Peter Hook, now 66, embraces both his Joy Division and New Order roots

His band the Light will be at Variety Playhouse August 16

Peter Hook, the bassist for seminal British rock band Joy Division and its successor New Order, has an unusually vivid memory of his first visit to Atlanta on June 17, 1983. And it remains entirely positive.

New Order, fresh off the release of “Blue Monday,” performed at the 688 Club, a popular alternative nightspot on Spring Street in Midtown in the early 1980s that hosted other future legendary bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Go Go’s, the Violent Femmes and INXS.

“I treasured my 688 Club T-shirt for many years,” said Hook, who is returning to Atlanta as lead singer of Peter Hook & the Light at the Variety Playhouse Tuesday, Aug. 16. (Tickets available for $30 to $79 at axs.com.). “I remember the bouncer there Tank. He was like a tank! He took us under his wing. Bands used to put their setlists on the wall. I remember seeing the Ramones and their 70-song setlist! The night before was Iggy Pop.”

He even recalls a punky blonde-haired girl who catered a buffet for them. “We weren’t used to getting looked after,” he said. “She said she cooked for the Sex Pistols when they came to Atlanta. We weren’t making much money so we appreciated the hospitality. That sticks in my mind. Lo and behold, we had a fantastic gig, a great response.”

Hook since 2010 has been lead singer of his own band playing a blend of Joy Division and New Order songs. He said after the acrimonious break up with New Order lead singer Bernard Sumner in 2007, he tried to recruit folks to take over lead singer but “they were scared away by the keyboard criticism on the Internet,” he said.

A friend told him, “You have to do it. Nobody else will do it.”

He also missed playing. He’d watch some of his new wave brethren touring “and I was intensely jealous.”

So Hook decided to front his own band, which he said “gave me a chance to bring my son [Jack] in in a weird moment of serendipity. He looks and plays so much like me. In a funny way, that wheel had turned full circle. He was exactly the same age I was when we did ‘Unknown Pleasures’ with Joy Division. He was 19. I was 19.”

He said while he performed for years with New Order, they tended to avoid playing Joy Division songs. “We never celebrated Joy Division’s success,” he said. And Joy Division as a band never played many of the songs live from its second album “Closer” because of lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980.

At the time, this level of avoidance worked for New Order, enabling the surviving members of Joy Division to carve their own path. “We knew we had a lot to prove and we got it,” he said. “But now I was out of the band. The band was no more... So I decided I wasn’t going to go 30 years and not celebrate Ian’s legacy. I didn’t want to pretend to be the band. That’s a heinous crime.” So he just calls his group Peter Hook & the Light.

When he formed the band, he wasn’t sure if this was an idea anybody would pay money for but “I was wrong and I’m delighted to say, I’m still here. I found people who were great fans of Joy Division actually liked me.” Not to say it was easy, he added: “We put a lot of enthusiasm and passion and heart and soul in it. I don’t want to be glib. We had to win our audience over.”

Since 2010, Hook said he has done more than 700 concerts, including three previous visits to Atlanta.

He said while touring with New Order over the years, they tended to play the same 15 songs. “It was immensely and intensely frustrating,” he said. So he now purposely plays a wide variety of deeper cuts on top of the hits like “Regret” and “True Faith.”

Credit: Adam

Credit: Adam

Hook sued his former bandmates in 2015, saying he was owed $3.5 million since the other three members of the band (now touring as New Order) had set up a new company in 2011 to handle New Order assets. The case was settled in 2017.

“I must admit I’ve had a really good time doing this,” he said. “And the only critics I’ve heard for us doing Joy Division and New Order songs are the rest of the band... The breakdown in communication between us has been startling. I suppose that’s the price you pay.”


EVENT PREVIEW

Peter Hook & the Light

8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16. $30-$79. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave., Atlanta. www.axs.com.