Joy Division

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Bernard Sumner, Ian Curtis, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook.

"Love will tear us apart again."

A well-known English Post Punk band.

Joy Division was formed after guitarist Bernard Sumner and bassist Peter Hook attended a Sex Pistols concert in Manchester on 4 June 1976, and were inspired to form a band. The additions of vocalist Ian Curtis and drummer Stephen Morris completed the lineup. Initially named Warsaw (under which name they recorded an unreleased album, later bootlegged), the band changed its name to Joy Division in late 1977, which got them in trouble at first because of its fascist overtones.

As Joy Division, they recorded an EP which was basically punk with literary lyrics. This and playing around Manchester brought the group to the attention of Tony Wilson, and they joined his record label Factory Records. After a month in the studio with producer Martin Hannett, who completely changed their sound, their debut album Unknown Pleasures was released in 1979. In between touring, their second album Closer was released in 1980. Both were critically acclaimed.

However, the relentless touring was having a negative effect on the band. Vocalist Ian Curtis was an epileptic who sometimes suffered seizures during concerts, leading to their cancellation. His lack of sleep and alcohol abuse only added to his severe depression, and he committed suicide on 18 May 1980 (supposedly after watching Stroszek on the TV).

Since they had a made a pact to change their name if anyone left, the rest of the band members renamed themselves New Order, alongside Morris' girlfriend (now wife), keyboardist and guitarist Gillian Gilbert.

The band are portrayed by actors in the movies 24 Hour Party People and Control. The former is a biopic of Factory Records' head Tony Wilson, with Joy Division playing a major role in the first part of the film. The latter is a biopic of Ian Curtis himself.

Discography:
  • 1978 - An Ideal For Living, their EP debut.
  • 1979 - Unknown Pleasures
  • 1980 - Closer
  • 1981 - Still (compilation)
  • 1986/7 - The Peel Sessions
  • 1988 - Substance (compilation)

Joy Division provides examples of the following tropes:
  • All Part of the Show: Apparently, some of Curtis' onstage seizures were mistaken for his frenetic dancing style at first.
  • Artist Existence Failure
  • The Band Minus the Face: New Order. An Averted Trope thanks to the band's success, although literally true as in New Order Gillian was on the keyboards not vocals.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Producer Martin Hannett. Various legends state that Hannett forced drummer Stephen Morris to take apart his drumkit and reassemble it with toilet parts, made Morris continue recording for an hour after the rest of the band finished a song, set up his drumkit on the studio's first-floor roof, and once went on a hill to record "silence" for an extended period of time.
    • So that's why Jello Biafra said in the beginning of the Dead Kennedys track 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' "Nazi Punks Fuck Off overproduced by Martin Hannett take 4".
    • Hannett's heroin addiction is often cited as either crucial to his signature sound, or mysteriously irrelevant. Joy Division's legend nurtures profuse theories: among the more popular is that epilepsy somehow kindled Ian Curtis' songwriting prowess (in this instance, the Trope Name might seem apropos: until you give it a bit more thought, and realize it's irrelevant).
      • Even before he started seriously using heroin in the early '80s, Hannett was known to indulge in large quantities of hash, though his stoned behavior was pretty much identical to his sober behavior.
  • Colbert Bump: Not strictly accurate (they were gone before anyone noticed) but just about the only high quality recordings of live performances are from guest spots on TV shows.
  • Cover Version: "Sister Ray" by The Velvet Underground, on Still.
  • Creator Breakdown
  • Darker and Edgier - Martin Hannett turned a thudding punk band into something remarkable, with the same songs.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: There are way more New Order albums, but look which band got a page first on this wiki...
  • Deliberately Monochrome: It can be a surprise to see a picture of Ian in colour.
  • Den of Iniquity: Each studio-album-proper had a song describing one: "Day of the Lords" on Unknown Pleasures, and "Atrocity Exhibition" on Closer (a Shout-Out to J. G. Ballard).
  • Dreadful Musician: Bernard Sumner admitted that the band members were these in the early days.
  • Echoing Acoustics: Martin Hannett had a trademark reverb-heavy production style.
  • Executive Meddling: To the opposite extreme. Curtis committed suicide only weeks before Closer was due for release, but Tony Wilson decided to keep Peter Saville's cover which depicted a man in a tomb.
  • Follow the Leader: The Killers, Editors and Interpol spring to mind.
  • Goth Rock: Trope Namer; their manager described their music as being "gothic" (to the band's displeasure) and the term stuck.
  • Hearing Voices:

Digital
Feel it closing in
Feel it closing in
Day in, day out, day in, day out
Day in, day out, day in, day out
Dead Souls
Calling me...calling me...
They keep calling me
They keep calling me

  • Intentionally Awkward Title: The band's name comes from the prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp from the 1955 novel The House of Dolls.
  • Jerkass: According to his widow Ian Curtis was a huge one. The rest of the band members tend to disagree. On the other hand, Ian did cheat on her with a Belgian journalist...
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: At the end of "A Means to an End".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Isolation" is quite a bouncy synth-pop tune really, as is "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
  • Oop North: Influenced by the crumbling Manchester of the 1970s.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Their sound was pretty much the opposite of joyful. It makes more sense if you know that it's an Intentionally Awkward Title.
  • Running Gag: the band name "New Order" has a fascist subtext, also, though the band claims this was unintentional.
  • Short-Lived, Big Impact: They only released two albums owing to the Artist Existence Failure of their lead singer (who died at 23), but are the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear the term Post Punk, in addition to helping lay the groundwork for what would become Goth Rock. If The Doors did not influence them, usually Joy Division did.
  • Spiritual Successor: New Order.
  • Talent Double: Averted by the actors in Control; they played the songs themselves, helped by there being plenty of Three Chords and the Truth songs.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: An Ideal for Living's artwork, deliberately intended to create controversy over whether the band was a Nazi band, which they weren't (this is referenced in 24 Hour Party People as well). Also, 'Warsaw', one of the songs from this EP, is about Rudolf Hess.
  • Vocal Evolution: Compare Ian's voice on the "Ideal For Living" EP to when the band starting recording with Martin Hannett. Ian's voice lowers dramatically.
  • What Could Have Been: The band was due to start their first American tour the day after Ian Curtis killed himself.
  • Worst Aid: Allegedly a contributing factor in Curtis' demise. Sumner has stated that he thinks the inadequate treatment given to Curtis for his epilepsy led to his suicide. Plus the scenes of Ian being dragged back stage while having a fit in 24 Hour Party People aren't far from the truth.
    • Adequate treatment would have entailed Ian refraining from live performance. He must have felt obligated to continue, regardless of whether he'd been explicitly pressured. For the still-developing band, not touring was not an option.
    • Also, much less was known about epilepsy back in The Seventies. All taken into account, Ian was probably lucky to a certain extent.
    • Control endorses this view as well, showing both Curtis being given phenobarbital for his epilepsy, which even by the 1970s was considered a less-then-ideal treatment option.