STATE OF INDEPENDENCE Sounds 23/7/83 Cover picture (70kb)
Interview by Mick Middles



  'You just can't believe me when I tell you what you mean to me'.
  (New Order, 'Confusion')
  "Hello shitheads."
  (Pete Hook addressing audience in Washington)

  The week the image cracked.
  Two days before New Order arrive in New York - and you can feel it.
  The anticipation this band generates is phenomenal, unrivalled.
  Understandable maybe, if a general lack of activity prevails in these 
preceding days, but quite the reverse is true.
  This is a big week. Just about everybody seems to be here.
  A dreadful 48 hours of brash and unashamed ligging is taking place in and 
around the New York Hilton under the false moniker of 'New Music Seminar 
  If British record company employees turn your stomach with their 
proverbial "'Tastic, 'tastic, must have lunch" attitudes, then the Americans
caricature this into something totally grotesque.
  Almost obscene to the casual onlooker. These people are convinced that 
product comes first, is invented by themselves and only later sold to the
audience - and the audience moronically swallows every piece of garbage 
thrown at them.
  In America, perhaps they do. Which is where New Order come in. No band is
better equipped to ridicule the American system than New Order.
  Above and beyond, their careers do not depend on being nice to people they
have no respect for. With a natural Mancunian brashness they smash the 
polythened American rock package wide open. Often verging on pure bar room
vulgarity, they leave a thousand mouths wide open with disbelief.
  "Hey, Pete. Will you sign an autograph for this girl out here?"
  "Has she got big tits?"

  So New York awaits the arrival of New Order. The climax to a week of 
free Toto Coelo cocktails. Hanging out on the elitist Danceteria rooftop 
with Aztec Camera, Funboy Three, JoBoxers, Haysi Fantayzee, Bob Geldof, 
Malcolm McLaren. The list is endless. Gigs happen all over the place from 
the best (Aztecs at Danceteria) to the worst (JoBoxers at the Ritz). 
Supported by a multitude of dreadful English apeing US outfits and Billy 
Idol videos.
  "Hey, my God, have you seen Billy... He's so HOT!"
  I kid you not.
  Staring down on these falsely flamboyant styleless masses. Like a constant
solemn reminder of the week's true (and only) event. Rows of Saville-ian 
stark New Order posters, as if surveying with distaste the goings on below.
  The heat is unbearable, wet and enveloping.
  The best action in New York is on the street corners where the truly great
walkmans stand guard blasting out the wonderful WBLS radio station (a 
constant non stop disco mix where the DJs just sit and mix and segue the 
songs together, never speaking - Peter Powell take note) and black kids of 
no more than twelve spin, twist and wriggle to 'IOU', 'Buffalo Bill/Gals', 
'Wikki Wikki Wikki', 'Billie Jean/Do It Again' and, you guessed it, 'Blue 
  As if to sense the real action, New Order have recently been working in 
New York with producer Arthur Baker. The finished result is 'Confusion'. A 
song which, strangely enough, parallels Freeez's 'IOU', also produced by 
Baker and, it seems, simultaneously.  
  'Confusion', a mix of lively computed disco chants (?) and Barney's 
(Bernard Sumner's) drifting vocals, is heading dircetly towards those giant 
walkmans and directly away from the hospitality suites at the New York 
  I hear the almost finished product before the band arrive. Countless plays
finally assure me that it is their best work to date. Light years away from
the rather dull (I thought) days of 'Everything's Gone Green'. The days of
grey despondency now cast into history and forgotten. Prosperity and 
integrity could easily be their motto.
  If Johnny Waller's Uriah Heep were indeed guilty then New Order must be
innocent. No record company paid for this Sounds venture into foreign
  "We don't like doing interviews simply because the questions asked have
already been answered a thousand times and can be looked up so easily. There
is really no point in going over all that groundwork again. But we will talk
to anybody, really. We don't strive to be aloof and we DO in fact quite 
often politely answer the same questions. We only become angry when we're 
tired and bored."
  Which, of course, is fair enough and in fact a policy which helps keep New 
Order articles, rare as they may be, interesting. Here's hoping.

