“Joy Division kwam live écht binnen”

Een uitgebreide reconstructie van de legendarische Eindhovense show van Joy Division

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18 januari 1980. Midden in de Koude Oorlog, vindt op deze datum mogelijk het meest legendarische concert op Eindhovense bodem plaats. Voor het hallucinerende bedrag van 7,50 gulden staat Joy Division op de planken van de oude Effenaar. Het tot op heden invloedrijke Engelse kwartet deed slechts zes optredens in Nederland en exact vier maanden na het Effenaar optreden pleegde Ian Curtis zelfmoord. Omdat mede-oprichter Peter Hook aankomende zondag in de Effenaar een tribute brengt aan Joy Division, haalde wij de bizarre geschiedenis van het concert naar boven. We spraken vele betrokkenen en maakten een reconstructie van een concert waar iedere serieuze muziekliefhebber bij had willen zijn.

Het begin: een touristische route naar Eindhoven
Joy Division in Eindhoven begint voornamelijk bij twee mannen. Carlos van Hijfte (1954), oprichter en eerste eigenaar van de platenzaak Bullit in 1970. “Een platenzaak was in die tijd nog belangrijk”, vertelt Carlos aan de telefoon. “Ik werd snel onderdeel van een scene die om muziek draaide.” Zo verkocht Carlos in Bullit concertkaartjes voor de Effenaar, destijds nog gewoon van een rolletje. Op deze manier leerde Carlos onder meer Ton van Gool (1956) kennen, die van ’78 tot ’82 bandjes boekte voor de Effenaar. “Ik prijsde Joy Division aan”, herinnert Carlos zich. “Na het horen van Unknown Pleasures deelde ik dit met mijn vrienden en klanten. Zo ontstond er een buzz.” Dus reisde Ton en Carlos af naar de Plan K in Brussel, waar Joy Division later in ’79 het eerste optreden buiten de UK gaf. Een avond georganiseerd rondom de bewonderde schrijver William S. Burroughs, waarbij naast Joy Division ook Cabaret Voltaire optrad. Het Eindhovense tweetal was overtuigd van het kunnen van het Britse kwartet en ging aan de slag.

Niet veel later vertrok Ton naar Engeland. “Het klinkt een beetje nostalgisch, maar het was daar eigenlijk één grote familie”, lacht hij. “De belangrijkste plek in Londen was Rough Trade, met beneden een platenwinkel en boven een label. Er was weinig aanbod in Nederland en Mojo bestond nog niet, dus bandjes zoeken deden we in Engeland. Dat ging vrij informeel. Je zag bandjes hun eerste single zelf in hoesjes stoppen, je kon altijd ergens slapen en mee-eten. En het was feest, want ik kreeg een stapel promo’s mee naar huis. Joy Division stond hoog op mijn verlanglijst, maar was geen dure band. Het precieze bedrag weet ik niet meer uit mijn hoofd, maar het moet tussen de 1000 en 1200 gulden zijn geweest. Een simpel rekensommetje leerde ook dat de Effenaar niet meer kon betalen.” Goedkoop zou Joy Division niet lang blijven, zo blijkt uit het gesprek met Ton. “Je hoorde hun naam rondzingen, ze kwamen langs bij John Peel en je las erover in blaadjes. Vlak voor de show in de Effenaar speelde Joy Division in een grote hal voor 4.000 man in Engeland. Het was daar al een behoorlijke band, maar drie maanden later was er in Nederland pas een recensie in de NME te lezen. De media was super traag in die tijd, waardoor bandjes aanvankelijk klein bleven.”

 

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Een kind kan de poster doen?
Dat Joy Division naar Eindhoven kwam stond bij dezen vast, maar nu moest het heugelijke nieuws nog naar buiten worden gebracht. Carlos speelde daarin als kaartjesverkoper bij Bullit een belangrijke rol, maar er was nog iemand. De toen zeventienjarige Rik van Iersel (1961) kreeg namens de Effenaar de opdracht een poster te ontwerpen voor Joy Division en support-act Minny Pops. “Hij was een jonge hond die in het holst van de nacht zat te kliederen”, weet Ton nog. “Zo is het inderdaad gegaan!” lacht Rik in zijn kantoor in TAC, dat tevens functioneert als één van zijn werkruimtes. “Het vertrouwen van Ton van Gool was enorm groot. Het was een risico om de opdracht aan mij te geven. Ik was namelijk jong van school afgegaan en ik had geen scholing… Maar wel interesse en honger naar de muziek. Door Carlos van Bullit en John Peel heb ik Joy Division leren kennen. Het was één van mijn eerste posters en hij is heel primitief gemaakt. Het idee dat ik op zolderkamertje zat te knutselen is te romantisch. Ik woonde op mijzelf en ik zat in een oude bakkerij, twee verdiepingen onder de grond te werken. Ik had een sterke ‘DIY’-mentaliteit: knippen, plakken, stempelen en veel stiften. Ik kon daardoor gratis naar het concert en kreeg een tosti, haha! Ja, ik kreeg ook wel een vrijwilligersvergoeding, maar dat was minder interessant. Het ging me echt om de muziek. Het optreden en de poster zijn me heel dierbaar gebleven. Ik kreeg de kans om onderdeel van de avond te zijn. Zo voelde dat ook echt.” De poster van Rik werd uiteindelijk in een oplage van 150 stuks gedrukt. De posters werden door de hele stad verspreid. De promotie liep dusdanig goed dat in Eindhoven het verhaal de ronde deed dat het concert al was uitverkocht. Dit was niet zo, uiteindelijk verkocht de Effenaar maar 300 van de 500 kaartjes.

Plaatjes draaien; een hele onderneming
In het voorprogramma stond de Nederlandse band Minny Pops, die later platenlabel Factory deelden met Joy Division. Tot zover de gelijkenissen; Minny Pops maakte vooral kille elektronica. Inmiddels is de nog altijd actieve band op onwaarschijnlijke wijze uitgegroeid tot een groep veteranen. Toetsenist Wim Dekker, destijds 20 jaar oud, omschrijft zichzelf nu als een verlegen iemand die gebukt ging onder het ‘no future’-gevoel. “In de zaal hing een afwachtende spanning”, schrijft Wim in een email-conversatie. “Er werd nog lekker geschreeuwd naar de bands, om te provoceren. Niets kwaadaardigs, gewoon om reacties uit te lokken… Zo stonden de MP’s een paar minuten stil om te kijken welke reactie er uit publiek kwam. Dat was vaak bier of bierviltjes…” De pauze-muziek werd verzorgt door Carlos, maar dj’en bleek een hele onderneming. “Ik draaide altijd de plaatjes in de Effenaar en zat boven in mijn hok als dj. Omdat ik in Bullit werkte had ik toegang tot alles wat uitkwam, maar in de Effenaar waren destijds nog geen platenspelers aanwezig. Daarom sloopte ik de platenspelers uit het luistermeubel van Bullit. Twee van de vijf nam ik mee in de auto naar de Effenaar. ‘s Nachts ging ik terug naar Bullit en monteerde ze terug in de meubels, zodat alles de volgende dag weer goed stond.”

