BIOGRAPHY / POLYDOR 7/97
Bass / Vocals
- Unless you have been avoiding all pop music
since 1978, it's a racing certainty that somewhere in the back of your mind, or at the top
of your world or perhaps in the oops upside of your disco head, there is a Peter Hook
bassline that once really got a hold of you and now will not let go. You can't deny it.
Perhaps it is the twanging, swinging pneumatic drilling of Joy Division's TRANSMISSION.
Or maybe the slow motion Roobarb and Custard soundtrack of New Order's "Blue
Monday." Perchance even the howling, growling electronic disembowelling of
Revenge's PINEAPPLE FACE. It would be all of these and more, and - this
is the point - soon there could be a whole set bumping and grinding your pop
consciousness. Because Peter Hook, the greatest post punk bass player in the world...ever,
is back, and feeling bigger and brighter than he has in years.
- Yes, I did say "brighter." For
Peter Hook, once so furrowed of brow, so low slung of bass, so fond of trying to distance
his own projects from New Order that he withheld from them his own New Orderly pop genius,
is in the Spring of 1997 a happier and more confident man. A man feeling relaxed
enough to abandon concepts, and to make an instinctive album that draws on everything he's
learned over the last two decades. A man who, in his new partner David Potts, has found a
new spark and spar he can play off and play with. A man with a new band call Monaco...
which is great.
- "I'm as proud of this as I am of
anything that I've ever done," he says, "My last thing, the Revenge album,
played down the New Order and bass elements because I felt I should get away from
them. I was very self-conscious, and the album suffered for that. I feel much happier and
more comfortable doing this man than I did before."
- By "before," he means the early
90s, with Revenge. But of course there is a lot more "before" to Peter Hook than
that. It begins with punk rock, and specifically with a Sex Pistols gig at Manchester's
Free Trade Hall in 1976, which inspired Hook, then a sixteen year -old docker, and his
friends Bernard Dicken and Terry Mason to start a band called The Stiff Kittens. Hook,
like his two colleagues, couldn't play anything, and chose bass only because Dicken beat
him to his first choice of guitar. Untutored and unfamiliar with convention, he often
played more like a lead guitarist, picking out notes on the high strings because that was
how he could best hear his own playing in somewhat cacophonous rehearsals. This would
mature into a brand new style of playing which influenced several notable British
post-punk troupes, most prominently perhaps the Cocteau Twins and The Cure.
- Minus Mason, but with a new drummer in Stephen
Morris and a brilliant singer in Ian Curtis, the Stiff Kittens mutated into Joy Division
and signed Mancunian independant label Factory. With their dark, claustrophobic and
neurotic music, Joy Division took punk to its darkest and most dangerous extreme. As Jon
Savage once wrote, punk asked you to "dive into the dark recesses of your
psyche." Joy Division in the course of their brief career "went furthest into
the demons of the time ... the collective subconscious if you will."
- Joy Division's brief, bright career was
curtailed on May 18, 1990 when Ian Curtis committed suicide on the eve of what would have
been a breakthrough tour of the United States. CLOSER, the band's second
album (and Peter Hook's favorite item in his portfolio) was released in June 1980, and
after a short interregnum, the remaining three members recruited Gillian Gilbert as a
guitarist, and began again as New Order.
- The many music critics who regard New Order
as the outstanding pop band of their generation would cite as evidence the band's ability
to dissolve the visceral emotion of rock in the synthetic cleverness and novelty of
electronic dance music; its fusion of punk's ennui and pop's enthusiasm; its modern knack
of making music which knew it could be beautiful and meaningful, but which at the same
time gave you a nudge and wink that admitted that this was, after all, just pop. And
underscoring these fusions and confusions which have soundtracked our lives for more than
a decade was Peter Hook and his bass, which would switch back and forth from being raw and
throbbing to being refined, plastic and popping often within the same song. Some people
call New Order and Joy Division arty, but Peter Hook doesn't; he liked the darkness and
power of the music, because these qualities helped to communicate pure emotion, which he
thinks is the whole point.
- Incidentally, he doesn't take that much from
other music. he was inspired by the Sex Pistols, and admires the bass playing on old
Temptations records and the Hot Chocolate albums of the 1970's. Maybe that tells you
something about Peter Hook.
- Anyway, while New Order were busy releasing
their seminal disco-rock albums of the 1980's, a young man from Swinton called David Potts
was working in a record shop in Manchester, arranging displays so that copies of those
albums, which he loved, would have a prominent place in his store. In his spare time he
was learning to play, and listening to lots of classic Sixties rock music. In December
1989, he started working in Peter Hook's studio as a Tape Op. Hook was working with his
own sleazy dance-rock project Revenge at the time, and when a vacancy for a guitarist
arose in 1992, he recruited the willing Potts to play on the charmingly-titled EP, GUN
WORLD PORN. Hook took time out to record New Order's REPUBLIC
album in 1993, but then went back to work with Potts. They liked each other, Hook like
Pott's enthusiasm, organization and ability to juxtapose a jaunty melody and doleful lyric
while Potts digs his bassist's instinct and talent for making clever music sound fast,
hard and emotional.
- They write together, they call themselves
Monaco, and they sound like what you would want to hear from a band featuring Peter Hook
playing bass and a guitarist who came up through sixties influences. New Order and the
Nineties indie-dance interface. People will want to talk about whether bits of it sound
like New Order or not, but they'll be missing the point, because if Monaco have anything
in common with that band it's not to do with production techniques or chord progressions.
It's to do with the way that, at their best, Monaco do what all great pop - including New
Order - does, they incorporate into each song opposites and extremes that should
contradict each other, but actually throw themselves into heightened relief. The
highly-sprung dance beat offset by the introspective lyric of a man on the edge of
despair; the slow, considered acoustic grind of a ballad in which the singer proclaims his
gladness; the chirpy electro-pop tones of the song in which he announces his which that
certain people should hurry up and die.
- "This," says Peter Hook, "is
from the heart, and not from the head like Revenge. In Revenge I was doing things because
other people were doing them. This is something I want to do, and I think you can hear
- "This," says David Potts,
"doesn't clash with itself like the Revenge stuff we did used to. We worked much
harder at it. But the important thing is that it's about the heart, no art."
- This, people, is Monaco, and this is now.
© Polydor Records, 1997