Joy Division were one of those bands that didn't have huge success while they were around but influenced many to start bands and take the path of making music with emotional intensity and dark atmospheres. U2, Radiohead, The Cure and many others readily give credit to Joy Division for inspiration.
After lead singer Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980 the band and their music were elevated to a mythic level. Their last album Closer, recorded shortly before Curtis' death, is basically a suicide note. The remaining members continued on under the name New Order with great success through the 80's and 90's. But Joy Division's dark and tragic past was always hovering over them.
Despite the brooding anthems and the dire conclusion of the band, bassist Peter Hook has written an account that somehow injects a little humor to the legend and brings the mythos down to earth. In Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, Hook presents a first hand account of young Punks banging it out in crappy empty clubs and freezing vans like any other struggling band. Stories of boyish pranks and chaotic live performances show that these Gothic Lords were more than just a pantheon to doom and gloom. The book also touches on the mazing story of the Factory record label and their mission to keep it very real.
I spoke to bassist Peter Hook by phone and despite his reputation and self confessed pleasure for making interviews awkward and difficult he was very pleasant. Check out the interview below:
Here's Joy Division's first full length album Unknown Pleasures:
This is a 1979 Television performance:
I also reccomend the movies 24 Hour Party People which is very entertaining(even if you're not a Joy Division fan) and the beautifully filmed Control.
Jeff Ament has had a few side projects from Pearl Jam including Three Fish, Tres Mts, some solo releases. Now he gets RNDM(pronounced Random). This collaboration is with singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur and long time drum partner Richard Stuverud(Fastbacks, Three Fish). The three got together for four days at Ament's home state of Montana to record the album "Acts"(out 10/30/12) and will embark on a short tour that will hit The Paradise in Boston on November 7. In the interview below Jeff talks about the the feeling of the recording sessions, stepping outside of his musical comfort zone, and his love of the Power Trio formation. And yes PJ fans, he also gives an update on a new album.
We were the last family in Natick, Massachusetts to get cable TV. It was 1982 and I was a nerdy freshman at Natick High School with a bad haircut. I was the only one home when the cable guy showed up sometime between the hours of 12pm and 4pm. When he said he was finished hooking it all up the first thing I asked him was, "What channel is MTV on?" He flipped it over and there it was: The Fixx, "One Thing Leads To Another". Finally I was able to see other guys with bad haircuts make asses out of themselves and be succesful at it. After about 4 hours my Father came home and told me to get my ass off the couch and let him watch the news. If you were a teenager in the 80's you understand.
Which is why I love "I Want My MTV" by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks. It's way more than a nostalgic trip through a silly decade. It's an amazing oral history of the birth of what some of it's founders called an "asinine idea" and the incredible odds that were against it. In the interview below I talk to Rob Tannenbaum about how MTV not only changed music but popular culture and some of the more debauched behind the scenes stories of blow jobs(involving a local Massachusetts artist), boozing, and what the majority of people he interviewed think is the worst music video ever made.(again, involving a local Mass musician.)
Hit the play button to listen:
Here's a sample of what some have called the greatest advertising campaign of all time. "I Want My MTV" overloaded cable operator's switchboards and forced them to pick up the channel.
After reading some of "Jimi Hendrix: A Brother's Story" and looking into the history of the author and Jimi's younger brother Leon, I can safely say, The Hendrix family makes the Jacksons look like The Brady Bunch. There are a plethora of books about Jimi Hendrix that have the usual Sex, Drugs, and Rock-N-Roll with the backdrop of the High rolling late 60's and early 70's. But this book gives insight into Jimi and Leon's early years with Alcoholic Parents, Foster Homes, Child Abuse, and Leon getting swept up in Jimi's Rock Star lifestyle and quickly becoming a drug addict and petty criminal.
Leon had blown through millions of dollars from Jimi's estate and was eventually cut off by his Father Al which is covered in detail in the book. He is also very very bitter about his Stepsister Janie taking control over Jimi's music. Right before he kicked drugs he was supposedly instructed by Jimi through a vibrating guitar to take up the instrument his brother is synonymous with and start a musical career. Check out this feature story from Seattle Weekly for more background on Leon.
In this short interview he gives his thoughts on the theory that Jimi was murdered by his then manager Michael Jaffrey and why he wasn't consulted about the Biopic that's set to start production on his Brother's life.