 

Het imago van Joy Division klopte backstage niet
Wim: “De sfeer backstage was gemoedelijk. We zaten allemaal in hetzelfde schuitje en gingen voor ons gevoel dezelfde kant op. Peter Hook was de meest sociale van Joy Division, Ian zei bijna niets en staarde voornamelijk naar de grond. Volgens mij hebben we wel sigaretten en bier gedeeld.” “Het waren gewoon jongens van 21”, bevestigt Ton. “Joy Division heeft een bepaald imago, maar zo was het niet helemaal. Backstage was het evengoed feesten en bier drinken. Er stond in de kleedkamer een piano en na afloop was het een dolle boel. De bandleden zongen vanachter de piano liedjes. Peter Hook was de amicale persoon. Hij was vriendelijk en sociaal.” Ton heeft met Ian Curtis minder contact gehad. “Ik kan niet zeggen dat Ian Curtis een depressieve aso was. Het was een serieuze jongen. De band arriveerde vroeg bij de Effenaar en in mijn herinnering heeft hij de hele middag zitten lezen. Ik heb geen gezellige kletspraatjes gehad. Maar een David Byrne zat, voor zijn optreden met Talking Heads in de Effenaar, backstage ook gewoon te lezen. Dat boek bleek de Bijbel te zijn.”

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Joy Division op ’t podium: het vertolken van een tijdsgeest
Iets later was het moment aangebroken. Er daarvoor hing een spanning in de lucht van de Effenaar, zoals die hing bij meer Eindhovense concerten in die tijd. “Er was een nieuwe band”, vertelt Ton, “echt nieuw”. “Joy Division voelde live niet  agressief, maar er heerste wel een onderhuidse dreiging. Ik was echt onder de indruk van de intensiteit en de lading, maar visueel was het ook indrukwekkend. Ian Curtis was natuurlijk een rare danser, het was afstandelijk, maar er zat toch power in. Het kwam écht binnen.” Wim was ook verbaasd over Ian Curtis, die zich op het podium wezenlijk anders gedroeg dan backstage. “De stem, de emotie, de ongecontroleerde bewegingen…” Carlos was minder gegrepen door de verschijning van de excentrieke frontman. “Het was gewoon een jongen van om de hoek. Het was behoorlijk shocking dat hij zelfmoord pleegde. Achteraf gezien was hij een gekke danser, maar al zijn generatiemuzikanten, zoals Johnny Rotten, David Byrne of Robert Smith, hadden wel iets. Dit waren gewoon Engelsen die er op hun manier cool uitzagen.”

Onder het selecte gezelschap was ook Hans Matheewsen (1956, bekend van officieuze platenzaak Burgers) aanwezig, destijds 24. Hij omschrijft het concert als “een heel schemerig en klein optreden. Eigenlijk was de Effenaar een klote zaal, met grote pilaren die het zicht belemmerden, maar bij Joy Division werkte die industriële setting juist ontzettend goed. Ik stond midden in de zaal en zag alleen de bovenkant van de band, enkel de hoofden. De band stond dicht op elkaar en het ‘marcheergedrag’ van Curtis viel op. Je kon destijds niet merken dat Curtis een probleem had in zijn hoofd. Er waren altijd wel rare jongetjes met dit soort fratsen. Ten tweede waren daar de ontzettend simpele, pompende bassen van Peter Hook die bijdroegen aan de sfeer van de avond. De zaal was vrij duister en er was geen lichtshow. Je zag een grijzig zwart-wit en zo klonk het ook. De teksten waren cryptisch en negatief. Joy Division vertolkte zo de tijdsgeest. Er was de Koude Oorlog, er was werkeloosheid en er waren krakers. De heersende term was dan ook ‘no future’. Dit moet je afzetten tegen het feit dat de Effenaar sterk programmeerde. Bands deden het goed, en konden later groot worden. Iedereen in de zaal was daar bij Joy Division van overtuigd. Dit was een unieke band.”

 

Een spannende onderbreking van een dreigend concert
Of ik mee heb gekregen van The Rocking Rebels, vragen Ton en Carlos afzonderlijk van elkaar. Nee, dat heb ik niet. Ton vertelt: “Er was een bende, en daarmee waren we in oorlog. Wij waren de punks van de Effenaar en iemand had een leren jasje aan met tekst erop: ‘I’m so glad, Elvis is dead’. Dat viel bij The Rocking Rebels, een groep die Elvis als messias aanbeden, niet goed.” Regelmatig zocht de bende de confrontatie met het Effenaar publiek op. “Ze kwamen binnenvallen met een man of tien, vijftien”, herinnert Ton zich. “Ze kwamen de zaak verstieren en gingen roepen. Peter Hook bemoeide zich er even mee. Het gaf het concert iets extra spannends.” Carlos vult aan: “Het concert stond even vijf minuten stil. Er was toen geen security, maar de deur werd bewaakt door vrijwilligers van twintig. Als er dan een groep, om met tegenwoordige termen te spreken, Hell’s Angels voor de deur staat laat je die wel binnen! Op een gegeven moment is de Effenaar daarom maar portiers gaan inhuren…”

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“Hé ik weet waar die is opgenomen!”
Ton kende mensen in Nijmegen, Groningen en Amsterdam. Uiteindelijk stond Joy Division zes avonden geprogrammeerd op Nederlandse podia. Terrie Hessels, bekend als gitarist van The Ex, was bij de Joy Divsion-show in Paradiso. “Ze deden in Paradsio twee sets. De eerste was tamelijk ‘normaal’, maar na de pauze werd het heel onsamenhangend en dopey.” Het concert in Eindhoven spreekt vandaag de dag meer tot de verbeelding. De band speelt in de Effenaar gefocust en scherp, hetgeen met eigen oren te horen is. De zestien liedjes tellende set is namelijk goed gedocumenteerd en circuleert op gewilde bootlegs. De opname werd gemaakt door een oude bekende. “Ze komen van mij en daar ben ik niet trots op”, biecht Carlos van Hijfte op. “Ik had destijds een Elcaset en daar nam ik concerten mee op. Ik had de opnames en die heb ik aan vijf mensen gegeven. Eén heeft hem doorgespeeld naar het illegale circuit, maar ik heb er nooit een cent voor gekregen.” Ironisch genoeg laat iemand in Amerika de bootleg later trots aan Ton van Gool zien, die de datum direct herkent. “Hé, ik weet waar die is opgenomen”, grapt Ton.

Er is meer. Je kunt het concert niet alleen terugluisteren, je kunt het ook bekijken. Beelden van Joy Division in de Effenaar werden namelijk op professionele wijze vastgelegd door Dick Verdult (1954), tegenwoordig in binnen- en buitenland bekend als beeldend kunstenaar en als cultmusicus in voornamelijk Latijns-Amerika (bekend onder artiestennaam Dick El Demasiado). Hij was zélf geen vaandeldrager van de punkesthetiek, waardoor hij met enige afstand het concert kon vastleggen. Dick vertelt over de avond: “Ik was destijds één van de Neon-TV mensen, een punkprogramma van de VPRO en ik heb toen o.a. héél wat concerten gefilmd, maar het was voor mij geen religie of therapie. De jaren 80 begonnen bijvoorbeeld met de extreme dreiging van de neutronenbom en alles rondom de Rote Armee Fraktion. Concerten waren de paukenslagen van hoe het toen over de hele linie voelde. Ik wilde bij die muziekregistraties slechts als een goed doorgeefluik voor anderen functioneren. Filmen was daarvoor niet gebruikelijk. Sommige mensen liepen soms in concertzalen rond met draagbare reel-to-reel videorecorders, maar dat verlangde veel licht. Echte film was duur, en weinigen konden daarbij synchroon het geluid opnemen. Mijn Super-8 camera had een erg lichtgevoelige lens waardoor er geen extra lampen nodig waren om goed beeld te produceren. Ook moet gezegd worden dat het licht die avond heel goed was. Dramatisch en centraal op Ian Curtis, die er op zijn beurt het mooiste van maakte, hangend aan het statief.”

