who had just been expelled from King’s School in Macclesfield, they formed a group called Warsaw. Reputedly named after Warsawa on Bowie’s Low, Warsaw made the appropriate threatening noises as they cut their teeth on the primary power-chord thrash of punk rock. It was energy quickly spent.

By the end of ’77 it was nearly all gone. Warsaw went into Pennine Sound Studio in December and emerged a few days later as Joy Division with an EP called An Ideal Living that fell back on sensibilities shaped by the progressive and avant-garde rock of the early seventies but buried in the year of punk’s cultural purge. Sensing a kind of desperate drive in these recordings, Tony Wilson signed Joy Division to his new label, and the group began working with Strawberry Studio engineer Martin Hannett.

But not before a curious interlude. They fell in with Northern Soul DJ Richard Searling, who wanted them to record a cover of NF Porter’s Northern Soul classic Keep On Keeping On – which he planned to sell to the TK label, at the time part of RCA. “We tried to do it but we’re fucking hopeless at cover versions,” recalls Sumner. “We did do it in a way,” says Hook. “We learned the riff – that’s as far as we could get – and we used it on Interzone.”

They spent five days in the studio with Searling recording their own material instead. The tapes, which they later bought back for £1,000, were virtually a demo of their first album. They highlight Martin Hannett’s contribution to their music; the distinctive structures and mood are already there, and the songs are complete. But the group are fighting against their natural introversion. They lack the restraint that would later allow them to simmer so insidiously in listeners’ minds.

Hannett, who used to be a lab chemist, brought (not least) his fascination with electronics to the mixing desk. Boxes of the latest studio toys would arrive from the States. While the group rehearsed, Hannett would rig them up. He streamlined them, playing against recent fashion by dropping voice and guitar behind the bass and drums, and giving electronically enhanced definition to their ragged edges. Their first recordings with him appeared on a Factory sampler EP in 1978. An album, Unknown Pleasures, followed soon after. Sparse, statuesque, monolithic, like a vast desolate landscape, it was musically original and emotionally harrowing.

Since their single Temptation last year, New Order have parted with Hannett and begun producing themselves. It was an amicable decision, they say, complicated by the fact that Hannett was suing Factory Products over the running of the company of which he was a director (he has since reportedly settled out of court). But the group don’t deny that they learned from him.

“He taught us what to do very early on,” says Hook. “We learnt the actual physics of recording from him, although we could have learnt it from anybody. But in the end there was too much compromise from both sides.”

“Producing ourselves we get more satisfaction,” adds Sumner. “We know what we want and we can do it. With Martin the songs often turned out different, sometimes better, sometimes not.

“We always know how we want them to sound. The way we write a song is usually to start off by improvising in the rehearsal room. Then we take it out live. Sometimes you haven’t got any lyrics so you just make up some garbage. Then you listen to the live tapes, write some more words, and go back and rehearse some more. By the time we record it we pretty well know how it should be.”

“We spend an awful lot of time together in here,” muses Hook. “But we’re lazy. We sit around here until we’re so bored that we have an idea.”

Typically, they see no need for any outside views on their career or their music. “You don’t really get people who are in a position to give you advice,” says Hook.

“A career is forward planning,” asserts Stephen Morris. “There isn’t any forward planning. We don’t do what we think will be successful. We do what we want to do.”

They have, however, entrusted the final mixing and overdubs on a song called Confusion to Arthur Baker, producer of Afrika Bambaataa and Rocker’s Revenge. Confusion was composed and recorded at Baker’s New York studio in three weeks last February, after introductions made by Factory US.

“It’s an experiment,” says Hook. “We’re in a position to do that now.”

An experiment about which there seems to be some apprehension.

“That’s because we haven’t heard it yet.”

*

In 1979, a strange thing happened in Manchester. All over the city, the old sewerage system had chosen that moment to suddenly collapse. The streets were filled with a foul stench as, within the space of a week, pipes laid the century before had finally rotted away. There, right in the heart of the industrial northwest, was a metaphor of the decay and despair that marked the final collapse of a two-hundred-year industrial boom.

