Asked to look back on the lyrics of Joy Division’s final album Closer, the New Order frontman and former Joy Division Bernard Sumner concedes the warning signs were there, although impossible to decipher at the time.
“You never knew with Ian whether those lyrics were biographical or whether he was just writing about… a character,” he tells MOJO’s Andrew Male.
“We listened to the vibe more than the actual words, but when we did listen to them we assumed it was some sort of character from the past that he’d met or someone he’d invented. That it wasn’t really about him. But you wouldn’t stop him and go, ‘Ian, are these lyrics about you?’ We just never did it.”
“We should have listened [but] it wouldn’t have changed anything.”
“The other thing you’ve got to remember is, pre the epilepsy and drugs he [Curtis] was just like a cheery, happy-go-lucky bloke, spouting out these heavy words,” says Sumner.
“The lyrics didn’t sound like they were about Ian. After he died, we certainly re-evaluated everything. We should have listened [but] it wouldn’t have changed anything.”