Peter Hook, the bassist behind the grooves of New Order and Joy Division, immediately brightens when he hears the word “Phoenix.”
“Phoenix is one of my favorite places on Earth and it’s so nice getting back there,” Hook says.
Peter Hook & The Light will perform at The Van Buren on Thursday, May 17, to celebrate Joy Division and New Order’s Factory Records compilation albums, Substance, live, sequentially and in their entireties.
“New Order, in our early career, played there quite a few times,” he adds. “We would start our tours in Phoenix, and had many wonderful times there—being driven to the mountains and swimming in the lakes, being among the tarantulas and the snakes. We’re looking forward to coming back.
“It was a wonderful place to start a tour. Tempe is such a huge university town when we were there in 1981 to 1986. You were always guaranteed a great, young audience. They’re very connected musically, very hip.”
Released in August 1987, New Order’s Substance was conceived as a way for Factory Records’ boss, Tony Wilson, to play the New Order singles on the CD player of his new Jaguar car. Substance became the best-selling New Order album, the double LP going on to sell 2 million copies in America alone. The collection includes the hits “True Faith,” “Temptation,” “Thieves Like Us,” “The Perfect Kiss” and “Bizarre Love Triangle.”
Released the following year in July 1988, Joy Division’s Substance features the singles that did not appear on the albums, such as “Transmission,” “Komakino,” “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Atmosphere.”
“I must admit I didn’t realize what we were doing at the time,” Hook says about the naivety behind New Order and Joy Division’s music.
“We didn’t realize how or why we did it. We just did it. That’s the best way of writing music—when you don’t know what you’re doing or achieving. If you listen to The Doors or Velvet Underground, they were very young when they made their LPs. Great music has this ability to transcend age, judging by the number of young people we get at concerts.”
After Joy Division singer Ian Curtis died and New Order was founded by the surviving members, the former band’s music was ignored completely for 30 years, he adds. But it put him in a good position to do this tour. New Order deserves its due as well.
“Whilst New Order still exists in a different form, it’s a completely different role to the one I do,” he says. “I think the fans get very nice bite of the cherry. We’re covering all the bases, shall we say.”
In September, New Order settled with Hook on his use of New Order and Joy Division assets on merchandising and the promotion of shows, and the amount of the money he received from the use of the name New Order by his former bandmates in 2011. New Order is Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert.
In Peter Hook & The Light, Hook is joined by his bassist/son, Jack. He says it’s been inspirational to perform with him.
“He has the youth and the stamina, while I have the patience but not the stamina, to try and sort things out,” Hook says with a laugh.
“He helps me a great deal in figuring out the songs. As you start to figure them out, it brings back memories of when we did them the first time. It’s quite interesting to go through the process again. I don’t have the use of the New Order tapes or anything. We have to recreate everything, but all the equipment is still available. The old analog equipment has that richness and warmth. That’s been refreshing.”
His son started playing bass at age 10, while Hook didn’t pick up the instrument until he was about 20.
“He has an ear for music,” Hook says. “He can listen to a song and start playing along with it. That’s something I can’t do. I’m a bit tone deaf. I can write, but I can’t play other people’s music. He can. It’s been nice to watch him.”
It’s fun watching the crowd as well.
“New Order was immensely popular in America,” Hook explains. “One thing I learned while writing the New Order book was from 1980 to 1990, we spent most of our time in America. We were playing to 30,000 to 35,000 people. That’s bigger than Oasis, bigger than Spice Girls. It’s nice to have that accolade.”
Peter Hook & the Light, The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, thevanburenphx.com, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17, $26-$41.