Peter Hook personifies the current climate of Manchester. He has an incredible past as the bass player of post-punk’s greatest group, Joy Division, later to be renamed New Order after Ian Curtis’ death. New Order went on to sell millions of records as the flagship band of Factory records. Their influence has inspired many of today’s electronic artists and was itself immersed in New York’s eighties club scene.
New Order famously funded the Hacienda which upon bankruptcy lost investors an incredible amount of money. After years of feuding and contradictory accounts of what happened to the cash, Hook seems to be able to look back with acceptance and even appreciation now of his role in what has become such a great story. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m very happy with the person I am today and that’s the thing
Despite this strong link to the past, Hooky, as he is affectionately known, is trying to move forward and shape the future. He recently opened a new nightclub, FAC 251, designed by Ben Kelly in the building that was once the office of Factory records. Hooky is trying to use his past and the interest it has generated, as a springboard for emerging talent to progress in the future. “Interestingly you attract as much flack as you do praise for a project like this which is surprising,” admits Hooky defiantly. “There’s a lot of keyboard terrorists out there who like to piss on your party, but this is about using the past as a platform for the future, not just a nostalgia trip,” he explains. “History is history and I’ve had such a ball pissing that money up the wall. I had the laugh of my life,” he remembers.
The keyboard terrorists he refers to are the contingent of Manchester’s youth using forums and writing blogs. The most significant attack comes from Fuck 251, a blog which pokes fun at Hook’s new venture and those they see as being too wrapped up in a bygone era. Many Mancunians are rebelling against heritage in an attempt to claim the city for themselves. Hooky is adamant though that his venture is not holding back this progression. “There’s only one which I do on the Saturday which is the Hacienda Presents, but this is the only one which refers to the past. We’ve got floors dedicated to dubstep. Kids love dubstep. You need to be on crystal meth or something to get anything out of it and I’m just too old for that shit,” he laughs.
Despite mentioning drug use Hooky is adamant that his new club will not repeat the mistakes of The Hacienda. “In terms of the drugs it just wouldn’t happen now. The culture is different and so is the way police work with clubs. They wouldn’t help you in the past and if you had a problem they just used to laugh at you down the other end of the phone, They used to let gangsters run riot around Manchester,” he argues. “The greatest single thing for clubs is Polish doormen because they don’t know anything about gangs. So when some guy comes to the door demanding respect, the guy doesn’t have a fucking clue! He doesn’t know where Moss Side or Cheetham Hill are and he doesn’t care who you are,” he laughs.
Hooky has a lot more business sense behind the idea this time too and is certainly not as naïve as he was when enjoying the earlier adventure. “When you have so much money pouring in you just feel invincible. The Hacienda was turning over hundreds of thousands of pounds a week and we were all running around throwing it like George Best on a Bentley with a model. All that money that poured through the Hacienda like a river, it’s just disappeared and nobody knows where it went, although I can hazard a few guesses, a few sore noses,” laughs Hooky.
Despite squandering millions of pounds Hooky is adamant the journey was worth every penny. “I saw the Sex Pistols and was at the birth of Acid house, watched Madchester go right off from the word go and saw it all,” he explains. “I was in the gym today listening to Rhythm Is A Dancer by Snap. It was really the soundtrack to my 1988-89 summer. We spent the whole summer in the pub off our rockers listening to that track and really money couldn’t buy you that kind of experience. It’s like that Hacienda book which took 26 years to write and cost £30 million quid, for £8.99 it’s a fucking bargain. That’s the way you have to look at it, if you don’t laugh you’d cry,” he admits.
What began as a naïve business venture has become an almost mythical tale of drugs and debauchery. Interest in The era has been peaking ever since the film 24 Hour Party People transformed events into a legendary story. Both young and old have connected with Factory and the Hacienda. From those who were there to experience it to those who have learned second hand through accounts of those involved, the demographic of those intrigued is vast.
Those who write about the era often give differing accounts of what actually happened. “Everybody distorts the truth,” admits Hooky. Me, Bernard, and Steve all remember things differently. You can bet your bottom dollar that if you sat Steve and Bernard down that they’ll say he didn’t say ‘he didn’t fucking do that or he didn’t say that the bastard,” he explains. “I read a lot of books by the likes of Dave Haslam or John Robb. I even read a bit of Bernard’s book. A lot of the things in it are wrong because he didn’t write that book. Someone wrote it for him, but it all adds to the myth,” he divulges.
Like 24 Hour Party People Hook prefers the legend rather than the truth. As interest heightens in the era there is a sense that legend will take over rather than the truth and that legend is also more financially lucrative to those who lost so much in the past. “Tony Wilson was a great one for us enjoying the myth that we created. It was his sense of chaos and adventure which meant we could play it up. I find as I get older I play it up even more,” admits Hook.
The new club is making him money due to the fabricated account. He recently performed a career compiling set in the new venue. “The audience was really young which actually quite surprised me. The heart-warming thing that does make you proud is the fact that your music is still as current today as it was when you wrote it 30 years ago. I was apprehensive about opening the club. I thought the audience would be 30 something’s who caught the tale end of the band but it isn’t. There’s a great mixture of kids from 18 to bloody kids of my age who are still kidding themselves that they are kids,” he laughs.