Joy Division: veertig jaar later nog altijd een bron voor inspiratie
Bijna veertig jaar later is Joy Division verre van vergeten. De band is misschien wel groter dan ooit en siert mokken, t-shirts en ovenhandschoenen. Voor zowel jonge als oudere generaties is Joy Division een bron van inspiratie. Het verhaal van de band is uniek, triest en fascinerend. Dat geldt ook voor de show in Eindhoven. Wie zich in de geschiedenis verdiept stuit op prachtige anekdotes, bijzondere wendingen en mooie mensen. Iemand die dat als geen ander weet is Marc Tilli, die een stuk verder ging dan ondergetekende. Hij is bezig met een heus boek over Joy Division. Niet louter over de show in de Effenaar, maar over iedere show die Joy Division buiten Engeland deed. Zelf was hij aanwezig bij de show in Paradiso. “Het was kunst, muziek en een levensstijl op zich, enkel weggelegd voor een hele kleine groep mensen. Later was er weinig te vinden over hun enige tournee buiten de UK. De informatie die hierover te vinden is, is vaak halfslachtig. Er is niks digitaal, er is veel vergeten, zalen bestaan niet meer en veel mensen zijn dood. Eind 2009 ben de uitdaging aangegaan om een document te maken over de tournee. Dit doe ik naast mijn dagelijkse bezigheden. Het is nogal een traject, waarbij ik alles van derden goed op een rij probeer te krijgen. Dat vereist veel geduld en veel ergernis, maar het boek gaat er komen.”

Ook specifiek in Eindhoven leeft het fenomeen Joy Division nog voort. In herinneringen. Bij de oudere generaties, maar ook zeker bij de nieuwere. Zo speelt bandoprichter Peter Hook aankomende zondag een lijvige tribute-show waarin zowel Unknown Pleasures (1979) en Closer (1980) integraal gespeeld zullen worden. Zo leeft Joy Division, 36 jaar na de show in de Effenaar, deze week nog wat voort. Hoe triest, fascinerend en uniek het verhaal ook mag zijn: beginnende bandjes kunnen enkel dromen van zo’n onverwoestbare reputatie.

© Daan Krahmer & 3voor12

In cerca della tomba di Ian Curtis

Spesso aprile è un mese ancora freddo nel Regno Unito, ma se si è alla ricerca della storia del leader dei Joy Division, Ian Curtis, non si può chiedere al cielo nulla di meglio, che una giornata di vento e pioggia. Le sonorità di questa band trasmettevano infatti tutto quel gelo e angoscia che hanno scandito anche la vita di Curtis, affetto da depressione e malattie insopportabili, come l’epilessia.

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Siamo a Macclesfield, piccola cittadina a 25 miglia da Manchester, dove Ian decide di togliersi la vita a soli 24 anni. Ed è proprio nel cimitero di questa città operaia che si trova la tomba del musicista.

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Il Macclesfield Cemetery si trova all’interno di un bellissimo parco verde e accedervi è facilissimo, visto che siamo esattamente nel cuore del paese. Si tratta di una costruzione Ottocentesca e contiene numerose tombe dei caduti nella Prima e nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale.

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Non c’è nessun cartello o mappa che indichi la sepoltura di Ian, non siamo a Père Lachaise, dove sono sepolte le spoglie di illustri scrittori o architetti, ma in un cimitero popolare e l’unica possibilità di trovare la lapide che cerchiamo è ricorrere alle informazioni lasciate dai fans che ci hanno preceduto. Qualcuno è stato così gentile da creare una mappa accurata e la scarichiamo immediatamente da questo link.

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Senza un’aiuto ci si potrebbe perdere, tra piccole e spoglie lapidi tutte uguali. Una passeggiata di pochi minuti e si arriva così alla tomba di Ian. Ci sono fiori e cimeli ad abbellirla, quelli che ogni 18 maggio (data della sua morte) portano qui i fans dei Joy Division. Se siete tra questi saprete che purtroppo Ian si tolse la vita impiccandosi nella sua casa di Barton Street. a Macclesfield, non lontano da qui.

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Nel 2008 la lapide venne persino trafugata per essere poi sostituita con una identica, non è la prima volta che qualche fanatico compie un gesto tale. Anche il cancello di Strawberry Fields (Liverpool) venne rubato da un rigattiere, per essere poi riportato indietro.

E se la tomba di Jim Morrison ci era sembrata modesta (paragonata a quelle monumentale presenti nel cimitero parigino) al cospetto di una semplice mattonella con incisi nome e il titolo della sua canzone più famosa “Love Will Tear Us Apart”  la sensazione che ti lascia questa immagine è un forte  senso di vuoto e malinconia.

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CEMENTERY LODGE

87 Prestbury Road , Macclesfield (Cheshire)

Tomba di Ian Curtis

© Marco Parmiggiani & Music Postcards

TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE MANCUNIAN WAY

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A blue, hired Cortina fires up the M1 on a straight, drab course through flat, drab countryside, pulling steadily past uniform acres of green anonymity.

The dark head of our driver/lensman Paul Slattery shakes with wreckles glee as we sail merrily past one more non-plussed sportscar. He laughs lightly:
“Yeah, I walked into Sounds office last week and they were playing Joy Division on the record player, and everyone was going, “aw, take this bloody shit off…” It was really boring, depressing stuff.”

I explain that ‘Unknown Pleasures’, Joy Division’s debut album and the object of young Slat’s derision, is a record that needs to be played at a volume that such timid persons couldn’t stand for very long. Slattery, nonetheless, remains unconvinced and none the happier for the fact that we are on our way to spend some time with the creators of these controversial ‘Unknown Pleasures’.

Stockport is our destination. Joy Division are busy today. In the afternoon they are mixing their new single, then afterwards appearing at today’s ‘Stuff The Superstars’ festival at Manchester’s Mayflower Club. I’m looking forward to being present at both events, as we quite suddenly find ourselves cruising curiously through Stockport’s backstreets, a cosy toytown of antique mills and light industrial warts.

There is a carnival of sorts throughout the town, and the effect of seeing mums, dads, grandads and kids decked-out in flowers and straw-hats, beaming benignly at the silly pomp of marching brass bands and bouncing, scantily-clad Lancastrian lasses, is a surreal, living, Lorwey landscape.

Via a chubby policeman’s misdirections we reach Strawberry Studios, placed unevenly at the peak of a hill, dirty and ramshackle outside but inside furnitured with low-key sophistication. The carpets are thick, big gold 10cc albums paper the walls and the sound of Joy Division’s new single rumbles in from afar.

