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Peter Hook recounts Joy Division's short history in 'Unknown Pleasures'

by Take Two®

Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Pierre Rene Worms

Joy Division, the Manchester rock band formed in the late 70s, pioneered the post-punk movement of the era with tracks like "Transmission," "She's Lost Control" and the classic "Love Will Tear us Apart."

But like so many tragedies in the music business, its lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide the day before the band was scheduled to begin its first U.S. tour. Bassist Peter Hook's new book "Unknown Pleasures — Inside Joy Division" chronicles the band's short, but influential history.

Interview Highlights:

On why he emphasizes that the book is solely his own personal reflection:
"I was very aware that when the three members of Joy Division…sat down, mainly as New Order, to talk about our past, that we all had a different memory. Telling the story is a personal thing. It's mainly my experiences and my feeling of what we went through. I am very careful to let people know that other people that were around at the time may have a different memory."

On how the Sex Pistols inspired him to pursue punk music:
"This seems the most unlikely part of the book, to think that I had walked into that venue as a normal 9-to-5 civil servant and then within an hour walked out as a punk musician who was obsessed with making his group a success, which was even more implausable when I didn't have an instrument, I couldn't play an instrument, and I'd never written a song in my life. But the spirit that Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols brought out, the way it was delivered, the passion and the idea that there was something else that you could do."

On why punk appealed to him at a young age:
"It was very nihilistic, punk. It was all about smashing everything and rebellion. Fighting against the norm and shocking people and things like that. For a 21-year-old just coming out of my teens, I think it was just the perfect, for me, when I looked at it I thought 'Oh God that's exactly what I want to do.' The strange thing is that musically I had been to see Led Zeppelin about two weeks before, and when I saw Led Zeppelin I never looked at them and thought, 'I could do that.' But when I saw The Sex Pistols, I didn't think 'I could do that,' I thought 'I've got to do that.'"

On the band's earlier sound, such as in the track, 'At A Later Date':

"That's a contrast to 'Love Will Tear Us Apart.' You see the thing is that what happened was as soon as we sort of collected our instruments and with the spirit involved, which meant a lot of work, and it did become a complete obsession, and what used to happen is we used to practice so much that our song writing abilities within six months changed from doing punk songs, where we were aping the people we had been to see to creating these classic songs and not knowing why or how they appeared. It was to do with the chemistry between the people. The chemistry in a group is quite an intangible thing. When you get those musicians together sometimes they can only create that well when they're together…The thing is that Joy Division, the three people who played the music — Bernard, Stephen and I — were very, very well-matched and each brought something completely individual, but when they joined together they made a wonderful bedrock for Ian Curtis, for his wonderful lyrics and melodies."

On why he initially hated producer Martin Hannett's work on the album "Unknown Pleasures":
"Because I was so young and was still on the very stupid and very stubborn scale. The thing is in my head I was still a screaming punk, but Martin had recognized, along with our manager and record company, that these songs belied your age, and it was something that you had no control over, the songs that you were producing. Bernard and I, the guitarist in particular, wanted the album to sound like the Sex Pistols like we did live. Martin Hannett recognized something in the songs, in the music, thank God. He said this is a classic album, these are classic songs you will not get your own way. It was our first battle in music and I am so delighted that we didn't get our own way, because the thing that Martin gave us, which is such a gift for a musician and for music is he gave us timelessness."

Hear Peter Hook read from his book "Unknown Pleasures":

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