Three decades after his suicide, Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis remains one of rock's most emulated vocalists. Interpol's Paul Banks, National frontman Matt Berninger and bedroom-punk auteur Mark Sniper, aka Blank Dogs, are among his many descendents, and while some have nailed the sound -- a plaintive baritone that requires little range or technical skill -- few, if any, match the gravity Curtis brought to his music.
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No one understands this better than Peter Hook, Joy Division's founding bassist. Hook has spent much of this year staging top-down performances of the group's 1979 debut, 'Unknown Pleasures,' and while his first thought was to enlist guest vocalists -- folks more capable than himself -- he ultimately changed his mind. Now, Hook is front and center, singing songs too dear to delegate.
"I felt I couldn't really hand it over to another singer," Hook tells Spinner. "It didn't feel right, and I must admit I've been really flattered by the response, because people are saying the spirit and the passion comes across and I don't think you can ask for anything more."
Hook has dabbled in singing over the years, but he's best known for his bass playing. In both Joy Division and its more pop-oriented offshoot, New Order, he pioneered a simple, highly melodic style, approaching his instrument as one might a lead guitar. Hook's influence can be heard in many of today's indie bands, including the Drums, Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing, and while he rates himself a passable singer, he admits he's no Curtis.
"It's certainly not a vocation," Hook says. "My vocation is bass player, but I can sing, and the people that matter to