The band are downstairs playing pool. They are affable enough, but clearly uneasy. Their dress is somewhere between a factory-worker’s eye for the practical and early and middle period Buzzcocks’ eye for the proletarian chique, somewhere between the contrived and the uncontrived, perhaps, as we shall later see, a representation in clothes of the truth about Joy Division.

And the day, henceforth, more or less did become a quest for some truths.

It was lead singer Ian Curtis who brought the pool to a close, the band following us silently to the pub for, as they saw it, The Interview.

Joy Division! The band: the people behind an album of startling power and ruthless energy, and I was now with them and wanting to discover who they were and what they were, wanting to settle in my own mind whether the album was the fruits of men inspired or the product of pseuds with schemes. Ah, the cynicism of these times.

In 1979, contrary to the simple gloss of people like John Ingham who treat rock and roll with a simpleton’s brilliance for putting round pegs in round holes and smaller boxes in bigger boxes, a critic must, as he has never done before, have his wits about him. He must be careful and sharper in perception than ever before.

Rock and roll has moved away from primitive cries and sugary crooning: r’n’r has burgeoned into a vast, financially-based bureaucracy where the underlying reality, the truth (that word again!) flickers and flutters almost intangibly somewhere between, one the one hand, the effluence of Product, and, on the other, the natural, vulnerable birth of Art.

In 1979, where musical technology has progressed to the extent that certain ‘sounds’ and r’n’r nuances can be easily copied and coldly palgiarised, interviewing Joy Division under the premise of their, so to speak, Image Genius (i.e. going into and coming out of the interview with the bland assurity that the band are genius, ‘the new Doors’, An Important Alternative Culture etc.) would be akin to a Blue Peter ‘interview’ where John Noakes chats to a fireman and comes away with the knowledge that a fireman has a difficult job. It would be an insult to your, mine and most likely Joy Division’s intelligence.

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Perhaps members of Joy Division KNEW that I was trying to break through their superficial image, I’m not sure. Whatever, they had obviously agreed beforehand to put up a barrier in front of their true nature.

Everything started off calmly enough. I spoke with singer Curtis and the guitarist (yes, ‘the guitarist’! I didn’t discover the names of the other three members of the band, such was the impersonality of their communication) who told me the band formed in May ’77 some time after they’d seen the Pistols, the catalyst of their inception.

Has the sound changed since then? Ian: “It’s changed quite a lot, yeah… it’s still changing now. We wrote those songs on the album a long time ago…the sound of the album isn’t dated, but style-wise it has.”

How long did you spend on the album? Ian: “Four and a half days at Strawberry. We worked, say, from 2 o’clock in the afternoon to 4 in the morning getting it done.”

Were you surprised by the favourable reactions it received? Ian: “Yeah, I’m a total pessimist, I suppose. I mean our first single got bad… I mean UNFAVOURABLE, but, I thought, very well written, reviews. One compared it to John Lennon, another to Stockhausen… the comparison between the two was quite good!” (general guffaws) Guitarist: “Thing is, we don’t go that much on reviews.”

If that latter remark is the case, I can only say each member spent an EXTRAORDINARY amount of time during the next three hours talking about the, ahem, Rock Press.

Similarly I ask themn about the mechanics of their music and with formulated stiffness, like rehearsed dummies under the eye of manager/overseer Rob Gretton, clearly not at his brightest on the day, they trotted-out statements about democracy and miraculous spontaneity in songwriting.

“We don’t want to give people straight answers. We’d rather they question things for themselves.” Ho hum.

The irony was, of course, that even by, as they thought, remaining inscrutable and, ahem, Obscure, the band provided us with gargantuan evidence of their pseudness and, more to the point, their cerebral shortcomings.

Ian remained contentedly silent as I became increasingly irritated by the absurd masquerade that was taking place. Manager Gretton (obviously assured of his own cleverness) and the berded bassist in particular, gave the impression that they suffered from serious mental deficiencies as they groped about in the dimness of their ‘attitudes’, smugly spouting non-sequiturs that wouldn’t sound too polished on a very bad episode of Crossroads, and generally giving the impression that they’d spent much too long watching B.B.C.2.

I suggest for instance that the nazi imagery of their first single confused a lot of people. No reaction. Much later I ask Ian how the band’s name came about, knowing by chance that Joy Division was the term used by the S.S. to describe the Jewish women they saved from the gas-chambers for their own pleasure. Ian tells me that it’s just a name.

I become angry.

Soon it is the bearded bassist who takes control of all the verbal rallies, with a bludgeoning, clumsy style, revealing raging neurotic symptoms as he tells me everything in inverse, ironic confessions.

“So you’re saying the lyrics are pessimistic, then, are you?” he bawls, as Slattery and self, knowing I hadn’t so much as mentioned the word ‘pessimistic’ throughout the conversation, can’t help but start laughing.

“Aw, fuck off…” the bearded-one tells me. I switch the tape off and get up to leave.

“Sorry, d’you want a drink?…”

I thought afterwards how pathetic that sounded: when it came to the crunch what they wanted more than anytthing else, more even than presenting me with an honest account of themselves (even if the contrived anti-image is really them) was a couple of pages of publicity in Sounds. So much for the vague physchology, so much for the steaming hot guitars, the chaps wanted A MENTION!

And later that evening I saw them live. The songs are even hotter and more vigorous than on the album, but on reflection suffer from a stunning lack of anything approaching contrasting humour. The black, overseriousness denies any real, life-like communication and you are left with what is by it’s very nature a contrived, engineered set of songs.

Later in the evening the guitarist was seen searching around the Mayflower for his ‘woolie’, which he’d lost. It was a funny, contrasting scene, but somehow I don’t think it’ll ever make it’s way into a Joy Division song. It’s maybe too close to reality for that.
It was such thoughts that drifted through my head as we rattled back down the blank highway the following evening. Conclusions began to form.

You can’t equate Joy Division’s earnest technique (grim dress, grim image) with the hard, real, financial, ‘Factory’ Records zeal in which they are plainly shackled. The ardour is always tempered by the money and no amount of undermilling obscurity will convince me that Joy Division’s static, murky militancy is real.

For, at the moment, the music is too supercilious (like the people) to ring true. It too often seems intended to make the listener to feel inadequate. On the other hand bands like the Gang Of Four have made good business out of the same mind-game. Maybe these days you like being made feel inadequate…

Maybe Joy Division don’t print their names on their records cos they’re frightened of something. It could be themselves.

© Dave McCullough

“Manchester : une cité, deux passions” au programme de L’Equipe Explore

Ce vendredi 8 avril, lequipe.fr dévoilera un nouveau sujet de sa série documentaire L’Equipe Explore consacré à la ville de Manchester, une cité où musique et foot font lever les foules.

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Il est des endroits où les passions rythment le quotidien. Prenez par exemple Manchester. Ville industrielle du nord de l’Angleterre, la cité voit ses habitants vibrer chaque soir de match pour les deux équipes locales : City et United. Mais le ballon rond n’est pas le seul à faire vivre des émotions intenses aux Mancuniens, également férus de rock. Logique, quand on sait que la ville a vu émerger l’un des groupes les plus prestigieux de l’histoire avec Oasis.

