New Order's Hook Forms New Band Monaco - Rolling Stone
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New Order’s Hook Forms New Band Monaco

If the thunderous bassline that kicks off Monaco’s debut is
unmistakably familiar, it’s because the world was first introduced
to it in 1979, when Joy Division surfaced with “Unknown Pleasures”
on England’s cutting-edge Factory Records. A year later, just
before the influential post-punk band released the landmark album
“Closer,” frontman Ian Curtis hanged himself in the basement of his
Macclesfield, England, home. Surviving Curtis were guitarist
Bernard Sumner, drummer Stephen Morris and the man behind that
familiar bassline, Peter Hook.

With Sumner on vocals, the remaining members of Joy Division,
plus Morris’ girlfriend, Gillian Gilbert, went on to record as New Order, bridging the gap between punk and synth-heavy New Wave, and in the process becoming one of the most successful and critically acclaimed proto-alternative acts. With
New Order currently in a holding pattern (they haven’t released a
record since 1993’s “Republic”), Hook enlisted former Revenge
bassist David Potts for Monaco, whose New Order-aping sound has
sparked a mid-life career revival for Hook. Potts’ voice sounds as
familiar as Hook’s bass, although it hasn’t been heard on record
before.

“I think the only time I’ve sung before Monaco is karaoke,” Potts says, sitting in
A&M Records’ midtown Manhattan offices with Hook and Hook’s
girlfriend (who can’t keep their hands off of each other). “I was
an altar boy once, but I didn’t have to sing.”

His voice is recognizable from New Order, a group,
incidentally, that he was never even in. In fact, Potts sounds so
much like Sumner on Monaco’s “Music For Pleasure” that it could
easily be mistaken for a factory-fresh New Order album, although
the band, unsurprisingly, doesn’t see it that way.

“When you got a [bass] style like Peter’s, you can play it to
any old record and say it sounds like New Order,” Potts adds. “And
with my range, people say it sounds more like New Order too but
what am I going to do, start rapping?”

New Order comparisons aside, the two have formed a unique
musical partnership after some time together in Revenge, Hook’s
early-’90s side project. At 26, Potts is the fresh, virginal
younger half of Monaco, while Hook, at a very healthy looking 41,
provides parental guidance.

“The age difference doesn’t mean a thing really,” Potts says.
“But he’s got the experience — 20 years worth of experience that
doesn’t count for s—!”

“But you still don’t listen to me, do ya?” Hook retorts,
laughing.

For Hook, things have never been better. New Order never
racked up as many record sales as glowing reviews, and Monaco’s
major label deal represents quite a change from folding his own CD
sleeves at an English indie label.

“This is one of the only records I’ve ever made that I can
actually sit and listen to,” Hook says. “Usually, the New Order
records were so bloody angst-ridden, and there was such a black
cloud over it with Factory Records and the amount of work you had
to do, that you could never actually put the record on. I mean, on
our first record [Joy Division‘s “Unknown Pleasures” – 1979] I
had to sit there folding the sleeves for three days and putting the
records in and loading up 10,000 friggin’ LPs into the back of a
van. Now all of the sudden I make a record and someone just says,
‘That’s a great record, would you like some coffee?'”

Potts, who grew up listening to New Order, first joined up
with Hook as a sound engineer for Revenge and then became the
group’s touring bassist during a 1991 tour of America.

“When I first started working with Peter in the studio with
Revenge, I was working *for* him and I didn’t necessarily know who
he was,” he recalls. “Afterwards, we were just working together as
friends.”

“The iconic part of it doesn’t come into it when he’s trying
to get me out of bed in the morning or trying to make something
work in the studio,” Hook adds. “I was working with David Bowie, thinking, ‘Oh God, David Bowie,
he’s a God.’ But then in the studio, I’d say, ‘Dave, are you going
to run the bleeding tape or are we just sitting here wasting our
time?’ That superstar bit doesn’t really matter when it comes down
to working.”

The work that went into “Music for Pleasure” has already won
the band two Top 20 hits in the U.K., and Monaco’s first single,
“What Do You Want From Me,” is currently sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-ing
all over American radio. As for the fate of New Order, Hook is less
than optimistic.

“We had such a difficult time finishing the last record that
when it was over, nobody wanted to talk about doing anything. So we
haven’t.”

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