Hooked On DJing

    When I found out that Peter Hook was in Ibiza and happy to talk to us a million potential questions started flooding through my mind; this is a guy who co-founded Joy Division, New Order, The Hacienda, the list goes on, suffice to say a massive influence in pop culture and music from the ‘80s to date and responsible for some of my favourite tunes growing up, not to mention several early clubbing experiences as my mates and I used to drive from Glasgow to Manchester to go to the Hacienda on a Friday night! So, no pressure then! Turns out that not only is he incredibly talented but he’s also a top bloke and our interview turns out to be much more of an informal chat. We caught up with Peter in his hotel overlooking Marina Botafoch as he relaxes ahead of his appearance in Space later for Beat & Raw as he talked about the early days of the Hacienda, the break up of the band and MANI from the Stone Roses who ultimately persuaded him to become a DJ…

    Is this your Space debut tonight?

    I’ve been in space a few times, you mean Space the club I take it? Yes, it’s my first appearance. It’s quite an odd thing with Ibiza because we were here recording as New Order in 1987 and we lived here for one whole season and completely gorged is the only word, on it, and I never came back. I went everywhere else in the world but never came back to Ibiza after that. Then of course we went through acid house, the Hacienda, Madchester and all that but never got back to Ibiza. I started DJing in about 2005 and it was about 2 or 3 years after I had been DJing that I came back to Ibiza for the first time. Ibiza, as much as I hate to say it, is quite a political place in the way that the dynamic between the clubs works and we struggles to get the Hacienda or to get me in for quite a while actually. Then I got one, and then a couple and this year I have done the princely sum of four in two months. So, finally, I’m becoming a regular in Ibiza.

    Having spent that summer in ’87, what are your thoughts on the changes to the island since?

    The interesting thing is witnessing the whole superstar DJ culture thing and in many ways, getting blamed for it as we did at the Hacienda, it’s now quite odd to witness it in a place like Ibiza because it is absolutely unique. The way that they worship music, musical nights and DJs comes across; there is no other place like it in the world. It is the oddest thing in the world and to come over here and notice all the people I have know for donkey’s years splashed about on every billboard is just weird. And the fact that I live in Mallorca, which is completely different and only a few miles away, Ibiza is just so unique.

    When acid house exploded in the hacienda did you have any foresight that it would evolve into the dance industry that we have today?

    I must admit, no, but have to give credit of that foresight to guys like Mike Pickering and Rob Gretton in particular, who worked at the Hacienda, they had been championing Detroit and Chicago house music for a long time in the Hacienda with no response. The line up that exploded in ’88 through the mid nineties was the same as they had been championing in ’83 and ’84 but nobody bit. What used to happen was whenever we toured America as New Order, which we did a lot in that period from ’83 to ’90, we would always have house DJs, people that Rob really liked and my love for that type of music grew out of that. For a couple of tours we brought the Hacienda DJs over so we were sort of bringing that sound back to America, which was great and by the time we got back to Manchester, the whole Madchester things had hit and it went completely berserk. It’s nice to be a part of history and I think the weird thing that I find these days is that in 2012, a lot of younger people are aware that you’re part of history, which is something that really surprised me. Many of them are well versed in the history of dance music. Dance music these days is so prevalent, in every kind of chart music. If you look at David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Rhianna, it is all house music, it really has taken over. It’s taken a long time but I’m really proud to be put in with that to say the least.

    What style of music to you play out?

    I’m lucky really because I’m classed as indie dance, and it literally means that if you’ve got a good night, you can get away with anything. My wife was just saying to me before when I had a look at the line up for Space I was thinking oh my god there are some really god names on there and I’m like what the hell am I doing at the top of that list? And she asked me what are you going to play? And it’s odd really because if it’s a great night most of the tie it doesn’t matter what you play as long as people get the connection and it’s good music, it actually doesn’t matter. I draw from 1977 to the present day and anything that takes my fancy. The great thing about music I find these days is that it’s not ageist. The scary thing is that when we became punks which would have been around 1977, we wanted to get rid of all the old farts and now here I am an old fart and luckily for me it didn’t work. The great thing is, that the kids, because they are so well versed, actually show you a hell of a lot of respect and that is a wonderful compliment. It does make me wonder sometimes with my club in Manchester Factory 51, The Factory, kids will come up to me and say “awrite hooky, me dad said to say hello!” It makes you feel old but in another way to be trusted with somebody’s child’s musical education again is a great compliment. One of the nicer things these days is I can guarantee their safety whereas ion the days of the Hacienda we couldn’t guarantee anybody’s safety, which is one of the nicer things about these days.

    What inspired you to take up DJing in the first place?