Pour sa série documentaire L’Equipe Explore (à découvrir sur lequipe.fr) , le journaliste Pierre-Etienne Minonzio s’est plongé dans l’ambiance atypique de cette ville à l’atmosphère unique. Histoire de comprendre comment foot et guitare cohabitent sous la grisaille britannique à travers des témoignages forts de figures locales comme Kevin Cummins, un photographe qui mettait en scène la passion du football d’Oasis. L’occasion aussi de découvrir les dessous du FC United, club “punk” de 6e division fondé par les supporters dissidents des Red Devils.

Une ballade rock’n’roll inédite alors que Manchester City vibrera ce soir au son de l’hymne de la Ligue des Champions au Parc des Princes…

New skin for the old ceremony

JD NO

New Order are not the remains of Joy Division.

They’re a whole new entity, struggling with a legend thrust upon them at an altogether pubescent stage, intensified to bursting point by Ian Curtis’ ultimate gesture/sacrifice/defeat/fantasy – use whichever word you prefer for legends are made of mystery.

Supporting the legend like wooden beams down a mine-shaft are the accusations of fascism suggested by their name. These are based on the implied link with the so-called New Order of European Fascism, a loose term referring to the way extreme right wing bodies have carried out atrocities against Jews and other minority groups… bombs in Madrid Cenral Station killing more than a hundred people… general violence in France… the ritual placing of pigs heads on Jewish graves.

Whereas Joy Division – who took their name from brothels set up in concentration camps for Nazi officers – were supposed to stand for the oppressed, the implications drawn from New Order are that they’re the oppressor, a monolith.

Yet by seeking to condemn this, the press have merely added an extra spicey lure, helping to put New Order beyond fashion; they look down on the mechanics of the industry as if on a cloud.

The legend fulfils rock’s precepts for danger and subversion. New Order gigs have the electricity of, say, Floyd’s days at the Roundhouse. Their first single “Ceremony” sprouted up at number 39 in the fun 40, swayed from side to side and fell down again – too tingling for the Radio 1 nerve-ends. It now sits in it’s gothic gold sleeve as if it was a throne, and wears it’s pagan seal like a crown.

“Ceremony” has a wistful crystallinity, a fragility, that doesn’t fade at the end but crumbles into sparkling powder. Bernard Albrecht’s vocals hold nothing back, his voice vulnerable and weak to the point of emotional nudity. He holds less of the desperation, the challenging, damning sadness Curtis had bled during “New Dawn Fades”… but once the textures are peeled away Albrecht’s performance has the solitude of an orphan, the fury of a lost child.

But turn the record over and, once it fights through the demure, atmospheric opening, “In A Lonely Place” turns into a monumentally fearful epic. Albrecht is unfeeling to the point of inhumanity and totally unflinching; the track has no conventional emotion. “In A Lonely Place” is the most evil record I’ve ever heard – a cruel record.

It’s evil seduces and it’s power numbs, forcing you into submission, instilling fear like a ritual sacrifice. Never have two such radically opposing songs sat on either side of a single…

I walk along the side of the Forum, Kentish Town, past a juggernaut carrying New Order’s equipment, and wander into the hall through a back door.

A swarm of flies pour into my face, stinging like lead-shot, flying in frenzied circles, unable to believe their luck at finding such a filthy, disgusting toilet as the one here.
The auditorium has the feel, the look, the decoration of 1918-45. The stage sits five feet or more above a sunken floor, sunken because the floor behind is raised, with railings running across it. A balcony lodges above, with that decoration sitting uncomfortably, intimidatingly on the cold grey stone, snarling at me from below a dizzily high ceiling.
The place is in semi-darkness.

I approach Pete Hook – shortish, stout bassist.

He doesn’t act how I expect. It is hard to think that such an unassuming person – someone seemingly so amused with everything and everybody – contributed to music which liberated emotions I didn’t think I had, or would ever be allowed to express.

It’s impossible to believe this is a guy who had contributed to a music which made me sob my heart out – a music which gave me courage and defiance.

On stage he wears his bass down to his knees and stands with exaggerated pigeon toes to reach the strings, like a gun slinger. His back is turned to the audience for most of the time – the detached wall to the self-created torture chamber of Ian Curtis.

I ask: “Did he ever affect you? Did Ian ever disturb you in any way?” He sits and struggles to tune his bass. I pursue him. “Did you ever become fearful that Ian was living out a fantasy which he might bring to some kind of conclusion?”

He’s so dismissive you’d think he’d spent his life working on Liquid Gold backing tracks, that air of amusement flickering permanently on his Ian Botham features.

I try again.

“Didn’t a line like ‘A Loaded Gun Won’t Set You Free… So You Say’ worry you?”

Pete sighs. “Well, I was just playing. He would write and sing. I didn’t really take a lot of notice of him. I couldn’t really, you have to concentrate on your own contribution.”
“Did you ever feel he was screwed up?”

He puffs out slightly, and titters, refusing to take anything seriously, twiddling with his bass to avoid a face to face discussion.

“Well he could be up there somewhere, looking down on us and thinking how stupid we are.” He runs a hand over his stubble that has grown into a beard over recent weeks.

“Anyway, screwed up by whose standards? Everyone is screwed up… I am screwed up!”

“Did you have any doubts about continuing?”

“No, none. That’s the last thing you think about. What am I supposed to do? I am a musician, that’s all I can do. I couldn’t give up just because Ian died.”

“Continuing was the most natural thing to do, there were no doubts. Yes, Ian’s death was a surprise, it was totally unexpected. And the first meeting after it happened was short and very difficult. But we had to continue.”

“How did you arrive at the name New Order?”

He begins to take a string off and replace it.

“Well, picking a name isn’t a personal thing, it is for the group. It isn’t for one person to pick the name, you have to have one which you can all agree on. There was no planning, we just didn’t arrive at the name New Order.”

The amusement hardens slightly, and he bends his head towards me to pick up a dropped string, showing a pencil sharp parting.

“A name is with you for a long time, and it has to be the right one.”

But is it the right one? The press have linked it with right-wing groups. You have a rather disturbing aura, and conclusions can be drawn, I suggest.

“The press draw a picture of us having a load of Nazis following us around in their jack-boots, marching up and down, doing the goose step.”

“What do we have to do? Apply to the NME book of names?”

What about the imagery though? The presentation?

“Oh, you mean the goose stepping on stage!” He begins to enjoy his own humour. “No!
What do you mean?”

I find myself smiling. “You may not be, but you suggest it… God this sounds awful.” We both laugh. “In your days as Warsaw you provoked considerable scorn for being ‘fascist’.”
“I don’t know about that,” he pleads, leaning out of his chair and straightening the backside out of his light blue suit. “You shouldn’t believe everything you read. You see I like the sleeve to the single.”

You think that might be suspicious then? Because I didn’t mean that in particular.

“Yeah, but when you talk about images, what else can you mean? I like the sleeve.”

Are you conscious of the mystique of New Order?

“What do you mean?”

Do you feel restricted by the large following you have now?

“No. As I said, I am a musician. I just play, and you can’t take a lot of notice of the audience because you would become too conscious of what you were doing. I don’t pay attention to the audience down there, I don’t think like that at all.”

