Why was it important for you to write Substance: Inside New Order, Peter?
Writing the book, I realised that we had a fantastic 10 years: we really did. New Order were a complete by-product of the 80s. We started in May 1980, and we finished in June 1990 with the World Cup song, ‘World In Motion’. It was incredible. Before Bernard began his reign of terror, we had a fantastic time. Andrew Holmes, my co-author, describes the book as the chronicles of a despotic takeover. It’s very sad. The reason [it is written like this] is not to make people sad: it’s to tell the story. And it’s 100 percent the truth. Now I know a lot of people are not going to like that, especially the ones in New Order, but it is the truth.
What do you recall of leaving the band?
The sad thing about 2011 was that Bernard, Stephen and Gillian decided to take the group off me. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that they couldn’t take the music off me. Really, it’s the music that people love, not the group. The group doesn’t do anything until they play the music. So they miscalculated.
Why did you feel it was important to include timelines and detailed elements about various gear?
If I read someone’s book, and they have stuff like that in it, I love it. To me, it’s the mark of a great book. It’s called doing your homework, tying up the loose ends, and making sure that everything sits right.
How did you remember all the stories so well?
Now that I’m sober, the stories came back to me. The timeline was the best thing for remembering the stories.
If you were offered a ludicrous amount of money to play an event with the rest of New Order, would you?
[laughs] Of course I would. Without a doubt. When it comes down to it, I’m a businessman. If the Eagles can do it, then I can bloody do it. That tour wasn’t called The Hell Freezes Over Tour for nothing! I do think you can respect people’s talent. And you can also respect their professionalism. You don’t have to get along.
Let’s talk bass. First off, what kind of bass do you use?
I use a custom-made Eccleshall – it’s a copy of an EB-O1 semi-acoustic Gibson with Yamaha BB 1200 pickups. I’ve used it for a long time.
To slap or not to slap?
I went through a phase when Don Johnson from A Certain Ratio tried to teach me to slap. He gave me a couple of lessons, then he just turned to me and went, ‘Hooky, you’re white’. And I thought, well, that needs no further explanation, does it really?
What makes a great bass player?
The secret to playing bass well is just meaning it. You have to mean what you play. When I started to play the bass, I never got any of those connotations because of punk that you were somehow behind the guitarist. The idea that the bass player backs the guitarist and plays the root elements? Not any bass player from Salford that I know. You have to make the bass do what you want it to do, and not do what other people ‘think’ a bass should do. That has to be the secret.
Which other basses have you enjoyed over the years?
My favorite bass ever is the Yamaha BB 1200, which was one of those wonderful accidents of being perfectly crafted, and perfectly balanced, made by an obvious artist of guitars. They’ve never bettered it. They could do worse than just going back to that concept. But the thing is, I don’t want everyone to sound like me, so I shouldn’t really be saying this... One thing I didn’t put in the book was about my picks. When I started [writing it], I put everything else in, about the basses, about the equipment, and the guitars. My picks were a millimeter thick: I used to tear off the strings on the bass. I was young and mad. You don’t need a compressor because you’re hitting it so hard, and your pick is so hard, there’s no level drop. My record for snapping strings was three at once! They were white, and they had serrated edges: they weren’t smooth. You get a lot of grip for when you're sweating. They were the best thing ever. I stockpiled about 600. All gone – and they’ve stopped making them, so now I have to use a 0.8 millimeter pick. They actually started to give me pains because it was so hard on my finger, but it was great for me at the time...