Interview: Peter Hook talks about the ongoing New Order drama, his upcoming memoir, and revisiting the ’80s

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]oing by how it looks on the surface, it might seem like things are in a shit place for Peter Hook. The co-founding member of Joy Division and New Order is still dealing with the fact that Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Gillian Gilbert of the latter have moved on without him, with two hired hands in place on bass and a new album in the works. Then there’s Sumner’s recently released memoir, which Hook is bashed in repeatedly.

Initial appearances can be quite deceiving though; things really aren’t particularly bad for Hooky these days. He’s touring the New Order mid-’80s hit albums Low-Life and Brotherhood with his band the Light, which comes to Royale this Saturday. When Vanyaland caught up with him, it was the day after a show in Santiago, Chile, where the weather was postcard perfect and he was planning on heading poolside after our interview.

Each year around this time since 2010, Hook has come around with the Light performing aspects of his back catalog in full, starting with Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. He’s got a memoir of his own coming out, his third, with the first two focusing on his time running the legendary Haçienda nightclub and the experience in the short-lived Joy Division. Never one to mince words, Hook was upfront about the ongoing New Order situation, quick to have a laugh and what it’s like reliving long forgotten musical memories.

Michael Christopher: Well here we are again. You’re coming around and doing Low-Life and Brotherhood. Now, by my estimation, you’ve got two years left of material to work with when it comes to New Order — what’s the plan after that?

Peter Hook: [Laughs] Well what I’ll be doing is playing New Order’s new LP. I will be playing it and calling “the real New Order.” So as long as they keep going, I’ve got a career mate! I’m looking forward to it.

Even now, it’s got to be a bit frustrating…

Well it’s war is what we have to put it down to; not like the war getting reported on the telly, but war nonetheless.

Are you surprised at all that they are actually moving forward and making a record without you?

No, not at all. They are all musicians, with a couple of exceptions in New Order — but we won’t go into that. The thing is that Bernard is a committed, passionate musician so it doesn’t surprise me at all; He’s got two young people with him who are probably gagging for it.

My big problem is that they are calling it “New Order,” and I take great exception to them using the name without my permission. I think it’s a disgusting way of carrying on business, which is why I’m still fighting for what I consider my right. The fight goes on.

Despite all the legal wrangling and the back and forth in the press, it’s still got to sting a bit.

Yeah! The thing is if anybody, in any of my businesses — and I run a lot of businesses — treated me in this way, I would react the same. And I’m amazed that after living with me for 26 years in New Order and three years in Joy Division that they thought I would roll over. And I’m happy that most of the fans know that they are pretending to be New Order without me.

It’s like me going out as Joy Division or having the gall to go out playing as “New Order.” I am not New Order. Rob Gretton [late manager of Joy Division and New Order] tried to get us to go out as New Order when Bernard was off doing Electronic, and said, “We’ll get another singer in,” and I said, “No.” And ironically, Stephen and Gillian said yes! [Laughs] So that’s the caliber of the people you’re dealing with, so there you go.

I would love nothing more at this point in my life to turn around to Bernard, who I admire greatly, and say, “Good luck man, have a great time.” But because of the way they did it I can’t and will not. It’s like a divorce, spending all the time fighting over the kids.

Back to Low-Life and Brotherhood, first of all, how much of a disappointment was it that Stephen ended up being on the cover for most editions?

It wasn’t a disappointment at all actually; none of us were interested in appearing on the cover in the band way that none of us were interested in appearing in the videos [laughs]. I think Stephen at the time felt like he got the short straw by appearing on the cover.
I remember Johnny Rotten, when we did the big tour in American with PiL [The 1989 ‘Monsters of Alternative Rock’ tour feat. New Order, Public Image Ltd. And the Sugarcubes], being amazed we could walk around and nobody would recognize us. He just couldn’t understand it, but it suited us just perfect.

You’re getting into the area of the New Order catalog that starts to become much more synth heavy.

I must admit, listening to these songs, it’s the first time I’ve listened to them in so long, and I listen to the wonderful [Brotherhood] trio of “All Day Long,” “Every Little Counts” and “Angel Dust,” for being programmed, I’m like, “Wow.” They’re blowing me away those songs. “Shellshock!” What a great song to play! I never had this much fun playing it when I was with the others!

When you revisit these songs, which as you say you haven’t even heard in decades, does it bring back any memories or emotions?

The sound of these two records in particular is very, very evocative, yes. I had a wonderful time touring with the help of college radio in the early ’80s, it was very much like a coming-of-age period, and these songs do capture that sound. It’s the films like Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that whole ’80s vibe that they give off; songs like “Shellshock,” “Confusion,” “All Day Long,” just capture that period perfectly.

The obligatory question I have to ask you — where are you with the New Order memoir?

Right here! [laughs] I’ve got it in front of me. And I must admit I’ve been done a great favor by Bernard because he made such an awful job of his memoir that it has left it open to me for the proper New Order memoir. I’m on 1982 at the moment, which is quite interesting as we are just starting to prove ourselves.

PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT: PERFORMING NEW ORDER’S LOW-LIFE AND BROTHERHOOD PLUS AN OPENING SET OF JOY DIVISION MATERIAL :: Saturday, November 8 @ Royale, 279 Tremont St., Boston :: 6 p.m., 18-plus, $25 : advance tickets :: Do617 event page