“We will never ever play to an audience.”

He puts his bass down on the floor and faces me for the first time. Probably for the first time, too he’s beginning to commit himself to his answers, forgetting about the group’s traditional refusal to talk to journalists.

Does a large audience put pressure on you? Will New Order ever tour to satisfy a demand?

“I am not interested in all that. We just do what we want to do. It is alien just to think about it.”

“We have never done it before, and there is no prospect of doing it now.”

But surely, it was different with Joy Division, before Ian’s death. Now you have a wider following. Do you think the new audience for New Order are a betrayal, are they being dishonest?

“It is something which bugs you, yes.”

I spent a lot of time trying to annoy him a little, being a touch outrageous to force him to clarify. Sometimes this was successful, sometimes it just caused him even greater amusement.

Hook is a contrast to Curtis, seemingly impervious to Joy Division’s examination in minute detail of mankind’s terrifying blind journey. He might have deliberately reserved his feelings, not able to pain over them – maybe for fear of them. But I got the impression that he took little notice of what Curtis sang, or at least, the implications of what he sang.

NO JD

He didn’t want to draw a conclusion, he wants everyone to draw their own.

He’s flattered by the aura, the mystique. He prefers the question marks.

Rob Gretton wanders in front of the mixing desk, under a small marquee, it’s lights and guages shimmering like brass on Salvation Army uniforms as the band play under the park pavilion.

Steve Morris swings and thrashes his drums through the soundcheck. This allows me to appreciate fully the kind of propulsion that ran in a steely backbone down “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

Then Gillian appears, and gives a cold blast of “Atmosphere”, the nearest New Order come to playing old songs. If you allow her to, Gillian merges into the background, her music merely a vital but definite back-drop; but her statuesque nonchalance is disturbing. She washes the music with a synthesised black magic, and adds a constant, spikey guitar. She stares with transfixed blankness, as if the building, the audience, and the actions of her colleagues are on a screen, part of a trash movie. She can disappear or disturb.

Pete Hook walks across the stage, holding the bottom of his tie to stop it from flapping around. It is often said when someone is a good musician that the instrument becomes part of them. But to Hook it is an instrument, something hot and dangerous – a weapon to release on the audience. He grapples, and battles, inspiring himself to find the depth of power so forthright in the music.

Bernard Albrecht is slight, but not boyish. More contained, like the character out of Gunter Grass’s “The Tin Drum”, bush-baby eyes rounded so much they could be revolving. His ears cup an acute, menacing haircut – emphasising a small head.

“He looks so young, as though he were a sixth-former or something,” says a girl in my ear. But this is while he is in the background. Close up he looks older, and the would-be school uniform is of a thicker cloth, more Forties style than Eighties uniform. He wears a coarse grey jumper, but no jacket, although the tailoring of the trousers makes me think there must be one to match.

His voice is not tired, it is exhausted. Too weak to be expressional, fighting to find enough pressure in the chest to have any more solidity than the smell of fresh cut grass.

I talk to him about Europe, specifically about Berlin, where New Order are to go next.

“It was really strange… when we went there with Joy Division… the atmosphere… strange… It was quite a lot like Manchester… Berlin… It had a cold atmosphere …”

He looks a little to the side, his thought patterns weakening. “Anonymous… an evil atmosphere. You could feel the evil… You could feel it from the war.”

You could? In what way?

“It was amazing… just the feel… of… of…”

Of what had been going on – the violence and death?

“Yes, it was really strange. Last time we played Cologne as well as Berlin, this time we will be playing Hamburg, Berlin and other places.”

Why do you feel the need to go to Europe? What is the point to it?

“There is no point as such; it’s just something we want to do, to get away.”

We are sitting in a corner of the hall, under the balcony, where the light is even thinner.

And the whites of his eyes are glowing slightly, over emphasising them. I try to understand which emotion they are showing, but it doesn’t register on any conventional scale.

“We shall be playing clubs and places,” he concludes, after a long drift away from the conversation, although looking straight at me all the time. This is not off-putting, but mesmeric.

Do you regret not being able to play small seedier places in Britain any more?

“Yes.”

How do you find success?

“It is confusing, but having more people like us won’t stop us, we must continue… it doesn’t matter so long as we are achieving something, doing something new and not just reproducing ourselves.”

It must be enormously difficult not to play Joy Division songs for an audience who desperately want to hear them. At your first concert you practically told your audience that if they had come for Joy Division songs then they should go home, didn’t you?

“It is difficult not to play Joy Division songs… but it is upsetting,” he says, rounding out every syllable of ‘upsetting’. “It is upsetting to play them after all the work we put into Joy Division with Ian. Without Ian they are not the same.”

How did Ian’s death affect you? Pete took the view that he had to take it philosophically, that he is a musician who has to carry on. Is that how you cope?

“I will never be able to cope. Ian’s death will affect me for now, and forever, I will never be able to forget it. Personally, as a friend… it means so much to me… regardless of the group… as a friend.

“Friendship has always been more important, that is what produces the music.”

He puts his chin down to his chest suddenly. “He was a real good friend,” he concludes, the voice sharpened, and the lips tightening to maintain the calm.

What led up to his suicide? I ask. And suddenly the closeness between us and the sorrow that we both feel rising, causes me to swallow very hard indeed. Bernard notices, and deflects his eyes.

“Well, hundreds of reasons pile on top of each other… Some people feel it, some people don’t. Some people are hard skinned about life, but Ian was not.

“Things like… Ian could not ignore his problems, even the little ones, the things which crop up from day to day in every person’s life. He tried, yes he tried, but he couldn’t.”

“There are many different sides to people and I could not describe the complexity of Ian’s personality in a whole day I don’t think.”

“He was not a weird guy. He was a normal person like anyone else, that was the thing about it, but a very emotional person, and some people can show their emotions, but he didn’t show his, except on rare occasions. In his lyrics.”

I suggest that his words were a therapy, a way of releasing pressures brewing up inside, but in fact his death showed that they were simply magnifying his problems.

“Yes,” says Bernard. “Since Ian died we have had to work a lot harder. It wasn’t difficult to take over singing; the main problem is to sing and play at the same time… that is extremely difficult.”

He smiles faintly. He seems to be feeling relief, and release.

“Gillian has been a big help and without her not a lot would have been possible.
You can only do so much. After he died we had a bit of a break to think things out, we never doubted that we would go on, and after the break we started to rehearse again.”

“His death was stunning… I was very shocked. It is one of those things which is so bad you can’t believe it is true, you don’t want to believe it is true. The break was a way to sort of comprehend things.”

“Steve knew Gillian already.”

You chose the name New Order. Why?

“You are talking about the fascist link aren’t you? In fact we thought it was a neutral name. It was just fate what happened, the talk about it, it was just a coincidence. It doesn’t mean anything, it is not fascist, and I say this to you now to clear it all up. You see… when all the accusations were made, the press did it quite independently… they made their own minds up. We are not fascists… Maybe a few thousand people believe that, but we are not interested in politics… I have never been interested in politics.”

In what ways do you think the music of New Order differs from that of Joy Division? Do you think it is darker, perhaps a little brutal?

“I don’t know. Ian used to write the lyrics and in that way we have changed, because we all write them now. We all contribute towards the music… there isn’t one song which any one of us wrote.”

