It’s Sunday night in Glasgow’s Barrowland. The place is mobbed, but
not mobbed with the usual Barrowland crowd. This lot are a bit older,
a bit thinner on top, a bit weightier round the waists. But they’re
more excited than the usual crowd of students and teens ever get —
they’re here to see a band who they’ve grown up with, a band who were
written off as finished eight years ago. As good as seminal New York
DJ Arthur Baker is, the crowd are getting restless, then Arthur cuts
the Beach Boys into a pounding techno track and an MC appears to
announce the main act. The crowd go wild, and then there they are. New
Order are back — and as they plough into the opening chords of
‘Crystal’ everyone in the Barrowland wonders how they managed without
them… New Order have been around in some shape or form for the
best part of 24 years, starting life back in 1977 when school friends
Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner formed the
band Warsaw. But it wasn’t until a couple of years later when the band
name had been changed to Joy Division that they really started to
attract some attention. Tracks like ‘She’s Lost Control’ and
‘Transmission’ and their debut album ‘Unknown Pleasures’ earned them
fans worldwide — but it couldn’t last. Just as they were about to
break America, singer/songwriter Ian Curtis died. He was found hanged
in his Manchester home in May 1980, the day before they were due to
leave for their first tour of the States. While other bands might have
given up there and then, this lot didn’t. Hook, Morris and Sumner made
the decision to carry on, recruiting drummer Morris’s girlfriend
Gillian Gilbert to the band to play keyboards. The problem was
deciding who would take over from Ian Curtis — no one was keen, but
guitarist Sumner reluctantly took the job. Ian had left the band a
handful of unfinished songs, so using demo recordings as templates,
released their first single ‘Ceremony’ — penned by Ian Curtis — in
March 1981. At this time, New Order still sounded pretty much like Joy
Division — the tracks were moody and brooding, still led by Peter
Hook’s upfront basslines. When they changed direction with the more
disco-fuelled ‘Temptation’, the whole New Order story changed too.
They started to collaborate with some of the most influential figures
in the music industry; they built the legendary Manchester nightclub
the Haçienda, and then watched it collapse into debt; they saw their
label Factory grow on the strength of their releases only for it to
struggle with financial problems and follow the same path as the
Haçienda; and they eventually saw their own friendships collapse as
the outside pressures got too much for them. By the time they recorded
the 1993 album ‘Republic’, they were barely speaking. A split seemed
inevitable. Money Troubles And Bad Chicken "What basically got us back
together again was that our manager Rob Gretton was so sick of
fielding questions about what we were doing," says Peter Hook. It’s
the day after their Glasgow gig and the band in are good spirits,
enjoying a lunchtime drink. Last night was a real success, every track
sounding fresh — even the Joy Division songs — and every lyric shouted
back to them by the thousand or so dancing fans. And New Order seemed
to enjoy every second of their return to the Barrowland, even going so
far as to play an encore — something that would never have happened in
the old days. There’s no sign of tension between any of them, so it’s
hard to imagine how it all went so wrong and why New Order regrouping
had seemed so unbelievable. "I thought we were finished," says
Bernard. "I didn’t see any way back. Luckily I was wrong. The fact
that we never thought we’d get back together again showed us what we
had and cleared the animosity between us." "Rob sort of demanded that
we get together," continues Hooky over his Bloody Mary. "He lived and
breathed New Order and never wanted anything apart from it — he always
said to us, ‘If you put as much bloody effort into New Order as you do
your solo projects, you’d be fucking bigger than U2.’ And I suppose in
some ways he was right. He was very frustrated by it all, so he got us
together in a meeting. "So he got us all together again and lo and
behold, it was like going home at Christmas. You’re terrified before
you go, but when you get there it’s fine. Because all the business
stuff and the Haçienda had been sorted out, we found that a lot of the
anger we had inside ourselves about each other seemed a bit misguided.
