(Planet Me)
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
PETER HOOK Substance : Inside New Order

Peter Hook is an angry man. Angry at himself, angry at his former record company, most of his former bandmates, and at his accountants. This no-holds-barred* tale is an indie rock equivalent of Motley Crue's The Dirt. Equal to such, in its rampant hedonism, the drug taking, the heartless and stupid promiscuity, the squandering of talent and money, oh my word, the decadent squandering and the recklessness. Nobody comes out of this looking especially good, least of all Hook himself.

*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 perceived 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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