The brief life of Joy Division is one of the great rock and roll legends. The band’s story begins with the guys meeting at an early Sex Pistols concert and ends with the suicide of their lead singer Ian Curtis in May 1980 just before the band was to begin their first U.S. tour and release their second full-length album.
The band’s bassist Peter Hook recounts his version in his new biography of the band, “Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division.” He speaks about the book with Scott Heim at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, and with NPR critic Tim Riley at Porter Square Books, 25 White St., Cambridge, at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8. (Update: Hook’s Feb. 8 appearance at Porter Square Books has been canceled by the store “due to the impending blizzard.”)
Joy Division emerged in Manchester, England, inspired by punk, but pressing on into something new and epic behind Curtis’s austere baritone—looming shadows, desolate, cursed. At first a cult favorite, they seemed to tap both into adolescent gloom and (at the time) Cold War doom. Their sound anticipated goth and alternative music of the 1980s and ‘90s, and influenced U2, Morrissey, R.E.M., and Radiohead. Curtis’s death only added to their dark allure.
Hook and the other remaining members of the band went on to critical and commercial success (and recent feuds) with the much more bright, dancey band New Order.
He argues that Joy Division wasn’t all darkness, recently telling Rolling Stone that in others’ accounts of the band, “There is something, from my point of view, lacking, which was the humanity and the humor. I always felt that making Ian out to be this deep, dark genius was sort of committing the same sin as the musical dinosaurs used to commit – whereas Johnny Rotten and the punk movement were all about demystification and that anybody can do it. I felt that the story that I had – that we went through – was much more entertaining.”