Hook does not currently speak with former Joy Division bandmates Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris. In 1980, the three dealt with Curtis’s hanging by dissolving the band and re-emerging as New Order.
“You know, funnily enough, it’s taken us all 30 years to be happy and feel maybe we’re in a position where we can play it without feeling like you shouldn’t be doing it,” Hook explains. “There was always a lot of guilt with playing Joy Division songs in New Order, which was sad, really. It’s a shame we had that guilt, because we should have been celebrating and should have been celebrating Ian.”
Hook is also enjoying his freedom from his former New Order mates. Joy Division had been rooted in punk and the late-’70s Manchester scene; raw tracks like “Disorder” and “Interzone” rip with a frenzied goth dissonance that enraptured the bleak underground and evoked a decaying industrial city. But New Order evolved to embody the more uplifting ’80s dance culture, embracing (and being embraced by) New York’s post-disco Danceteria scene and eventually filling arenas on the strength of the still-lethal club hits “Blue Monday” and “True Faith.” Their record sales bankrolled Factory Records and its Hacienda nightclub. When a band achieve that kind of success, rules emerge. Not amicably, New Order called it a day in 2007.
“New Order was very set in its way, and everything had to be done a certain way to please a certain party,” Hook points out, possibly alluding to Factory Records. “There was certainly no freedom or joie de vivre in it whatsoever, and it’s nice to be able to do anything you like. When we finished Joy Division, we neglected it as New Order. Ian wasn’t there; it wasn’t the same, so we just dumped it. The only time we ever played a Joy Division set was at the Versus Cancer benefit here in Manchester [January 2006], and one more when we played at Wembley Arena as New Order [October 2006], and then that was it.”
By then, it was clear that his bandmates has grown distant from the old music. “It was quite an odd feeling, because I know Bernard did say after we played Wembley, ‘It’s fucking miserable that Joy Division stuff,’ where I thought it was more majestic than miserable.”
Capturing the dark, at-a-distance feel of Unknown Pleasures on stage 31 years later is no small task. Whereas most post-punk albums were stripped-down, bare-bone by-products of the brisk evolution of punk, Joy Division had a hidden ace in late Factory Records house producer Martin Hannett, a destructive genius whose unstable tactics infuriated the band. But Hannett also layered Joy Division’s iconic sound with a sonic sheen of digital effects — like capturing sharp noises from elevator shafts and incorporating them into the drums — that carry the music to a higher, almost spiritual level. Even in spatial tracks like “She’s Lost Control” and “New Dawn Fades,” the silence has a necessary sound. According to Simon Reynolds’s 2005 book Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984, Hannett frequently talked of creating “sonic holograms” and capturing “ambience control.”