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My Prog Hero: New Order bassist Peter Hook on Tony McPhee of Groundhogs

A portrait of the groundhogs

“I’ve listened to a lot of prog rock in my time. As a kid – we’re going back to Salford, 1968, when I’m about 12 – you’re always looking for something exciting and this was one of the phases I went through. It started with Wishbone Ash and Curved Air… but one of my great favourites were Groundhogs. What a wonderful, wonderful guitar sound. They were absolutely revolutionary at the time. My favourite album of theirs is Split.

It was Barney [Bernard Sumner from New Order] who introduced me to them, there was that thing about one-upmanship among us with our record collection. In those days you’d walk around with the latest cool record under your arm. There was a lot of sharing, we talked about music all the time. Somehow he’d come across the band and turned us all onto them. I was grabbed by Split’s cover and the way the tracks are numbered. It’s an album with such a unique sound and Tony McPhee’s also a very individual vocalist so you’re hooked straight away by a few elements. It was harsh and edgy and it did sound like the nightmare he was trying to describe. Prog rock usually has a softness to it and intricacy. I was starting to get into Sabbath, Purple and Zep, rock music with a certain delivery. Split wasn’t one of those prog records you disappeared into, it delivered on the same rock angle with shorter tracks – there’s a huge difference between what they were doing and Mountain with their live, 20-minute Nantucket Sleighride [laughs]. Some of my favourite groups are three-pieces – from Cream to Jimi Hendrix – and I adored seeing that formation with the Groundhogs.

It would be years until I picked up an instrument myself – I formed a band in 1976 when I was 20 and I didn’t even own a bass. I went through pub rock and punk, then found my own music. But I still have all my vinyl and find myself going back to things like prog when I want to listen to an album. Concentration and indulging in listening time is the key to enjoyment.

Ooh, I can’t wait to get back home to listen to all these records!”

For Peter Hook & The Light’s tour dates, see bit.ly/peterhookandthelight.

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Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.