By Alex Rice
Having basically spent half a million pounds on Technique’s lead single, New Order regrouped in summer 1988 at Peter Gabriel’s brand-new, state-of-the-art studio in southwestern England to finish the LP. The sprawling Real World Studios, located near Bath and paid for with Gabriel’s So money, was the most expensive recording studio ever built when it was finished in 1988. New Order were the first to break it in. Emphasis on “break.”
HOOK: When we got back to Peter Gabriel’s studio in Bath, we had a completely different attitude and were completely chastised by our failings in Ibiza. We knew we had to knuckle down and finish it, but that didn’t make it very quick because we spent another three or four months there. We ended up taking the studio over and having our own rave and nearly destroying the studio. We really did bring Ibiza back to Bath, but it had already landed in Manchester. I was thinking the other day that now, the very thought of locking yourself away in the studio just seems barmy. It seems like a crazy thing to do, but we were young and it fit with what we did and how we did it. Going to Peter Gabriel’s studio and the way you were looked after in it was amazing. It was amazing to have your every whim answered for and to live exactly like a king. It’s funny, because I went to do a track with Damon Albarn and Gorillaz last week and it was like that there - loads of staff, beautiful studio, everybody waiting on you hand and foot - “Do you want coffee? Do you want food? Do you want your pants pressed? Do you want your back rubbed?” - and I was like, wow, I’ve forgotten that this is the way we used to record.
Back home in Manchester, acid house and Ibiza’s equivalent style, Balaeric beat, were in full-swing and had infused The Haçienda with some much-needed cash. The release of “Fine Time” did, too, as the raving chune reached the top spot on the UK Indie chart and number 11 on the overall singles tally.
As Hook tells it, though, being in New Order had become too much of a business proposition by the Technique era. Not that anyone involved with Factory had much business savvy, mind you. There’s a hilarious scene near the end of 24 Hour Party People, a comedic chronicle of the Factory/Haçienda days, where Hook, Sumner, Gretton and Wilson meet at Factory HQ to talk shop, and the band’s manager tackles the label boss to the floor after learning he spent £30,000 on the table they were gathered around.
HOOK: We were having a lot of meetings by committee, and the meetings were absolutely hilarious because everyone had a different fucking opinion and you never got anywhere. I would sit there, literally with my head in my hand, because normally in the past we’d always made decisions and implemented our decisions ourselves, but Rob Gretton felt we should do this by committee. We had the radio promoter, the publicist, Tony Wilson, us all - you’d have every fucker there around the table, asking them their opinion, and it just got really, really complicated. Opinions are like assholes, aren’t they? Everyone’s got one. I felt we were losing direction by handing over the decisions to somebody else. I remember with “Round & Round,” which I thought was a far superior song to “Fine Time” in many ways, Factory put it out as a single in Europe and didn’t tell our U.S. label, so they didn’t even know we’d released a single. There was no communication.
RICE: How did the struggle between you and Bernard shake out on Technique?
HOOK: I think Bernard’s tastes had changed, and you can hear on Technique that the bass is struggling to fit into the mix. That was the start of the bass being mixed down so that it didn’t get in the way of the vocal, which is what Bernard wanted to do. As a bass player, I can see the battles between the bass and the vocal. I was listening to (1986 single) “State of the Nation” the other day, and the six-string bass line on it is a complete counterpoint to the vocal - it plays the melody just like the vocal sings the melody, and they’re both in competition with one another. I felt that was what made our music rich - the bass and the vocal each having a countermelody. All that was bound to be discussed, but we were never very good at discussing. We weren’t great at sorting anything out. That was one of our big problems.
RICE: Were you happy with Technique at the time?
HOOK: I was very happy with Technique when we finished it. I was very worried when we went into it and that showed in my attitude, in particular drowning my sorrows and wanting to be anywhere but the studio. At the end of it, though, I thought, “You know, Ol’ Hooky, you came out of that very well!” The great thing about Technique was that it felt very summery. It captured the brightness of Ibiza and it captured the brightness of Bath. We finished it in the summer, so the whole album sounds very bright and sunny. We were partying, but we weren’t particularly partying in the dark. We were partying in the light, so I feel there’s a brightness that is always in Technique.
RICE: That’s what makes it my favorite New Order album.
HOOK: I remember taking my children to Heaton Park and, you know those kids that used to walk around with those massive ghetto blasters on their shoulder? This kid was walking around with his top off and a pair of shorts on a bright summer day and he had a ghetto blaster on his shoulder, walking through the park. He was playing this amazing song, and I was listening to it and thought, “That is fantastic. Who is it, The Go-Betweens?” I ran after him and actually stopped him, which is something I rarely do, and I said, “Mate, who’s that track?” and he went, “Fucking hell, it’s you, you daft bastard! New Order, Technique!” It was mind boggling to me that I didn’t even recognize it and I just stood there with my hand on my head, thinking, “What is the matter with you? You didn’t recognize your own song that you sweated blood over!”
Each member of New Order separated into their own quadrant following another successful tour and the release of their biggest global hit, 1990 England World Cup anthem “World in Motion,” but (surprise!) reconvened a few years later to bail out another of their operations.
The rest of this interview with founding New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook can be found in the New Order/Joy Division issue of our Band Dox zine, which comes with the album of your choice!