THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “She’s Lost Control”

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “She’s Lost Control”

She walked upon the edge of no escape…

They used an aerosol to create some drum effects – another of Martin’s many innovations. He liked to record different sounds that he’d work on to sound like drums but different. For one of the tracks he recorded us kicking a flight-case in time. Also I suspect a Ring Modulator on the real damped snare.

The other thing you hear on this track is Steve’s Synare, which was a drum synthesizer with a white-noise generator that he used on both “She’s Lost Control” and “Insight”. He was one of the first drummers to use them, if I’m not mistaken. That was one of the great things about him – and Barney, actually. They’re both very experimental, always wanting to try out new things, which I must admit I resisted because I was always like, “Let’s just play. We play great together. What do you want to add stuff for?” In Barney’s case it was a bit of a two-edged sword because, while it was great that he was always on the lookout to do things differently, you did tend to feel that he wasn’t entirely happy with you.

He loved all this new technology, and always did the whole time I knew him, but the technology was reducing the need for players. They say that’s why drum machines were invented, so the lead vocalist didn’t have to talk to the drummer. Bass synths so that the singer doesn’t have to talk to the bass player. You could just programme them yourself and find yourself in your own little world while we’re all hanging on for grim death. I never believed in any of that. I always believed that in a group the strength comes from the camaraderie, the chemistry, the people playing together. You should never exclude anybody; you should encourage rather than exclude. No song is worth alienating a group member.

Ian was apparently moved to write this lyric after an incident at work. It’s about an epileptic young lady who was having problems finding and keeping a job, who eventually died while fitting. That must have been terrifying for him. The first I knew of that was when Bernard mentioned it on a Joy Division documentary. Again, I wasn’t really paying much attention to the lyrics. It’s teamwork. You just see your teammate doing his bit, he looks and sounds up to speed, so, great, that leaves you to concentrate on your own side of things. There’s no analysis going on. Nobody was going, “Let’s have a look at your lyrics, Ian. Let’s have a talk about them. Let’s dissect the lyric”. He probably would have just gone mad and told you to fuck off. He delivered his vocals with the perfect amount of passion and spirit, exactly what we wanted. Saying that, reading the lyrics now, his use of repetition and onomatopoeic delivery is startling.
Now, of course, Ian Curtis is recognized as one of music’s greatest lyricists, a fact that wasn’t established during his lifetime. In interviews all they seem to pounce on was the Nazi aspects. That just used to upset him. It’s a funny thing interviews. When you’re a struggling band nobody wants to know, so you just live without the press. You don’t even consider it to be important. All of a sudden you’re popular and everybody wants to talk with you. Then it seems vital.

Peter Hook in “Unknown Pleasures – Inside Joy Division”.

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