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AMMOCITY 2001-08-21


Before promoting their new album ‘Get Ready’, Bernard Sumner, low-slung bassist Peter Hook and sticksman Stephen Morris hadn’t walked down a Manchester street together in almost ten years. Yet following Haçienda-related financial troubles, in-fighting and sheer fatigue of what was the Factory era, they’re now back. And, apparently, happy, rejuvenated and ready to give the charts a good ‘boot in the face.’

AMMO CITY: It’s been eight years since you put out a record together. What’s it like being back?

STEPHEN MORRIS: The same as before, but without the responsibilities.
BERNARD SUMNER: Yeah, it’s pretty liberating actually. It just feels like we’re concentrating on making music, sort of like it was right at the beginning.

AMMO CITY: What were the ‘responsibilities’ that got in the way before?

BERNARD SUMNER: Well, Factory Records really. We weren’t supposed to be involved in the running of it, but we kinda were…
STEPHEN MORRIS: Yeah, involved by them spending our money.
BERNARD SUMNER: We’d have all these meetings, and the end result would be ‘we need 100 grand for the Haç.’

AMMO CITY: Was the Haçienda the root of your split following ‘93’s 'Republic’?

BERNARD SUMNER: It was all fucking Tony Wilson’s fault. You need a hard nose businessman to run a club. We had violence there. It all went really bad at one point, but a lot of those gangsters - yardies from Jamaica - aren’t around, they’ve all shot each other.

AMMO CITY: Did you insist on it being closed down then?

BERNARD SUMNER: No. We had to close the Hacienda down because someone who got turned away by a bouncer went back and got a machine gun. He chased the bouncer through the club, cornered him at one of the fire escapes and pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. That cost us a lot.

AMMO CITY: Have you seen 24 Hour Party People, the semi-biographical film about the Factory era?

BERNARD SUMNER: We went down to the set – which they re-built as a set two weeks after they knocked down the original place. It was like being dead. You'd see people from the past: Rob Gretton, our manager, who died last year; Ian Curtis (Joy Division singer who committed suicide) - you could see them all walking about through the corner of your eye.
STEPHEN MORRIS: I’ve read the script, it’s dead funny though. I never thought of our history as a comedy, but when you think back it all did happen.

AMMO CITY: Any funny examples?

STEPHEN MORRIS: Erm, letting Peter Saville design a sleeve for ‘Blue Monday’ that he insisted on looking like a floppy disc. It had to have a a special hole cut out in it.
BERNARD SUMNER: The ironic thing was the more we sold, the more money it cost. We were like 'shit, it’s gone up in the charts - what we gonna do!'

AMMO CITY: The whole fascist thing – any truth to that Factory story?

BERNARD SUMNER: At the time I was a 20-year-old kid. I actually didn’t know about politics - I’m just not into politics. Even so, we were doing gigs for Rock Against Racism at the time. I used to even get accused of having a fascist haircut!

AMMO CITY: Okay, but you did have a little moustache though?

BERNARD SUMNER: It wasn’t a little tash, it was the only sort of tash I could grow at the time!

AMMO CITY: Your new album ‘Get Ready’ sounds a lot rockier. What happened to being darlings of electronic pop?

BERNARD SUMNER: I had a holiday from the guitar while we got into electronic sequencers and stuff, but now I’m revisiting the guitar and having a holiday from the keyboard. Just feels right at the time. The instrument felt fresh again.

AMMO CITY: New Order never did collaborations in the past. Why this time?

BERNARD SUMNER: We worked with Bobby from Primal Scream on ‘Rock The Shack' and Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) on ‘Turn My Way’. I like both groups a lot. I like the fact that Primal Scream are still punk rock. On the Smashing Pumkins, it was just that I really like Billy’s voice.

AMMO CITY: Haven’t you done something with The Chemical Brothers as well?

BERNARD SUMNER: There is a track that we’ve done with the Chemical Brothers, but it’s not finished yet. It’ll probably come out after the album. There’s about another five tracks we might release as an EP or something.

AMMO CITY: It’s been a long while since you were in the charts. What do you make of your new contemporaries in the Top 40?

BERNARD SUMNER: Well I don’t think much of the boy-band, girl-band, manufactured band shit that’s around now – needs a boot in its face, don’t it?

AMMO CITY: What about indie band darlings of the moment, such as The Strokes?

STEPHEN MORRIS: Yeah, I’ve heard of them. It’s weird seeing that New York punk thing back again. That sort of thing puts me off a bit. How much of it is real?
BERNARD SUMNER: I'm not a great revivalist. I don’t think people should be making punk music. I think they should be using the punk ethic, but not the old music – it’s bloody well the year 2001.

AMMO CITY: Didn’t you meet at a punk gig?

BERNARD SUMNER: Not quite. Me and Hooky (Peter Hook) were mates from Salford School, but you are right in a way. The first gig we saw was The Sex Pistols at The Manchester Free Trade Hall. That was back in 1976!

- Simon Das

Last updated on 2005-03-07 8:56:00 PM - 8:56:00 PM
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