Martin Hannett, the producer behind records for Joy Division, the Stone Roses and so many others, was a genius. A nut, but a genius. Peter Hook spoke to PSNEurope about what made Hannett so special.
Forever synonymous for his production work with Manchester post punk icons Joy Division, Martin Hannett played a pivotal role in shaping the sounds emanating from the north west of England back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Though he was credited as an original partner and director with the now legendary Factory Records and has worked with a wide range of artists, including the likes of New Order, Durutti Column, Magazine, John Cooper Clarke and Happy Mondays, the two records to which he is most inextricably bound are Joy Divisions only two studio albums Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980).
If the combination of frontman Ian Curtis’ haunting baritone, bassist Peter Hook’s impossibly melodic basslines, guitarist Bernard Sumner’s discordant textures and drummer Stephen Morris’ metronomic pounding beats weren’t enough to mark Joy Division out as something unlike any other band around the time, the impact of Hannett’s otherworldly production style was enough to rocket them light years ahead of anyone else in
the game. Whereas most punk bands sought merely to try and recreate their live sound on record, Hannett’s unique ability to hear beyond the sound of four blokes playing in a pub resulted in two records that, to this day, sound like no album made before or since.
Tragically, Hannett passed away on April 18 1991 as a result of heart failure, following years of drug and alcohol abuse.