Music by VICE

Porches Listens to New Order’s ‘Power, Corruption, & Lies’ for the First Time

New Order's sophomore album is one of the most significant synth-pop records of the 1980s. We played it for Aaron Maine.

by Josh Terry; photos by Brittany Sowacke
Jul 31 2018, 3:00pm

Welcome to Blind Spots, in which we force some of our favorite artists to finally check out the most famous albums they've never heard.

When New Order released their landmark sophomore album Power, Corruption, & Lies in 1983, the Manchester synth-pop band had already begun to find their footing. The four piece—which consisted of former Joy Division members Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook, drummer Stephen Morris, as well as recent addition Gillian Gilbert—were three years removed from Ian Curtis’s suicide which marked the end of Joy Division. They regrouped as New Order, released their debut album Movement in 1981, an LP that split the difference between post-punk and the synth-minded direction they hinted at with “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” But it was a pair of danceable singles 1982’s “Temptation” and 1983’s “Blue Monday” that definitively showcased where New Order was going.

Though “Blue Monday” didn’t feature on the LP version of Power, Corruption, & Lies, the album set the band further along to becoming dance-rock icons. Opening with “Age of Consent” and its inescapably catchy bassline, the sophomore effort is arguably the band’s surest full-length statement. They’d go on to influence a wide-swath of artists like Moby, The Chemical Brothers, The Killers (who get their name from a New Order music video), LCD Soundsystem, and many more. Listening to Porches’ music, especially the last two LPs 2016’s Pool and 2018’s The House, it’s easy to imagine frontman Aaron Maine is a New Order lifer. But in reality, the New York City synth-pop artist has never heard them. Also surprising is the fact that his first choice was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (which was Alex Lahey’s Blind Spot).

Because of this, Noisey asked the 29-year-old to spend part of his day off in Chicago at the city’s Shuga Records so he could hear New Order for the first time. “I’ve been hearing about New Order for years and I never got a chance to dive in,” Maine told me. “I know that Joy Division was first and then after that, I don’t know much. I think they’re fun Manchester and that people just adore them. I’ve probably heard a bunch of it already. I’m only really familiar with Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’” too,” he adds.

1. "Age of Consent"

Noisey: If you know “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” that’s the best example from Joy Division of the kind of stuff you’ll hear on this record. That song bridges the gap between Joy Division’s icy, post-punk and New Order’s synth-heavy dance-rock.
Aaron Maine: Gotcha. I definitely know this song.

This song is pretty unavoidable.
I don’t know where I’ve heard it but I feel like someone must’ve put it on at a party over the years. Who’s the singer?

His name is Bernard Sumner. He’s the original guitarist from Joy Division. Since this is New Order’s second record, here he’s getting more comfortable with his voice.
This is cool. Can you turn it up?

Absolutely. What are your initial impressions so far?
It sounds fucking beautiful. I feel like I’m really gonna like the rest of the record.

Did you listen to bands that sounded like this growing up? Who were your formative artists?

The Strokes were kind of why I started a band. I was listening to stuff before that like Neil Young and the Velvet Underground but something about that band being current when I first heard it was really special.

So that must’ve been crazy for you when Julian Casablancas shouted out “Goodbye” in that Vulture interview this year.
It was crazy. Someone texted me a screenshot of that when it happened. It was cool. I had met him a few times before that so I knew he had been listening but I don’t know if I would’ve believed it if you’d tell my 15-year-old self.

You recently toured with him, right?
We played some shows with the Voidz over the summer. It was really special because I hadn’t seen him sing live in like 13 years. In terms of other formative acts, Radiohead were big too. I was obsessed with that stuff.

Your music has become become way more electronic over the years. Were Radiohead’s more experimental stuff your gateway into that?
It was way later when I started thinking about electronic music and those instruments. I think my gateway into was recording with a Roland Juno-60 at my friend’s studio for the first porches record. That was my favorite part of the whole process so when I got home I saved up for a Juno 106, which was comparable. Living in New York City, I used headphones instead of playing live instruments so I borrowed a drum machine too from friends. That’s how it all started. It’s funny to think about.

2. "We All Stand"

This sounds crazy. But to go back to electronic music, it’s always funny sitting with these instruments and listening to other tracks and thinking, “How the fuck do you get this thing to sound like that?”

There must be an added freedom to that after shifting from a traditional rock setup.
Absolutely, it’s nice. I really like this fretless bass sound on this song. I’m still trying to find the perfect fretless bass sound.

The bass player Peter Hook is one of my favorite bassists of all time.
How many records did they make?

They’re at number ten with the last one coming out in 2015. Hook left the band in 2007.
That’s interesting. This song is getting into some pretty indulgent territory.

This came out in 1983 so there might be some moments where it sounds of its time.
Did Joy Division have electronic elements like this?

They were much more of a traditional four-piece post-punk band. They were moving in a direction like this on “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and their last album Closer .
What’s that one with the crazy drum machine that goes [hums intro to “Blue Monday”].

That’s “Blue Monday,” which is actually New Order. They released that 12-inch single before this album came out but isn’t actually on it. It’s the best-selling 12-inch single of all time.
Why wasn’t it on this album?

I have no idea exactly why. I do know that when this album came out they had stickers on the LP notifying people that it didn’t include this song. I always think of New Order as more of a 12-inch singles band rather than an albums band.

3. "The Village"

That’s interesting. What did they want to do as a band at that time? What label were they on?