  Wednesday and New Order finally arrive in New York. Tired and drunk, the 
entire party floods into a dangerously packed Danceteria as Aztec Camera and
Malcolm McLaren perform in their various ways.
  'Confusion' is actually played to the dancefloor and nobody from New Order
notices it, still claiming they haven't heard it yet.
  Barney slinks on the bar, eyes glazed, worlds away. The rest of the band 
stagger through the crowds of biz people and fall asleep, or whatever.
  People still talk of New Order. 
  Only manager Rob Gretton is at his best as the eternal football hooligan
bringing a welcome pocket of down-to-earth humanity to the proceedings. 
(Note. Gretton used to be the scourge of the Kippax in his youth. Actually, 
he probably still is).
  "It's like Woodstock, all these people here for something and they don't 
really know what it is," observes a reasonably sober Steve Morris. 
  "What do you think of New York then, Mick? It's a shithole isn't it, this
place and all of New York. It's better on the West Coast, we enjoy it much 
more over there.
  "We've enjoyed this tour very much though, so far. Been a laugh actually.
Chaotic, completely chaotic, as you will soon find out."
  Day two begins at 3pm in the plush Holiday Inn lobby of New Order's hotel.
Rob, Steve and Gillian, all suntanned to the point of embarrassment, await
their hire car for a drive to the soundcheck at Paradise Garage. Steve 
drives. "I've driven for ten minutes in this city and my bottle has 
completely gone."
  We make it, through the traffic and Rob's confused navigating.
  Paradise Garage. Simply a huge garage, sagging under the weight of masses
of disco lights. Decorated in black and grey corrugated metal, like a huge
Hacienda minus any sense of style, and plus the best PA system in the world.
  Today though, is not just another soundcheck. The video crew stand in the 
wings awaiting their chance to film 'Confusion'. Aptly titled, chaos reigns.
  Hookey is missing. Barney goes to find him. Hookey returns, Barney is 
missing, and so on.
  Manchester exile, ex-Certain Ratio singer Simon Topping, walks briskly in
(tonight playing congas for the excellent support act Quando Quango), his
appearance halting the action onstage.
  "Fooookin' 'ell Simon, smart haircut or what!" bellows Barney, and 
everyone has to stop mid-soundcheck (already running hours late) whilst old
friendships are rejuvenated.
  "Are you bastards going to soundcheck or just have a party?" screams a 
frustrated Ossie (New Order's fifth touring member and best soundman in
  'Love Will Tear Us Apart' booms out of Hookey's bass and sighs of relief 
are heard all around. The film crew move in. Take over. Tell the band to 
spray water over each other for sweat effects. Red rag to a bull. Chaos
regains its accustomed hold. 
  'Confusion', though, is stunning. With sound effects and chants, the live
result is an overwhelming mass of disco punctuation. Great entertainment, 
nothing more, or less.
  New Order's only arrogance is their correct belief that they are extremely
good at their craft. People meeting the band for the first time often go 
away thoroughly confused, perhaps even upset and annoyed if their humour 
does not connect with the group's. In America especially, this is the reason 
why they are so incredibly misrepresented in the rock press.
  New Order are, personality wise, as arty as GBH. Less so thatn Blitz. 
Anyone expecting the presumed aura of cool will find themselves torn apart 
by six or seven sharp tongues.
  The scene on the Paradise Garage roof is typical. Gretton sunbathes with
mock apathy while a Rolling Stone photographer and his three assistants,
spend, literally, three hours setting up umbrellas and lights for a quickly
arranged photo session. Gretton is irritated. Two hours later the band agree
to appear, but don't.
  "Where are they then? Are they up here yet?" exclaims the now angry master
of photographic ceremonies.
  "Can you see them?" replies Gretton.
  "No I cannot."
  "Then they are not fuckin' well 'ere then."
  "Will you please go and get them. You are the manager."
  Yet again, downstairs, the band agree to go up but only Gillian appears 
and for five minutes before yawning her way back down. Barney has gone for 
an orange juice. 
  "Will you pose for us?" says the photographer to a startled Kevin Cummins.
  "You lot."
  Points to me.
  "Pretend you are New Order. No-one will know. They are faceless, are they 
not? You won't? Well, I'm going. Tell them they are the most unprofessional
band I have ever met."
  He storms off.
  We tell New Order.
  They squeal with delight.

  Paradise Garage fills to capacity and then some. Outside, the street is
crawling with the unlucky, scavenging for tickets. The disco inside is hard 
and loud. Again dangerously packed.
  Quando Quango run through a rhythmic short set of sax-funk (see future 
Sounds). Impressive and stimulating, even to a crowd with no apparent wish 
to be stimulated. They clap politely at the finish.
  After their set and in the New Order dressing room, Simon Topping is 
conspicuous by his absence. 
  "Miserable bastard," moans Ossie.
  But the tension is mounting and the band sit around, relatively quiet.
Gretton is continually hassled by a heavy club management wishing to hurry
the show along. Three times they storm into the dressing room, genuinely 
threatening. Eventually, under considerable stress and in fear of the 
consequences, Gretton ushers the band onstage. 
  The excellently massive house PA gives us New Order at their best.
  Without doubt, and for a change, everything runs perfectly. 'Ceremony',
'Your Silent Face', 'The Village'. Their pop set.
  They tend to vary to suit the mood. Tonight, happy. 
  Hookey's bass is now held ridiculously low, almost at his feet, in an
unintentional parody of J.J. Burnel. But as he blasts out the strong,
distinctive opening riffs to 'Age Of Consent' it becomes clear that tonight        
is special. Ossie's control over the sound effects, weirdly superb. The 
crowd, incredibly, fail to recognise this. Barney is annoyed. He shows it.
"Just about the most unresponsive crowd we've ever played to. Yank 
  The opening seguencer to 'Blue Monday' brings cheers, but still the words
are altered by Barney's ad-lib:
  "How does it feel - to stand in front of bastards like you."
  It's a highly danceable set as well, although, to be fair, the sweaty 
claustrophobia doesn't exactly entice me into dance either. The music is
compelling, indicating perfectly the class difference between New Order and
would-be similar outfits.
  "Oh you've got green eyes, Oh you've got brown eyes, Oh you've got grey 
  'Temptation' gives the perfect ending, with a catch. Both sequencer and 
drum machine left running to complete the set without the band. A full four
  "Hey, did you see that! A fake, the band just walked offstage and the 
music kept playing!"
  "Yeah, hah, that gets them every time," says Steve Morris. 
  Obviously, no encore.
  The dressing roomed, tired band wait patiently for the disco to re-start,
alleviating the tension. It does. New Order win the evening.

