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Dicey Topics: Musician Peter Hook talks money, religion and politics

What did she find and what is the reality?

[Laughs] She found out I was worth something like £32 million ($56 million). Which is probably 128 times more than the truth.

You mentioned mistakes in financial planning. What were those mistakes?

Well, I have a little game with my lawyer, who will show me a piece of paper. I’ll read it and go, “Oh my god, what idiot would sign that?” Then he turns it over and goes quite theatrically, “You! Again!” The problem is, when you have nothing, you’re desperate to succeed in your chosen profession and will sign away your first-born, second-born and third-born. I remember Barney [Joy Division/New Order co-founder Bernard Sumner] once saying to this guy from London Records, “You’re not going to rip this off, are you?” [Laughs] I thought, “Oh my god, is that the extent of our business acumen?” My advice to anybody who’s given anything to sign is to take it to your parents, at worst; your lawyer, at best.

Correct me if I’ve got the details wrong, but in 2007, you announced you were leaving New Order. Then in 2015, there was a lawsuit between you and the band …

Well, you’ve got it wrong. In 2007, the group split. The big distinction is that when a group splits, each member takes away the IP [intellectual property]. Later, Barney and Stephen [Joy Division/New Order member Stephen Morris] wanted to get the group together again and said I’d left. That wasn’t my recollection. They re-formed the group – this is public knowledge – behind my back while I was out of the country, and set financial deals with no communication with me. That was what the case was about. [It was settled out of court in 2015.]

Did it hurt?

I was actually happy to let them re-form. What they should have done was negotiate with me. But you know, life is a game of snakes and ladders, isn’t it? The saddest thing is you don’t get to even enjoy [your shared success] over a pint, you know. “We might not love each other, but my god, didn’t we shape the world?”

RELIGION
What do you believe in?

I do believe in a higher power. As an alcoholic, I realised there was something that can make you act badly, or act well. I think I lost myself because something else was controlling me. As far as religion goes, I’m hedging my bets. My wife is religious, and she often asks me to come with her to church, which I do on special occasions.

What about you? Were you raised with faith?

I was raised as a Christian by my mother and father, although they weren’t very religious.

So you’d know your Ten Commandments. Which one are you most prone to breaking?

[Laughs] I think, “Coveting your neighbour’s ox.”

Wow, you really like oxen.

They’re my favourite things! No, I find that as you get older, things do become a little easier, because you’re not prone to jealousy as much. I’m a lot more placid; a lot more even-tempered. The Ten Commandments, shall we say, are much easier to follow. All of them.

That sounds very virtuous of you, Peter.

[Laughs] I’m sure my wife would have a completely different take. Thank god she’s not here!

POLITICS
What three words sum up British politics today?

Mistrust. Betrayal. Incompetence. Brexit has exposed the whole UK political system for how inept, out of touch and ludicrous it is. I’ve never seen so much backstabbing among a set of people who were supposed to be in charge, looking after our welfare and making sure our country runs in a just and fair way. It’s like the sinking of the Titanic. They’re all dressed as women, trying to get on the lifeboat. I’m aghast at the decision to leave the European Union.

Where does that leave you for the next UK election? Who do you vote for?

I was reading an article this morning about Germany’s comedy party [Die PARTEI], which had a huge upsurge in the last elections. Everybody is so disenchanted with the normal political people and the process, they’re voting for it. It makes me think of [English musician and serial political candidate] Screaming Lord Sutch, who invented the Official Monster Raving Loony Party [in 1983]. If you look at the causes Lord Sutch was championing, a lot of them have been amalgamated and normalised – like your horse needing a passport to travel. [By 2003, every horse in Britain was required to have a passport.] The guy was obviously well ahead of our political process. So honestly, if Lord Sutch was there, I’d be voting for him.

diceytopics@goodweekend.com.au

Peter Hook presents Joy Division Orchestrated at Melbourne’s Plenary Theatre on August 11.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

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