Bernard Sumner: “As a child, I was fragile, but then I created myself a powerful armor
It is thanks to him that we know the cool melodies of Joy Division and the dreary euphoria of New Order. In 2015, with a new band and a new album, “Music Complete”, he prepared new shocks for us.
Bernard Sunmer has a headache. Sitting in a soft pink armchair in the corner of a stuffed office with curved floors on the third floor of the so-so-worn-out Union Club in Soho, dressed in black all over New Order vocalist and former Joy Division guitarist politely wonders if he can’t take off his sunglasses during an interview and not close the window overlooking the bustling greek street.
And there are reasons for these requests. To begin with, we met at the end of a long day devoted entirely to an interview in support of the new album New Order, which comes out after a 10-year hiatus. Unlike the latest LP “Waiting For The Sirens’ Call”, released in 2005 and more likely to be pragmatic in nature and from Sumner’s rock rock project during the “Bad Lieutenant” release, the new album “Music Complete” is a bold collection of eclectic electronics.
The return of Gillian Gilbert to the group played a big role in this change, but we will remember the involvement of such musicians as Brandon Flowers, Iggy Pop, Richard X, Ally Jackson from La Roux and Tom Rowlands from The Chemical Brothers. Thanks to the joint work, the album is also being released, which returns us to the sadly happy euphoria of the 80s New Order albums “Brotherhood” and “Technique”. And it took a lot of time to create all this. “MOJO” especially appreciated the excellent disco-song “Tutti Frutti”, the manner of performance of which at the beginning resembles another New Order song “Fine Time” of 1989, so their seriousness was reduced in their new album.
“Today Manchester is not the same as it was before, it has become a more typical city, but I still like it. No, now I like it even more, now it’s not so gloomy and miserable. I like to miss a glass of good white wine and have dinner sushi in “Selfridges”.
“It wasn’t an easy job at all,” Bernard says with his sardonic Salsford pronunciation. “We had a hard deadline. After Christmas we worked 50 and 70 hours a week. For three and a half years we went on tours, preparing new material in breaks. To be honest, I didn’t like it.”
“Music Complete” is the first LP that was recorded without bassist Peter Hook, and this may be another reason Sunmer is exhausted. Hook left the band in 2007, while simultaneously announcing its breakup after a South American tour in which not everything went smoothly. Sumner said everything he thought was necessary about the departure of Hook in the autobiography “Chapter and Verse”, released in 2014, but all this morning, journalists still bombarded him with questions, trying to dissolve the past.
The heat of the day gradually subsides and Sanmer’s caution in answers begins to give way to twisting thoughts, which at the same time surprises and touches, because in this mood the musician touches on such exciting and painful topics as his difficult childhood in Salford, the death of Joy Division leader Ian Curtis, and the closure of the recording company Tony Wilson’s “Factory Records” and the “Haçienda” nightclub in Manchester. In a word, these are touching, bittersweet memories.
Reading your autobiography was a real discovery for me, because I have always considered you a closed person. Did the writing of the book somehow influence the lyrics of the new songs? Perhaps it helped reveal more?
No, writing a book and writing songs are two different things. It was not easy to do them at the same time. I finished the book in May 2014, went on a promotional tour in America and then finished writing the album, so it was a time of non-stop work. I decided to write a book because it seemed to me that my time had come to leave a mark on history. I think in my autobiography I wrote a lot of things that journalists would not ask, a lot of personal.
Especially about your family. You don’t know your father, your mother had cerebral palsy, your grandmother and grandfather raised you …
It was hard for me to write about my mother, but at the same time it helped me understand her, although I did not use it as a therapy. After writing the book, I did not feel better, but perhaps I began to understand my mother better, as well as other people I wrote about.
You say that you lived in a place where almost no one was making music. Why do you think your mother gave you an electric guitar?
I do not remember. I guess I asked her, but I don’t remember. At first I was not interested in music. All the boys in Salford played football, went to the Manchester United games, fought, and I was among them. But at 15-16 years old, suddenly … Music! I was struck like lightning. At first I fell in love with Westerns with Ennio Morricone’s music. I was always quite creative and I was given art, but the films of Sergio Leone just captivated me. I asked to buy a music player because I wanted to listen to music from the movie all the time. And mom bought me a small player.