Bernard Sumner, High Life (British Airways magazine), 2019

Bernard Sumner, High Life (British Airways magazine), 2019


The New Order frontman and one-time Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner loves the wine, weather and warm welcome of Chile

British Airways High Life, 2019

We’ve just been to Santiago for the second time in three months. What happened was, we had to cancel a gig there in November because our equipment hadn’t turned up from Mexico. That’s only the second time we’ve ever cancelled a gig, so we promised to return in January. We travelled on the new Dreamliner, the 787. It was great, a really quiet aircraft and very comfortable. It’s over 14 hours from Heathrow and I happen to know that it’s British Airways’ longest non-stop destination. You’ve also got to add a few hours on top of that to get from Manchester to London, so it’s a long journey.

When we first went to Santiago, in 2011, I remember having a problem with my knee and I was on painkillers. I like a Chardonnay but I couldn’t get anything that tasted right. In fact, I was complaining left, right and centre. I thought Chile was famous for its wine but what I was drinking was foul. It was only when I got home that I read the instructions on the painkillers: ‘This medication may affect taste.’ I felt bad because I’d been giving the assistant in the dressing room loads of grief. I now know that Chilean wine is wonderful.

When we tour in South America, we have a day or two off, which is probably why we like it so much. We might visit a vineyard and Santa Rita, near Santiago, is a fabulous place. We even did a photo shoot of the band in a Chilean vineyard this year. We’re doing a lot of festivals and we needed new photographs, so we thought instead of doing it in Manchester, we’d go somewhere exotic.

I didn’t always like touring but I do now. We travel in an intelligent way that’s pleasurable and if it’s pleasurable, you’ll continue doing it. The chemistry in the band is very good: we enjoy each other’s company, which is incredibly important. The band have done a few minibus sightseeing excursions in Santiago. The last time we were there, we went to the house of Chile’s most famous poet, Pablo Neruda. He died in mysterious circumstances in 1973. It was alleged that he was poisoned by the junta. I’ve got to say, nowadays, Chile seems a pretty liberal country.

We also had a look at the Bahá’í Temple, which is an amazing setting to the east of the city. Bahá’í is a religion that is supposed to be a composite of all religions. It started in the 1800s and has its origins in Iran. The temple is built of nine concrete lotus leaves: nine is an important number in the Bahá’í religion. It has a fabulous view of Santiago. You can see the entire city.

In 2014, we played Lollapalooza in Santiago and stayed at the W hotel. It’s got a rooftop bar and an excellent restaurant. But we usually stay in another hotel… I’m not going to give the name because I don’t want the prices to go up. The determining factor of where we stay in a hot-weather country is a rooftop bar that serves great cocktails besides a swimming pool. It’s prerequisite, really. And a rooftop bar is what you want in Santiago. It’s surrounded by the Andes. Wherever you look, you see a mountain range, and the weather is just incredible. It’s a really dry heat but perfect. It’s the polar opposite of Manchester.