British bassist Peter Hook admits he often thinks fondly of Ian Curtis, his bandleader in Joy Division, whose tragic 1980 suicide paved the way for the surviving members to soldier on as New Order. He’s occasionally tried to contact him via ouija boards and various otherworldly devices. He also has a Curtis-related ritual: “Every time I get a new car, I stop by his grave for a visit and say thanks,” says the Mancunian, who — while still being at legal loggerheads with his old bandmates — hits The City this week with his current backing group The Light to perform New Order classics, 1989’s “Technique” and 1993’s “Republic” and an opening set of Joy Division songs. “I’m one of few musicians who can list those two illustrious names on their resume, and Ian would’ve wanted to see this music done right.”
If Ian were still around, what would he make of all the legalities keeping you from playing with New Order again, when your melodic bass defined their sound?
If he knew what was going on, he would be devastated. Because we were all so single-minded at the start, and to watch everything fracture like this is hard, to be honest. I had quite enough heartbreak with Ian’s passing, but now with the other members not even being able to sit down in a room together? But it was not nice, what they did to me and how they did it, and it has all been well-documented in the public domain.
They didn’t offer you many cents on the dollar to rejoin, right?
Well, we did try to legally sort it out, which has just been impossible, and we are making no headway at the moment. But from a spiritual point of view, when Ian was in Joy Division, his wish was to take our music around the world, and his mantra was always, “Oh, they’ll love us in Poland! They’ll love us in America and Peru!” And now I’ve done my damnedest to get Joy Division to all those places. And that makes me very happy.
Your unique bass-playing style is still being copied today.
There aren’t many of us these days, not many lead bass players. I was just watching The Cure play “A Forest,” and I’d also just been practicing a song for tonight, funnily enough. And I was just amazed at the similarities — it was really weird. It was pretty special to be featured this week in the new Glastonbury 50th anniversary book, because it’s easy for me to forget my own worth sometimes. So it’s nice to be reminded, because the greatest thing about all this is just to be appreciated.
IF YOU GO
Peter Hook & The Light
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com