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Sounds 12/4/86 cover picture (106 kb)
Interview by Chris Roberts


Temptation, confusion,
disillusion. Experience,
true colours, and the
meaning of life, before and
after drinks. NEW ORDER
questions, PETER
ANDERSON sees music
as art

"You don't have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude" - Prince
"I have no attitude without a cigarette" - Lou Reed
"I wouldn't mind being a thief" - Bernard Albrecht

In a Newcastle hotel bar with an attractive chandelier the Grace
Kelly of pop ventures a "Hullo" better late than never.
Hook volleys a "Hullo" back and Albrecht goes "Wheeeuuurrr!".
He tries again and manages "Aaaarrrhhh".
A publicist with a brain to match his legs buys us Scotch.
Grace is nicely confused. Two men carry six television sets out
of the lift and stack them neatly on the stairs. A hunchback
lopes past. The two men reappear with three more television sets.
We go to The Tube. Kelly's eye fixes on a door which all the
children can go in through.

"Let's go out and have some fun, wooh." - ('The Perfect Kiss')

Gillian decorated the walls of her hotal room the night before.
With vomit. She doesn't say much. Stephen wanders around a lot.
Quote: "Well, I wandered around and I wandered around." He looks
very stern and Gregory Peckish on the cover of 'Low-Life' but in
the flesh he's kind of... humble, almost.
There's a close-knit group of Lancastrian individuals around the
band. I recognise one of Life. They are all friendly without being
crawly or phoney.
New Order, knocking around 30, are not signed to a major record
company. New Order are one of your last strongholds.
Besides, New Order are New Order.

Strength, the ability to swirl on a pinhead, notoriety,
unpredictability, the way 'Thieves Like Us' sounds when you stare
at two pillows and smoke on a June morning. Bernard's ears, the
ensuing thought that if Life and Death made unselfconscious love
there would indeed be a vicious and valid and vulnerable master

I sit on an amplifier with Peter Hook, whom everyone today refers
to as "Hooky". "Hooky" is mature, soft-spoken, and does not smash
my face in. This is all very laid-back and sensible.
Some people say you're a nasty piece of work.
"It doesn't really bother me what I read. It's a pretty weird
position to be in, writing about people, isn't it? When you just
meet them like this. I don't think it works. Basically, I think
most of it's down to entertaining, and if you can find an
interesting angle, that's the one you'll go for."
Is that what you're doing with New Order? Entertaining?
"Maybe not entertainment, maybe more creating something."
Do you get satisfaction from this?
"Sometimes - the satisfaction of writing and playing a great
song. And a great deal of frustration!"
What's frustrating?
"Well - it's a rotten business. I wouldn't even begin to go into
it, with you, at the present time."
Is this why New Order remain detached from the usual music biz
"We don't like the in part of it. I prefer to judge people by
who they are and what they do. You don't know what anyone's like
till you meet them anyway. You shouldn't make snap decisions.
Which is basically what you're doing."
As people, are you as the songs - 'Temptation', 'Confusion',
'Shellshock' - would suggest? Very traumatic?
"Yes, for some reason we do seem to attract a lot of trauma. I
don't quite understand why. Maybe it's because we do everything to
extremes. Like, The Hacienda is a pretty extreme thing for a group
in our position to do.
"And the way Factory works, all over the world, is very extreme.
So we tend to do a lot of weird things. In a very awkward way, cos
we want to do them our way.
"The reason what we do is very exhausting and intense is that we
tend to do it in blocks. Staying up all night, working really
hard, until people do fall by the wayside. It's like war. You've
got more chance of being killed than in peacetime."
Do you think your followers appreciate New Order for the right
"Some do - like attracts like mostly. So a lot of our serious
fans might not come up and talk to us cos they're like us as
people. It's those people you impress most."
Are you still an 'alternative'?
"Well, you need an alternative to some things these days, don't
you? God. I think the actual business has gone really bad again,
to how it was before punk. People just do it for the money, not
because they believe in it or something. I think we're well due
for another Sex Pistols."
And I thought you were "the rebels of pop"!
"Well, I mean... we do cause a lot of people a lot of trouble.
The thing is - they're forewarned because they think we're going
to be a bunch of awkward bastards anyway. They're ready for you.
So it doesn't matter. You can do what you want. Some people have a
very strange attitude."
People generally think New Order must be very deep.
"I suppose we are in a way. We're as deep as you. Or anybody
Would you agree you consciously "set an example" in attitude?
"Yes, but because it's underplayed it doesn't have the effect
it should have. It doesn't change anything; they just say - Oh
yeah, New Order. And because we're very incestuous and insular -
maybe if it was to break out it'd have more effect.
"But then it waters it down. We're a very close group of
people... you can get very deep relationships with just certain
people, and that's good cos I'm not a very sociable person
That cultivates the "mystique" bit...
"Yes, but if you find something really good and special, you
want to keep it to yourself anyway, don't you? Why share it? F***
Have you passed the stage of getting antagonistic? Are you anti-
"I'm anti-anything that annoys me. If you annoyed me I'd be
anti-you. It's just situations, isn't it? I just don't like
bullshit. People don't expect groups to think; they try to cushion
you against the real world and I don't agree with that."

