That is true… although maybe I was and I just didn’t realise it! It’s a funny thing really – it’s like no matter how many years you do this you’re still fraught with the insecurities and the vulnerability and when you see all these youngsters – these good looking lithe young boys – running up to steal your fucking crown it does get you a little bit scared! One of the nicest things about doing the NME Awards and having them all there was that you didn’t feel like the old grandad trying to get away with it… you actually felt like you were still part of it which was nice.
We weren’t as worried coming back with this album as we were with ‘Get Ready’ because we were really worried about that – about how people were going to perceive us… maybe because we’d sort of lost sight of New Order…
Yes definitely… a lot more at ease, but the thing is that you still are wary – but I suppose that’s a good thing really; a bit like being nervous before you go on stage and if you’re not nervous then something’s happened…
Well again it was that thing that because when we did ‘Get Ready’ we were really worried… and it was just that thing about not wanting to be too ‘New Order’ and I’m sat there going ‘Well who the fuck are we going to be then? Please not The Cure!’ it was like that – but then when you realised that, it would be good to start again and I personally believe that we could achieve that by looking backwards to Joy Division and writing in a different way – more guitary, a more organic way, and just starting again. I think we succeeded there very well. As soon as we started playing ‘Get Ready’ of course all the punters were going ‘Oh we miss Gillian, we miss all the keyboards, we miss all the New Orderisms’ and all that… and really, truth be told, so did we!
The only trouble with that is that it makes it very difficult for me to talk about it because I don’t know what to talk about – if someone asks me how we did it I haven’t got a fucking clue, we’re just blessed – blessed in the fact that you just go in and someone gives you a guitar and you play and it still comes… it’s not easy – in the words of Ringo Starr, it doesn’t come easy – it’s still hard to do but somehow the difficulty you have doing it is more rewarding somehow.
Well we knew what we wanted because we’ve been doing it for twenty years, and doing it with everyone’s approval! It’s a really weird thing – thinking about it now… if we’d just come back and given them this new album everybody would have been happy! For some strange reason we thought they wouldn’t be… don’t ask me why – it was just something we fucking cooked up and it wasn’t like we were off our heads on drugs or anything, it was just some scheme we came up with; because we’d been away for six or seven years we weren’t allowed to come back as ourselves!
Yeah… it is very odd – sometimes you just despair – it’s a very difficult thing. You see other bands doing it – I actually quite admired U2 on this album because they sounded different and even though that first single sounded like ‘Isolation’ the second one, when I first heard it, I thought ‘fucking hell that just sounds like U2 it really does’, but then when I really listened to it I thought ‘fuck me that’s a great track… it’s dead U2’ and you just can’t slag U2 off for sounding like U2 and we went through that by slagging ourselves off for sounding too much like New Order!
Yeah, the whole thing again… I suppose, blowing my own trumpet, I’d say that because each time we do something we don’t rush in, we do keep some credibility and keep some class maybe so that people are happy. It’s like Tony Wilson said, God bless him, ‘I don’t think you lot could ever retire until you make a shit album’ and no matter how hard we try… I mean even on ‘Republic’ when we hated each other’s stinking guts, couldn’t talk to each other and had our heads up our own arses on fucking drugs and alcohol, we still managed to make a half decent record… it’s bizarre!
Well hopefully. The thing is that when I go to my kids’ school, like I did this morning, and the headmistress, God bless her, who must be about fifty-five, was going ‘Ooh I saw you on Top Of the Pops on Friday’ and I’m just thinking fucking hell – how many years can we get away with this for? Even my daughter’s embarrassed of me…
It’s funny because younger kids always go through a period of being dead proud of their Dad and then very quickly they turn and there’s that little point where they’re mortified by your behaviour and I think she’s on the cusp!
Yeah… we’re getting ready to play so again you go through the same sort of path – learning to play them all after three years is a bit tricky but it’s coming together really well really.
We’re doing the festivals this summer and we’re doing some dates in America because we felt that we sorely neglected America last time and then we’re hoping to do a few dates in England and as long as it goes on and as long as it’s OK then I think we’ll be fine…
Yeah we’ve just started and we’ve just done four songs today and they sound really good, so watch Bernard come along and fuck it up! He’s always the hardest to teach! It’s been good though…
They sound more like a band – it’s quite strange with these songs because they sort of started from being written by a group and then went through the whole production process and now they’ve come back to the group format to be played live.
Yeah, you see it’s funny again but we don’t half worry – we were sort of worried in this case because we didn’t want to fall out and end up like we did with ‘Republic’ so we just got the producers in to make it so we didn’t fall out but I think in the end the mellowness you get with age smoothed it all out and in the end we sorted out the… not messes, but the problems you have with each other.
It’s quite strange but the longer you do this bleeding job and the older you get, the more set in your ways you get… back then Martin Hannett could come in with a whole new thing but these days you sort of resist it.
