"Bernard Sumner's got what he's always wanted -- a bass player who does what he's told."
As a founding member of iconic alt-rock bands Joy Division and New Order, Peter Hook's melodic bass lines were a key component of both groups' success. His signature low-end sound helped form the bedrock for seminal albums like Joy Divisions 'Unknown Pleasures' (1979) and 'Closer' (1980), as well as New Order's 'Power, Corruption & Lies' (1983), 'Low-Life' (1985) and 'Technique' (1989). But that foundation was irreparably cracked in 2007, when -- amidst a flurry of public insults and accusations -- he infamously parted ways with the bandmates he'd played alongside for decades.
In recent years, most press coverage about New Order has focused on the increasingly heated animosity between Hook and his former cohorts -- singer Bernard Sumner, drummer Stephen Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. And most of the tension centers on the remaining members' decision to reform as New Order in late 2011 minus its original bassist.
Featuring a lineup that now consists of Sumner, Morris, Gilbert, guitarist Phil Cunningham and new bassist Tom Chapman, New Order has since toured extensively around the globe, and hit the U.S. in fall 2012 for its first run of Stateside shows in seven years. (They will return to U.S. shores in April when they play the annual Coachella festival in Indio, Calif.) Hook has also been busy touring with his new band, The Light, and controversially performing full albums from both Joy Division's and New Order's catalogs. He has also authored 'Unknown Pleasures,' an acclaimed account of his time in Joy Division, which is released this month in the U.S. via It Books.
Speaking exclusively to Billboard ahead of a two-week national book tour, Hook sets out to answer his former band's criticisms and set the record straight. "I'd be the first to admit if the things (they are) saying were true," he says, "but they simply are not."
Billboard: This month sees the long-delayed release of Lost Sirens -- an 8-track album of songs recorded during the making of New Order's most recent album 'Waiting for the Sirens' Call' (2005). Given the fact that you are no longer in New Order, how do you feel about the record today?
Peter Hook: What was really weird was when I heard it; it reminded me of the good times. After the year I have had, and the legal wrangling that I'm going through with them lot, it was nice to be able to listen to 'Lost Sirens' and go, 'Oh, my God. We did do some really good work, despite all the arguing.' Even though we were at each other's throats, there was still chemistry between us that was absolutely fantastic.
It's something of an understatement to say that relations between yourself and the other founding members of New Order have not been good for a long time. But the animosity between you all seems to have increased in recent months.
I think I've short-circuited any disagreements between the three of them because their hate is obviously all pointed at me, as opposed to the old days when we all used to point it at each other. What Barney (Bernard Sumner) is doing is washing his dirty laundry in public. If I wanted to wash my dirty laundry in public, then there's a lot of things that I could say about them all. I'd be the first to admit if the things he was saying were true, but they simply are not.
Okay then. Let's start with Sumner's claim in a recent interview with Spinner that New Order was unable to finish what became 'Lost Sirens' because you were too busy DJing?
Surely people are not daft enough to think that when I go off DJing, them lot are just [sitting] there twiddling their thumbs and waiting for me to come back? That has just not happened. We all did things outside of New Order and the schedule would be moved around to take care of that. It's just so childish for him to try and insinuate that I was off DJing, so everybody had to wait. The fact that you were away would be of no interest to Barney because he was doing it on his own any way.
So you're saying that you didn't decline Sumner's offer to contribute to the 'Control' soundtrack or the 'Lost Sirens' album due to DJing commitments?
He's absolutely wrong and completely mistaken about this... Steve and I did the music [for 'Control'] on our own and then it went to Bernard to be… the polite term is finished off. The impolite term would be messed about with. The thing with 'Lost Sirens' just did not happen on those occasions. If I was DJing, they just carried on without me. They've been carrying on without me and hoping that I wouldn't turn up for years [laughs]. It was always a real squeeze to get on the bloody records because he'd be doing it on his own and then when you turned up with your bass he'd be like: 'What the f**k do you want?'
We've been in this business for thirty odd years and if somebody couldn't do a session then you just rescheduled. We spent three years writing and recording 'Waiting for the Sirens' Call' and I missed the last week because I went into rehab. I came out a month later and that's [the period] he is referring to (in the Spinner interview) when he says: "He was a worse person, in my opinion." That's because I was sober and I couldn't get drunk anymore to put up with his outrageous behavior, so I was standing my ground.