Wednesday, 23 December 2009


As featured in the the latest fanzine - TNBC/006 - here's the full interview with iconic bassist Peter Hook...

How did it all start for you? Was it a plan with your mates...right let’s get famous!?

(Laughs) No there was no plan to be ‘famous’, fame is something that happens these days with X-Factor. It’s like everyone wants to be famous like Kerry Katona, I don’t know why but they just want to be famous. And that breed of celebrity who don’t do anything apart from being celebrities is quite an odd thing and it is completely at odds as to what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to be celebrities, we didn’t want to be famous, we just wanted to be like Johnny Rotten which was to piss everybody off. And that was the only thought you had, to be a punk and to hate everyone. As a teenager you felt very alienated and alone and the punk really fed that. And by meeting people that felt like that you gained a kinship, you gained a movement and it was about making music not about being famous, it was just about having something focused to do.

Were you friendly with other bands around at the time?

It gave off the veneer of being very ‘clanny’ and that everybody was in it together - when we started off we actually used the Buzzcocks a lot for advice and for inspiration. But because we were working class and it’s another cliché, but because they were middle class we really didn’t fit in with them. They were quite arty and were at art school we were...well left school I suppose you’d say! (Laughs) So we found that as we went on there was a feeling that there was a divide and that we didn’t fit with them. And it was exacerbated by us being excluded. Only at the start though, once you get to be successful you find that everyone includes you, which is quite nice.

At the moment then, you’re not actively in a band, are there any plans to change that?

I started Freebass to be in a band again, but it’s proving very difficult ‘cos it’s a band made up of people who are in bands, so you can’t get them all together and get a focus and it’s proving to be very frustrating. But the music’s there, the music’s great, I’m looking forward to putting the music out so it can be judged. Especially so it can be compared to Barney’s (Bernard Sumner) Bad Lieutenant.

Is there timescale for that then?

Well no, with the internet there’s no timescales anymore. Everything I used to do as a musician has been changed because of the internet. As soon as your music’s out, it’s out all over the world. In the old days we’d release in England first, you’d release in America a month after, Japan a month and then you’d go to Europe and it was always staggered.

So do you think of yourself as more of DJ these days?

Well DJing is the second best job in the world – the first is playing your own music in a band but being paid to play other people’s music, that you consider to be great is pretty good. It’s as challenging as being in a group but there’s nothing more satisfying than playing your own music.

I got into the DJing thing on the ‘celebrity’ circuit which Mani rightly describes as “Come and have a laugh with the guy who used to be in a band!” But the thing is that if you have ambition and you want to make things better, then, once you’ve got over the thrill of being paid to get pissed you get into the music. I was really jaded with music at the time ‘cos I was very unhappy with New Order, so the thing was that it gave me the chance to listen to music and go “Fuck, that’d be great to play on a dancefloor”. So it actually got me back into music, funnily enough, but purely by chance.

What sort of stuff do you normally play when you DJ?

I play anything from 1977 to now and just mix it. But it quite challenging, I always used to think that there was no art to it and that DJs were twats who just played other people’s records. And the thing is, once you start doing it, you realise how difficult and challenging every audience can be.

Do you find that people expect you to play certain tunes and you end up surprising them?

Well no, what really happens is that you go to an established club/night with an established clientele and if that clientele don’t like the music, a lot of them are very happy to tell you, or throw bottles at you or chant for the support DJ like I’ve had on many occasions! It’s interesting because when you’re in a group, no one can get near you unless they bump into you on Market Street or wherever but when you DJ everyone can come and get you, so I had a lot of loonies when I was first DJing relishing the fact that for thirty years they’d never been near you, suddenly they could get hold of you. You could see ‘em on the night, ‘cos you’d watch ‘em being dead quiet at the start and when they got pissed they’d be getting nearer and nearer and eventually fling themselves on you.

Why did the Hacienda start?

Well it was quite simple, the fact was, in 1978/79 people like us had nowhere to go, all the clubs were shit. Now of course, when you’re at school you can choose to be a Goth, a Punk, a Chav or a Surfer and all these different genres and you get places that cater for all those groups. But when we were young, you didn’t have that, you either went to a gig, or you went to a club and had to wear a shirt and tie, and there was no in-between. And it was Rob Gretton, who quite rightly, decided that people like us should have somewhere to go. So he decided to build a club. They’d already had some success with The Factory at The Russell Club in Hulme, so it seemed quite natural for them I think to move to their own premises.

