INTERVIEW! Peter Hook on why he is selling his memorabilia and also his past and future and Ian Curtis
Peter Hook auction details here
From the ticket stub for the Sex Pistols legendary first gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976 to the famous 30 grand table at the Factory office broken by the Happy Mondays Peter Hook has been collecting an archive of Manchester and Joy Division linked memorabilia for years and now the 291 items are all going for auction for charity with a proportion of the proceeds going to the CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) as well as the Epilepsy Society and The Christie.
Up for sale are a collection of Manchester gig tickets, including Roxy Music at Belle Vue, Led Zeppelin at the Hard Rock Cafe, Iggy Pop and David Bowie at the Free Trade Hall. Also Hooky is selling his very first guitar, a Gibson EB-0 replica bought from Mazels music shop in Piccadilly the day after the Pistols gig using £35 he borrowed from his mum and, of course, that boardroom table, rescued by Hooky from a skip after the label went bust.
A chuckling and philosophical bass icon is sat n the Free Trade Hall hotel in Manchester two floors above the room where those two iconic Sex Pistols occurred in 1976 that changed everything.
‘I Haven’t got a fucking clue what it will go for. I have done my time as curator of all this stuff and now it’s time for other people to be able to see it and enjoy it. The Sex Pistols gig ticket is the first item in the auction. I was a silly collector before that though. Every time I went to a club and concert I would save the ticket stub. I don’t know what the compulsion was to save and collect them. Some of the first lots detail my history in Manchester and gigs like Deep Purple and Led Zepp.’
I was always interested in the gig that everyone went to the week before the Sex Pistols!
Go on guess..
‘Wishbone Ash it was your bloody right. They were not uncool at the time. All your mates were going to Led Zepp or prog rock bands. We hadn’t got into the cool stuff yet. It was the Sex Pistols that propelled you into the cool stuff. It’s incredible to think that it was here at this hotel. I had already been in that room twice before for town hall Xmas parties. So I knew every bit when I walked in that night. The first person we saw was Malcolm McLaren dressed all in leather and he looked like a fucking alien. Unbelievable. There was no one else there when we arrived. It was empty. Just Malcolm and one other person and me, Barney and Barney’s wife, Sue and Terry Mason. I went up to Malcolm Mclaren and gave him 50p and that’s the ticket stub. I didn’t get the poster though. I was probably scared to take it at the time. I didn’t realise the significance of it all. I kept all the Joy Division posters when we played because it was the significance of achieving the gig. That was wonderful. It made you feel really proud to see your name on the wall in lights. That was the thing and I thought I’m having that and took the poster. The daft thing is I still do it – it’s a compulsion. I would take the poster for this event…’
Can you get any more postmodern than nicking the poster of your own archive auction!
It’s obviously a wrench selling this stuff. Why do it?
‘I suppose in a funny way I was looking for a bit of closure from being surrounded by all the ghosts of the past. It’s a bit weird sitting there on your own looking at all.’
What about the ghosts of the songs you play live?
‘For me playing the songs is different. It’s celebrating the songs with loads of people and it’s not sitting on your own. You can’t invite 1800 people from your gig round to your house to looking at your memorabilia! The wife would go mental. You can’t have Alex (famous Manchester scene face recording every gig in the city and huge New Order/Hook fan) round to your house. He gets in so much fucking trouble all the time! Last time I saw him at a gig he was bouncing around and then he stopped and there was a massive spaced all around him because he had spewed up over everybody!’
Did you ever look at all this archive stuff in your shed?
‘It was kind of there. The scary thing about doing this was actually going to look at it when I don’t look at it normally. When I looked at the first chorus peddle I bought and my first guitar it makes me panic to sell them. I’ve had them from 1976.’
You are even selling the defining chorus pedal – this is a treasure trove for the fanatic – I look around the room and there are the iconic basses and the famous Hiwatt amp bought after seeing the iconic JJ Burnel suing one at a Stranglers gig at Stafford Bingley Hall.
‘God bless Barney. For all our differences, it was him who suggested I use the chorus pedal. He used to work on Deansgate and was always in Mazels music store in his dinner times ‘cos he was bored. He came too me and said it would really suit the way you play because you play high and this would really help to make the sound less thin and lo and behold he was right. The pedal absolutely gave you a signature sound and that is the pedal right there for sale now which I always had to this day and it’s a wrench selling it.’
