Joy divided: an interview with Peter Hook

Feuds, addiction and beautiful bass lines – muscle-bound Salfordian Peter Hook discusses his new Joy Division memoir Unknown Pleasures, his plans for a New Order book and how his lawn-raking technique mirrors his low-slung playing style 

GQ.co.uk, 2012

For 32 years, there has been an otherworldly mist shrouding Joy Division, a lingering pall blanketing the memory of one of Britain’s most innovative bands. Various informed writers and film-makers have positioned gigantic wind machines by this immovable bank of fog but have invariably failed to give a true indication of what life in Joy Division was actually like. Much has been made of the elegiac soundscapes created by the foursome, of Martin Hannett’s insane production techniques and Ian Curtis’ deeply troubled lyrics, but until now the minutiae of band life, like the inability of drummer Stephen Morris to maintain a safe driving distance behind other vehicles and the semi-submerged bath-time dining habits of guitarist Bernard Sumner, have remained a prisoner of time. What was needed was a band member’s memoir – and now one has arrived.

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The Hard Sell: Indesit Moon

The Guardian’s The Guide, 2007 

You’d need to know New Order’s back catalogue with McWhirter-like obsession to realise that the soundtrack to the Indesit Moon washing machine commercial is Hey Now What You Doing from the 2005 album Waiting For The Sirens’ Call. New Order and white goods – let’s Hoover up the irony. I once asked bassist Peter Hook if drugs were ever a problem with the band, and he replied; “Yeah, sometimes we couldn’t get hold of any for days.”

With its round window and centred, circular dial, the curiously-named Moon resembles an Apple creation: it’s an iPod that’ll soak your big, baggy Eddie Yates underpants. It costs £280 at one large supermarket and comes with an A+ for energy saving, A for wash efficiency and B for its spin. That’s all well and good, but is Indesit now targeting the potentially lucrative market of students and football hooligans?

The word on the Manc grapevine reckons the Italian kitchen appliance giant may be perilously short of stock – by now, New Order will have sorted out Indesits for themselves, all their families, Bez, Shaun, Mani, MC Tunes, Johnny Marr, Tony W, Fat Neck, Sir Bobby, A Certain Ratio, The Smashing Pumpkins, Anton Corbijn, Deborah Curtis, the One True Saxon office, Jayne who does their press, and all their mates’ mams in the north-west. You watch. Due to freebies, Indesit will end up making a 5p loss on every washing machine they make. Let’s recap. Blue Monday has been used on Sunkist and Mars ads, and Hey Now What You Doing for Indesit. What’s next? Everything’s Gone Green for the Tory party?

An ideal for reliving: an interview with New Order’s Stephen Morris

GQ.co.uk, 2012

Snow is falling Christmas-card style in Kensington, an apt real-time video if you’re listening to the icy tinkles of an ARP Omni 2 synthesizer on one of Joy Division’s more elegiac compositions. Sickeningly, the sullenness is shattered as that ode to sad ski holidays, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, thumps through the flurry. Beyond the reach of Michael and Ridgeley’s mulled-wine mitherings sit the toasty Warner Bros offices, where, surrounded by biscuits and Peter Saville artwork, rests Joy Division, New Order and Bad Lieutenant drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris. He’s wearing chunky Caterpillar boots, hardly surprising as Macclesfield resembles Lapland right now.

“You’ll never guess where Bernard Sumner [Morris’ bandmate] is at the moment,” says a black T-shirted music exec. “Going round the world on a yacht.” It’s in stark contrast to Morris, who is meeting GQ.com to discuss +-, a boxset of Joy Division seven-inch records he’s remastered with Frank Arkwright – a sound engineer notable for his work with Warp Records. It’s a must for serious collectors, but will Santa decipher the peculiar positive/negative symbols on Christmas lists?

That’s the elves’ problem, not yours.

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Time stands still for nobody

GQ.co.uk advertorial, December 2016

Welcome to the new Michael Kors Access Smartwatch collection, based on the brand’s iconic Bradshaw and Dylan analogue timepieces but crammed full of features for today’s man on the move. High style, customisable face detail and numerous strap options make this an irresistible timepiece for any champion of individuality.

Designer luxury meets cutting-edge technology with the introduction of the Michael Kors Access Smartwatch, a range of Android Wear™-powered touchscreen timepieces that will prove invaluable for men who thrive on health, personal style and – through its compatibility with Android and Apple devices – connectivity. Based on Michael Kors’ analogue Bradshaw and Dylan watches, the new oversized 44.5mm Bradshaw and 46mm Dylan stainless-steel-cased smartwatches are every bit as eye-catching as their ticking relatives.