New Order will soon undertake a 23-date tour of the United States.
"Interesting place, America. You can be as rebellious as you like
and just sink without trace. You just have to compromise, and
it's a real bind. They just don't seem to be that artistic;
everything has to be easy."
They worked with American producer John Robie on their latest
blockbuster 'Shellshock'.
"We were shocked by the amount of money we had to spend to make
one record. That type of music ain't as dear to my heart as the
acoustic stuff; I prefer a meshing together to machines. But
it's a really good song; you can't dispute that." It's to feature
on the soundtrack to the film Pretty In Pink, a reputedly dodgy
follow-up to The Breakfast Club.
"We never know what's going on with our sets, so we make loads
of cock-ups. But I hate the way some bands just play the same set
every night till it's preposterous. And I hate encores. The point
escapes me. It's like - when you have an orgasm, you don't just go
straight back, do you? You savour it. You relax after, you don't
just go - wooh, right, right... well I suppose some people do. But
we'll leave the road crew out of this."
Is there a reasoning behind your starting to play Joy Division
favourites live again?
"We've started doing them because... we used to do them on Ian's
birth... Ian's deathday. Just like... melancholia, tribute,
"Our manager's convinced that Morrissey wants to be Ian Curtis.
That Morrissey wants to die cos then the shadow of Joy Division
won't be hanging over him. I'm not sure if I agree with his theory
Does it seem like a very long time ago? Since Ian?
"It does. It seems a lot longer than it should do. Wild. Scares
the shit out of you when you realise... ten years? Since we
started. It's gone like that."
As expected?
"Nothing goes the way you expect. Unfortunately. It's been
Are you ambitious?
"I'd like to be a racing driver. I need some more money."
Peter Hook, why do you drink?
"I drink to forget. I don't know what, I've forgotten. But if I
stop drinking I'm sure it'll come back. So I'll carry on
Are you happy?
"Well -um - yeah. If it was that simple. The hard work takes the
edge off it but it also keeps you going. If you get too complacent
it reflects in the music. Which is why a lot of bands are shit. I
think when you're struggling you're putting out a certain
intensity that people latch onto."
Are you underrated?
"The people that matter understand. A lot of people even in this
business know that Factory, New Order, Joy Division, are very very
important. To everything. The influence."
And such sad songs...
"Desperate, as opposed to sad."
Why don't you sell out?
"Oh, I don't know whether it'd be worth it, to be honest.
Luckily at the moment we can carry on as we are."
For how long?
"Tomorrow. The day after. I don't think about it."
You're not very weird or distant or aggressive after all...
"Well... maybe we've mellowed. Then again, you're not really
seeing us in our true colours, are you?"
Aren't I?

Bernard Albrecht and I are looking for a quiet room. We're both
completely useless at finding quiet rooms so we wander around and we
wander around, chuckling. "Barney" is fairly pissed and I'm... I
don't know what I am except enjoying the prospect that anything is
We bump into Paula Yates in her underwear.
"F***in' 'ell," says the enigmatic singer of New Order. "I
wouldn't mind f***ing that."
We find the place.
We go into the Disabled Persons' Toilet and lock the door.
Barney collapses across the seat thing. "Hang on," he says. "You
'aven't got a chair." So we spend another ten minutes getting me a
Someone says, "Where are you?" I take immense spiritual glee in
pausing one and a half seconds before uttering, "We're in the
Disabled Person's Toilet."
"Yeah! It's brilliant!"
Barney picks up his throat spray.

