You know, age is a weird thing. Getting old, which is a subtly but arguably more important difference, is weirder still. I’m 52 which, these days, is not old at all. Yet, I realise that I have quirks and my little ways. My likes and dislikes, my habits and traditions. Silly things that make me smile. Sillier things that make me grumpy. Age is primarily the reason for that.
Well, it is and it isn’t. Maybe it’s more to do with experience…although that is inextricably linked to age too, of course. As you go through life you tend to filter everything you see, say and do. When you come across something new, you’re very open to ideas and strange methods and the like. You haven’t experienced it before. Once you repeat the process, go to the same place a few times, see the same thing, listen to the same music, whatever it is, then you begin to make decisions, you make choices, you filter.
So, if you are walking towards your favourite cafe, you already know which table you want because it is out of the sun in the summer/by the radiator in the winter, well away from families with screaming kids, you know which drinks and food to go for and avoid because that cafe produces those drinks/dishes well/badly and you know that it’s a Tuesday so that fool of a waiter you sometimes see won’t be in that day.
Filters are important. They are also divisive, if your friends, colleagues, wife, husband or family don’t agree. Especially, if their filters have taken them into another direction. It’s age. It’s life. It’s about growing up. It’s about deciding what is best for us. It’s about being selfish (and why not, if it doesn’t hurt others?)
It’s visible in the music industry too. Look into the eyes of a new band after their first promo photo shoot. They’re young, they’re happy to be there, everything is new, nothing is too much trouble, they’ll all go out of their way to help, they’ll accept just about everything, they’ll go anywhere and, within reason, do anything.
Look into the same eyes if they have survived the 35 years to become a major recording artist. It’s a big ‘if’ too because they will have been damned lucky, determined and talented – and in that order – to still be there.
They’re older (grey hair, wrinkles, etc), the last place they want to be is sitting in front of the camera, everything has been done…again…and again, everything is too much trouble, in fact they get someone else to do things for them, they won’t do anything unless you pay them over the odds and their agent and lawyers have checked it out first and their calendar is empty, and they won’t go anywhere…unless it’s by private jet or helicopter.
It’s all about older people. Not necessarily old people. Just older people. Older people hate being pushed around. Older people hate having their freedom restricted. More to the point, older people, on many occasions but especially if they’ll been in a band for most of their lives, hate having do something that the other guy wants to do.
New Order, the band that blossomed from post punk legends, Joy Division. The band that explored dark indie rock and then evolved into acid house. New Order should have the above pasted onto their music biography. I’ve recently received a 4LP vinyl box set produced by the band. It’s a lovely thing, actually, called Singles. Remastered and updated it features classic music such as Blue Monday, State of the Nation, World in Motion, True Faith, Confusion and, as they say, “much more”.
Age. Age means looking at the latest line up and thinking, “Ah, there they are but…who’s that bloke on guitar? And that one on bass?” Why? Because famed New Order bassist, Peter Hook has stormed off in a huff.
Bernard Sumner recently revealed that, “Hooky’s said some unforgivable things, disgraceful. He was angry – he’s an angry man – and the anger was inside the band. And a lot of the anger was focused on me and that isn’t very nice to have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. He was jealous of me.”
But the clincher is this bit, I think, “He’s said it himself, he’d got to an age where he felt he couldn’t compromise. He wanted things done his way or not at all. In a way, he was right to leave.”
And it’s this one point that splits bands. Always has done, always will do. Forget your major artistic differences or the silly spats that start over nothing. The core and root of all of this is age and not having to ‘make do’ any more. Stronger personalities manifest this feeling more visibly and possibly with more rancour than more submissive individuals. It’s happened to The Beatles, it’s happened to Pink Floyd and it’s happened to New Order…it’s happened many times to many other bands. Which is why, when you find yourself with an absolutely brilliant band, you really, really need to get them in the studio and record their backsides off super quick before the inevitable rot sets in!
Peter Hook talks about his new book in this video clip, HERE