photo & text by nacrowe
i mean the title says it all. THE HAÇIENDA: HOW NOT TO RUN A CLUB (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2009) book by LEGENDARY JOY DIVISION / NEW ORDER bassist PETER HOOK goes into excruciating detail about the MISMANAGEMENT and horrendously BAD DEAL-MAKING at the heart of one of the most CELEBRATED NIGHTCLUBS of all-time.
for its part, the MANCHESTER venue THE HAÇIENDA out of dumb genius or FINANCIAL NECESSITY (one person was less costly then putting up a whole band), is credited with elevating the figure of the DJ in the 1980s to a pedestal they still hold in MODERN DANCE CULTURE to date. inspired by the inclusive underground dance venues like the DANCETERIA in NEW YORK, THE HAÇIENDA sought to establish a similar void in BRITISH culture. what is interesting is that it took nearly a decade and the melding of sorts with another DANCE CULTURE, that of the party isle of IBIZA, with its use of a new DRUG called ECSTASY, that saw the emergence of ACID HOUSE under its own watch and became the epicenter of a WORLD-WIDE DANCE PHENOMENON from roughly 1988-1990.
the narrative HOOK presents is one where NEW ORDER and its label FACTORY RECORDS basically stumbled into one CULTURAL SUCCESS after another despite their combined efforts to the contrary. from the start, THE HAÇIENDA made NO FINANCIAL SENSE and its INSATIABLE need for CASH INFUSION throughout its history OVER-LEVERAGED all INVESTORS involved, including the band members themselves who were liable for any OUTSTANDING DEBT. not NEW ORDER was overly concerned or involved enough in the day-to-day to see what a drain the operation was on their bottom line. they lived in a COCOONED ALTERNATIVE REALITY with little interest or regard for the combined extracurriculars of manager ROB GRETTON and label head TONY WILSON, for them the venue was a clubhouse of sorts where they could hang out when back home in MANCHESTER from tour or recording.
like everything FACTORY-related, the whole enterprise was more of an ASPIRATIONAL ART PROJECT than a CALCULATED BUSINESS OPERATION. as HOOK's other books about JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER will attest, this naive modus operandi basically carried over to all BUSINESS ASPECTS of their career as guided by GRETTON and WILSON. so much with THE HAÇIENDA was wrong from the get go. the BUILDING itself with its high ceilings and rooftop was not conducive to a NIGHTCLUB in terms of SOUND or ATMOSPHERE. FACTORY brought in a designer who OVERSPENT on the interior design. they OVERPAID for a CRAPPY sound system. OVERPAID for bands. took out LOP-SIDED BAD LOANS. made BAD BUSINESS DEALS with vendors and contractors. the list is NEVER-ENDING. but somehow eventually nearly a decade in, it all worked despite itself.
until it didnt.
after the peak years of THE HAÇIENDA and the MADCHESTER scene, LOCAL GANG interest reared its head due to the money made on PARTY DRUGS and basically infiltrated the scene, which led to VIOLENCE and AGGRESSION that winnowed away regulars and provided OPPORTUNITIES for EMERGING rival VENUES to exploit. the book is written in sequential year-to-year chapters with figures about REVENUES and EXPENDITURES as well as notes regarding event calendars and FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES for the coming year included in the mix. you can see how it all financially spiraled out of control as well as the dominance of regular DJs over time. it really is a REMARKABLE top-down look at a BUSINESS VENTURE that stayed afloat in spite of itself.
the question i keep coming back to in my mind is what would have happened if THE HAÇIENDA was actually run well throughout its run. would it have been more PROFITABLE? its GLOBAL CULTURAL IMPACT more sustained? could it possibly have been more successful? somehow i doubt it. the rolling SHAMBOLIC nature of the FINANCIAL ARCHITECTURE that propelled the VENUE had an energy all its own and the conspiring players in the midst all played a part in its success and eventual downfall. despite everything, the long-defunct VENUE today is a BRITISH LANDMARK that still has an IMMENSE CULTURAL CACHE attached to it. for a FAMOUS BUSINESS FAILURE, and it was surely that, it oxymoronically sure was a CULTURAL SUCCESS for the ages. it is part of the ENDURING MYTHOLOGY of JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER, FACTORY RECORDS and by extension MANCHESTER itself, just as much as OLD TRAFFORD or FREE TRADE HALL.
