336pp hardback. The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller: Joy Division emerged in the mid-70s at the start of a two-decades long Manchester scene that was to become much mythologised. It was then a city still labouring in the wake of the war and entering a phase of huge social and physical change, and something of this spirit made its way into the DNA of the band. Over the course of two albums, a handful of other seminal releases, and some legendary gigs, Joy Division became the most successful and exciting underground band of their generation. Then, on the brink of a tour to America, Ian Curtis took his own life. In 'This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else', Jon Savage has assembled three decades worth of interviews with the principle players in the Joy Division story: Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Deborah Curtis, Peter Saville, Tony Wilson, Paul Morley, Alan Hempsall, Lesley Gilbert, Terry Mason, Anik Honore, and many more.
It is the story of how a band resurrected a city, how they came together in circumstances that are both accidental and extraordinary, and how their music galvanised a generation of fans, artists and musicians. It is a classic story of how young men armed with electric guitars and good taste in literature can change the world with four chords and three-and-a-half minutes of music. And it is the story of how illness and demons can rob the world of a shamanic lead singer and visionary lyricist. This searing light, the sun and everything else presents the history of Joy Division in an intimate and candid way, as orchestrated by the lodestar of British music writing, Jon Savage.
“The Joy Division story has been told many times, yet it never stops seeming too bizarre to be true. Jon Savage, best known for his classic punk history, ‘England’s Dreaming’, was one of the band’s first chroniclers in the 1970s, but he tells the tale in a new way in his excellent new book This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else’. It’s the ultimate oral history of one of rock’s most haunting legends, in the words of the band, their friends, enemies and witnesses. Savage goes deep into Joy Division’s earliest days: a gang of Manchester boys and their Bowie-besotted frontman Ian Curtis rise out of the urban interzone, only to get torn apart by death on the eve of their first visit to America. In this excerpt, this scruffy band – then calling itself Warsaw; they’d change to “Joy Division” soon after – gets together to play their first few gigs. Everything changes for them, and everyone else in Manchester, when a new band called the Sex Pistols come to town — everybody at the crowd goes away inspired to start their own group, talent be damned.” —Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone Magazine.
‘This Searing Light’ pulls together recent interviews with the surviving Joy Division members, members of their contemporary bands such as the Buzzcocks and Cabaret Voltaire, photographers, and eyewitnesses, and is supplemented with past interviews with the now-departed Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, record producer Martin Hannett, the band's manager Rob Gretton, and journalist Annik Honoré. Surviving Factory players Alan Erasmus and Peter Saville are there to round out the picture, with a few rare reproductions of Saville's distinctly cryptic graphic designs. Photographers including Kevin Cummins, Jill Furmanovsky, Daniel Meadows, and the legendary Anton Corbijn describe snapping pictures of the band, both onstage during their mesmerising sets and offstage when no one knew how to pose like a rock star. Music journalists Mary Harron (now a director) and Paul Morley share stories of interviewing the band and reviewing various shows. Eyewitness accounts from fans like Jon Wozencroft and writer Liz Naylor provide a surprisingly reliable narrative to compliment the professional angle.