he didn’t want us daft bastards fucking it up for anyone,’
says Peter Hook.
Joy Division were on a roll, constantly writing new
songs, some of which are collected on 'Substance' and
'Still'. ‘Something must break’, ‘Sound of music’, and a trio
of classics – ‘These days’, 'Dead souls', the Spectorian
‘Atmosphere'. “That was the best track that Martin ever
mixed”, says Sumner; “I thought it was beautiful”. In
October, they began a 24 – date UK tour supporting the
Buzzcocks, which enabled them to give up their day jobs.
In a break from the tour, Joy Division played their first con-
cert abroad, at the opening of a new arts centre, PIan K in
Brussels. It was there that Ian Curtis met Annick Honore
and fell in love. “Ian wasn't having a very good time with
Deborah”, says Peter Hook; ‘They were married before
the group came in, and they had a reasonably normal life.
The sad thing about your girlfriends is that you leave them
behind. You move on and you're subject to temptations”.
Annick loved him and understood him”, says Tony
Wilson. This triangle dominated the last months of Ian
Curtis’s life. "I knew something was desperately wrong”,
says Deborah; "But I didn’t think it could be that. He was
so possessive with me, that it didn’t occur to me that he
might go the other way”. The affair resumed during Joy
Division's short January 1980 European tour: on his return
to the house that he shared with Deborah in Macclesfield,
Ian Curtis collapsed after drinking a bottle of Pernod and
cutting his wrists.
At only 23, Curtis was facing one of the most difficult
life situations of all: falling in love with another women
while he had a child. “I’ve been through it as well”, says
Peter Hook; “You do get very confused, and it’s easy to
lose your head, especially where kids are concerned”. In
March, the group spent two weeks in London’s Britannia
Row Studios, recording what would become their second
LP, ‘Closer’. Ian stayed with Annick in London, while
Deborah had finally found out what was going on.
‘Factory was like a family’, says Deborah; “They’d
exclude anyone who wasn’t what they were looking for.
I remember when I was expecting Natalie, standing at the
door of the Factory, Tony looked me up and down. It was
obvious what he was thinking: how can we have a rock
star with a six months pregnant wife standing by the
stage? It wasn’t quite the thing. Then this glamorous
Belgian turned up: she was attractive and free. I don’t
blame Ian: most people need a partner and if you exclude
that partner you have to find somebody else. It's only nat-
ural. He needed someone to look after him".
It’s easy to see now that Ian Curtis’s torment went into
the songs: those that didn’t refer to his emotional dilemma
were taken from the darker sources of literature – ‘Colony’
from 'The Heart of Darkness’, ‘Atrocity exhibition’ from JG
Ballard’s novel – or his own experience. “'The eternal’ was
about a little mongol kid who grow up near Ian”, says
Sumner; "He could never come out of the house: his whole
universe was the the house to the garden wall.
later Ian moved back to Macclesfield and by chance he
saw this kid: Ian had grown up from five to 22, but the
kid looked the same. His universe was still the house
and the garden”.
Ian might have been, as Tony Wilson says, “trancelike”
during the sessions but the group remember them with
pleasure. “Hooky and I always felt that Martin Hannett
did his best stuff when he did it quick”, says Sumner;
“We recorded a lot of it by direct injection, straight into
the board, but we wanted some real life ambience on it,
so Martin put some speakers in the Britannia Row games
room. We pumped most of the album out through the
speakers and recorded them, to make it sound live”.
"When we heard the lyrics, we knew they were very
very good”, says Peter Hook; “They were very open,
weren't they? He was telling us a lot about himself, his
fears and his doubts, but you were too young and caught
up with the excitement: it was like a snowball going down-
hill. It’s a great shame because you should have been able
to just hear it and say, Ian, can we have a chat with you?
What’s the matter? But when you're young, you don’t
"The mood he was in when he wrote that stuff is a very
big question”, says Tony Wilson. “It’s almost as if writing
that album contributed to his state: he immersed himself
in it, rather than just expressing it”. In many ways, ‘Closer’
stands as the definitive Joy Division album, not the least
because the sheer pleasure of the music – which looks