Musician, producer, author, owner of Manchester’s FAC 251-The Factory nightclub, co-founder and bassist of Joy Division, the New Order and now The Light, Peter “Hooky” Hook has more than been around the block. He talks to the Weekender about ‘Madchester’, ecstasy and the iconic Hacienda nightclub.
You’re playing a New Order electronic set live with your band Peter Hook and The Light at the Coronet; what can people expect?
We’ll be focusing on New Order’s dancier tracks. I’m like New Order’s naughty younger brother, sent off to boast but doing nothing but embarrassing them. We’re going to embarrass them until the day we die; that’s life.
Joy Division really pioneered the post-punk music scene in Manchester, particularly through the famed Hacienda nightclub (which stayed afloat largely due to New Order’s record sales through record label Factory Records) which sparked the ‘Madchester’ scene. What was that like?
The whole big change in Manchester came about in late ’87 and ’88 with the summer of love when dance music came over from Ibiza. With this came ecstasy, which changed the whole nightlife climate. It went from being aggressive to very lovey. Many people suffered damage from ecstasy because we were naïve in our rebellion in thinking this drug was the cure for all the ills in the world. The noticeable change was where you used to go to a Manchester nightclub and get beaten up now all of a sudden you got hugged. New Order crossed dance with rock, which inspired Madchester and the likes of Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses and the Farm. It was quite a revolution and it all happened in the Hacienda; that summer lead onto about four years of quite wonderful, almost heavenly happenings.
Your distinctive style of playing high bass lines was actually a result of having cheap speakers that you couldn’t hear low bass on…
I was designated bass player because Bernard Sumner had a guitar and punk bands never had two guitarists. Once I started playing bass I quickly adopted a discontented attitude because the bass player is just stuck up the back, following everyone else. However, I had a fantastic ally in Ian Curtis. When I played on high bass he said “f**king play that again” and so I did! Now it’s an odd mantle to be one of the world’s most recognised bass players where so many people emulate you.
Then came New Order, which is a perfect hybrid of rock and dance, which I kept fighting because I really wanted the rock thing. But it was that hybrid that gave us acoustic instruments with synthesizers. Look at today’s pop music, the likes of Rihanna or Calvin Harris, their work all comes from house music from ’86, ’87, ’88. All major music in England and across the world comes from that period.
How did the suicide of Joy Division’s vocalist Ian Curtis impact the group?
It was intense and our lives changed instantly. Everything that happened to the band was overshadowed by his death. To be honest as soon as Ian died, Joy Division died too. There was no way that we would consider going on without him. We’d already made a deal that if anyone left we’d change the name. Apparently the rest of New Order have since forgotten that. (Hook left the band in 2007). I do think now we made a mistake in not properly grieving for Joy Division. We threw ourselves into New Order the Monday after it happened. We were just too young. It’s a tough one.
You were questioned as a suspect in the Yorkshire ripper cases in ’79 because your touring route followed the same course as Peter Sutcliffe’s murders…
We were basically touring all the clubs in the red light districts in every city in the north. Someone wrote down the numbers and brought me and Steve (Morris) in for questioning. Steve was this shy drummer and was so nervous that they thought they’d finally caught him! His mother had to come and rescue him. We were only 22 years old. Them were the days!
Peter Hook and the Light will play a New Order electronic set live as part of the fac51 the Hacienda night -featuring 808 State Live, DJs Mike Pickering, Graeme Park, Danny Rampling and more- at the Coronet Theatre, 28 New Kent Road, SE1 6TJ, on Friday 21 June from 8pm. Admission: £20. Phone: 020 7701 1500. Click here for tickets.