There are a few quite famous bass players who will be eying that pedal up I’m sure so they can get the magic sound they have been working on for years!
‘(laughs) the funny thing is that the band have always taken it is a compliment to be ripped off and we have let people off for murder. You steal from other people and make it your own. Mind you when your own own mother says The Cure’s In-between Days sound like Dreams Never End then it is quite weird! We played with the Cure once and it was a difficult gig. They say you find out what people are like when you are the support band. That was the big reason Rob Gretton, god rest his soul, said we would not act like that that. Rob always made sure everyone was looked after even to your own determent. It was important to keep the wheel going.’
Easy for you since you are your own support band!
‘(laughs) The reason I support myself and do Joy Division supporting New Order is that I am greedy to play all those songs after years of not being allowed to play them.’
Are the two bands very separate entities for you?
‘Not for me. It’s a seamless thing for me to play both and I try and get it back to that story. With New Order still playing, I guess for a fan point of view they get both sides of the story.’
‘You are entitled to your opinion…’
I’ve seen both on the same day.
‘That must have been spooky. It’s very sad the situation and there is no remedy. My predicament shall is that it’s still messy, nothing has been sorted but I would love nothing more than to walk down the street and see Barney and say, ‘how’s it going mate…’
Do the artefacts remind you emotionally of a better time for the band?
‘They remind me of a time when it was really difficult and every gig was a massive achievement. Even when we became popular everything became really difficult in a different way. You never got to the bit where everything clicked and became successful and feted and satisfied. Ian became ill and the illness became the focus not the success and you were always looking after him. It was the most confusing time just because we didn’t know what the fuck was going on and how to deal with it and there was a lot of people older than you who should have known what was going on but didn’t. We were 23 and didn’t know our arse from elbows. We didn’t know what to do. Looking at these moments is quite innocent.’
Do they help you reassess Ian as a person?
‘Ian was really hard working. He was your greatest fan and really good at picking you up when you got depressed. It was really depressing being the support band. There were so many support bands that you couldn’t get gigs. It was all backhanders and we didn’t have a manager then so you were fighting all the time. I remember that wonderful moment when I sat down with the local promoter, Dougie James, at Rafters. I got to his office after I walked from work from Salford docks which is a long way to Rafters and I blagged into his office and he came in and I said I’m after the support gig for the Banshees and he said, ‘ok let me look at the book. look I’m sorry kid but Joy Division are supporting that night.’ I said we are Joy Division and he said get out! What happened was that as a group we all took turns as manager, one week each. I didn’t think any of us were the best at it it was just that Ian was more dogged and I was more volatile but hardly menacing at 20 with a moustache (laughs) anyhow Ian had beaten me there.’
You did have a menacing reputation at the time – you clocked mate of mine on the head for shouting for Transmission all the time!
‘Ah yes that that heinous crime! He fucking deserved it then! I’ve never managed to divorcee myself from my surroundings and as audiences get bigger, I get more involved. It’s weird but I didn’t think that at the ripe old age of 63 I would still be stopping fights in the audience.’
There is some pretty impressive stuff for sale in this room – a real post-punk back pages!
‘This is just one-quarter of the collection. Every single piece that I own is in the catalogue. There is nothing else. This is every single thing I own. I only kept one thing back that a wonderful kid I met years ago gave me an art piece – a black felt square with hand wired Unknown Pleasures on it and it’s the only thing I kept and it’s in my office. All the proceeds go to charity. I don’t want to insult the people by keeping the money. I didn’t want to end up like a King Midas figure sitting there on my own cackling, look what I got! That feels nuts. This is a way of appeasing that and helping Christie’s, the Epilepsy society and Calm and they are all benefitting from this.’
Of course all this stuff is yours but I was surprised to see Ian’s iconic Eko Vox VI Phantom from the Love Will Tear Us Apart video is not yours is it?
‘It’s a copy of the guitar – Natalie, his daughter, has the original. This copy was made for the Joy Division exhibition with Chris Hewitt put on. The idea of that was good but it didn’t work out. It was after the Howard Marks tour and there was an opportunity to put the memorabilia on stage for people to walk around it and people thought it was good but the relationship didn’t work out and it ended. Anyway, the guitar was made for that.’