Joy Division

At the same time, in a studio in the centre of town, Joy Division were remixingTransmission for a new single. It was the record that would bring their music to national light, music that struck a deep, sombre chord of that same decay and despair.

To hear Joy Division then was to feel something of the agony of the times. It was uncanny and probably unconscious, but they summed up – not in words so much, since Curtis’s lyrics were intensely personal – more in mood, the cancer of Britain’s still-unchecked decline. No other music since has so profoundly touched this country’s circumstances.

And then, on 18 May 1980, on the crest of success and the eve of their first US tour, it all ended. Ian Curtis committed suicide. The group had just finished their second album, Closer, and a single, Love Will Tear Us Apart. On the single sleeve, the title is inscribed as though on a tombstone, which is what it was.

Curtis, without seeming to realise it, was a puzzle that drew people to the group. A vulnerable figure on stage, with watery eyes and a haircut that always looked as if it had been imposed on him, he would burst into a frenzied spastic dance that soon became fairly notorious and then stand still and concentrate hard to sing. His voice was firm and clear, but always forlorn. He had a history of epilepsy, and his performance (not to mention the song She’s Lost Control) was an exorcism of this.

On the wall in the rehearsal room, amongst the posters and notes, there is a yellowed page torn from NME, a poignant photo of Curtis taken shortly before his death. Since then New Order have laid only one wreath, a recording of his song In a Lonely Place.

“We’ve never put our feelings about him into any one song,” says Peter Hook. “But they’ve emerged … in phrases and lines here and there. You can see them when you look back.”

Movement, their first album as New Order, was written soon after Curtis died. In more ways than one, it bears the scars. “That and Closer were very depressing albums.” Bernard Sumner doesn’t elaborate.

“There was a lot of pressure for him at the time doing Closer,” explains Hook. “Being the singer he was the focus of all the attention. He’d walk out of the room and we’d look at each other and go – ‘Fucking hell!’ It had been happening to him for a while … ”

Morris

Curtis’s death wrapped an already mysterious group in legend. From the press eulogies, you would think Curtis had gone to join Chatterton, Rimbaud and Morrison in the hallowed hall of premature harvests. To a group with several strong gothic characteristics was added a further piece of romance. The rock press had lost its great white hope, but they had lost a friend. It must have made bitter reading.

Peter Hook says no. “At the time you weren’t really interested in reading about it. It was happening to you.”

One odd result of Joy Division’s early demise and subsequent near-mythic status has been the bootleg industry bonanza in rare live and studio recordings. Peter Hook even has a few himself.

“I’m amazed! I’ve never seen so much shit. Some of it is good and some of it’s bad, but on the whole the recordings are horrible. I’m fascinated, though. It’s so repetitive, so monotonous. The same songs over and over again.”

But bootlegs, the true fan’s greatest homage, do not accrue to vastly more popular groups. How many Duran Duran bootlegs, say, could the world stand?

“The people who buy ours seem to take our music more seriously. Maybe that’s becausewe take it more seriously.”

*

Evidence of this large, devout underground allegiance was easy to find in 1980. Love Will Tear Us Apart became the most requested record of the year on John Peel’s radio show – for its example of an independent, non-commercial ethic as much as for its musical virtue. The joke at the time was that the song would be the Stairway to Heaven of the 80s. The comparison with Led Zeppelin had a grain of truth, but it was the wrong group.

“From now on,” manager Rob Gretton is said to have remarked, “it’s going to be like the Pink Floyd.”

The analogy between their respective histories is strong: losing a crucial member early on; persevering in an obstinate, idiosyncratic direction. Whether New Order will share the same fate, either commercially or aesthetically, remains to be seen. Certainly they have something in common with the so-called progressive groups of 10 years ago. Via the John Peel show, their music has reached deep into the sensitive isolation of 19-year-old male bedrooms; playing a kind of refined, high-tech heavy metal, stripped of all the stucco frills but not lacking in melodrama, they have missed a huge audience by a hair’s length.

