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Substance: Inside New Order Hardcover – 6 Oct 2016
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‘Rock writing rarely tells us properly what a band treading water or in slow decline feels like from the inside. Hook does so memorably.’ (Guardian)
‘The 768 pages will delight both New Order-ites and general rock readers, revealing the astonishing human bathos behind this group's godly future-rock […] The way Joy Division and New Order combined high art with base behaviour is well established but this book rides that tandem to new dimensions […] but there's much more than carnage’ (Mojo)
‘Set against a lurid backdrop of orgiastic tours, awash with drink, drugs, and a debauched retinue of dealers, hookers and mad roadies, Hook drawing from a seemingly bottomless well of outrageous anecdotes, many of them hilarious and told with the same droll voice that delighted readers of The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club’ (Uncut)
‘Epic rock tale of sex, drugs and jealousy […] A must for fans, it's wildly funny and revelatory' (The Sun)
About the Author
Peter Hook was born in 1956 in Salford. He was a founding member of Joy Division and New Order and DJs internationally as well as touring Joy Division's music with his new band The Light. He lives in Cheshire.
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It is a weighty tome at 700 odd pages. It starts off well with the decision to carry on after Curtis's death but soon enters into lengthy verse on the rigours of touring. Page after page of "I played this or that gig,I got into a fight ,I got drunk,I had sex,I took drugs ,Barney whinged . Repeat this for about 300 pages and there's half the book gone. Ok,so some of the anecdotes are amusing but the less is more maxim is appropriate here.
One thing I praised about his previous books was the lack of Barney bashing despite their differences. Sadly in this book it starts pretty much in the first chapter. After a while it starts reading like the bad break up of a mates marriage and becomes tiring. The other two are also targeted with venom especially Gillian Gilbert. One gets the impression that everything was everybody else's fault bar Hooky. Well if everyone was pumped full of drugs and drunk all the time then was it any wonder tempers frayed.
The book also ends rather abruptly. It covers up to the recording and release of the Sirens albums but no mention of the current legal battle. Perhaps it's not allowed to be mentioned ,but with the hatred amongst Hook and Sumner it is clear that not even Bob Geldof could renunite them.
That said there are some good aspects to the book such as Hook dealing with rehab. Others such as his dire marriage to Caroline Ahern and the tales of Rob Gretton are eye openers.
Basically it is not a bad book but could be better.
*the lawyers have cleansed this and changed names to protect the guilty
This huge tome is utter New Order geek catnip. It's absolutely essential reading, though it is ugly and clearly not objective.
Over 700+ pages, Hook details every thrust, insult, and blow – and every line of blow. It's somewhat surprising anyone in the band is still alive given the utter excess and the reckless way the band was run – leaking money like a sinking ship, run by a tribe of addicts, junkies, cowards and idiots. Hook also clearly demarcates roles in the bands ; and whilst all of us have our own perspectives on absolutely anything, Hook is no hero in this book. The rest of the band are cast out as The Despot Who Wants To Do Everything But Nothing, The One Who Does Nothing, and The One Who Says Nothing, alongside the addition of Young and Stupid Session Musician. It's an ugly tale. Hook himself is self-cast as the promiscious drugaholic who eventually has guest spots on his own albums, sometimes through an inability to contribute. All of the roles are of course, gross caricatures, but they are the ones Hook sketches of himself and others. With a court case coming up, I'm not sure this is wise.
Recollections of most shows are included. Every tour date is shown. No one is spared. God help Hook's karma, because he certainly paints himself as a indefensible man who seemingly inserted every substance on the planet into parts of his body – and parts of his body into near enough female on the planet . And whilst lawyers have removed many names, occasionally they sneak through. Lies, infidelity, and the kind of behaviour that would get sacked in a regular job in days seem like day to day business as usual in this world. It's a twenty six year carcrash of awful behaviour and brilliant music.
Some areas are notable by their omission. Some of the well known financial dealings (such as the alleged huge offset of earnings between bands by Factory's incompetent accountants) are glossed over. The bands big paydays are mentioned in passing (£250,000 for a gig here, and £130,000 for tour there), then dismissed before Hook turns up a handful of pages later doing DJ gigs for £500 because he's skint : even though he's been headlining arenas and festivals for twenty years. The utter waste of money is irresponsible, and when the band gets paid 11 times the average national salary for one show whilst the bass player pleads poverty very shortly after, it's galling and crass. Gillian's departure – even though Hook spends most of the book casting her as utterly uncreative and barely present on most records – is glossed over, with an unsympathetic eye to the reason : after all, if you had a seriously ill child, wouldn't you want to not tour all over the world? However, this is mere detail. Hook needed money to fund the profiligate waste, so she's an obstacle to his earning potential. At the same time, since the illness of a young child also occurred to Hook, it largely did so when the band weren't touring, so he details his own situation far more sympathetically.
Even though Hook paints himself as an appalling addict man-child, there's little in the way of reflection, and nothing in the way of an apology. The whole story is told, and observed, with a critical eye – almost unfeeling. Even after he cures himself of his addictions, Hook is a drydrunk for a while, before he finally reigns in the behaviour. And sends an employee in to inform the rest of the band that he's quitting. And more than he's quitting, that by doing so, he is defacto splitting the band despite the rest of the band not necessarily agreeing with his opinion. I'm not sure if Hook feels he has to apologise for using and casting aside what seems to be nearly hundreds of humans and wasting more money than 99% of the world will earn in their lifetimes. Instead, he magnifies percieved slights and egos, and tells a story that is, to be honest, both depressingly mundane around power, corruption & lies, and, at the same time, exhaustingly exhaustive. It's essential reading and whether you like the bands music or not, one of the most compelling and explicit music memoirs ever written.
But at the end of it all, you won't like him.
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