07 March 2011Closer to Hooky - The Interview
CF: The vibe of Closer is at times spooky. This would have been the case regardless of what came to pass. But what I want to know is, were any of Joy Division or the people present at the recording of the album involved in any... er, occult activities? There is a whiff of brimstone in there, whether or not it's intentional.
PH: An interesting question........... we have all dabbled with the black arts at one point or other but i can safely say that at this point only Martin Hannett was not of this planet. The whiff you smell is not brimstone but possibly worry and confusion.
Martin Hannett's production on Closer still sounds incredible. Was there some kind of breakthrough before or during the recording that made it sound that way, or did the sound naturally emerge?
As is the way of great men, you never know whether they know what they are doing or not? As my mother you to say: "If you can't fight, wear a big hat". He had a very big hat on. I think he knew what he wanted to try and after all the early Factory stuff and 'Unknown Pleasures', he must have been quite confident in his abilities. The interesting thing with 'Closer' was that some of the songs were sketchy so he had much more input into the music, the keyboards specifically. He taught Bernard how to layer and think outside the box in a way. He was also experimenting more with the early ARP sequencers for drums and early ARP Quadra synthesisers.
Did Hannett favour any band members over the others? [I know nothing about recording studio politics, so maybe it's a non-question. In an interview for Scream City 4, John Dowie said that Martin Hannett seemed as if he was 'behind a wall of very thick glass'. This may have been a joke, Dowie talking about the glass in the studio, or maybe he meant that Martin was somehow present and yet remote in his dealings with him.]
No, he treated us all with the same disdain. He was a very obtuse man. It was his way. He had a wicked sense of humour that only he seemed to understand. He was good with Ian though but on 'Closer' he hated me and Barney because we were working to get our ideas in. The portrayal in 'Control' was correct: Bernard and I would take it in turns to suggest things which he took as criticism. I know what Dowie means........
When New Order started producing their own stuff, it seemed like a new magic started to happen. Did you use techniques learnt from Hannett? If so, which ones?
Bernard and I learnt all we could from Martin. As his behaviour got worse we knew we couldn't carry on working with him so we soaked it up like a sponge and used his tricks and techniques as much as possible. What he did teach us was not to be afraid to experiment and believe in what you're doing. Bullshit baffles brains, etc, etc. Go for it. I think we took it further really. I would work on the production with Mike Johnson our engineer and Barney would come up with the mad ideas. We were a great team on the early LPs. I won't get too technical about it though.
Did Tony Wilson provide any guidance during the recording of Closer? And after the recording was finished, did he criticise any of it?
Him and Rob were always there, Rob in particular. Rob much preferred being with the musicians wherever they were rather than be in an office. I think they were both confident that between us we would do a good job. To my knowledge the only criticism was from me and Barney. I got a shock when I learnt of the letter from Ian saying he wasn't happy with it. I thought he was.
How aware were you at the time just how phenomenally far the band had developed in the few years between the time it started an the release of Closer? And after Closer, was there any fear of failure?
Yes, I think we knew we were writing better songs, we had seen that develop. To be honest the songwriting in Joy Division was always easy but we were not thinking about being successful. We were happy doing what we were doing but our main fear throughout 'Closer' was Ian's illness.
The new E.P. by The Light features the 'lost' track 'Pictures in my Mind'. How did that come about and how far developed was the track from all those years ago when you rediscovered it? What kind of state was the tape in and did any vocals by Ian exist?
Yes there were vocals on it. I plan put the original on the fac51thehacienda.com so people can compare it. To be honest it had all the elements needed to finish so it so I can't understand why we didn't.
The tape in question was lent to someone in trust by Rob Gretton. I don't know the details but the guy copied it and passed it round a rather elite bunch of Joy Division bootleg fans and then someone in the inner circle leaked it and a nice American kid called Seth passed it back to me. He also transcribed the lyrics for me. Thanks Seth. All I did was sing it and make it make sense bar and order wise. The lads in The Light helped me with it and Jack plays bass on it. I don't know where the tape is or even what format it was on: cassette, reel to reel or what?
How did you decide the other Joy Division tracks to include on the E.P.?
That was easy. Rowetta has been helping me out since the start. I think she does a beautiful job and I'm always trying to get her to sing more so I can play bass. A lot of people had been asking her to record them so the idea was there. The problem is it's hard to justify the expense of recording because you do not earn the money back. Nevertheless I'm glad to be doing it. The sleeve is great. It's done by a graphic artist called James Chadderton who specialises in post-nuclear attack drawings of Manchester and it was recorded on the 11 Feb 2011 hence 11022011 as somebody pointed out the date was a palindrome and it worked as a concept.
After the Unknown Pleasures gigs, Closer is the obvious progression but what new challenges does playing the whole of Closer present?
'Closer' is more delicate and uses the 6-string bass a lot so it's a different vibe. When I began with 'Unknown Pleasures' I never thought we would pull it off but Nat, Andy, Paul and Jack along with Phil worked really hard and we did. I know we will do the same with 'Closer'.
What kind of approach will you take to playing the whole of what is overall a very dark album? Will you be faithful to the original or take a new direction?
What I do is take our original and incorporate Martin Hannett's sound in the performance. It's our songs with a shared sound. I do use a lot of Martin's effects so it sounds like the record. I am very, very aware of the respect that people hold for these records and I would never insult their intelligence by doing it half arsed. 'Closer' is one of my favourite records ever made alongside Nico 'Chelsea Girls', Lou Reed 'Berlin', Ian Dury 'New Boots and Panties'. And John Cale 'Paris 1919'.
Are you going to add any other non-Closer tracks that weren't done on the Unknown Pleasures into the set on this tour?
Yes. Dead Souls, Exercise One, Incubation, From Safety to Where, Autosuggestion, Ice Age, Walked in Line.
Of all the people who've approached you to say that they're a Joy Division fan, who's been the most unlikely?
I am so happy whenever anyone says it to me i dont think that way. I now get young and old, male and female. I don't care... It's a great compliment to all four of us that people hold the group and the music in such high regard.
CF: Manchester: since the death of Tony Wilson it feels like a different place. No better, no worse. Just different. Statue? I say, no thanks. Tony, to me, was a kick the statues kind of a guy. What do you think?
I think he would be secretly pleased. Please do one of me though when I've gone and come and kick it!
We're already 14 months into a new, as yet unnamed/uncharacterised decade. Any plans?
I am happy at the moment. The past rears its ugly head but the people I work with make me strong. It's great to be playing the songs again. As for the world I'm sitting here in Doha Airport on my way back from Jakarta and watching the Middle East crumble is a frightening prospect that will mark the decade. Love Hooky '11.
Thanks to Hooky and James. Special thanks to Cerysmatic's Size 7¼ Closer Consultant Ian McCartney.
Post punk cult band The Names emerged in the winter of 1977-1978 as The Passengers, gathering immediate attention on the local Brussels scene. In 1979, after a series of successful gigs and a crucial step forward opening for Magazine, they recorded their first E.P. ("Spectators Of Life") and attracted the interest of prominent label Factory Records in Manchester.
Their first British studio session (at Stockport's Strawberry Studio) produced the single "Nightshift" / "I Wish I Could Speak Your Language (Fac 29). Receiving enthusiastic reviews in the UK and abroad, it marked the start of a long and fruitful collaboration with producer Martin Hannett. The album "Swimming" followed as well as more singles, including "Calcutta" and "The Astronaut".
- extract from the official website biography