    I actually started DJing in the group, in New Order before the split in 2006, it was quite ironic really, funnily enough Bernhard used to DJ a lot in the ‘90s and he always used to say to me, you should DJ, it’s the greatest way to get off your head. He said, everybody gives you drinks, gives you drugs but it never appealed to me. It was only when I got to 2005 and MANI (Stone Roses/ Primal Scream) had been DJing for a long time and someone had dropped out on him for a gig in Razzmatazz in Barcelona so he said to me will you come and do it. I’d never DJ’s so I asked him what I would have to do and he said just stand there, get pissed and answer questions about New Order, so I thought, alright, I can do that. On the night, low and behold we got absolutely hammered and MANI, a little bit merry, was DJing and he was scratching a record and I was listening and thinking, it’s not switched on so I got his attention and told him that the record that he was scratching wasn’t coming through the sound system and while we were having that conversation the other one stopped! We’re having this conversation and the music stops and a thousand people in the club start throwing plastic tumblers and MANI got his records out the box and started throwing them at the crowd and I thought, I could do that!

    Was it strange being out there on your own after years with a band?

    I went through a very hedonistic six months of DJing, of being the guy from the band or as MANI put it so charmingly, the old has been from a band and it actually worked because in those days I was pissed as a fart, gave no regard to the music, I just literally played anything that I wanted to play, I was as awkward as hell, up and down, slow, fast, and it actually worked for a while. But then, and funnily enough it coincided with me getting sober; I actually started to really enjoy DJing and I never thought I would and the band were very upset about it. Bernhard accused me of using the New Order name when I shouldn’t be, just one of our many arguments over the years. That’s why I started doing it alone because nobody else fro the band was interested. It’s quite odd, because I was with Carl Barat last weekend in Rome DJing and he had a mate with hi and the two of them were DJing and I thought, that’s nice, if I had taken any of my mates they would all have been so pissed it would have just been a complete waste of time. I really started to enjoy DJing, which is strange because I never thought I would, when I started playing with The Light, playing Joy Division stuff, which was about three years ago, I thought I would give up DJing but I started to miss it. Getting paid to play your own music is great; getting paid to play somebody else’s is just fantastic!

    What are the main differences between DJing and the band?

    Generally speaking DJs are really nice, whereas people in bands are usually horrible and horrible to each other because it is so competitive. DJs are not competitive in the same way at all, they are really helpful and that shocked me, I never expected that. Maybe it’s the impression I got fro the Hacienda, I don’t know why, I always thought DJs were really spoiled, arrogant stuck up their own ass, that’s probably one of the reasons that I’ve fitted in so well! It keeps you young, it’s like sipping at the fountain of youth, I keep thinking someone will turn round and say you, you old b***ard get home! It’s very very enjoyable.

    The Hacienda brand has risen to prominence once again, that must give you great satisfaction?

    Getting the Hacienda brand going again after it lay fallow for ten years has been fantastic it has actually become quite successful and it’s nice to reflect on the heritage and the importance of what we all did.

    Is there a similar connection between yourself and the crowd as a DJ as there is with the band?

    The whole thing about gigs is that everyone is there to see you, and particularly when we were in New Order, god bless us, because we played pretty badly sometimes but we always got away with it but as a DJ, every time you go somewhere there is a new crowd and a lot of the tie they’re not there to see you, they just go to that club so really DJing is much more challenging because you’ve got to win them over. I have this game I play with myself, wherever I go in the world, I listen to the war up DJ and I can tell whether I will go down well or not. He’s the guy that knows the crowd better than anyone and if he’s playing different type of music to me, I know I have no chance. It’ challenging and it’s exciting and I have had some really dreadful gigs but I’ve had some amazing ones too, that come out of nowhere, it can be completely unpredictable.

    Have you embraced new technology?

    I don’t use a laptop because for me I like the physical aspect of putting the CDs in and out. Graeme Park always says to me, you need to get rid of them and get yourself a laptop but when I watch it, it doesn’t look good to me. My mate that runs the club in Manchester for me keeps telling me that it will all soon be computers and I think if it gets to that I might go back to vinyl.

    What are your feelings on New Order reforming without you?

    That was a very odd situation to be in because since the band split up our relationship had deteriorated so badly, it had actually impinged on the back catalogue work of Joy Division and New Order and the funny thing was that we were really daggers drawn with each other. I can actually understand in a funny way why they decided to do it but it was the fact that they decided to do it without telling me and also, in my opinion, to my detriment in the two companies that handle the bands that I’m still a big part of. The only thing that I can say about it unfortunately is that I don’t agree with what they did, don’t approve of it and I’m trying to find a legal remedy to change it.