There are not too many things in the this world I love as much as Joy Division and Skylight Bookstore. Back in Los Feliz last night for Peter Hook’s release of his new book, Unknown Pleasures. If you don’t know who Peter Hook is, he was the bassist for two of the most influencial post-punk bands in rock history, Joy Division and New Order from Manchester, U.K. My first experience with Joy Division was in 1989, 7th grade, my friend Ricardo and I were watching Request Video when their song Atmosphere came on. The black and white bleakness of the video, the dark melodic musical arrangements, and the tortured lyrics of Ian Curtis helped me realize, I wasn’t alone in wearing a mask of self-hate.
24 years later, Peter Hook gives his account of the history of Joy Division from a genuine, emotional, and difficult place. We had 2nd row seats at his Q & A session, and shortly after it began, a light fixture fell from above and Peter yelled out, “Oh my God, it’s Ian!” It was a great way to start, and he began by talking about how the purpose of the book was to debunk the myth of the iconic band, as a parallel to the legend. After all, they are just people. They talked about the 3 different films about the band, 24 Hour Party People, Joy Division (Documentary) and Control, all exceptional I must add, and the famous Sex Pistols show that changed their lives forever. After all, when they formed as a band, Peter Hook had never picked up a bass guitar or ever played any instrument.
To hear Peter Hook talk about how he played the bass incorrectly, almost backwards in a way, by not following the lead guitarist was unprecedented. That had never been done before, and the dark, complicated sound of the band was carried by him. He went against the tradition because the punk ethos meant to always rebel against authority, and in turn he created a masterpiece in every song. Halfway during the session some books fell from a shelf, and he commented on how Ian Curtis was talking to us from the grave, and he was waiting for the lights to go out completely. After the Q & A, we waited for an hour or so to get our books signed. It was only appropriate that my friend Ricardo and I, fans from the 7th grade, take a picture together with our hero, and I gave him a copy of my book The NAFTA Blueprint.
I told him, “I’d like to thank you for all the influence you’ve had on my life, and I’d like to give you a copy of my book.” He said, “Cheers mate, that’s really kind of you. That’s really great, man.” And I said, “No thank you for all you’ve given me, you gave me something, and now I’m giving you something too.” It was just what I expected.
So what about you all, ever given one of your heroes something?