Stephen Street was fantastic though – he was absolutely great to work with but the others we just didn’t quite click with… and it’s tricky, it is a problem because with a lot of them you’re older than them and in many ways you’re a lot more experienced – and you have all these A&R people telling you what you should be doing and you think well you’ve only a whippersnapper, you’ve only been around for fucking four years and I’ve been doing this for twenty-one and I’m still here!
At times you do get stuck between a rock and a hard place but I think it is about compromise…
I think maybe the one we’ve just been rehearsing – ‘Sirens’ – it sounds great – proper fucking New Order!
Yes – it’s got that variety – our albums all have a lot of different styles and I think that when you play it it’s like playing a compilation album and we get away with that and get round it by being quite varied and now we’ve done it again!
Phil’s fantastic – he did have a pretty daunting task to come in and start writing but bless him after working with us for a year I think he had us pretty well sussed and when he came in he knew when to sit back and when not to.
The thing is that we are so established – or so long in the fucking tooth as you might say – that he’s going to have to fit in with you. He had a really daunting task and to give him his credit h worked really hard and he is now a full member.
Not really, no, subtly it has because he plays rockier guitar than Bernard, but really I think skilfully both Bernard and I and Stephen can mould him into how we want him to be!
I think the main ambition is to bloody enjoy yourself – although Bernard is sometimes his own worst enemy with that in that he’s such a bloody perfectionist and he’ll never relax, but I suppose again that’s the weapons and secrets you have in your arsenal – Stephen and I are pretty easy going and pretty free thinking and Bernard’s very pedantic and very perfectionist and it is the combination of all that which makes it work.
It’s been quite strange this time because since we got back together for ‘Get Ready’ something had happened in those seven years and as a group I personally feel we’re much, much better! There’s a lot less shit gigs now… in fact we seem to have got to the stage where we’re pretty good now and we hardly gig… which if fucking typical New Order isn’t it?
I think that one of the things about getting older is that you just have to do it all at a different pace – you just physically can’t do it and I don’t care who knows it to be honest – and the thing is your fans can’t do the things that they used to do when they were fucking twenty – and we’ve kept the same fans pretty much so everybody knows that things have to be done a bit differently, you know?
I’ve started a project with Mani and Rourkie which we’re calling Freebass and we started it because New Order was taking so long and Primal Scream was taking so long and Rourkie was floating because he’d just been ousted by Badly Drawn Boy… we basically just got together because there was nothing fucking happening, and it sounded great – there’s the three of us playing bass on a few tracks and Rourkie switches to guitar for a couple and it’s actually working – it works really well but then, wouldn’t you know it, it got to the stage when everything was working and sounding great and we had to go back to New Order and Primal Scream…
Yeah definitely – I’m ready – in fact I was talking to Mani about it this morning and we’re both eternally frustrated by not being able to do it because we like the idea of getting a lead singer in, some young kid and then fucking persecuting him like we’ve been persecuted by our lead singers!
It sounds good though and I’m really looking forward to it – it’s weird, it sounds like Northern Soul with a bit of jazz, New Order, The Smiths and Stone Roses – don’t ask me how the fuck that’s going to work!
Well the funny thing about them two is that they are both dead easy going… we’ve all got our reputations that come with you, but no it’s an absolute delight and the thing really took on a life of its own very quickly – it’s really come together and it’s really frustrating…
Here’s me moaning about having two great groups on the go!
Oh yes, the thing is with Mani and I – and this might be a bass player thing – but both Mani and I have been frustrated by Bernard who hates gigging and hates touring, and Bobby who hates gigging and hates touring…
Yeah, I did have a great opportunity to put it to bed really because I redid the LP and finished off the tracks I had left. I was a little bit surprised that Pottsy didn’t want to get involved although I sort of respected that because he was doing RAM at the time, but I really enjoyed working on it and I worked with Phil to finish off three songs that we had left which I think made it sound a lot better – with hindsight you can realise what was lacking and you’re able to put it a little bit right but it was a very steep learning curve for me…
Yes because from being sort of mollycoddled in New Order to actually having to go and look at life in a completely different way was fucking terrifying! I think the biggest mistake I made was not playing the things live before recording them because I was in such a hurry to try and find something to fill the hole after that New Order split…
Yes, ‘No Pain No Gain’ and that was another opportunity handed to me because in a dusty corner of the office there was a stack of live tapes which I dusted off and listened to and I really enjoyed it – it made me realise the amount of work and effort we put into it and we sounded really good.
I must have listened to about twenty shows and there was only one shit one and I do remember staying up all night before that one! And the nicest thing was that it sounded like we had a proper fucking laugh!
Yeah, I was so desperate to find something after New Order which I felt was an untimely ending – we must have been the only fucking group in the world who got to the point of becoming really, really fucking big and then fucking stopping. Madness!
It’s funny though – whatever we do – Bernard, Stephen or I – it always comes back to New Order which is very, very frustrating but ultimately very rewarding…
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