Peter Hook says news of Joy Division/New Order‘s joint nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “made me smile all day” after he learned the news on Tuesday (Jan. 31). It also made him chuckle a little too.
“To be honest with you, we were always against this sort of thing when we started,” the two groups’ founding bassist tells Billboard via Zoom from his home in England. “It was the old punk thing — we hope we die before we get old and destroy all the old musicians, etc. etc. and what rubbish awards ceremonies are. Then all of a sudden you get one, and as you get older you realize… yeah, it’s a wonderful thing. I’m humbled, I really am. It’s nice, and it’s fun to be appreciated.”
The groups were named on Tuesday as part of a class of nominees that also includes Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, Iron Maiden, Soundgarden, Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, The Spinners, A Tribe Called Quest, The White Stripes and Warren Zevon.
And, he adds, “I will be rooting for us. Ever since we started as Warsaw, I’ve always felt great competition towards other bands. You want to do better than them, you want to achieve something. So this really appeals to me.”
The nomination marks the first inclusion on the ballot for either band. Joy Division has been eligible since 2004 and New Order — formed by Hook, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris (with Gillian Gilbert) after Joy Division singer Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980 — since 2006. It’s not the first time the Rock Hall has put two bands together as a unit; the Small Face and Faces were inducted jointly back in 2012. And Hook feels that the commonality between Joy Division and New Order makes their pairing both acceptable and appropriate.
“It feels OK to me,” he explains. “It was an odd thing. Joy Division was such a wonderful, powerful entity, and it was so sad the way it ended. But the three of us — Bernie, Stephen and I — got real strength from starting New Order together. We started (Joy Division) after seeing the Sex Pistols, and we’ve been banging our heads against walls and doors and kicking them down musically since then. We were always the square peg in a round hole as Joy Division and very much a square peg in a round hole as New Order. (The Rock Hall) is a hell of an accolade, but my God, I think either band has earned it. We are definitely up there without a shadow of a doubt.”
The potential of a Joy Division/New Order induction does come with the specter of some possible drama. Hook — who’s written two memoirs about his life and in outside of music — has been at odds with Sumner, Morris and Gilbert since 2011, when New Order reformed without him after a four-year hiatus. The resulting lawsuit was settled out of court, but Hook says the musicians “still haven’t spoken, personally in 11 years. We’re still fighting hammer and tong, tooth and nail… I think we’re going for the record for the longest group fallout in history. It’s very tragic.”
But he’s hopeful that, if inducted, all parties will put aside their differences at least for one night.
“It will be a difficult awards ceremony if we get there, but as my wife said we’ve got to rise above these things… and be nice and be courteous and think the best,” Hook says. “Maybe this is the olive branch that we may need to end the injustices that were done with New Order in the end. It’s a very strange position to be in but, y’know, we’re not the first group that’s been ostracized by each other, and we won’t be the last.”
Since the schism New Order has released two studio albums along with several live sets and the 2020 single “Be a Rebel.” On Jan. 27 the box set Low-Life was released, compiling New Order 12-inch singles and filmed live performances. The group will play a set of shows in Texas during March, including an appearance at South By Southwest.
For more than a decade, meanwhile, Hook has led his band, The Light, in performing Joy Division and New Order albums in their entireties. He returns to the road in March for The World is a Vampire Festival in Mexico and starts a U.K. tour in April, playing both of Joy Division’s studio albums (Unknown Pleasures and Closer), a variety of New Order songs and the Substance compilations from both bands.
“It’s all about music,” says Hook, who launched a music business master’s degree program at the University of Central Lancashire in England during 2012. “The reason it’s OK to be playing Joy Division was the fact I thought it needed celebrating more, and for me not to celebrate it I felt was wrong. So it’s been wonderful to do and it’s been wonderful to keep on celebrating New Order music, and probably I will be doing it until I die — and beyond.”
Inductees will be revealed in May, with the induction ceremony taking place this fall. The top five artists selected through fan voting will be tallied along with the ballots from the Rock Hall’s international voting body to determine the Class of 2023. Fans can vote online every day through April 28 at vote.rockhall.com or IRL at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.