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Ian Curtis Interviews, 1979, 1980

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Mandy Esser
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« on: December 03, 2012, 12:00:09 am »

Change: Ian Curtis Dies

Stephen: Can’t think of what changed after that, Ian died, obviously.

James: I once asked Hooky about that about how he found out that Ian had died and he said he was having Sunday lunch and the phone went and he answered it, put the phone down, finished his lunch and then told his wife after the kids had left the table. That was the reality for Hooky as opposed to the legend that has been created around Ian since, often by people who never met or even saw him perform. How did it affect you on a practical level?

Stephen: Shock and disappointment first of all we were shocked that Ian had done it. Hooky rang up after he’s had his Sunday dinner and told everybody “he’s done it again” I said what “he’s tried” he said “no he’s actually done it” Bloody hell!

Bernard: It was his second attempt when he actually killed himself, it was Rob that told me, the room started bloody spinning when he told me and I said “what you mean he’s tried again?” We all said that and he said “No, he’s actually done it, he’s dead” Obviously it was a massive shock to the system but I must admit I felt kind of angry that he’d done it, erm I felt angry towards him, which I don’t anymore. But at the time I felt anger for him for kind of wasting everyone’s time. Bit of a selfish way to look at it.

James: Do you mean about the band or as a person?

Stephen: Well I’d just packed my suitcase I’m ready to go to America and he’s gone and died, he’s gone and killed himself!

Bernard: Do you know how long it took him to pack that suitcase [laughter] Perhaps if he’d have known Steve?

Stephen: He wouldn’t have done it had he known how hard it was for me to pack and iron those trousers. It was a big thing going to America and we were all really excited about it and then it just…

James: So you were more disappointed that you weren’t going to America than the fact he’s died?

Bernard: Well no but, it was also the work we’d put it up to that point, you put like your heart and soul and your life into it to get it on the verge …

James: You are going to have to balance this with some feelings about him as a person because that’s going to read very cold and crass.

Bernard: Well I’m just pointing out that there are feelings that you don’t expect to be there. Of course you know, we were all incredibly upset if not heart broken by what happened to Ian and we were, well I was depressed. Didn’t want to talk to anyone for you know, weeks and weeks after just totally drew into myself really.

James: How old were you?

Bernard: About mid 20’s yeah, but it’s surprising on top of that you know you did feel angry as well. We knew it was on the books we’d all spent a lot of time trying to see things differently but we never thought he was going to actually do it so I guess as well as anger there was shock there. We were incredibly shocked and you know we’d lost a friend a really good friend and a human being.

Stephen: He was very good at not showing it, like you could ask him how things were and he’s say everything was fine… you know that’s all you’ve got to go on if someone says they’re O.K. you can’t really say “well no you’re not O.K.”

Bernard: The interesting thing is I don’t like putting my feelings as lyrics because I’m quite a private person and in a way I don’t like putting them out as lyrics for everyone to read my inner most thoughts but, I’ll gladly talk to my close circle of friends about how I feel about things. Ian was the other way really he would put his inner most thoughts out as lyrics, things that are really so incredibly private to me but, he wouldn’t talk about it really, it was the opposite way round to me really. And Ian would kind of tell you what you wanted to hear really.

Stephen: He would say different things to different people based on what he thought the other person wanted to hear.

Bernard: So you couldn’t pin down what he was thinking about.

Stephen: No you couldn’t.

James: Do you ever think people think you were a better band than you were because he’s died?

Bernard: I don’t think so because I still think the music from Joy Division still sounds fantastic you know, not every single track we did but you know you can’t deny the tracks like Atmosphere and Love Will Tear Us Apart are pretty classic tracks, there’s no arguing with that. I think there is a deification of the person that died. I’ve seen it happen recently since Tony [Wilson] died and it definitely happened to Ian. Cause he wasn’t a god, I liked him as a person, I thought he was great and he was good to be around, he wasn’t up his own arse, he was a good guy. There definitely is deification when people die, whether that reflects on the band or not.

Stephen: There’s always that thing with death and rock music that it’s kind of, I don’t know a badge of honour or something like that. Like “Oh somebody’s died” and it’s also like you culture James Dean, you know he was a fantastic actor because he died in a car crash. I think part of the reason you get the deification thing is because there’s a beginning and an end and you got to let people down and that’s it. The story’s over.

James: The alternative take on this, do you think it made you a better band subsequently in anyway with New Order?

Bernard: No I don’t think it did, I think we erm didn’t do ourselves any favours but we didn’t get any favours done for us. We started as New Order rather naively I believe, ditched all the songs of Joy Division and didn’t play them again for how many years Ste?

Stephen: It would be 20 years I think. I mean we played them on you know anniversaries you do the odd one; Rob’s birthday we did Love Will Tear Us Apart. We made a big thing; Joy Division ended here New Order Started here.

James: You closed the book

Bernard: Yeah we closed the book and said well lets do it again under our own steam. It was a bit annoying because we got accused of using Joy Division to launch our career as New Order but we just didn’t do that. Journalists would ask us about it obviously, but we never used it because we didn’t play any of the songs for all of that time. So we made things difficult for ourselves doing that. Whether it was the right thing to do or not, I don’t know.

Stephen: Well you’ll never know if it made us any better because there’s nothing really to compare it to one stops and the other one started.

    No Rob Gretton picked me as singer after a particularly large glass of sock water.

Change: A new singer needed.

Bernard: Well the other thing was picking a new singer and going to America to do that. We needed to move forward obviously we needed to get a new singer but to think about just getting an outsider in…..

James: Did you think about that?

Bernard: Of course yeah, we had to because we were desperate; it just felt clinical and wrong. You couldn’t replace Ian, he was irreplaceable. So we had an enormous problem there. What we did was when we re-grouped we were obviously in a mess emotionally and depressed and so on. It just made it really difficult so we hid away for a year and wrote a whole bunch of new material which formed the basis of Movement and it’s not an album I’m very happy with because it’s Sub-Joy Division without Ian. But we had to start somewhere so we hid ourselves for a year and wrote this material. We also had two tracks left over from Joy Division which were Ceremony and In A Lonely Place.

Ste: I don’t think it was a year, I think if you looked at it would be quite quick, probably a couple of months. I know what you mean though; it’s funny how you can think they take longer.

Bernard: We must have written enough songs to play a set. Mind you our sets were only 20mins long.

Stephen: We had 5 songs including Ceremony and In A Lonely Place; we had Homage, Truth and maybe another one.

Bernard: We had a song called ‘Homage’? [groans]

Stephen: Yeah.

Bernard: O.K. so we go to America and it’s difficult but at least we got to America. That cheered us up a bit and we went straight to Orange New Jersey to record In A Lonely Place and Ceremony. We were with Martin Hannet who was having a bad time after Ian’s death, he as hitting the drugs, understandably. So he was a mess but we did about 5 days recording in the studio and we drive back to Manhattan every night. When we were staying at a hotel called the Iroquois where James Dean used to stay; James Dean used to get his hair cut but their barber at the hotel.
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