I) We lock the door again.
There seems to be some confusion under all the mythology as to
what you're really like. From the lyrics you come across as being
very very romantic.
"I am..." comes a slow reedy tiny voice from one foot/1,000
miles away. "I am, yeah."
That's something that isn't talked about very much.
"Well... it's more the private side, isn't it? The lyrics are
very... I thought about this the other night actually. I
thought... er... you've got like this ball in your brain, right?
And the secret of what we do is - you've got to get yourself into
the frame of mind so all this magic juice comes out of the
ball in your brain and allows you to create something that's good.
That's the best way I can explain it, cos it's... I can't say
Right, I want to write a song about THIS, cos there's nothing I
want to write a song about.
"I never - ah - I'm questioning but I've never got any answers.
Well, you know, I've got some answers but - you're not in a
group to tell people what they should be doing. Just to tell
people what I can see... y'know, if I can see beauty in something.
"...or when something in my life is troubling me, and has done
for a long time, and there's nothing I can do about it. And some
things that happened when I was a kid. Because... when you write a
song you can discuss something you can't normally. It's the only
way to discuss it..."
Are you very frank?
"Yeah, yeah. But sometimes... I mean they're not all serious.
For a few years we wrote about personal feelings and
relationships. Then I got a bit fed up with that and started
writing little stories, like 'Love Vigilantes' and 'Perfect
"That's what I was thinking the other night! I'd forgot! I was
thinking about the juice in the brain, but I was also thinking
about... Joy Division.
"When Ian died, we had real difficulty writing all of a sudden.
A) cos Ian died, the obvious reasons, and B) ...bastard! I forgot
it! Ah - it was because when we looked back we couldn't remember
how we'd written any of the Joy Divison songs. We didn't know
how we did it. Not one song, not one Joy Division song. I remember
goin' to rehearsals, pissin' about with tape recorders, but that's
that. It is quite weird really."
Perhaps it was mystical or something...
"No, not that. What I'm sayin' is... it was natural. It was
like... eating. You don't remember chewing your food but you
remember what it tasted like."
II) In 'Shellshock', where you say "I've been good and I've been
bad but common sense I've never had", is that you saying that?
So how come if you're a respected artist and a successful
musician you're so bloody miserable?
"Er... no, it's not... it's like... if I ever write a book,
right, this'll probably be the wildest year of our entire career,
and I can't tell you why. But it will be. there are some things
going on at the moment that you wouldn't believe. If we ever write
the book it'll make a million, I tell you. So many things that...
happen to us."
III) Is love involved in this somewhere?
"No. No, no, no."
"Money? Yeah. But - I can't tell you further than that,
because... but one day it'll come out. It'll be wild."
IV) Do you think you're a symbol of "an underground" to people?
"I don't think there is an underground anymore."
You do attract people who wish there was.
"I think we're just a group who've got this juice in the brain."
Are you a genius?
"Oh... ha... I don't think we're geniuses as such, I think
we're... dead honest. Just dead honest. And that is a form of
genius. 'Cos it's difficult."
You can't always be honest though, can you?
"In our music, we can."
I still think you're an old-fashioned romantic. Otherwise I
wouldn't be here. (Not strictly true.)
"Yes but... I think everyone is really, it's just a bit uncool
to say it. And very unfashionable.
"Anyway I like picking up on things that've just gone out of
fashion. I find it interesting. Like 'Blue Monday' - that sort of
music had just gone out when we did it."
But look - what gets me is - you have all these "uncool"
emotionally sensitive lyrics and yet your followers are supposedly
so "cool" and hip. It's like - they wouldn't admit it but they
love a good love song...
"Yeah, well that's what makes life interesting, isn't it?
Everyone now hides behind a painted smile, don't they? That is one
of the very few things I find interesting about people."
Peter said he drinks to forget.
"Yeah? F***in' hell!"
V) Bernard Albrecht, why do you drink?
"I drink... for... why do you smoke?"
Ha! Erm... to calm myself down from the too many things I think
"That's why I drink. It is. No really, it is, it is."
Do you think too much then?
"All the things you think about are worries you've created
yourself. Most of them are illusions. When I drink I don't have
any problems. I don't give a f*** about anything.
"I don't feel very normal unless I drink. But I only drink when
I go out, I don't drink at home, that's disgusting. When I drink I
drink to get drunk. That's what alcohol's for. It tastes f***in'
rotten. An'... it's like a tranquiliser. Everyone has one, just to
slow you down."
Some people watch TV every night.
"Yeah, well I need a tranquiliser after watching TV. I start
getting really fidgety. I find it difficult to concentrate. I
think - it's all to do with evolution. Because life has got a lot
less physical, we've got a lot more surplus energy."
VI) Do you have strong feelings about sex and violence?
"No, not really, no."
The tape runs out. It takes me long enough to turn it over.
Ah the technique, doves, the technique.
"Erm... all the violence in the world doesn't quite affect me
but it depresses me. Y'know - just watching the news. You get
pissed off with the world in general if you stay at home for a few
days cos there's not much you can do about it. It seems to've got
gradually worse since the 50s.
"And sex... sex is an attempt to touch something that's a bit
better than sex.
"That's why people get into f***ing animals, and... y'know...
all perversions, cos they're trying to grab something they can
see, but they're trying to do it by running through concrete.
Rather than stepping back and..."

