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Love Will Bring Us Together

Regrouped New Order's plans include box set, possible new album and tour

New Order's Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook: A renewed brotherhood.

It's rush hour in Manchester, England, and New Order lead singer/former Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner has just returned from Johnny Marr's house. The two legendary British musicians are finishing off songwriting sessions for the third Electronic album -- an off-and-on project that he and the former Smiths guitarist have used to create some brilliant music over the last few years. Sumner is slightly out of breath from battling the traffic and needs to get more comfortable. "Just let me take my cardigan off," he says. "I'm really hot."
Since the announcement that New Order would re-emerge from a five-year hiatus to headline the Phoenix Festival in England July 16-19, Sumner is probably the most comfortable he's been in a long time. Since the band never officially broke up -- they merely walked offstage and didn't speak to each other for half a decade -- there was never a sense of closure within the band. Maybe that's because no matter how much bassist Peter Hook, drummer Stephen Morris, keyboardist Gillian Gilbert and Sumner thought they hated each other then, they never knew if the final curtain on New Order had been drawn.

"The beauty of what's happened is we've had a four or five-year break," says Sumner. "During that break, there was the thought in our minds that we were never gonna get back together or see each other again. That's different from saying, 'Let's just take a holiday.' I think everyone was emotionally glad -- and shocked -- that we were in the same room again."

That room was New Order's offices above the infamous Hacienda in Manchester, a dance club that has always been the centerpoint of the city's ecstasy-fueled music scene. Obviously, the meeting was not by chance: Sumner had received a call from New Order manager Rob Gretton in January proposing the reunion idea.

"First I said 'Find out if everyone is interested,' recalls Sumner. "And they were. The next step was, 'Do we hate each other, or do we like each other?' So we decided before we agreed to doing any gig, to have a meeting, and if anyone had any grudges to bear, to iron them out."

After a second meeting, the reunion was secured. "We thought we'd do the gig, see how we got on and see if the vibe is still there, and if it is then we'd work together in the studio and write some new material. If so, I think we'll try to write properly as a band again. We've not done that in so long -- all sat there like we did in Joy Division and write songs -- that I think we'll find it quite interesting."

In addition to the one-off gig and possible new album and tour, a New Order box set will be hitting stores late summer/early fall. The set will contain all 22 of the band's singles (released separately in two boxes of 11 enhanced-CD singles). Each disc will tentatively include the original 7- and 12-inch versions of the song, the video, live footage and possibly the computer software that was used to originally create the track. The first set is scheduled for release in the U.K. in June; the second will follow in September. There is no word yet on whether the sets will be released domestically.

As far as the Phoenix Festival show goes, Sumner has misplaced the tentative set list, but he does reveal that they will be playing a retrospective which will include a few songs they have never played live before ("All Day Long") as well as some classics re-tooled for the late '90s. Also included, to the surprise of some, will be a few Joy Division songs, such as "Heart and Souls," "Atmosphere" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

"If we are going to do Joy Division songs, I'd prefer to do ones that are not so self-searching. I was just looking at the Joy Division box set the other day and realized I just can't listen to it ... it would bring too many things back. It was quite a painful experience, but I think playing the songs will be a joyful experience. I sound like a born-again Christian, don't I?"

Even though Sumner may have reached a new enlightenment lately, he's still cautious. After all, 20 years together is a long time and some things never change. "We're taking each day as it comes rather than committing ourselves and finding out later we hate each other."


Last updated on 2005-03-07 9:34:00 PM - 9:34:00 PM
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