INTERVIEW: Bernard Sumner on Dubai, Music Complete and Temptation

New Order remain one of British music’s great survivors. The band that formed from the ashes of Joy Division in 1980 achieved a string of chart successes in the subsequent decade with smart, danceable pop; the likes of “Temptation”, “Blue Monday” and “True Faith” combining nightclub energy with indie credibility.

Even though their output has slowed since 1993’s Republic, they continue to make music that is both relevant and distinctly their own, which even the recent departure of original bass player Peter Hook has failed to dent. Now a five piece following the addition of guitarist Phil Cunningham and bassist Tom Chapman, the band’s renewed energy was underlined with the release of their tenth studio album, Music Complete, in 2015.

Just before they jumped on a plane, ShortList grabbed a chat with singer and guitarist Bernard Sumner.

Your gig at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium would be the band’s first in the region… what triggered it? You on the way back from somewhere?
We’ve wanted to for a while and have just been waiting for an invite. We’re not on our way back from anywhere, we’re coming especially to do this gig.

What is the set-list going to be like? Is this a chance for people out here to hear a decent chunk of Music Complete?
Yes, we really love playing tracks from the new album so there’s definitely going to be a decent chunk of Music Complete. All the new tracks have been getting great responses, which is amazing.

Is there a track you can’t get away without playing?
The obvious answer is the truth: “Blue Monday”. It seems to be the favourite and we struggle to get away with not playing it.

Since perhaps Low Life, you’ve managed to stay true to a New Order musical template but also evolve with the times… what new influences or sounds have you been grabbing at recently? 
The main thing that inspired the making of the new album was playing live and seeing how the fans responded to the more electronic/dance tracks we were making. I think that made us want to work on a more electronic sound with more synths.

Are you surprised at how culturally significant Joy Division and the early New Order albums remain? Both in terms of the music and the visual presentation?
To an extent we’re surprised, but we don’t actually think about it that much, we just keep moving forward and working with people that we’re happy and comfortable working with. There wasn’t a “master plan” in the design and look of either band; we relied on Peter Saville and people like Michael Shamberg and trusted them. Happily, it worked out.

If you had to contribute one New Order song to a British music time capsule that would be buried a mile underground and found in 200 years time which one would it be?

New Order starting out in 2017… what would you sound like and would you still be going in 30+ years?
I think we’d sound like we do now in 2017 and, it would be nice to think so but, who knows…


New Order
When: April 7
Where: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium
Price: From AED349

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