You want the impossible? The
Do you get all these moods and
thoughts across in New Order's
"In the music?"
Well, the whole thing. Do
you express everything you want
"Yes, cos - I wouldn't want
to express say all the violence,
cos music's the one place where
it doesn't exist, and from where
it can be completely
"I see good music as the only
spiritual thing that's left in
the world. Not in a religious
way; I mean - you can touch
something that you can't see,
you've got a hunch that
something's there, and with
music you can get closer to it. Or even touch it.
"What we're trying to do is like sex really. But I think music's
a better medium."
Why? Cos you can generally get more people involved at once?
"Or... show them something. Music can take you to that
abstract place. In your imagination, in your mind."
Has pop music taken over from art and books?
"Well it has with me! I try and try but I can't read books
anymore. I suppose it's because I immediately understand music."
How long do you see New Order going on?
"'Till we get pissed off. And probably if we became accomplished.
When we lose faith in our music. And when we stop having fun. Cos
it's a great laugh. I mean, I couldn't get pissed in a can factory
but I can get pissed on stage."
What else could you do if you had to?
"I think about these things, then I forget them. I forget the
conclusion. I think I wouldn't mind being a thief. You don't have
a boss, and it's a challenge, innit? It's got a lot of the
elements this has."
Is it abstract though?
"Er... no, but you've got a balance."
VII) Do you feel guilty about things? And if so, why?
"Life forces you to be bad when really you just want to be good.
Everybody's forced - it's a question... why do I end up like this?
And everyone else?"
I think... hmmph. I think: futility ha ha ha.
"Yeah, I do feel futile about a lot of things."
So what can the average human being do to combat this?
"Well... art. You say art, I say music. Y'know, anything... one
way. Or escape. That's not a very good answer really. But... if
you go back to the time of Christ, or prehistoric times, there's
people going out eating each other. So... the future's the answer.
But meanwhile you find an escape, and I like... creating."
Is that a realistic optimism?
"I've got little interest in politicians."
That's exactly what I was getting at.
"It takes so long for anything to change. It turns sour, they've
all just got their own interests at heart. It's a very corrupt
area. Even mass movements only change one little bit. Politics
anyway is... a bit boring."
Yes! There's no glamour or drama or style, is there?
"No, it's just like - men in grey suits. All business. Those men
can't change the world if they can't change people's emotions."
Are New Order one big happy family?
"We're going through a lot of pressure and tension at the moment
but compared to other groups I've worked with in studios, we get
on very well. We all have a certain target. Can we go and get a
drink now?"
"Sometimes I think a lot and sometimes I don't think at all.
Sometimes I don't speak and sometimes I speak quite a lot."

"It's never enough" (Shellshock)


On The Tube New Order (nearly enough to make you proud to be
British) play two awesome songs. One is called either 'State Of
The Nation' or 'Shame Of The Nation', and was written in Japan.
The other is called 'Broken Promises' or 'Broken Guitar Strings'
or 'Bizarre Love Triangle'.
Both uncannily purvey that grainy single-minded surge that
separates this group's music from everybody else's.
Oh, there's supposed to be a new album around May but they have
to write it first. They tell me they will probably write it a week
on Monday.
Bernard and I are sitting by the sink in the dressing-room now.
So you're all going back to The Hacienda later?
What will you do there?
"Get blind drunk."
"Cos my life's so f***in' awful."
So will you dance? Y'know, boogie?
Why not?
"Cos everyone takes the piss."
The prophet leaves the room, but soon returns smiling with
Deep as you like, mountain high. A flash through old chaos.
I forget the conclusion.

Last updated on 2005-03-07 9:43:00 PM - 9:43:00 PM
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