  Do you enjoy all of this?
  Gillian: "Yes, I do actually. I really enjoy it, every minute. Why? Do I
look miserable?"
  You look as though you'd be glad to get back home.
  Gillian: "No, not really. I would in the sense that we are moving soon and
have things to do but, still, it's good fun really. I've got a good tan out 
of it."
  Steve: "We are going for a long holiday in Italy, anyway."
  Barney: "Just three more dates to go and then, at last, a rest."
  You've still got the Hacienda to play.
  Barney: "Shit, shit, I'd forgotten about that. I've got to admit to being 
totally wrecked. I'm now used to going to sleep at seven in the morning and
waking up at... Well this morning I was watching cartoons at eight-thirty,
that's how much sleep I get."
  Have you really not heard the finished 'Confusion' yet?
  Barney: "No, I'm scared to hear it yet. I really am. It seems, if we all 
agree, that it will be the next single and that's why we are scared to 
listen. Have you heard it? What do you think?"
  The best thing you've ever done. I prefer it to 'Blue Monday' (actually, 
by a long chalk). The vocals are a bit low, though.
  Barney: "Everyone has said that, but that is only a rough mix anyway."
  How did you meet Arthur Baker?
  Barney: "Through Michael Schamberg (the video king in New York and, it 
appears, controller of Factory's New York office). We went into that studio 
in New York with no song whatsoever. We've never done that before so it was
in fact a completely experimental thing with a producer we didn't know. He
was working on Freeez at the same time which is probably why it sounds 
similar, although the songs are very different really. There is, I belive, a 
mix already been made of the two songs together, which is interesting."
  Why did you stop working with Martin Hannett?
  Steve: "We learnt everything from him. We have no qualms about doing it on
our own. Actually that is not strictly true, something about the album that
isn't quite right. I don't know if we will be working with Arthur Baker 
again, depends..."
  There is a planned Channel Four TV film about to be made...
  Steve: "Yes, the people from Whatever You Want. It's about the band and 
they plan to make it half band, half social comment which... I don't know
whether they will be able to combine the two. Maybe it will work... maybe 
  "I'd prefer to make a proper film. Not musical and not about the band, but
I suppose you have to start somewhere. We do tend to run ourselves in an 
unplanned sort of way, like day-to-day, there never seems to be time to 
actually sit down and plan something. No great master plan. We are all too
knackered all the time."
  Knackered New Order sneak slyly away from Paradise Garage, searching 
hopefully for food and sleep. The Paradise Garage mafia smile, sit back, and
count the takings from the fullest night they have ever had. Somewhere else 
in New York, the booker from Roseland wonders why on earth he turned New 
Order down on his belief that they couldn't fill the place. The kids wonder
how instruments can play themselves.

  2.30p.m. New York, Newark Airport and Barney sleeps on the concourse 
amidst a huge stack of luggage and unaware of the glances cast by nervous 
travellers as they hurry past him as they would hurry past tramps in the
Bowery. Tour manager Ruth Polski (darling of the New York hip set and booker
of the Danceteria, on loan to New Order) seems in a bit of a panic. Seven
minutes before the flight to Washington and no sign of Rob or Steve. Hookey
is ill, hungover and apologetic for being so. He decides to go and find 
Steve with the hire car. 
  Barney: "We are early. Usually there is only one minute before take off
when we arrive. I hate airports, always fall asleep, twelve times on this 
tour so far."
  2.40p.m. Our plane, for once typically, leaves on time minus the threesome
of Rob, Steve and Hookey. 
  "I bet they are getting pissed somewhere," muses Barney.
  Ruth Polski fights hard to contain her worry, uneasy in the knowledge that
Barney may indeed be right. We fly south, over farmlands and what looks to 
be a welcome contrast to the insane vortex of New York soon appears beneath 
us. Washington D.C.
  As we land, back in a Newark bar, Rob, Steve and Hookey are just sinking
their first of eight Melonball cocktails.
  The real drama has yet to happen.

						   Continues next week        

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