Godfathers of Pop: Peter Hook Interview
It seems inconceivable that Peter Hook is edging towards 37 years in the music business. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that he’s well into the third full phase of his career, which has seen him playing his distinctive, low-slung bass guitar for both Joy Division and New Order. Today, the Salford musician fronts a new band, Peter Hook & The Light, who he’s been guiding through the entire catalogues of those two bands.
Having performed your way through Joy Division’s canon with your band, Peter Hook & The Light, was it an easy decision to move on to New Order’s output?
Yeah, once we did it with the Joy Division stuff, it seemed like a natural progression. You don’t start thinking about which songs you’re going to leave out. It’s an odd one, really – you see, I’m looking for a career now. If I was just DJing, that would be all I was doing. If I was just writing, that would be all I was doing. But by playing the albums, I get to go out live again. And you know what? I’m actually really looking forward to performing songs that New Order haven’t played in 30-odd years.
So far, do you feel that your new band has put its own distinctive mark on the songs? Which do you think have been the most successful so far?
Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? There was a wonderful moment on stage in [Camden music venue] Koko, where somebody on the left of the stage shouted, “Well done, Hooky, that was better than Barney!”, and then someone on the right shouted that Barney sang it better. That moment made me realise that it’s all down to a very personal view. What I do is perform to a level I think is great and just hope that everyone else agrees with me.
Are there any New Order albums or singles that you’re dreading performing?
No. The only ones I’m a little worried about are the ones where Barney sings in a higher octave. Finding the right place with your voice is the difficult thing, and that only comes around when you do it live; you don’t really get that in rehearsal. But although Barney has a different range to me, I know I can do it if I try, so it’s actually quite exciting. The only problems on Power, Corruption & Lies have been Ultraviolence and 586, actually, so I haven’t done too badly.
What will happen after you’ve performed the final New Order album? Will there be new material from Peter Hook & The Light?
I feel guilty for not doing new material, but it’s finding the time. It’s very difficult to reconcile the time it would take to do it, and also to work out where it would fit into what we’re doing as The Light. For instance, we could only play new material as an encore, because we’re committed to playing the [New Order] LPs. You could maybe get away with it at the start of the gig as people settle down, but it ruins the concept, really.
Would you agree that, for a variety of reasons, a band such as Joy Division probably wouldn’t happen in today’s climate?
I think so, yes. For me, the main thing and the most important thing in a band is the chemistry between the band members. In Joy Division, there was a fantastic chemistry and that meant we were able to write some great songs, which have stood the test of time and still sound relevant today.