to be like Jim Morrison”, says Deborah Curtis. “Someone
who’d got famous and died. Being in a band was very
important: he was very single-minded about it. He’d
always said that he didn’t want to live into his twenties,
“Everyone says Joy Division's music is gloomy and
heavy”, says Bernard Sumner. “I often get asked why this
is so. The only answer I can give is my answer, why it was
heavy for me. I can only guess why it was heavy for Ian,
but for me it was because the whole neighbourhood that
I’d grown up in was completely decimated in the mid ’60s.
I was born and raised in Lower Broughton in Salford: the
River Irwell was about 100 yards away and it stank. At
the end of our street was a huge chemical factory: where
I used to live is just oil drums filled with chemicals.
“There was a huge sense of community where we lived.
I remember the summer holidays when I was a kid: we
could stay up late and play in the street, and 12 o'clock at
night there would be old ladies outside the houses, talking
to each other. I guess what happened in the ’60s was that
someone at the council decided that it wasn’t very healthy,
and something had to go, and unfortunately it was my
neighbourhood that went. We were moved over the river
into a towerblock. At the time I thought it was fantastic:
now of course I realise it was an absolute disaster.
“I’d had a number of other breaks in my life. So when
people say about the darkness in Joy Division's music,
by the age of 22, I’d had quite a lot of loss in my life.
The place where I used to live, where I had my happiest
memories, all that had gone. All that was left was a chemi-
cal factory. I realised then that I could never go back to
that happiness. So there’s this void. For me Joy Division
was about the death of my community and my childhood.
It was absolutely irretrievable.
“When I left school and got a job, real life came as a
terrible shock. My first job was at Salford Town Hall stick-
ing down envelopes, sending rates out. I was chained in
this horrible office: every day, every week, every year, with
maybe three weeks holiday a year. The horror enveloped
me. So the music of Joy Division was about the death of
optimism, of youth. Just before Joy Division was a time
of total upheaval for me: it came very early”.
The group took shape. Sumner claims they were always
known as Joy Division. Peter Hook disagrees, and for
the first few months they were more generally known
as Warsaw – after Bowie’s Warszawa. “We had so much
aggro then”, says Peter Hook, ‘Most of the musicians in
Manchester then were very middle–class, very educated:
like Howard Devoto. Barney and I were essentially working
class oiks. Ian came somewhere in the middle, but primar-
ily we had a different attitude. We felt like outsiders: it was
very vicious and back biting".
Warsaw dithered with drummers until another
Macclesfield native, Stephen Morris, joined in summer
1977: “Ian was a year or two above me in the King's
School', he ways; “He remembered me because I got
kicked out with a couple of friends for drinking cough
medicine, and the older boys were advised to go round
checking the pupils’ pupils”. The group played the Electric
Circus; and recorded a four – song EP, ‘An Ideal For Living’,
which showed them moving away from thrash to a more
measured, heavier sound. ‘We were just having fun”, says
Sumner; “Leaning where to put your fingers on the guitar
and what sort of amplifiers to use’.
By the time the record was finally released, they were
know as Joy Division – a name taken from the book
that inspired the EP's final cut, No Love Lost: Ka–Tzetnik
135633’s House Of Dolls, a pulp nightmare diary of
Nazi terror. The sleeve featured drawings taken from the
Second World War: a drummer boy, a Jewish boy in the
Warsaw ghetto. "Ian had always been interested in
Germany”, says Deborah Curtis, “At our wedding we sang
a hymn to the tune of the German national anthem. We
went to see Cabaret a dozen times’.
"For me it was about the Second War", says Bernard
Summer; "Because I was brought up by my grandparents.
They told me about the war, about all the sacrifices people
had made so that we could be free; we had a room
upstairs with gas masks and sand bags and English flags,
tin helmets. The war left a big on me, and the sleeve was
that impression. It wasn’t pro Nazi, quite the contrary. I
thought, fashionable or unfashionable, what went on in the
war shouldn't be forgotten, so that it didn't happen again”.