But The Hacienda failed quite simply because the people that ran it weren’t businessmen and that was the interesting thing. It’s like, I’m going to be working with this guy and we’re reopening the Factory headquarters in Charles Street, the idea being, you work with him because he’s a businessman. So you hope that won’t make the mistakes that we made, ‘cos the mistakes we made take along you longevity. It was only New Order’s money that gave The Hacienda longevity. Cos it was losing money hand over fist all the time.

I’m sure there’s many, but have you any fond or bad memories from The Hacienda?

There were some fantastic gigs, some really fantastic gigs, which I talk about in the book, but from 1988 onwards it was absolutely fantastic.

What would you say you learnt from Tony Wilson?

A lot really, the thing was that Tony was like a mentor in this business, and his attitude was very interesting. He had a real, ‘Fuck ‘em’ attitude and if people didn’t agree with it, he was quite happy about it. Because in that way he felt like he’d got one up on everyone, so if people didn’t buy the records that he put out then it really didn’t bother him ‘cos he just thought, “Well they’re fuckin’ idiots”. And it’s actually quite a refreshing way to be, because everyone in this business, always courts success as being everything but really the big achievement in life is not selling what you believe in but just doing what you believe in. And he was a great one for that.

What would he say that he taught you?!

(Laughs) I don’t know, because Tony’s always had this attitude that musicians are fuckin’ idiots (laughs) and to be honest with you, he’s not far wrong. So he was very, what you’d say, full of himself, so I don’t know, we were in a very unique situation and even now in 2009, the whole Hacienda, Factory, New Order, Joy Division thing is still perceived to be very, very different from the norm and really stand alone. And it’s quite odd really in this business that is very repetitive, to sit back and think, “Fuckin’ hell, no one has done what we did”. But ultimately, as a musician, you had to say, it’s the music that sells, and if you make great music, then it will sell and Tony was a great believer in great music.

Also there was a real, anarchic, punk attitude to everything that he did, like he didn’t give a fuck about planning, he didn’t give a fuck about anything; which was his downfall probably. You’d go in with this tune that you’d recorded and play it him, and he’d go, “That’s fuckin’ great that, go in and record it, and we’ll put it out next week”, “What next week?”, “Yeah fuck ‘em, get it out next week, it’s great that, what d’you wanna sit on that for?” And then if you went to a normal record company they’d get you to record it, mess about with it for six months, and then put it out six months later, and by the time you release it you fed up to the back teeth with not only the record company but with the music as well, so there was no spontaneity about what you did.

I remember when we did the LP - of course LPs are governed by time - you can fit 17 minutes on each side, so you could have thirty-four minutes of music. On our second LP, Closer, we had two tracks left over, so we said, why don’t we give the two tracks away as a flexi-disk and when you buy the album you get the flexi-disk and when you went to the record shops and say, “This is the LP we want you to sell and we want you to give this away” and they’d say “Give it away? Why? What you on about?” they just didn’t get it. We found that some records shops, when someone bought the LP they’d sell them the free flexi-disk that we were trying to give away. So you got used to being a bit of a rebel and acting differently.

Another example of that was Blue Monday, which was a really successful single but we didn’t put it on the album, which was very problematic in America, ‘cos the Americans, who are really good at complaining, were like “Hey man, where’s the fucking track, Blue Monday’s a hit man?” And it wasn’t on the record, and people wanted their money back and weren’t even buying the album because it wasn’t on there. And when got told that, we went, “Fuckin’ good, they’re dick heads anyway, fuck ‘em!” So Tony had quite a healthy distain for anyone didn’t agree with him.

So he didn’t compromise?