Interesting that Joy Division has now become museum, history and artefact. I can remember the time when it all seemed so futuristic and fast forward!
‘Interestingly I saw that Barney was saying that the other day. For me, New Order stopped going forward in 1990 with the world cup song. Before that, it was ten years that was fucking unbelievable that period. Then we signed to London Records with Republic and became just another band and everything was dry and dead with millions of remixes and everything was hammered out. I think we changed as a group. It became a great job. We worked so little live as history shows if you see my book and how few dates were played. We didn’t play much and the frustration of not playing and being in the studio for years was apparent. It would take two years to get ready for the Sirens Call and then you would not work. Can you imagine doing that? It’s so really odd and completely different from before. There was no drive and our manager Rob had lost his drive. Once a band earns money there is no power over them. Barney presumably didn’t have to work and we were all very comfortable. Barney always wanted to do albums and not tour although he loves doing the gigs now I’ve gone so it must have been because of me! (laughs)’
These days you play great sets of those classics but have you yourself never felt a hunger to do something new?
‘I do write quite a lot and have done some other projects.’
What about a new Peter Hook record?
‘It’s a daunting amount of time involved in making a record. I remember sitting with the guy out of Hot Chocolate – Errol Brown and I asked him the reason why they stopped making records and he said that he thought that they had done enough. We were actually talking about Emma which I had ripped off for Thieves Like Us and he’s from Salford.
If I was in New Order maybe I would make new records because that’s set up like that and there is a plan – even if its a long, slow and frustrating plan. With what I do there is no type of plan like that. Me and Pottsy sit there every day and say we should do another album but apart from finishing off Pictures In My Mind – the old Joy Division song there is no plan. We got loads of stuff we work on but then we have four gigs at the weekend and the gigs are great and there is no pressure on you.
As a joke recently when we were playing Technique we had a gap in the set and as a joke, Pottsy said we will play a new song now and the audience groaned! I’m not being funny but every band has a golden period of writing – the Rolling Stones are the prime example. People love that period and they don’t want the new stuff. People are not bothered about New Order playing new songs.
And it takes a year to make an album and I think why am I being a lunatic working for nothing, doing my head in, locked in a studio writing doing my head in. I prefer to play with other people and to other people. I did a track recently as a guest thing with the French band Liminanas. There is no pressure and you get paid a bit of publishing. The pressure of doing a new record is exceptional. You want it to do well and don’t want anyone to groan when it comes out. It’s a weird path to put yourself on. I don’t find it difficult playing with this new project next week be and it will be a real delight having Iggy Pop singing it! how great is that! I’ll really really enjoy that. Finally, I get to play it with Iggy! He did a track with New Order on their last album so so I just missed it but now is my chance.’
I know ‘what ifs’ are annoying but what if Ian was still here now?
‘I wish he was. I would love someone in-between us. We will never know how it would have panned out but the legacy is enormous. Every time we do a gig Yves – who is now on bass says after we have finished with Love Will Tear Us Apart and it goes down like an asteroid and he says let’s do another one. I say there is no more we can do! It’s the one you can’t top. People go bonkers for it. You can feel the release and the relief. What can you do? I’ve had many wonderful, campaigning years spearheading things and it doesn’t seem fair to be in the way. Let’s leave that part to the young ones. When I was young I wanted all the 63 years olds dead. I thought the world would be a better place. That was the folly of youth. It was too fast to live, to young to die then and who would want to spend a year writing an album!’
And yet – how long did it take to write Love Will Tear Us Apart?
‘(laughs) about three hours! The strange thing about albums though is that it’s not that three hour one, it’s the other tracks that take months. Age Of Consent took an hour to write but the rest of the album took forever! I am happy to do it. I have tried to arrange it a few times but it never works out. It’s not that I don’t feel I have nothing to give. I think I’ve got lots of stuff and another record in me, so you never know! watch this space!’
Somewhere in this glorious past of old amps and ticket stubs and beautifully preserved posters the old warrior still twitches with a final future…meanwhile all the Joy Division fanatics worldwide reading this you are urged to take this last chance to get your hands on the legendary items…