By being away for so long, you realise that it wasn’t the people that
were to blame for our unhappiness — it was more to do with Factory and
the Haçienda. "The music side of it — the New Order side — was the
simplest part. We used to make music when we wanted to, we’d gig when
we wanted to and we used to enjoy and feel like we were getting
something from it. With Factory and the Haçienda, we just didn’t feel
that we were getting anywhere. We were losing all our money on all
those shit bands at Factory and losing money at the Haçienda through
bad management. They weren’t cut out to be bar owners." "They should
have stuck to TV," says Stephen. "It was like being one of those
hamsters on a treadmill — you should have been getting somewhere, but
you weren’t." "It all came to a head with ‘Republic’," says Hooky. "We
were so pissed off with each other because we’d been together so long
and there’d been problem after problem. On top of that, we were having
crisis meetings about the Haçienda twice a week while we were trying
to record an album. That’s not exactly a great environment to write in
— and because we weren’t getting on anyway, we weren’t writing very
quickly. We were out drowning our sorrows in all types of ways which
meant a lot of the time, we weren’t able to work because we were
completely twatted — not that we were particularly willing to work
anyway. What happened was that if there was nobody in the studio you’d
go in for a bit and as soon as someone else turned up, you’d run off.
It was awful. And Factory were trying to rush us to do the LP because
they needed money." "I thought there was definitely something wrong
when the quality of the chicken at the studio started dropping off,"
adds Stephen. "We were gradually getting less and less chicken when we
were in recording — I think it was their way of telling us. I find it
really hard to listen to ‘Republic’ now because it brings back all the
bad memories of recording it." Rocking The Shed When the band
did finally get back together in 1998, few would have believed they’d
return to the studio to record another album. But ‘Get Ready’ is up
there with the best of their back catalogue, filled with catchy vocals
and tunes you can’t get out of your head.
"I think the album as a whole was recorded much more confidently,"
says Hooky. "By going off, working on your own and breaking the New
Order mould, it’s made us — or at least me — a little bit more
confident. You know you’re going to get somewhere now, whereas on
didn’t want to rush ‘Get Ready’, so we spent a lot of time before
recording just jamming. That was the thing about being apart for so
long — it made us appreciate that the strength of New Order was in the
playing together. Once we started playing together again, we found
that the chemistry was still there and it felt like we were moving
on." "And the response to it has all been really good," adds Stephen.
"Not a bad word." "There was one, though, which was talking about
‘Rock The Shack’," says Hooky. "It said, ‘Rock the shack? This lot
couldn’t even rock a shed.’ When you get such glowing reviews at the
start, it’s actually quite nice to get one where somebody takes the
piss." ‘Rock The Shack’ is just one of the collaborations on ‘Get
Ready’, recorded with Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. The other is
‘Vicious Streak’ recorded with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.
"There was no real thinking behind the collaborations," says Hooky.
"With Billy, it was just the fact that Bernard had been listening to
Smashing Pumpkins and really liked his voice. I’ve known Billy for
years, so when Barney mentioned it, I said, ‘Well I’ll give him a ring
if you want.’ So I phoned him and he said he’d be delighted to do it.
He’s a huge New Order fan anyway. I met him when he was 15 — he came
to meet us when we were doing a Joy Division gig in Chicago. He told
me he was thinking of forming a band and that was Smashing Pumpkins.
"It’s the same with Bobby — we’ve known him for years, and he asked
Bernard to play on their last album ‘Xtrmntr’, so it seemed quite
natural for him to play on ‘Get Ready’. I think it’s quite nice
because it’s like they’re admitting that we’ve been a big influence on
them and that they’ve taken things off us. Even Mani [Primal Scream’s
guitarist] was shouting off stage at me at their gig at the Apollo.
