In 1993, just after the release of New Order's sixth album, "Republic," it looked like England's greatest electro-pop band had broken up. It would be five years before the group performed together aga
In 1993, just after the release of New Order's sixth album, "Republic," it looked like England's greatest electro-pop band had broken up. "You see, we had had a lot of business problems," explains vocalist/guitarist Bernard Sumner. "The label we owned, Factory Records, was going down, as was our nightclub, the Hacienda [in Manchester]. We were burnt out and getting on each other's nerves. So, we went our own separate ways."
It would be five years before the group performed together again and seven before its members dared write new material with each other. But now, with the imminent release of the act's latest album, "Get Ready," Sumner says, "Time's a great healer. It made me remember the good things about being in New Order, not just the bad."
A nod to the group's rock roots -- New Order formed in 1980 from the ashes of hallowed post-punk act Joy Division -- "Get Ready" is more guitar-inflected than the band's previous two sets, which were dominated by synthesizers and club beats. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and Primal Scream members Bobby Gillespie and Innes guest on the set, which Warner Music will release Aug. 27 in all territories but the U.S. Reprise will issue the album Oct. 16 in the States.
The first single from "Get Ready" -- the charged "Crystal" -- arrived at U.K. and European radio July 2 and hits U.S. stations Aug. 14; stateside, the track's commercial release is simultaneous, while in all other territories it is due Aug. 13. Seven remixes are included on the "Crystal" maxi-single -- three by John Digweed & Muir and two each by Lee Coombs and Creamer K. The U.S. version of the package also includes the previously unreleased track "Behind Closed Doors." A video for "Crystal," directed by Johan Renck, was sent to U.K. outlets July 2 and goes to U.S. channels today (Aug. 6).
In the U.K., "Crystal" has yet to appear on many major commercial stations' playlists, although national public top-40 broadcaster BBC Radio 1 has gone early with it on its B-list. That guarantees "Crystal" at least 15 plays each week on the station.
One major regional U.K. commercial station that is already regularly airing "Crystal" is top-40 outlet Forth One/Edinburgh, which is the market leader in the east of Scotland. Drive-time presenter Micky Gavin raves about the track: "It shows that the guys have not lost their touch."
New Order previewed its new material July 23 at a secret show in Liverpool and July 28 at Fuji Rock Japan; the band also played the last four dates of Moby's Area: One festival earlier this month and will perform Aug. 11 in Cologne in support of Robbie Williams.
To capitalize on the buzz surrounding the new album's international release, Reprise will host an online listening party, streaming the album Aug. 20-27 on Internet radio station Spinner and all AOL channels. Reprise is also offering a free download of "Crystal" on the Winamp music site and is bundling the song with all downloads of the Winamp music player through mid-August. Reprise is also designing a contest in which fans can remix select New Order videos; the label is also readying several animated, musical e-cards that will be available from beatgreets.com.
"Crystal" currently appears in the background of TV spots trumpeting the redesigned U.S. version of CNN Headline News. The song is also featured this month in a TV commercial for the American Express Blue Card. Virgin Records, which has a partnership with the card, is offering 30% off any of New Order's catalog when titles are purchased with the Blue Card.
In addition to all of the attention to the new album, tomorrow (Aug. 7), Warner Archives/Rhino issues "Heart and Soul," a four-disc boxed set surveying Joy Division. (The package was issued in the U.K. two years ago by London Records.)
New Order will tour Europe Oct. 14-Nov. 12. Sumner say a U.S. tour is also "strongly expected" during first-quarter 2002.
When asked if "Get Ready" is New Order's swan song, Sumner turns philosophical. "When the group started working again, we decided we'd take it one day at a time. We'd do one concert, if we liked that, we'd do another. If we liked the concerts, we'd do an album. If we like the album, we'd tour, and so forth. We've never been a band to plan too far ahead."
Additional reporting by Tom Ferguson in London.