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GQ Icon: Bernard Sumner

By Lee Gale

GQ, 2012

One of the unsung architects of the Manchester sound, the Salford stalwart has influenced every major musical movement of the past 35 years. Whether pioneering post-punk with Joy Division, melding rock/dance with New Order, or blowing £1m on a nightclub, “Barney” was there. As his band limber up for an Olympic concert, GQ pays tribute to the straight man of Madchester

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Let’s be having you…

Lee Gale, writer
Passing sentence: Lee Gale, writer and journalist, Exeter, 2019

Welcome to my website, which features some of my finer journalistic moments from the mid-Nineties onwards. I’ve worked for a disparate collection of titles, including GQJackFront and – where I first started out – Amateur Photographer. I’ve also freelanced at NMEMen’s HealthEsquireThe Guardian’s The Guide and Vox. Recently, I ran a website as a hobby about cool British culture, British Ideas Corporation, and its associated Facebook page (90,000 followers at one point). Both are now closed… it was getting to be a full-time job. We even printed up a prototype magazine, which you will find on this site.

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A Menace to you, Rudy: The Specials’ Horace Panter and his Beano art

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

For men of a certain vintage, a Beano annual was a guaranteed gift beneath the Christmas tree, sitting among a pile of pressies that might also include an Airfix plane or three, Matchbox car transporter, farm set, full football kit, five-colour torch and, if you were lucky, a gleaming Raleigh bike. Girls, of course, got dolls and prams. Flicking through the pages of your annual in the evening, stuffed to the gunwales with selection-box chocolate, there was almost a sense of joy that the protagonists in The Beano would usually end up tasting a size-nine slipper. Meanwhile, Walter the Softy was basically a frightening prediction of Shoreditch in 2018.

This year, The Beano celebrates its 80th birthday and to mark the occasion, Horace Panter, bass player with The Specials  – and also one of Britain’s finest exponents of pop art and fine art – was invited to paint a series of compositions to be exhibited. The likes of Dennis the Menace, Lord Snooty and Billy Whizz were given the fantastically in-yer-face, wildly colourful Panter treatment, and can be seen at RedHouse Originals in Harrogate until 15 December.

In the more monochrome existence of The Specials, news has emerged that Britain’s reggae-tinged punk-pop kings have recorded a new album: Encore is to be released on 1 February. Panter puts down his brushes to tell British Ideas Corporation about his busy year.

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Unbroken: interviews with Ben Thornley from Manchester United’s Class of 92 and writer Dan Poole

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

It all started with “Fergie’s Fledglings”, a group of players that were recruited into the Manchester United set-up in the late Eighties, round about the time Alex Ferguson was the bookie’s favourite for the sack. You may remember the likes of Lee Sharpe, Russell Beardsmore, Guiliano Maiorana, Mark Robins and Lee Martin. They won little but looked great in those classic, Sharp-sponsored Adidas kits.

There followed a second wave of talent in the early Nineties who became known as the “Class of 92” and included some of the players who’d go on to achieve resounding success under Ferguson. David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville would become household names but there is one member of this gang of super-talented ball wizards – Ben Thornley – whose ascendency through the United ranks came to a clattering halt just as the club’s fortunes were rising.

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Old school: an interview with International Teachers Of Pop

By Lee Gale

British Ideas Corporation, 2018

Sheffield is a city of pioneers. The first football club in the world were Sheffield FC, formed in 1857 and still in existence today. They beat Stocksbridge Park Steels last week 3-1. Hallam FC are the second-oldest club in the world, founded in 1860 to give Sheffield FC an opponent. Hallam’s Sandygate Road base in Crosspool is the oldest football ground in the world. They thumped Harworth Colliery 5-1 on Saturday in front of 204 people.

We also have Sheffield to thank for stainless steel, which was invented by Harry Brearley at Brown-Firth Research Laboratories just before the First World War. Brearly left in a huff due to a disagreement about patent rights but his successor, WH Hatfield, ran with the idea and in 1924 presented the world with 18/8 stainless steel, 18 per cent chromium, eight per cent nickel – the most common stainless steel used today. Unless you’re Lord Fauntleroy or Lady Docker, your cutlery will be made of this, as are those drippy teapots at motorway services.

Britain’s first astronaut was Sheffield’s Helen Sharman, who hitched a ride aboard the Soviet Soyuz TM-12 mission in May 1991, spending a few days growing protein crystals on the Mir space station. Sharman may have been adjusting to Earth’s gravity two months later when she famously went ass ovver tip at the 1991 World Student Games at the newly opened Don Valley Stadium. During the opening ceremony she tripped while holding the games torch and completely extinguished the flame. Thankfully on Worksop Road there were enough newsagents nearby that sold boxes of matches. Incredibly, Don Valley Stadium was demolished in 2013.

More than space travel, football or metallurgical breakthroughs, the city is perhaps best known for its influential musicians. Sheffield, as you’ll be aware, is synonymous with synthpop and electronic trickery.  Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, ABC, Pulp, Heaven 17, Clock DVA, Warp Records, the Bleep scene and Fat Truckers (who?! Check out “Teenage Daughter”) have all helped place Sheffield firmly on the global musical map. Slow Club are pretty good, too.

Now, on the strength of two singles, we can add International Teachers Of Pop to the long list of Sheffield greats. “Age Of The Train” and “After Dark”, both released this year, carry the baton for Sheffield synthpop in a way that Phil Oakey, Jarvis Cocker and Martin Fry would appreciate. Prior to a UK tour, we catch up with International Teachers Of Pop’s Adrian Flanagan to discuss wonky electronic music and the state of Britain’s railways.

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