‘Spot this one, Hooky! Here’s another one, Hooky!’ It’s obviously
quite tongue in cheek, but it is quite nice to take something back off
them. If we get Robert Smith we’ll be rocking." With the album in the
shops, New Order went on to shock their fans again. They announced a
tour. The band notoriously hate touring, refusing to play encores and
keeping their sets down to an hour. This time round, they’ve been
playing for up to two hours, playing encores and including Joy
Division songs. What’s changed? "When Ian died we dropped all our old
music and basically started again," says Bernard. "It was a brave
thing to do — or maybe it was stupid. But now we figure we put all
that work into writing those songs, why not play them?" "I’m sick of
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, but because the audience were so up for it
last night, you look at them all chanting and singing and it’s not so
bad," says Hooky. "We’ve so many songs to chose from now, but we
didn’t argue about what to play. "There’s just so many of them with
the new album, the old stuff and then all the Joy Division tracks,"
adds Stephen. "The difficult thing’s trying to see how best to put
them all together — we could have just gone ahead and done a slow
set." "It’s the amount of practising though, isn’t it?" adds Hooky.
"These are the longest sets we’ve ever played — when we played in
Manchester we played 19 tracks. When we did the ‘Republic’ dates, me
and Steve only practised with Gillian about five times and I think
Bernard only turned up twice. So we went on this huge tour and hadn’t
even practised which makes you really nervous. With this one, we’ve
practised our fucking balls off so you know that you can play all the
songs — which is quite calming and it makes you quite confident. And
it’s an album we’re really happy with so we’re all on a bit of a high.
"I don’t like touring that much," adds Bernard. "I prefer being in the
studio. It’s more creative." "It’s not the playing we don’t like
though," says Stephen. "It’s all the crap that comes with it. It’d be
alright if you could nip home." Life On Film With the tour
finished, New Order are now back in the studio working on another
collaboration, this time with the Chemical Brothers for their new
album. Before then, though, there’s the small matter of finding
themselves on celluloid when 24 Hour Party People hits our cinemas
next year. The story of the rise and fall of Factory Records, the film
focuses on the careers of Joy Division/New Order and label boss Tony
Wilson, the man so often vilified for his part in the label’s demise.
The cast includes Steve Coogan as Wilson, John Simm as Bernard Sumner
and Ralf Little as Peter Hook — how do the band feel about becoming
"It’s never going to be 100 per cent accurate," says Stephen. "In a
way, it’s got to be slightly warped to work as a film. It just depends
how they do it. I’m quite looking forward to it, though. I haven’t
seen a film for a bit… not since Rocky and Bullwinkle."
did help them out and we advised them on the script," says Hooky. "And
we’ve lent them a load of props from the Haçienda, so we have been
involved with it. And my best friend’s firm has done the catering for
it — he keeps bringing them round to my house. The most interesting
thing to me will be to see what they get wrong. I was there, so I
don’t want to see a documentary on it, I’d rather see someone else’s
take on it." The strangest thing, though, was the night the Haçienda
was rebuilt for filming. The film company threw a party in the replica
nightclub and the band were a bit taken aback by the whole night.
"Steve didn’t go because he thought they wouldn’t let him in again
like they used to at the original," says Hooky. "‘I’m the drummer out
of New Order.’ ‘Yeah, you and thousands of others. Piss off!’ It was
really weird though because about three weeks before that, I’d started
the bulldozers to knock down the original. Then I’m in a completely
rebuilt Haçienda that cost more to build than the original one." "I’d
just like to say it didn’t cost more than the original in the end,"
adds Stephen. "At the start it did, but when you count in inflation
and everything…" "It was a perfect replica apart from certain edges
were bigger," says Hooky. "The little bits they got wrong made it seem
like you were in a dream. I walked about for an hour just looking
round. It was mind-boggling. And all the people in Manchester who used
to go to the Haçienda — all our friends — knew about it and made sure
they got in, so when you were walking round it was like New Year’s Eve
because you knew everyone there. It was the most bizarre moment of my
life. "The strangest thing of all was when I went up to Barney after a
few sherbets and said, ‘This is unbelievable. The only thing that’s
missing is Rob Gretton.’ And he tapped me on the arm and went ‘Look!’,
and there was Rob with his glasses on, or at least the actor playing
him. Then Ian Curtis walked past — he looked at me and ran off… three
times. He had the same mac on, the same badge and the same shirt and
he really fucking looked like him. Tony said that when he does Ian
he’s fucking unbelievable. He watched him recording and said it was
the scariest thing in his life." If you were ever in any doubt that
New Order were the stuff of legends, 24 Hour Party People should help
to convince you. The band have always known they were on to something
good with New Order — that’s why they’re back, and hopefully they’ll
stay around for a bit longer. As Bernard himself says: "Right from the
start there was something special about this band, something — and I
sound like a right wanker here — spiritual. I think we’d be stupid to
throw that away."
