Peter Hook on The Light's Future, New Order Court Battle
"They don't use the correct instruments," Hook says of New Order's current lineup -- or as he calls it, "New Odor."
Peter Hook is having a capital time playing classic New Order albums in their entirety with his current band, The Light. But that doesn't mean he's at all softened his feelings about the Hook-less version of New Order -- or, as he refers to it, "New Odor."
"They re-formed the band, shamelessly, in 2011 without telling me, without asking my permission to use the band name," Hook, who left the group circa 2007 and is currently battling former bandmates Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert in British courts over use of the New Order name, tells Billboard. "They licensed the name to themselves, which I disagree strong with, and I'm seeking a legal remedy. It's like a divorce settlement... fixed by the wife without consulting the husband, and the husband doesn't think it's fair. They've carried on regardless and have not even informed the fans that it's not the (original) lineup, which I think is a terrible thing to do. I get messages all the time from people that, 'I went to see New Order, and you weren't there.'"
A silver lining of sorts for Hook is that, with The Light, "It's been marvelous to get the songs out again in the way they should be played. I think one of the problems New Order had, especially with Bernard and Stephen, was they were reluctant to visit the old material," he said. "They sort of settled on a setlist and refused to change it. I always felt like that was such a shame because of the wealth of material (New Order) had. And one of the sad things about New Order, or shall we say the incarnation now, is they don't use the correct instruments and it doesn't sound the same. Maybe they wanted to change the songs, but it doesn't sound as good to me."
Hook is using The Light as a vehicle to perform music by both New Order and its predecessor, Joy Division. The group released an EP of four Joy Division songs in 2011, and it's toured playing that group's "Unknown Pleasures" and "Closer" albums in their entirety. Hook kicks off a North American run on Sept. 10 -- which will include a stop at Chicago's Riot Fest five days later -- during which he and The Light will play New Order's "Movement" and "Power, Corruption & Lies" albums. Next year he plans to play "Low-Life" and "Brotherhood" -- plus "all the singles in-between" -- and promises that this will be "very much an ongoing project. I only envisaged taking it up to (1989's) 'Technique,' to be honest with you, but now I think it seems a shame not to fulfill our whole destiny and play all of (1993's) 'Republic' and '(2001's) 'Get Ready' and (2005's) 'Waiting For the Sirens' Call' -- then it'll be time to dig a hole in the ground for me! But there really are so many great songs, and I'm just so delighted to be able to do them again."
But Hook does acknowledge that his dives into the past have sidetracked him from making any new music, though he's worked with producer Phil Murphy in the acid house project Man Ray and says he's "been writing new music all the time... but not what you'd consider to be a proper LP, which I'm very aware of. My wife keeps insisting that it's time to do another LP, but to be honest I'm enjoying playing the old stuff so much that it's hard to commit myself to the idea of six months, nine months to work on an album. And it's hard for me to commit with downloading and the way you don't earn money off records is at the moment. As an older musician, I'm just puzzled at the way the world is now and not sure I want to be part of it in that way."