It was to be a year before the group performed again in public, for the first time as New Order, with Gillian Gilbert playing keyboards. They had auditioned for a new vocalist but found no one. Instead Bernard Sumner found himself in front of the microphone. In the two years since, his voice has lost its weak, buried pallor and acquired some authority.

“For ages it just felt like a square peg in a round hole,” he admits, shaking his head at the memory.

Gilbert

Gillian Gilbert, whose only previous brush with the stage was in a short-lived punk escapade called the Inadequates, was at Stockport Tech doing graphic design at the time.

“But I didn’t want to be a graphic artist. It was just something to do. I didn’t really have any ambitions. I didn’t want to be in a group – it was just a dream. They approached me.”

Did she have to audition?

“Yes.”

“We won’t tell you what she had to do!”

“She had to play Stairway to Heaven … backwards!”

“I think I’m still auditioning, really…”

At any rate she has the best possible facilities to practise on. Ever since, and perhaps before, they met Martin Hannett, the group have had a marked penchant for state-of-the-art musical technology.

It transpires that both Stephen and Bernard have computers at home. Stephen has an Apple II, which has given him some knowledge of, and also some impatience with, the working limits of the DMX drum synth they use so heavily. Bernard has an ITT 20/20, on which he’s trying to learn a program language called Forth.

“I want to learn it first – then I’ll find a use for it. There isn’t a sequencer on the market that can do what we want. I’m going to try and learn it so we can build our own.

“With guitar, bass and drums you’ve got limited horizons. We’d like to increase our range of sounds and rhythms. If you come up with an idea for a song, you know exactly what you want the machine to do. You want a machine that can do everything! But that hasn’t been built yet. We thought the Emulator was going to be it – but you get one and you soon find it has its limits.”

“People think all these rack effects and these sequencers are really high tech.” Peter Hook gives a dismissive glance around the room. “They’re all really useless – they’re allshit. You wouldn’t believe the trouble we have with them! They keep going wrong! It’s as if they use you as guinea pigs.”

Despite all this, their music remains as sparse and simple as ever; the rhythms have evolved with fashion, the sound with technology, the themes hardly at all – though someone has opened a window and let some light in of late. Their ideals are constant. They maintain that an instrument like the ARP Quadra, which demands no musical training, is more punk than a guitar.

“What was punk all about?” Hook asks. “To me it was: if you really want to do something, go ahead and do it.”

“See that … ” Bernard Sumner points to a box of battered tricks housed in an old flight case. “We built that ourselves. £100 for the sequencer and £80 for the drum machine. We were still using it up to eight months ago. People used to laugh at us!”

He confides their secret: “There’s not one of our songs that uses a black note on the keyboard. That’s true!”

© Paul Rambali

See New Order’s Medieval Rave in ‘Restless’ Video

Neon lights dot across crowned princes and medieval beasts in New Order’s wholly fantastical and anachronistic video for “Restless,” a chilly and catchy song off their upcoming album Music Complete. Although it’s not explicit, the song’s “how much do you need?” pre-chorus seems to tie into the Excalibur-inspired excess in the video. The clip was directed by Spanish filmmakers NYSU, who previously made the “Coming Up for Air” video for Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s solo album.

The song is the lead track on Music Complete, which is due out September 25th. It will also be available as part of a full remix package, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

The album is notable for being the group’s first without founding bassist Peter Hook, who parted ways with the group in 2007. But it also welcomes the return of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, as well as a number of special guests. Brandon Flowers, Iggy Pop and La Roux’s Elly Jackson all contribute vocals to the album, while the Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands produced two tracks, “Unlearn This Hatred” and “Singularity.” The group’s longtime design collaborator Peter Saville provided art direction for the record.

Leading up to the creation of the album, New Order frontman Bernard Sumner performed live with two of its contributors. This past May, he joined Flowers for a rendition of “Bizarre Love Triangle” in Manchester, and, in March 2014, he played with Iggy Pop at a Tibet House benefit in New York City, where they played Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”