‘Get Ready’ is out now on London. 24 Hour Party
People is currently due to go on general release in February.
© Copyright 2001
Schuh Limited. All rights
brief history of new order
Ian Curtis, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner form Warsaw, the band
that will become Joy Division.
After a brief tour, Warsaw recruit Stephen Morris as the drummer.
The group records for the first time and release their EP ‘An
Ideal For Living’.
Warsaw change their name to Joy Division.
Joy Division record a session for John featuring original material
including ‘She’s Lost Control’ and ‘Transmission’.
Joy Division release their first album ‘Unknown Pleasures’.
Joy Division record their second Peel Session which includes ‘Love
Will Tear Us Apart’.
Joy Division begin work on a new LP.
The day before their first US tour, Ian Curtis is found dead in
his Manchester home. He has hanged himself.
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is released as a single to critical
acclaim. It reaches the Top 20.
Joy Division’s final album ‘Closer’ is released. Bernard Sumner,
Peter Hook and Stephen Morris decide to stay together and begin
work on new material.
The trio decide on the name New Order and tour the US.
On their return home, New Order recruit keyboardist Gillian
Gilbert and begin recording a new album.
New Order release their first single, the Ian Curtis penned
‘Movement’, the first album of New Order material is released.
The ‘New Order EP’ is released — it includes the ever-popular
‘Blue Monday’ is released — it tops dance charts worldwide.
The album ‘Power, Corruption And Lies’ is released — it includes
the massive ‘Blue Monday’.
New Order tour US and Europe.
New Order release ‘Confusion’, recorded with the seminal
DJ/producer Arthur Baker in New York.
The album ‘Low Life’ is released.
The album ‘Brotherhood’ is released — it includes the single
‘Bizarre Love Triangle’.
‘True Faith’ is released and goes straight into the Top 20.
‘Substance’, the essential New Order compilation, is released. The
collection contains the group’s best known material and B-sides.
The album ‘Technique’ is released. May 1990: New Order record and
release the England football team’s World Cup song ‘World In
Motion’. It reaches No.1 in the UK charts.
The album ‘Republic’ is released.
New Order play their ‘final’ gig at the Reading festival.
Having been persuaded by their manager Rob Gretton to regroup, New
Order play in Manchester to launch the following year’s
New Order release ‘Brutal’ on the soundtrack to the film The
New Order play their first comeback gig at the Liverpool Olympia.
New Order release their eighth album ‘Get Ready’.
New Order play the Manchester Apollo — the first time they’ve
played to a home crowd in three years. The band also receive the
Outstanding Achievement In Dance Music accolade at the Muzik
NEW WEB ORDER…
Find out more about New Order at the following
The official UK web site. Contains videos, MP3 samples, e-mail
news service, tour dates and news.
Discography, lyrics, photo gallery and information about the band.
Plus a trading section where you can buy/sell or trade New Order
In depth bios of all New Order related bands, an up-to-date news
section about forthcoming live appearances and releases, and New
Order products to buy on-line.
Official US New Order site with a news section, band history,
discographies and a photo gallery.
Discographies, news and links to other New Order sites.
The official web site for 24 Hour Party People, the film charting
the rise and fall of Factory Records, the original home of New