At this time, they were on Factory Records. They were pretty attention-and-press averse and also against signing to a major label. They just wanted to produce their own music and put it out. Though they’d bounce around labels and land with a couple majors too. What are you listening to now?
Oh man, the new Blood Orange singles are so incredible.

Didn’t you co-write “Charcoal Baby”?

I was in the studio for that little section in the bridge and I helped with that melody and sang on it. I really liked that new Yves Tumor single as well. It’s so different and with them, you never know what to expect.

Compared to the last song, which you didn’t love, what’s your vibe on this one?
I like this one more. It feels like it’s their comfort zone.

Danceable New Order is the best New Order.
This is cool. The kick sound is really great. Who is the biggest New Order ripoff band that you can think of?

Well, that’s tough because they’re not really ripping them off but they have a lot of people they obviously inspired like LCD Soundsystem, Chemical Brothers, and The Killers.
I hear that too. The Killers were who popped up for me.

4. "5-8-6"

Is that really the transition?

Yeah.
Wow, alright. Do they have music videos and stuff?

Not for this record but they did have one for “Blue Monday.”
This sound is so sketchy.

The beginning really sounds like Prince trapped in space.
What were they thinking when they made this? It’s cool when the stuff is not always synced up to the grid and quantized and you can hear the machines doing their thing. OK, now that it’s kicking in I see where they’re going. I wonder what drum machines they were using. I think it’s a DMX.

Good catch. It definitely was an Oberheim DMX.
Who did all the programming here?

It was a team effort for the band but Peter Hook is credited with “electronic percussion” along with the drummer Stephen Morris.

5. "Your Silent Face"

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this one. It’s one of my favorite New Order songs.
It’s so emotional.

Yeah, it definitely is. To bring it back to bands, inspired by New Order. I can hear M83 in this one.
I’m not really familiar with M83 but I can hear it from what I know. To me, it sounds like that Grimes song “Oblivion.” That one with the video of her at monster truck rally. The beat is really similar, I think.

What’s your take on this song?
I don’t know. They found those two chords that really work. How long is that intro?

It’s at least a minute.
I wonder what you feel when you make a record like this. I can’t imagine what I’d have to be feeling to make something like this. It’s really dramatic but it’s blissed out and it feels good. I love that dinky harmonica sound in there.

Do you have friends who are diehard New Order fans?
Probably. No one I know has a New Order tat or anything but I do know my guitar player is obsessed with this record. He helped me fill in the blanks about this band before I came to this interview but he didn’t say much.

Sometimes it’s best to come into an album without knowing much about it.

6. "Ultraviolence"

That sounds familiar.

Not to be confused with the Lana Del Rey record.
When did people have their New Order phase?

Well, personally, I got into Joy Division first in high school but around my junior year I got into New Order.
What did you do? Did you drive around and listen to this?

Yeah, I had this on CD plus a couple the Cure records and like Animal Collective or whatever. I miss having a car to listen to music in.

It’s the best. I miss having that since growing up in the suburbs. I wish I had a car in New York City. It sucks driving here so much. I used to love driving my car. I would bounce Garageband demos and burn em on a CD and pick up my friends.

The road test is the best test of if a record is any good.
I’m imagining myself driving really fucking fast late at night would be my vibe for this record. When you were listening to this did you feel cool? What did you feel like when you listened to this?

When I was a teenager and into this, my New Order phase coincided with my the Cure phase so I felt really introspective and kinda goth though I never got farther than just wearing black and feeling angsty.
It’s a nice mixture of music that sometimes you can feel good and drive fast and look hot but it’s also pretty emotional with his vocals. I like how he sounded like he couldn’t control himself on the first song.

7. "Ecstasy"

I like the idea of self-presentation or how you view yourself when you listen to this music. I wonder what it was like at the Manchester clubs hearing this song on the dance floor. Yeah, I bet you they looked so fucking goofy. However they were dancing, it was probably so serious.

I always think about at least the music communities I’m involved in and how I’m probably going to be embarrassed as hell about what we wore and how we acted in 20 or 30 years. Definitely, definitely. Exactly.

Speaking of the 80s, this one’s called “Ecstasy.”
This definitely feels like a dance song. It’s nice.

8. "Leave Me Alone"

This is the last one on the album. What do you think of his voice?
Some of it feels too affected and of the time. But I really like when he seems like he’s bursting out of his skin like on “Age of Consent.” The second one kinda rubbed me the wrong way.

“Age of Consent” is the hit for a reason. There’s some times where he hits almost a Bono-like tone quality.
I hear that. Also that “From my knees to my eyes/Everytime I watch the sky” line is cute.

That was the record.
Beautiful, now I know.

Final Verdict:

“This is definitely what I was expecting it to sound like. I would’ve definitely skipped around had I been listening to it by myself to find the jammers like that last song. For me at least, whenever I put something on if it’s not the mood I can’t hear it or really get into. I don’t know. I’m happy to have heard and I can that it’s important. I like the sounds and I like the sloppiness or humanness in the electronic sounds and the live drums over the MIDI drums. That stuff is what’s most interesting to me. For my own records, I like to hold onto those moments when it’s so easy to hold onto quantized stuff. I wish I had listened more closely to the lyrics. I’m now curious about Joy Division. I’d love to go backwards and use that to get more into New Order. Sometimes you just have to hear something as a teenager in order to have that same relationship with it.”

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