‘This is a very thick book’, I told Peter Hook when he was signing my copy on Friday night. His new ‘Substance: Inside New Order’ is a heavy orange 750-page brick, which he was signing for hundreds of fans at the Regent, with the same large smile and good humor. He jokingly told me that the book could also be used to slam people in the face, while making the gesture to go with it.
Peter Hook was funny and lively the whole evening which was organized by Book Soup, as he talked with Moby about life, music, and his third part brick-like memoir for a bit less than an hour. It was a stimulating and enjoyable conversation, as Hook is quite an entertaining man, cracking jokes with the awesome relax air of British people. It’s difficult to think this guy was in the most morose, depressed and tortured band ever, Joy Division, as noticed Moby, who fondly remembered meeting the New Order members for the first time when he toured with them in 2001, expecting guys at the image of their music: ‘I am an obsessed Joy Division and New Order fan, and I envisioned you sitting in a dark room, wearing black and grey clothes. But instead I met the friendliest and happiest people, saying ‘come on’ we are all going to get fucked up!’’
The new book, ‘Substance: Inside New Order’ is Hook’s third book, it focused on the 80’s and the rise of New Order, and the long narration is supposed to be ‘the most complete and truthful record of life inside New Order as is humanly possible’. I still wonder how he manages to find the time to write this much, when I barely find the time to read books, but Peter insists, you can read this new one, without having read the two previous ones, ‘The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club’, and ‘Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division’.
Still, this doesn’t explain his prolific production, and his intact memory, considering that drugs are obviously at the center of ‘Substance’. Beside the story about ordinary young men making extraordinary music, there are a lot of drug stories. ‘There are phenomenal levels of debauchery in the book,’ said Moby at one point, ‘The Guardian review compares New Order to the degeneracy of Led Zeppelin!’
‘Did you realize the depth,… the breath of degeneracy that you guys involved yourselves into? Did you remember how this started?’ insisted Moby who later admitted to have done cocaine for the last time in 2007, after seeing the Anton Corbijn’s biopic, ‘Control’, because he was so emotionally drained. ‘I had no self-control whatsoever’, admitted Hook. ‘The more success you achieve, the more they give you’. Hook has included in the book many on-the-road anecdotes about groupies, alcohol and drugs… ‘What can I say,’ continued Hook, ‘Any of you would have taken advantage of it, most of you have!’ he laughed while looking at the front row of the Regent.
Hook is not the type to lament about the past, he doesn’t regret any of it – and why would he? He doesn’t even look his age and is sharp as a tack! ‘Being sober has a lot of advantages,’ he adds ‘but I would not change anything.’
He also admits being an avid reader of musical biographies, ‘The best one I have read was by Gene Simmons, that was not expected! Simmons was a good one, Billy Idol was a shit one, Chrissie Hynde’s was a very good book,’ although he jokes about her bitchy side. He has a pile to read at home, Ginger Baker’s ‘Hellraiser’, Moby’s ‘Porcelain’, Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’, but he could also release a fourth book soon, may be ‘The triumph of the will,… Outside New Order’, with some left over of this last one, which was supposed to be even longer! ‘None of my three books has a happy ending, so I am hoping that the fourth will have one.’
He actually never thought he would write ‘Substance’, it was a difficult thing to embark on, but he changed his mind when Bernie Sumner published ‘Chapter and Verse’: ‘When Barney’s book came out, he shocked me because he devoted 100 pages to 30 years of New order and 70 at calling me a twat!’ he said. ‘Substance’ could well be an answer to Barney’s.
There’s nothing Hook would not talk about, he has confessed to Moby, who didn’t hesitate to ask him ‘What did Barney’s farts smell like?’… ‘Curiously bitter,’ Hook answered playing with the metaphor till the end. ‘Now that’s not what I had envisioned when I was listening to these gentle, poignant songs!’ replied Moby.
New Order are considered as pioneers, creators of a new genera combining dance and rock, ‘There was such a division between rock music and electronic music,’ said Moby, ‘You were the first to embrace dance music and dance culture’, he added while Peter explained that, at the time, the equipment was extremely expensive, ‘We were carrying all our money in cases, we had no money’. And if were wondering about the transition between Joy Division and New Order: ‘We were using limited electronics during Joy Division,’ he continued, ‘but Ian was obsessed with dancing music… ‘When we came to America, we had all our gears stolen. We lost our singer, we lost our band, then lost our gears and we had a clean sheet to work on when we were back to England’. This was the time when they completely embraced electronica.
Peter Hook is not a nostalgic, and if he cites the posthumously-released ‘Closer’ as his favorite album — ‘I feel sad for Barney and Steve who never got to play ‘Closer’ — he admits to never listen to New Order. ‘New Order has always had this sad edge to it, because of what happened to Joy Division, we never, never got over it’. And sorry for all the nostalgic fans, there is no time or not enough money for a New Order reunion in his mind: ‘Do you know much money you could make if New Order would reform?’ asked Moby. ‘It’s not about money,’ Hook replied… ‘We have been bad. Once you delve into the business of doing something for money, I find it very difficult,’ he added while admitting they never had any money anyway. ‘I feel very lucky, still enjoying what I am doing.’ The other possibility of forming another dream supergroup, like for example involving Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore and Dave Gahan and Johnny Marr is also out of question, ‘No,’ simply answered Hook, ‘Marr asked me to do a record with him before he asked Barney, but I was too loyal to New Order!’… ‘And he denied it in an interview!’ Did Marr pick the Barney’s camp in the New Order dispute? It looks that way.
‘Like for any other divorce, you lose people and you gain people… But I got the best people!’ said Hook.
Ryan Adams is currently playing the best shows of his career
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1972 (Volume 4, Number 5)
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Creem -America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1971 (Volume 3, Number 6)
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