Peter Hook is a legend of our time, not only because of the bands he's been in but he's also a true contributor to the music industry whose passion for music has continued with his recent new band Peter Hook & The Light, which play Joy Division and New Order songs live. Contactmusic.com met up with Hooky at Made Festival in Birmingham where he was performing with his band and Hacienda Classical. Peter's down to earth demeanour, informative perspective and obvious gratitude for his life was inspiring to say the least.
You just got off stage with your band Peter Hook & The Light, how did it go?
I do the sound, so it's was a bit nerve racking. I run back, do 'Blue Monday' and then go back and finish the sound off, but it was nice! It started off a bit weird, took us a while to get used to the acoustics, but then towards the end it sounded fantastic, I must admit. Once the numbers pick up, because the first half is quite soulful and a bit down, people don't know what to expect, but it builds up quite nicely, if I say so myself!
I'm sure the old Joy Division and New Order song are really emotive for you, how do you feel still playing them?
The strange thing is that I think people really appreciate seeing them performed live, because while they may know them all, they've never seen them performed like that, but it's one of those things, that performing them gives the songs that edge, that passion and that enthusiasm, and people really respond to it, it's nice. I must admit when we started I was a little skeptical, I thought how's this gonna work, I just couldn't see it, but every gig we've done has gone down fantastically, and all of sudden you're sitting there thinking sh*t, I've got something here!
Does the impact those songs have had in the past - and the relevance they still have surprise you?
Well it's a big part of my life so I do understand it, whenever I go to a Hacienda night I hear them and the impact. Especially when I hear Graeme Park play, in fact he's taught me a lot, because I'm a bit of banger - bang, bang, bang - all the way through and Graeme builds up really nicely, tempo and intensity, so he's actually taught me to be a bit more subtle. He is the master, it's such a pleasure to work with him and Mike Pickering too, Mike was one of the ones who started the Hacienda, with Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson, so it keeps the history going, it's nice, I'm very happy about it I must say.
What's Manchester saying at the moment? What's coming up right now?
Manchester is ticking along nicely, I'd say it's become a bit of a restaurant city and some of the clubs are struggling a little bit, you know the bars taking over. The thing is that I'm quite old now, so I tend to stay out of that bit, you know I've got FAC251 club and that's very young. I thought when we opened, it would be full of fat old bastards like me, but it isn't, it's a really, really young crowd, when you look around there are lots of youngsters, who know the music and that is a wonderful thing, it means the music really is timeless.
Over the course of your life, you've not only been very prolific with your music but you've also managed to rebrand yourself as a businessman, author and lecturer and now you're involved with The Hacienda brand again, what was your drive behind that?
I've done a lot of things yeah, I mean getting free of New Order when you were always a bit focused inwards and I never really understood it and then coming out has enabled me to literally to do anything and I love what I do. To get away with it for as long as I have it's such a blessing, it really, really is.
I was under no illusion, it was violent back then and the Hacienda closed on a really sour note, with the gangs and the police being as unhelpful as they were. They really killed it for us, there was no help and that stuck with you for a long time. I mean it does make me wonder because once we got the trademark, Rob Gretton and I, we started to promote it again and it made me laugh that the other didn't want us to do anything with it. It's got such a heritage, I mean the Hacienda was open for 17 years, most clubs don't last that long, fair enough it didn't make any money in 17 years, but it had a huge heritage and a lot of passion.
The people who started it in 1980 lived their whole life through the Hacienda, they got engaged, they got married, kids, divorced, the whole thing and it was lovely. When we started doing it again, to realise people still held a wonderful place in their hearts was great! It's been a pleasure doing it, I'm so glad I didn't leave it, I'm so happy we pushed it though. Without New Order it wouldn't have started and I hope the rest of New Order appreciate people love what they did.
You're about to release your next book 'Substance - Inside New Order' (6th October 2016) tell us a little bit about how has this process been for you?
The process has got easier, the weird thing about the Hacienda was that there was so many wonderful stories, good, bad and the mis-management tales were stuff of legend. It just wrote itself really, I just wrote about my time in it and it was fantastic, there was a lot of humour there, I mean we really did enjoy it.
I must admit we were off our fu**ing cake and it was the only thing that got you through it, being that off it! If we hadn't have been so puddled, we just wouldn't have got through it! So now that we've come through it and I'm watching other people, because I'm sober, I enjoy it for what it was, I also enjoy the music for what it was. It was definitely nice to get the love of it [the Hacienda] back without the other stuff, but it does go hand in hand. I must admit there was a lot less gurning here, than we played in Manchester, I think Manchester has got the gurning championship so far!
In 2012 you set up a master's degree programme, how's that taken off?
When we were beginning, Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson always said to us that in order to complete the circle, you need to give something back. While you can teach people in a classroom about clubs and management, there's no real edge to what you're doing. So this Masters Degree runs in tandem with FAC251, they get a real idea, they go and promote at FAC251 and they get to be on the sharp end.
If you're sat in a classroom a teacher can't show you how to deal with some mad drug dealer stalking around the dance floor, our Masters Degree gives people practical experience, so when they go for an interview, they can say 'yeah I've been terrorised mate!' They've already seen the bad, the very physical and mental side of it, ultimately dealing with people. That's where I think our degree is different and that's what I thought was lacking in education. Most of the students we meet them, we mentor them, we deal with them, help with their ideas and they're dealing with people with a lot of experience and it's nice to do it. It works, people get much more of an education. They even gave me masters, I am now Dr Hook, unbelievable isn't it!
It was dark times during Joy Divison and these days it's seemingly quite comparable, do you feel there's any similarities in the music right now at all?
It was a real struggle in punk to make yourself heard. Punk actually brought like-minded people to you, but it was a very small scene. Breaking out of that was actually quite difficult and it was dark times for Manchester, but it's like Barney [Bernard Sumner] always used to say, you write your first LP and it takes you 21 years, then they want your next one in 6 months and it's still true.
The atmosphere and the experiences that you soak up are what makes your music and we did have a very black and white time in Manchester. It was very rundown and it came through our music.
Joy Division being as popular as it is today is a mystery to me, I mean we were only professional for 6 months, I didn't play the music for 30 years, to get it back was such a relief but when we were together as New Order we focused just on New Order, it did make New Order fantastically successful all around the world but then in 2010 when I was out of New Order I kept thinking why don't we do anything to celebrate anything to do with one of the biggest groups in the world. It seemed liked one of the most obvious things to do and we did it and it's been fantastic, we've been all around the world which has been wonderful, as Joy Division never got anywhere! Back then we went to Europe once, however I have to say it did make me the person I am today, and today I am very happy.
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