Peter Hook & The Light
I am sure that you admit that you invented a very unique way of playing the bass that is often copied, never equaled. Anyway, did it take you long before you invented that style, and how were the reactions, as after all, I guess nobody sounded like Peter Hook in 1977.
It wasn’t as clear as that at the time. It wasn’t like you’ve started playing and it was “wow”. You know chorus, which is what it is, has been around for a long time. I think it was Bernard who suggested the combination of the bass and chorus because of the way the group was writing at the time. I was playing high, it would be better if my sound was fatter. So he suggested a chorus pedal which basically doubles your sound. I didn’t get it until after Unknown Pleasures. So if you if you listen closely to Unknown Pleasures you will notice that it has no chorus. Starting from Closer it really becomes part of the sound. A lot of the songs were written before the chorus pedal. So people seem to think that chorus pedal came first, but it didn’t, it came after. The style of playing and the way of writing the bass parts was well established before the chorus. So when it came along, it was very nice because it did make it fatter but it also makes things softer. If you listen to Unknown Pleasures the songs are more aggressive, when you go to Closer, because of the chorus pedal, the songs are actually softer, more melancholic. The chorus has an melancholic sound, so it makes you write in a different way. So on Closer some songs have it on, others don’t. When we were jamming we would experiment with which songs it sounded the best. I was Bernard’s suggestion (god damn him!) but it wasn’t the way around.
Lots of things have been said about Joy Division, but if I ask Peter Hook what was the most beautiful moment of Joy Division, what is his answer then?
The group was very together, I remember that. But once Ian got ill, it was hard to enjoy anything, because it was always tampered by worrying about his illness or witnessing his illness. I think my happiest moments with Joy Division, as much as I hate to say it, has been since I am playing it since 2010 with The Light. Because you are playing the music and people are appreciating the music, really without anything of the angst.
Joy Division were a very serious band because we didn’t know whether we were going to make it, or not. So everything was very intense and very serious. And because of Ian’s illness we were very worried. So we were never a happy-go-lucky band. There was always something that brought you back to reality. Now playing it without Ian, whilst it is not as good and it’s different, you are able to enjoy it.
People have lived with the music for many years and are so happy to hear it. There is a great sense of appreciation for doing this. So really I have to say that that my happiest times is playing Joy Division now, but it’s different. When we formed the group it was a wonderful time and when we achieved anything it was great! There were times, like when we got the Buzzcocks tour.... wow, you know the excitement! Everything was been done for the first time, it was wonderful. So it’s a different kind of happiness. Joy Division have always, and still are, very angsty. You know Stephen and Bernard are openly hostile to me playing Joy Division now. It’s causing a lot of trouble for me. So it not free of it, but when you play and you see the audience react so well. You think, well how can somebody be grudge? It doesn’t make sense, and then they go and contradict themselves by playing Joy Division. and calling themselves Forever Joy Division. The problem with New Order was it was never do as I do, it was always do as I say. And the contradiction in peoples actions were terrible. And again, they say you shouldn’t play Joy Division. It’s always very angsty. Joy Division seems to attract that angst. So my happiest times are playing the music. Because I have to put up with all the crap. When I sit down on my computer in my room at home and dealing constantly with legal threats. It’s a shame because really, all people want is to hear and enjoy the music. They don’t care who plays it. They like it when I play Joy Division, but I’m sure they also like it when Bernard and Stephen play it. I’m sure the audience goes mental. But someone should ask them why can you play Joy Division and Hooky can’t. It’s very strange.
I am sure that every day someone asks you to listen to their demo?
I get a lot of demo’s. People are always wanting to get confirmation. Can you let me now if you like it? And then they put it on as a recommendation. You know Joy Division and New Order had no recomendations. You have to believe in yourself. Getting somebody else to justifie your existence or your quality, is not the way. You should believe in yourself!
Just like so many fans I was very impressed by Control by anton Corbijn. Do you think this movie kind of gave the right idea who and what Joy Division was?
It caught the mood of the people and the mood of the time perfectly. Anton knows us well and coached all the actors to be as much like us as possible...in his opinion, which was pretty close.
In fact, to which bands do you listen yourself, Peter? Any recommendations?
No, it’s mainly dance and old stuff I listen too...saying that Leonard Cohen’s new one was great. Recently I heard a great track by Balthazar, they sound like New Order, a bit like my bass playing. I shazamed it, and it was Then what by Balthazar.
Lots of people forget that you were a punk as well, in the sense that you did everything yourself. Today the music industry is dead and the power is given to the musicians. What’s your opinion about it?
Well, the contradiction there was that in punk, that was what we wanted. The industry is boring but I think that now the problem lies with the consumption of music and people, everyone wants more of both too quickly. There is no depth or loyalty to anything (laughs).
I hope you don’t mind for asking, please forgive me if you do. Apart from New Order and Joy Division, you also played in bands that were neglected outside the UK like Revenge and Monaco. How are your feelings about that?
That’s life...you win some, you lose some...The happiest band I ever played in has been The Light, now that is what matters (laughs)
I know musicians simply hate it, but I have to! What’s your favorite Joy Division and New Order-song, Peter?
Today......24 hours and Here to Stay
Any new music coming up?
I have lots of things to do. People ask me lots of things. I’m doing a cover version for an American label. A track called Dancing madly backwards by a group called Captain Beyond. I’ve just done a track with Rusty Egan for his LP. I did a track in France with The Limiñanas which was a hit in France. I was on a Air France flight, and you know when they land they put music on, they played that song which was a nice suprice. I’m doing some tracks with Reverend and The Makers. I’m also doing a track with Wolfgang Flür from Kraftwerk. I’m doing the Haçienda Classical again this year, which is nice.
This summer you play in Belgium (W-fest). Why should people come to see you, Peter, except from the fact that they see the man on stage who invented post-punk?
Apart from that, they will see an honest and passionate rendition of two types of music that changed the world...both musically and culturally....Honest
Artist interview bij ANN CNOCKAERT - Luminous Dash