Are you more brutal do you think?

“Well if we are then it has just happened like that. We never plan the way it should go… we just see what might happen tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen next. That is it really, we are growing, the music it comes from our feelings together, and from a natural empathy between us. We play and it comes out… we release it… it is a part of us that we can not explain… we do not know where it comes from… it is natural.”

You said earlier that you found your success confusing. What did you mean by that?

He takes time to think about his reply.

“You don’t realise it when you are successful… I feel dubious about it when people come to see us. It doesn’t feel natural… it doesn’t feel natural like…you have to be careful because success becomes a reason in itself.”

© Neil Rowland & Melody Maker

Out of Order

Frank Worrall confronts NEW ORDER’s PETER HOOK.

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Even Michael Fagan would think twice before confronting New Order. Apart
from their famed reluctance to so much as look the press in the eye, there are
other more worrying factors to take note of, like the litter of uncompromising
security “people” blocking every conceivable avenue to the band.
See, this is The Hacienda, Manchester, the introspective four’s own palace.
New Order actually own shares in the club, so it’s hardly surprising they’ve
taken staunch steps to safeguard their privacy.
Luckily, there’s a stooge in every crowd. Luckily, he’s the one who demands
to know our identities as we bid to breach the backstage cordon of heavies.
Somehow, I manage to convince him we’re in the sharp pop group, Cabaret
Voltaire, and that New Order are expecting, nay waiting for us!
Within seconds we’re hot on the heels of actual Cabman, Mal, and in the
dressing room. Inside it’s a confusing, sweaty hive of superficial activity.
Voices screech and fools make bigger fools of themselves. But I breathe a sigh
of relief at the sight of some more invigorating personalities, like Mark E
Smith, A Certain Ratio, Section 25 and Mike Pickering. The driving force
behind the Hacienda’s push to it’s current status as Britain’s best club,
Pickering is talking to Rob Gretton.
Gretton is New Order’s manager and seeing him sends ominous warning signals
scattering across my brain. I recall a negative telephone conversation with
him two months earlier, when he’d blown me out after I’d attempted to set up
an interview with his group.
“I’ll get back to you,” he’d pledged. He never did.
Still, we’d got this far… I grabbed Mike, asked him to see what he could
do for us and found myself face to face with Gretton. “I spoke to you on the
‘phone!” he said. “Now you want to talk?” I nodded.
Gretton shouted across to Peter Hook, exchanged frivolities, turned his face
back to us and smiled. We were in business.

The New Order interview proved to be surprising, sincere and well worth
the 50 minutes of tape it gobbled up. In fact, it was similar to the music
Britain’s most outstandingly inventive group have just put down on record.
New Order contend their “Power, Corruption And Lies” album, due out next
month, is the most impressive statement they have made so far. Having heard
half of it’s eight songs on stage a few hours before, I readily agree.
“Power” sees New Order taking daring steps forward – way ahead of anything
they have created previously and hopefully dismissing once and for all the
“extension of Joy Division” albatross around their necks. “Power” documents
New Order flirting with soaring rhythms and irresistible passion and honesty.
“Power” is no dozy escape: it’s an intensive insight into life and it’s
delicious idiosyncracies. “Power” is a warning to those who would shrug off
New Order as purveyors of gloom. It tackles typical subjects – pride, anger,
depression, sadness, happiness, jealousy – and emerges triumphant.
“Power” is the story of a group building upon it’s obvious strengths,
building effectively upon the glory of “Temptation” and it’s themes. It
represents the true blooming of the seeds of originality; a destruction of the
Joy Division ethos.
With their new songs New Order are shouting, pleading with a public,
obsessed by the Joy Division aura, to give them a break. To see them as a new
band!
Personally, I’d admired their singles – the power of “Ceremony”, the mystery
of “Everything’s Gone Green” and the sweet pop insecurity of “Temptation” – but
felt that New Order were still nowhere near any sort of zenith. The album,
“Movement”, exemplified an uncertain, almost unstable desire to break new
ground: unfortunately it wasn’t even a glorious failure, sounding more like a
mirror of a group sucking in too many past influences and drowning any new
ambitions amid a sad lack of self-confidence. Now it’s the other way round:
now I believe we can expect New Order to climb mountains.

Peter Hook sits quietly in a corner. He’s winding down after New Order’s
brilliant performance only minutes earlier on the Hacienda stage. He smiles
apprehensively as I approach, waves his hand to the seat in front of him and
eyes me curiously.
I remember the times on stage when Hook used to push himself to the point
where the veins in his neck bulged frighteningly. I remember the time when he
used to seethe next to Ian Curtis on stage, bass lines cutting through the
unforgettable chaos. Now I remember Peter Hook as an intelligent, perceptive
man.
In contrast to the crazy days of Joy Division, he now appears refreshingly
lucid and coherent. When he talks, he tugs his chin pensively, keen to set the
record straight. Hook has become New Order’s eloquent leader: while we chat,
Bernard will keep at a distance with acquaintances. And there’s no sign of
Gillian or Steve.
At first, Peter leaps to the defensive. Probably, he’s a little worried
about committing himself to black and white questions. Probably he’s a little
worried about the interview situation itself and how to handle it – given the
almost total media black-out New Order have constantly maintained.
But as the questions get more interesting and probe deeper, he starts to
wake up and tackles them with increasing thought and ferocity.
We begin on predictable territory. I ask why New Order won’t talk to the
music papers. Has it been a deliberate ploy to promote an image of mystery –
and, ultimately, to help sell records via that image?
“No! It’s never been a ploy. We just don’t like sitting down in front of
somebody who’s got a prepared list of questions. It’s so artificial that it
doesn’t seem worth wasting time on. And any answers we give will never come
out that well in print, anyway.”
He’s distracted by Kay Carroll, The Fall’s manager, talking nearby and I
begin to wish we’d already got the basic questions out of the way. I apologise
in advance and ask if they’ve got over Ian’s death.
“We’ve accepted it with the passing of time but, of course, we still miss
him. It would have been nice to have seen how we’d have developed if Ian was
still around. I wish we’d had the chance, you know.”
I wish I’d never asked the question as we both temporarily drift off into
some interminably sad space. I try to get us back on stronger ground by
remarking that talking to New Order and not mentioning Ian Curtis is like
talking to the Germans and not mentioning the war. That sets us smiling again.
Why, I wonder, do you not tackle topical subjects? New Order has none of the
contemporary edge that Joy Division had.
“You mean unemployment, the Falklands and things like that? Well basically
we couldn’t give a shite about those things! We do what we do: we write music
and play it. we play it and record it because we think it’s good. Simple as
that.
“Last week I saw The Au Pairs live. They were doing songs about womens’
rights. But that sort of thing doesn’t interest us. That’s not what it’s all
about. Doing our job well is all that matters to us.”
We toy with the idea of New Order being topical in the sense that they
concern themselves with every day emotions.
“Yeah, we write personal songs – about relationships between people – and
explore areas of them. Now we all help write the songs, whereas Ian wrote them
when we were Joy Division.”

