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April.15 Cover - Peter Hook
Written by Jeff Clark   

ImageThe Pleasure Principle
Peter Hook Sees The Light

With a distinctive style that stands out to this day, those prominent, throbbing basslines sticking in your noggin for perpetuity, Peter Hook was one of the primary architects of the essential post-punk sound.

With the short-lived but tremendously influential group Joy Division, the interzone where his upfront pulse countered Bernard Sumner’s sharp, targeted guitar tones and Stephen Morris’ spare drumbeats propelled the despair of Ian Curtis’ painful lyrics and intense delivery into a realm that’s equally danceable and disturbing. Though many have attempted to replicate that sound, no one’s ever come close to the unnerving, powerful effect Joy Division’s music could ignite in the lost souls it touched. They were truly one of a kind.

That was all cut short when Curtis, only 23 years old, hanged himself on the eve of Joy Division’s first tour of the United States in May 1980. Perhaps surprisingly, Hook, Sumner and Morris almost immediately decided to carry on. Not as Joy Division – they wisely recognized such a course was impossible. Nor did they attempt to continue down the exact same musical style, but instead embarked on a fresh direction that, in its own way, proved every bit as influential as Joy Division had been. Soon joined by Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert (on keyboards, mainly), with Sumner now as singer and lyricist and, as always, Hooky’s bass melodies boldly pronounced in the mix, New Order weaved electronic dance music with their post-punk instincts, creating a style that defined the music of the ‘80s in a major way.

By the mid-90s, New Order went through alternating periods of inactivity and rebirth before splitting up in 2007, supposedly for good. Sumner, Morris and Gilbert, however, subsequently reformed New Order in 2011, sans Hook, much to the bass player’s dismay. For his part, Hook has formed a band called The Light, featuring his son Jack Bates on second bass as well as former members of Hook’s ‘90s bands Revenge and Monaco. And they’re doing something New Order never did – performing all of the classic Joy Division songs, as well as early New Order favorites, including full albums by both bands, to the delight of longtime fans and newcomers alike who never got to experience the authentic articles. And, like the fans, Hook seems to be thoroughly, unapologetically enjoying his modern day journey through the past…

As the story goes, you decided to start what became Joy Division after seeing the Sex Pistols, right?

“Right, June the 4th, 1976. And about 50 people at the gig. And I think about 40 of them went on to form Manchester groups. So, yeah, it was a hell of a night.”

That must have been just an incredible time period during which to grow up in England and see all those bands and become a part of it.

“Yeah, I mean, as a musician, you know, I’ve been very lucky – in England, particularly – to see a lot of musical movements. From punk, right through acid house, to Madchester – New Order were included in that, so were Joy Division – and you know, it’s amazing what an impact Manchester has had. On the world, really. Manchester’s been more consistent over the past 30-odd years, musically, than either London or Liverpool. So obviously, we’re very happy about that! (laughs)


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