Peter Hook - Joy Division founder on life in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 July 2016
He was a founder of Joy Division, a byword for Mancunian urban alienation, but Peter Hook now cheerfully embraces a more cheerful life in Cheshire, writes Paul Taylor.
In his days with New Order, the last place you would expect to see Peter Hook was on stage at a pop nostalgia festival.
But there on the roster for Rewind North at Capesthorne Hall, jostling with the likes of Adam Ant, Jason Donovan and Rick Astley, you’ll find the name of the man who provided the mighty bass lines to the distinctly less perky music of Joy Division and New Order.
It’s all part of a ‘say yes to everything’ strategy which Hook has adopted since parting company with New Order in 2007.
‘What I’ve learned since I got out of the doom and gloom of New Order is that you meet nice people, you do nice things and it’s wacky,’ he says. ‘As you get older, you become more easy-going in some ways.’
Hook will be performing as part of a set by the British Electric Foundation, brainchild of Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware. The bass man performed with BEF at Rewind South last year, and loved it.
‘Everyone’s in fancy dress, there’s loads of kids, there’s a carnival atmosphere, which I found quite refreshing,’ he says. ‘I was walking around the dressing rooms waiting for my bit, and I was seeing Bananarama, Human League, The Specials, Soul II Soul..the line-up was great.’
His erstwhile band New Order were never very willing to celebrate their own history in this way, according to Hook. Nostalgia was ‘the devil’, he says. But what a history it was. Formed by Hook and Bernard Sumner after being inspired by the Sex Pistols’ appearance at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976, Joy Division produced only two albums of material for Tony Wilson’s Factory Records before singer Ian Curtis committed suicide at home in Macclesfield aged 23. Continuing as New Order, they suffused post-punk rock with electronic dance rhythms, and largely bankrolled the Hacienda club, which not only kick-started the acid house scene, but also cemented Manchester as a capital of cool culture.
While New Order soldier on without Hooky (the bass player launched legal action against his former bandmates last November, claiming £2.3m in royalties) it is he, as Peter Hook and The Light, who has in recent years commemorated their past glories, performing various Joy Division and New Order albums in full across the world. Hook has also written books about that musical legacy, including 2013’s Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, and even seen the music from the Hacienda reimagined for orchestra in the successful Hacienda Classical project.
‘My gimmick is to play the albums; the others’ gimmick is to sound like a third rate New Order,’ says Hooky, in yet another dig at his ex-bandmates.
Get him off the subject of that sundered partnership, however, and Hooky is the cheeriest and most affable of men. He turned 60 in February, but says: ‘My wife made it a big thing, but I don’t feel any different; I’m certainly not slowing down.’
He survived a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle (‘I’m an alcoholic, and I’ve been sober for 11 years,’ says Hook) and is fit enough to have completed the Great Manchester Run ten years on the trot.
You suspect that the great British public could stand to see an awful lot more of Hook, which is perhaps why he has been courted, thus far unsuccessfully, by the producers of I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! Meanwhile, his wife Rebecca was also approached to join the cast of Real Housewives of Cheshire.
‘She said no,’ says Hooky, who admits to being a bit of a fan of the ITVBe show, which he calls “proper car crash telly”. ‘You have to be a certain type to be on the programme. I must admit, it tickled me, but then I’ve been trying to do I’m A Celebrity... for five years, but the family won’t let me do that.’ w
Peter Hook performs with British Electric Foundation at Rewind North, Capesthorne Hall, on Sunday August 7th. Rewind North runs from August 5-7 and other stars include Marc Almond, Rick Astley, Adam Ant, UB40 and Jason Donovan. For ticket details visit www.rewindfestival.com
He was born in Salford, but for the last 16 years, home for Peter Hook has been Alderley Edge, a move he made on the recommendation of New Order singer Bernard Sumner.
‘It’s a wonderful place,’ says Peter. ‘I’m lucky enough to live in Majorca half the year, at a wonderful place called Port Andratx. Alderley Edge is like the Port Andratx of England.
‘I had Beckham as my neighbour and Edwin van der Sar the other side. I go up to Alderley Edge to walk the dog. I go in Piccolino, The Bubble Room, The Grill On The Edge..they’re all my haunts. We’re spoilt for choice in Alderley Edge. I’m just watching with great interest the new one, which was Loch Fyne and is now going to be Raymond Blanc’s White Brasserie. That’s just 300 yards from my house. I’m looking forward to that very much.’
Completely umprompted, Peter adds: ‘I read your magazine with great interest. It’s staple reading for me. I always say to my PR guy, make sure you get Cheshire Life.’
In Hooky’s words..
On seeing the Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4 1976:
‘I went in a normal person. I had a nine to five job at the Town Hall and I was just going to another concert. I came out a musician. The Sex Pistols were awful, the sound was awful, their attitude was awful...but I thought “I could do that”.’
On the legacy of Joy Division:
‘They were a great group and there was no defusing that myth. We played fantastically, each member was very individual at their instrument, and put together it was a killer group.
‘I remember when Ian died, (manager) Rob Gretton said to us that Joy Division are going to be like The Doors...they’ll be huge in 20 years time. It wasn’t much solace at the time. It meant nothing. You were sat there at the wake for your lead singer.’
On music today:
‘Most groups today either sound like Joy Division or sound like New Order. I’m blessed to think I was in both.’