Considering that New Order have turned into such an intimately positive
group, I put it that they should perhaps spread a little more of this warmth
to their fans when they play.
“But why should we tell them what to do? They don’t come to hear us waste
their time with stupid talk. I don’t want us to patronise them like that!”
But would you not be upset if they stopped coming to see you because they
considered you aloof and arrogant?
“I don’t give a shit if they come or if they don’t! They will come if they
like what they see the first time round – if they can relate to something
we’ve got on offer.”
If I were a fan of yours reading this, I should be mighty upset by the
comments you’ve just made – about not “giving a shit” about me.
“No, what I mean by that is I credit them with the intelligence to decide
for themselves. If they want to listen to us and watch us, then they will do.
I don’t think anyone could be stupid enough to worry about me saying
‘goodnight’!”
Do you worry about the sort of audience you attract, though? I mean New
Order are emerging as an uplifting dance unit, so does it not upset you that
so few people actually move, let alone dance at your gigs?
Peter pushes his hand swiftly through his hair, looks me straight in the
eyes and appears to be slightly exasperated at the line of questioning.
“Why should I worry about what the audience do? If I just wanted them to
dance I’d be up there at the front giving it the old crap, ‘I wanna see you
all dancing out there!’ If they want to dance, then great. I’m all for it. But
if they don’t, they don’t. Fair enough. It’s their lives!”
Given that New Order are becoming a magnificent rhythm machine and that the
kids do need hints to put them on a new direction, I disagree with him. I
believe New Order should be encouraging their fans to have fun: to help them
realise it’s no longer “the done thing” to stand around analysing.
New Order are definitely no longer a gloom band. Still, that’s by the way. I
tell Peter many people are worried by the length of the New Order set. Isn’t a
standardly brusque 45 minute show something of an insult?
“No, and what a pile of shit to say it is! When I go to see a band I’m bored
silly after 40 minutes – it seems a right length of time! We only play 40
minutes because that’s the perfect length for the set. See, it’s compact; we
can do everything we want to do in that period of time.
“And I’m not interested in the idea of playing out the encore game, anyway.
We respect our audience too much to have them waiting around like mugs for us.
I hate the idea of coming back on as a matter of fact. Encores are so cold!”

You only do a select few concerts each year. Is that why you demand such
a mercenary fee when you do play live? Are you respecting your audience in
charging £2,000 a gig?
“That’s not big money, though, when you think about all the expenses we’ve
got to take out. What about the PA and things like that? We don’t get any
money from concerts – it goes towards paying for the practice room, the road
crew etc. You accuse us of being mercenary – well, I’m on 72 quid a week!”
I doubt if the public would believe that when your records shift such
extraordinary numbers of units?
“Look, I don’t care what they believe! It’s the truth!”
We dash feverishly along the same tangent and halt abruptly at the word
“popularity”. Does Peter believe New Order would have been as big a draw as
they undoubtedly are now if Joy Division hadn’t opened the way?
“Who can say? I certainly believe that the music we are producing is worthy
of a big audience. We’re always maturing, always developing and that’s
probably why people develop with us. As Joy Division we moved on from the
music of Warsaw and as New Order we’re moving on from the music of Joy
Division.”
With the mention of Warsaw, we muse about the current state of the pop
industry. I tell Peter we’re back in a pre-punk position, where London
dictated all the moves. He disagrees.
“I don’t think London dictated what we did in the early days of Warsaw. It
happened first in London with the Pistols, yeah, but that doesn’t mean to say
everything followed suit outside. We had our own ideas, our own motivations.”
But Joy Division weren’t “punk” as, say, Warsaw were, in attitude?
“No? You should have seen some of the early Joy Division gigs!”
Well ,what do you think of today’s music “scene”? You’ve told me you watch a
lot of bands – what do you personally like? Duran Duran or The Box?
“Duran’s singles sound alright but I wouldn’t go to see them. The Box, I’ve
never heard of!”
Peter indulges in a little chuckle at my attempts to break open his personal
shell. We fly into a series of one-line question/answer briefs, before taking
a five minute break.
Why are New order so successful Peter? Is it due in a large part to the
mystique you have encouraged.
“No. That’s the impression people like you have given of us. We’ve never
deliberately isolated ourselves for any ulterior motives.”

You’re a good guitarist but you do tend to emerge as a quaint parody of the
axe heo?
“I do? Maybe it’s because I’m so involved on stage; I’m no hero!”
Why are the concerts so infrequent?
“Because we like to spend time in the studio getting the music right. And
also because we do tours abroad – like recently we’ve been touring Australia.”
How did that go?
“It didn’t give me any thrills! It was alright. People are pretty much the
same all over the world!”

Five minutes adjournment, and then we talk about the important development
of confidence within New Order.
“Yeah, Bernard’s voice has come on a lot, like the guitars and our sound.
Put it down to practice. Yeah, we did think about getting a new singer after
Ian’s death. Now I’m glad we didn’t.”
Do you consider yourself elitist? I mean you always play the “in” places.
Why don’t you play Hartlepool or Doncaster?
“Because we don’t get asked to play those places! But someone’s asked us to
play Stoke – and yes, we’re going to!”
Why is there not more of a visual challenge to New Order live?
“Well, I think screens are superfluous – but the idea of nice lighting
appeals to me.”
But hasn’t the lighting been a failure in that it invariably depicts you as
a gloom band?
“I don’t think Andy, our lighting guy, would like to hear you say that! We
don’t have gloomy lighting – I should know because I get blinded enough by the
bright lights!”
What’s it feel like to be a star?
“I don’t know. If I ever get to be one I’ll let you know! I don’t like the
way small bands get a bad deal now. Like, there are loads of little bands who
have a real fight on their hands to even get a gig. I can remember the time
when bands could get gigs all around Manchester, no matter how well known they
were.”
What do you think of Manchester now as a thriving musical centre?
“There are still bands who will come through. Obviously. We came through so
why shouldn’t others?”
Why don’t you plough some of your money back into helping up-and-coming
groups in Manchester?
“What do you think Factory’s doing! The money Factory earns is put back
into other bands.”
You talk about Factory with respect. Does that mean you would never sign for
a “major” label?
“It would depend if it was on our terms. Factory is major, in the sense it’s
got a lot of pull.”
Can I bore you with this question: Why the name New Order?
“Thinking of a name is very much like thinking of a tune. You put forward
suggestions and you pick the one you think sounds the best. People like to
attach importance to the name New Order: there is none. It just came to us.”
You seem to revel in a clever anti-image that makes the public curious
about you because you’re unobtainable. Is that part of the reasoning behind
the rather stoic record sleeve designs?
“I don’t think anyone wants to see my face on an album sleeve. I consider
myself to be uninteresting. That’s the reasoning.”

The time glass has all but run its course. People are calling to Peter
every other minute: I sense the New Order interview is almost at an end.
Peter’s girlfriend has put her coat on and Peter has virtually lost his
interest in talking.
Time for one last question. When I’ve asked it, Peter’s eyes are filled
with a wicked sparkle.
“No, I’m not really interested in doing any more interviews. Life’s more
interesting when people are talking about you all the time, just because you
won’t talk with them. I’m totally intrigued by it all, you know!”
The last time I saw Peter Hook, he was slipping quickly out of the room,
oblivious to a swarm of sycophantic admirers. Keeping ahead by keeping his
head.

© Frank Worrall & Melody Maker