New Order

Waiting For The Sirens’ Call

[4] New
Order’s history is filled with mournful iciness, sublime electro-disco,
seminal Britpop-and episodes of portly overblown grandeur. And, depending
on what moves them, the band’s fans always seem to gravitate toward one
of these elements more than the others. To that end, Waiting For The Sirens’
Call offers something for everyone: “Turn” has that 1986 college-rockin’
jangle that’ll make elderly R.E.M. fans tingle. For the synth- and sequencer-damaged
among us, there’s the electrolytic “Krafty” and the homo-disco
workout “Guilt Is A Useless Emotion.” Going off on another tangent,
“Workin’ Overtime” is the band’s simultaneous nod to
’60s garage rock, the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” and that
last Elvis Costello album (I blame you for all of this, Jack White).

The axis of mystery
and implied arrogance that made New Order compelling may be gone, but that’s
okay; none of us is the same person we were decades ago. (Hell, AP isn’t
the same mag it was 20 years ago, and thank Christ for that.) As far as right
now goes, Waiting For The Sirens’ Call is a fine distillation of everything
New Order have been. And when you’ve got a passport that’s as thick
as theirs, it’s admirable that you’d refuse just to walk away from
this thing entirely. (WARNER BROS.)

SESSION With New Order bassist Peter Hook.

How do New Order songs end up in their final shape? Like, does somebody come
in and decide they’re going to fire up the sequencer or bring in a new
amp stack?

They evolve. Sometimes they start acoustic and rocky, and they evolve-like,
“Guilt Is A Useless Emotion” evolved into an electronic thing. The
strange thing is, after living with [the songs] for two and a half years, you
don’t recognize them from their early versions.

What record was more fun to make, Sirens or Get Ready?

I don’t find them fun, to be honest. You’re cooped up; you’re
away from your family-it’s just not a nice way to start. The fun
part I find is playing live. I always view the studio as a necessary evil. So…
neither. [Laughs.] I’ve found that the perfect expression of any song
is when you play it live. Bernard [Sumner, singer/guitarist] always disagrees
with me about that.

So you
think it’ll be a whole new record when performed live?

The funny thing is that it gets bloody near impossible to pick what you’re
going to play, because all of the stuff we played when we toured behind Get
Ready were our favorites, like “Temptation.” Now, we’re going
to bring back a lot of the wackier stuff, like “5.8.6.,” “Ultraviolence”
and “Thieves Like Us,” out of the closet. You can never please everybody
when you create a set list. When New Order started, we’d play 20 minutes
to half an hour. Now that we’re older, we’re doing an hour and 45
[minutes], two hours. [Laughs.] Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

Not that
you sit around listening to your past work, but when you do get the chance to
reflect on certain records, does a cringe factor ever kick in?

I do listen to a lot of New Order, actually. I have a friend in America named
Claude who sends me a lot of live tapes. He sent me one recorded in Barcelona
in 1984; it’s fucking mega! Because we played a different set every night-sometimes
it was fantastic, and sometimes it was cataclysmic. We’ve learned from
experience that you can’t be too experimental, because you’ll piss
half of your audience off.

Well, who
is your audience now? The band means different things to different people.

I don’t know; it’s really hard to measure. We’ve been away
for two years making a record, and we’ve lost all contact with everybody
and everything. We saw Ian Brown last night, and later on, I asked him why he
decided to play Stone Roses songs after resisting it for so many years. He said
now that he has four albums under his belt, he felt confident enough that he
did enough on his own. It was like that with New Order and Joy Division-proving
yourself to yourself.

Last question:
Who do you hope plays you in the Ian Curtis biopic that’s being planned?

[Laughs.] Oliver Reed. But, sadly, he’s no longer with us. Funnily enough,
he had the same birthday as me. Oliver Reed, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Williams
and me: That would make a great dinner party.-Jason Pettigrew