photo & text by nacrowe
in the aftermath of the his departure from NEW ORDER, legendary bassist PETER HOOK wrote three books: THE HACIENDA: HOW NOT TO RUN A CLUB (IT BOOKS, 2009), UNKOWN PLEASURES: INSIDE JOY DIVISION (IT BOOKS, 2013) and SUBSTANCE: INSIDE NEW ORDER (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2017). each tackling a different era of his career, the first tackling the failure of the era-defining MANCHESTER club and by extension FACTORY RECORDS, the second his time in the iconic POST PUNK band JOY DIVISION and his relationship with troubled frontman IAN CURTIS (reviewed HERE).
SUBSTANCE: INSIDE NEW ORDER recounts his time in NEW ORDER, which in terms of years, material output, miles traveled and tours completed, was the focus of the better part of half his life to that point. i won't compare NEW ORDER to JOY DIVISION, in my mind they are separate entities each distinct in their own sound and legacy. like UNKOWN PLEASURES: INSIDE JOY DIVISION, the format HOOK provides includes a narrative based on his experience plus a timeline complete with gigs, product releases, technology utilized and noteworthy events, all annotated and provided promptly at the end of each chapter. it is lovingly done with a knowing nod towards the fanatical, completist nature of his fanbase. much respect to him for that.
what struck me most about this book is the combative relationship between BERNARD SUMNER and PETER HOOK. in JOY DIVISION, both were competitive to a fault but largely acquiesced to the artistic will of IAN CURTIS and producer MARTIN HANNETT. with both of those creative forces now out of the picture early in the NEW ORDER story, there is a brief formative period where new roles are tried on and experimented with, only to calcify later and lead to pugilistic internal dynamic that led to much strife and self-sabotaging. in essence this book is about dysfunction and power.
perhaps it was a toxic masculinity rooted in their upbringing in an economically depressed MANCHESTER during a particularly bleak period where in typical ENGLISH fashion men were expected to just "get on with it" and not express themselves. again and again during crucial fulcrum moments in the narrative when they should have communicated, they just "got on with it" and trudged along blindly, oblivious to the pain inflicted on each other with an almost sadistic delight. for such an iconic group that had a singular sound and reputation for innovation (twice!), they really were individuals at the end of the day worried about their own self interests. to an extent, because even as they were jockeying for power internally, externally they were aware of being ripped off by the greater apparatus, FACTORY RECORDS and their doomed investment in the HACIENDA nightclub. on one hand they had a common mission in the record label and all of the independent ethics that they supposedly stood for, yet at the end of the day this group constantly stabbed each other in the back. or in some cases in the face.
a subplot throughout is HOOK's alcoholism and abuse with hard drugs and eventual recovery with the same tenacity and gusto that got him into them. his departure from NEW ORDER is very much seen as a shedding of his old public persona and identity for a newer one that was sober and awake to what was happening around him. his work in PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT is representative of that new positive focus, away from the codependency and dictatorial whims of SUMNER. and on SUMNER, he comes off looking really bad in this book. repeatedly described as a dark cloud who poisoned the atmosphere among the crew and support staff as well as suffering mightily from LSD (lead singer's disease). i'm looking forward to reading his account to see how he describes HOOK.
in the end like all fans, HOOK's melodic bass-lines is a defining feature of NEW ORDER, as well as JOY DIVISION. its hard to swallow the idea that his participation in albums were not prominent and often sidelined, especially on post-REPUBLIC. its mind-boggling to entertain the idea that his bass-lines weren't viewed as an asset or even necessary internally in their camp. just unbelievable. to me its his bass, SUMNER's voice and the ingenious use of synths that distinguish them from their peers.
in summation, this is a long book (over 700 pages) but it went quickly thanks to HOOK's strong narrative voice and wicked sense of humor. very dry. very ENGLISH. the sardonic tone was similar to that of the ERIC IDLE memoir ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE (BROADWAY BOOKS, 2018) i reviewed recently (linked HERE) and definitely had me laughing at several times throughout, usually at his own expense. in a way, that self-effacing humor only makes you trust his perspective that much more, although again im waiting to read the SUMNER book in all fairness.
great informative, invigorating read on one of the most interesting bands in modern music history. a must-read for anyone interested in PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, NEW WAVE, ELECTRONIC MUSIC or technology in music as well.