Having made his debut in print with The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club in 2009, Joy Division and New Order‘s Peter Hook has recently delved into his first band’s history for Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. In a guest column, Hooky explains what motivates him to write about his past – plus win a signed copy of his latest tome below.
Truthfully, I never really had any ambition to be an author but I suppose I was always considered very good at telling stories because some of the stories we had were so wild that people refused to believe them. When I was doing the sleeve notes for the first Hacienda compilation in 2006, Claude Flowers who was helping me said: “You’ve got so many anecdotes you should write a book”. That got me thinking so I chatted to a few people and someone suggested a literary agent, then it all went from there.
I put it into a treatment and we got signed. Originally the publishers wanted to do it as one book on my whole life and I refused because I felt it wouldn’t do justice to any of the particular episodes. I thought I’d start out quite small with The Hacienda and then once I knew that I could do it and knew that people liked what I was doing, it was actually quite logical to move onto Joy Division.
I have to admit I wasn’t confident at the outset. You sort of live in hope, you always live in hope, I was sort of taught that what we were doing was right and I hoped that other people would agree and thankfully they appear to have. It’s an odd one really because even if the reviews had been really bad, I did my best in the way that I thought was good. There’s no accounting for taste but it does meet my tastes perfectly and I feel that I couldn’t have done either book any better if I tried because I really did work hard on it.
I find I have to do a lot of research. The trouble is that everyone has a very different opinion so you have to stay true to what you believe. It is hard to delve into the past, it becomes very draining. For the Joy Division book, I did nearly 50 hours of interviews and then we put it into a timeline and create a book so you literally are creating it from thin air.
The process is exciting but the tough bit is waiting for it to come out, to see what people think as you are a little bit conscious of it because of the nature of the subject, especially with Joy Division and you don’t want to shatter anyone’s mystique. People have these impressions with Joy Division that they were incredibly arty and mysterious so I was very worried about that. In fact, there’s actually a few myths that I would have been sorry to see the back of so I have to admit I was a little bit selective about them.
I suppose in a funny way everybody remembers everything differently. I would love to read a book by Bernard or Stephen on the period to see what their take would be – you see they would remember different things than me, really to get a full round up of Joy Division, you would need ever single persons memories. You could put them all together and then you would have covered the whole thing, in the book it’s just things that have stuck in my mind and I like the funny and the wacky stuff that we did and went through so I do come at it from a different angle which is symptomatic of my character.
In a funny way I have quite a particular style, I don’t read many books which are written the way I write and I suppose that’s part of your allure and luckily I appear to have found a quirky, individual style. For example I never thought that putting the accounts in the Hacienda book would be seen as a bonus, but I’ve had lots of accountants come up to me and tell me they really enjoyed the accounts.
Being an author, certainly lends you some gravitas, to be an author, which does make me smile. When I was on Radcliffe and Maconie recently all three of us were sat there breathing on our books and rubbing them on our lapels and saying we’re all authors.
Somehow it’s like being a rock and roller or a radio DJ isn’t enough, it doesn’t have the gravitas of being an author. Really when you thing about it words, writing and communicating with people is the most important thing in the world and I love that you can walk round with a book and go I actually did that. If someone comes up to me with one of my books, it really, really does make me happy.
For more – including details of Hooky’s Unknown Pleasures dates this winter, and London and Manchester Movement / Power Corruption And Lies shows next year – head to Peterhook.co.uk. Plus you can win a signed copy of Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by entering our competition, just head over to the Q Competition Centre to enter.