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.
Aragon, 1106 W.
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.
returning to work with the group like riding a bicycle -- you just fall into
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
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
REASONS TO LIVE
Here are some treats for
fans of drums and drumming.
The free media Web site
ifilm.com 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 (www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2665526)
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 www.carrothers.com/billyboy/mybuddy.htm and
www.humble-pie.com/buddy.html), but they're definitely not for family
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)