THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “New Dawn Fades”

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “New Dawn Fades”.

A change of speed, a change of style…

“New Dawn Fades” is the track that most people say is their favourite. This seems and odd choice to me, because it’s very simple and very economical, certainly from my point of view, because the bass is pretty much constant all the way through.
This riff reminds me of my old amp. I had a 100-watt Marshall Lead Amp, wired for bass. I don’t know what the difference is – something to do with frequencies – but it had a fantastic, rich, warm sound, especially when you played on it. All the songs on “Unknown Pleasures” were written and played on it; it sounded great. It used to sing to me, that amp; such sweet distortion. It was wonderful. I had to sell it because I needed to pay the gas bill. Rob said we didn’t have any money, so I advertised it in the MEN and this kid answered. I even took the amp round to his house in its flight-case.

He said, “you in a band?”
“Yeah, we’re called Joy Division”
“Never heard of you”.
I went, “Yeah, well, you know, we’re up and coming”
“I’m in a band”, he said, gloating. “Six hundred quid a week on the cruise ships, on the liners. Fucking great. It’s full of old biddies; knuckle-deep in Lily of the Valley, me, mate. Hundred and sixty-five, yeah.”
I was like “Whatever”. He took my amp off me, my beloved amp. Me and Iris were going to have our gas cut off otherwise.

So I went back to Rob. “Right, you’ll have to buy me an amp now, out of the group’s money, because I haven’t got one. I’ve sold it.”
“You stupid twat”, he said. “I would have bought it off you. I would have given you the money.”
“Well I asked and you wouldn’t give it me”.
“Oh don’t be so fucking soft, Hooky.”
What the fuck was “soft” about that I don’t know and never will. But anyway. That was the story of the amp. It really did contribute to the sound of the album, without a shadow of doubt. I wonder where it is now.

While we’re on the subject of amplifiers a mention must go to Barney’s acquisition of the Vox UL730, a wonderful find. This amp has a fantastic sound and was his pride and joy, and again added a lot to the album. Even Martin loved it. It famously took over a whole PA at Liverpool Eric’s once. We’d all been complaining about how loud it was, so Barney had bought an Altair power soak, which supposedly enabled you to have the same sound only quieter. I don’t want to get too technical, but the idea was you used the Altair to quieten the amp then took a DI from it to the PA. This we did, but the UL730 obviously had ideas of its own and took over the whole sound system. You could hear nothing else. This amp was stolen with all the gear in America on the first New Order tour. Even I grieved.
Peter Hook in “Unknown Pleasures – Inside Joy Division”.


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