No not much! Another story as well was, Tony bought a new car and it had CD player in it, it was one of the first to have a CD player, a ‘Mercedes 230 16v’, I know that because I used to buy his cars for him funnily enough, although I don’t know why. And he said he wanted a CD of New Order to play in it, so we’d have to do one, so he suggested that we did a ‘Best Of’ which ended up being called Substance. So we went along with it, it seemed like an alright idea. But everybody loved it and it became our biggest selling record of all time and it actually sold two-million copies in America but Factory was so fucked that they couldn’t pay us the money they owed us anyway so we had to take a reduced deal on our most successful record so they could pay us the money they owed us from the first record. It was a really odd situation to be in but you have to look at it, that it was Tony’s idea to do it. We wouldn’t have done it without him leading it.

You’re a Man Utd fan aren’t you? Do you get to many games these days?

I go very occasionally, I’m not a mad football fan, but I do really enjoy it when I go. Me and my son had season tickets for one of their most disastrous seasons which culminated in what was basically watching eleven donkeys play Middlesbrough and we were so fuckin’ annoyed with them ‘cos they were so shit that we sacked it off. That was about eight of nine years ago.

But it’s strange because I was born in Ordsall, which overlooked United’s ground and I spent my whole life hanging around Old Trafford, breaking into cars on a match day and all that! I used to go in a three-quarter time and go fighting in the Stretford End with all the lads. So it was a big part of my life growing up.

What are like when it comes to your clobber?

Well it’s funny, because we didn’t have any money for a long time we couldn’t afford anything, but as soon as you get successful people start, amazingly, giving you stuff, which is, fuckin’ ridiculous! I remember reading an interview with Noel and Liam Gallagher and they’re laughing about it saying that when you’ve got nothing no one will give you anything, but when you become successful people are always giving you stuff. And it’s is bizarre. But I’m lucky because my mate works at Adidas so I get some stuff from him.

I have a sort of unusual style, ‘cos everyone used to say to me that I was the thorn in the band, ‘cos I used to dress like a rocker. I used to wear boots, tight jeans, leather jackets and I was always represented the ‘rockier’ side of it, which was something I played up to for a long time. As a kid a started out as a skin-head and then went to being a suede-head and then just went into Brian Ferry/Roxy Music. But then I went punk which was great because anything goes and it was a fantastic three or four years until we started smartening up for Joy Division. Our manager suggested that we should have a smart look. We thought it was a bit odd to be groomed by our manager but he was absolutely right. I was taking the piss out of Franz Ferdinand in Jakata for how much they looked like Joy Division and it’s quite an unusual thing that Joy Division’s look has been emulated by all the shoe-gazers and a lot of indie bands look like Joy Division. I played with a band the other week called ‘The Detachments’ and they looked like Joy Division. It’s quite weird to think that not only did we start a musical fashion we inadvertently started that look as well.

We used to shop at this Scout shop and get the shirts. With the badges taken off, they used to look like German army shirts but were cheaper and we used to put our own badges on them as well. But then, when we made a bit more money, we were able to graduate to the military shops on Tib Street and get military shirts which used to get us in a little bit of trouble because people used to call us Nazis. But I used to live in Jack Boots, I went round the world in them. I used to get them for £3.50 a pair because they had steel teeth on the front and you could kick people when you were on stage, it was great! You needed it then!

So what do you listen to these days?

Funnily enough, most of the music I listen to now is music that I’ve been given, because I’ve got this horrible fear that if I don’t listen to everything then I might miss something really good. So I listen to the good, the bad and the fuckin’ ugly! Some of it’s fuckin’ diabolical, some of it’s very middling and some tracks you get given by these kids are absolutely fantastic. And I actually play, in my set, quite a few tracks that people have given me. And it really is a voyage of discovery, the hardest thing really is finding time to listen to it all.

I remember when I did the Hacienda Classics album, we had an argument with fuckin’ Tesco, because Tesco said we had to do it as a triple, and I said “It’s too long as triple, twenty-one tracks an LP, three LPs you’re gonna kill the whole fuckin’ genre, you’ll be able to do one”, because we were using what I thought were the best tracks. But Tesco said they wouldn’t put it out unless we did it as a triple. So I thought, fuckin’ twats, but you know what happened right? I did it for them, and they went onto sell something like 70,000 copies because all the old fuckers like me shop in Tesco! How ironic is that!?

Friday, 18 December 2009

WE LIKE #14...


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Monday, 7 December 2009

WE LIKE #13...

Ol' Blue Eyes...


"England is mine, and it owes me a living" - Stephen Patrick Morrisey