Joy Division was a band born from the punk rock explosion started in Britain by the Sex Pistols. The band came together, recorded two incredible albums, played memorable shows, and disappeared before their impact could fully be assessed. Less than a year after the release of the seminal Unknown Pleasures, singer Ian Curtis had committed suicide.
Joy Division, one of rock’s most influential bands
The members of Joy Division were very young (early 20s) when they started the band and none of them could proficiently play their instruments. Instead they were dedicated fans of the Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Brian Eno. Punk rock had taught them that being in a band was not restricted to virtuoso players.
Much like the Pistols before them, Joy Division’s influence was both immediate and long lasting. Many of those in attendance at the band’s shows, around the period of release for Unknown Pleasures, would go on to form their own groups. Their sound informed post-punk, gothic and indie rock.
But, their fingerprints can still be found today. From bands that tread the line of being called imitators (we’re looking at you Interpol and Editors) to fashion and lyrical themes. Ian Curtis’ heartfelt subject matter gave artists that appeared after punk permission to delve deep into their own, often troubled psyches.
Unkown Pleasures’ continued appeal
Much like Nevermind, Blonde on blonde, or Doolittle, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures is an album that finds new fans with each new generation. Its sense of scope can still be felt today, making Joy Division one of the most celebrated bands of the present time.
In the wake of Joy Division’s dissolution, that followed Ian Curtis’ tragic suicide, the remaining group members embarked on an exciting and surprising new project. They formed New Order, electro-indie rock pioneers. The group became the proud staple of Factory records, one of the most innovative multimedia projects situated in Great Britain.
Forty years on , Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures continues to have the same bite. Its influence may have been something that not even Ian Curtis would have anticipated. But, we would like to think, the honest admiration of the group’s work would raise a smile even from him.