New rules of Order


April 29, 2005


A quarter-century after rising from the ashes of Joy Division, English dance-pop pioneers New Order are a ubiquitous influence in modern rock, with dozens of young bands drawing inspiration from their streamlined rhythms and ethereal melodies.

Following a string of indelible hits -- "Blue Monday," "Temptation" and "Bizarre Love Triangle" among them -- New Order sat out most of the '90s, and it has hardly been prolific since regrouping in 1998. "Waiting for the Siren's Call" is its first album in four years, and it doesn't break new ground. But bassist Peter Hook, guitarist-vocalist Bernard Sumner, drummer Stephen Morris and guitarist-keyboardist Phil Cunningham (who replaced Gillian Gilbert for "Get Ready" in 2001) easily outshine their many imitators, remaining the unrivaled masters of the sound they invented.

I spoke with Hook from his home in England as New Order geared up to play a handful of rare U.S. dates, including a sold-out show at the Aragon on Tuesday.



  • 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
  • Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence
  • Sold out


  • Q. Why the long wait for this album, Peter?

    A. You know, I was talking to [former Stone Roses singer] Ian Brown yesterday, and I was saying that in the young days, you did everything to the detriment of your family. You don't get to see your kids get older and you can count all your failed relationships on both hands. There is a wonderful sense of realism that creeps in when you get older, and you realize that you need to do both things to be happy. That is the main reason why it took so bloody long -- you are forever running after the kids!


    Q. What do you think of the influence of Joy Division and New Order on so many bands today?

    A. It's amazing. The funny thing is that I'm not too sure I hear a lot of it, even when people say it. Steve and I were talking about this: There is a fantastic band in England called the Bloc Party, and everyone was saying they heard a lot of Joy Division in it. When I listened to it, I didn't think so. Maybe I'm too close. But any kind of compliment, you take on board and you enjoy. If someone influences you and drives you to start doing music, that is fine by me. When I went through the Sex Pistols, it fired me up so much I bought a guitar, but I had never had a guitar lesson. Johnny Rotten should be pleased that he started us off.

    Q. I read that when you got started, you actually had enough material to fill two albums.

    A. Yeah, you wait four years, and two come at once! Because it was going well, that gave us the encouragement, especially from Bernard's point of view, because obviously he did a little more work. It gave him the incentive to finish up because everything sounded really good and each song didn't sound like a B-side or a throwaway, they all sounded worthy of finishing. That was a great position to be in.

    Q. Is returning to work with the group like riding a bicycle -- you just fall into it?

    A. It's like getting back on a bicycle and then having to cycle that bicycle up Everest! And when you get to the end of it and put your flag at the top, you look back and think, "How the hell did I do that?"

    I'm immensely proud that we could still pull it off after all these years. There's only one track on "Sirens" that I'm not keen on, which is "Guilt Is a Useless Emotion," but for me to only not like one track on a New Order record is pretty bleeding good, because normally it's 25 percent! Either I'm getting mellower or we are getting better.

    I think my favorite track is "Hey Joe." It sounds very Joy Division to me, which is a nice way of starting the LP. It's not the [famous] "Hey Joe," but Bernard jumped on the lyrics for some reason. It was quite funny, because his 11-year-old daughter was very interested when she heard the song, and she kept asking, "Who's Joe, daddy?" She thought her daddy was singing about someone named Joe in such a heartfelt fashion, she was wondering, "How come I don't know him?" Bernard had a bit of a quandary there trying to explain his own lyrics.

    Q. The band has always had a special relationship with Chicago, and this is one of only a handful of U.S. dates. Why?

    A. Chicago was always our best audience; God knows why. The first gig we played in America was at Metro. We walked out on that stage and felt wet because it was 125 degrees, and all the equipment kept flickering on and off with thermal cutout, and I thought, "This place is special, isn't it?" When I think about that night when I met [Metro owner] Joe Shanahan for the first time, he took us out to dinner and he asked, "Do you mind if I bring my friend? He's a really big Joy Division fan." So I had dinner with this young fellow, and five years later I find out it's Billy Corgan. We've always had an affinity for Joe, and the Metro, and Chicago, because we were playing to double our audience.



    Here are some treats for fans of drums and drumming.

    The free media Web site is showing a clip from 1980 featuring an appearance by the late, great Buddy Rich on the late, lamented "Muppet Show" that finds the jazz giant going flam for flam and roll for roll with Animal in an epic drum battle. The friend who e-mailed me the link ( used the subject line "Crazy Drummer vs. Crazier Drummer."

    The Master meets the Muppet is almost as classic as the infamous "Buddy Rich Tapes," the collected bootleg recordings of the hugely talented but notoriously volatile bandleader and drum showman raging at various hapless sidemen in his employ. Transcriptions and actual recordings can be found on several Web sites (including and, but they're definitely not for family listening!

    Finally, spring means it's time for the annual Vintage & Custom Drum show in suburban St. Charles, which draws collectors from around the world to buy, sell, display and admire gems such as lovingly restored Slingerland jazz kits from the early 1920s, massive John Bonham-style Ludwig Vistalite sets from the late 1970s and the huge display of customized Rogers drums owned by Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, who also is doing a clinic performance.

    The show runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 14-15 at the Kane County Fairgrounds. Admission is $10, a two-day pass is $15 and children ages 5-12 get in for $5. Call (989) 463-4757;