New Order's Bernard Sumner talks Bad Lieutenant

Having taken both of his previous band names from Nazi Germany (Joy Division/New Order), singer and multi-instrumentalist Bernard Sumner is no stranger to controversial monikers. So it should be no surprise that his new group, Bad Lieutenant, was inspired by one of the most notorious movies of the past 20 years.

Bad coppers Cunningham, Sumner and Evans

"I was at Johnny Marr's house when we were doing Electronic together," says Sumner, "and I took a break and I went into this room where somebody was watching the movie Bad Lieutenant - you know, the one where Harvey Keitel is this absolute lunatic cop?

"My God, what a shocking film! It takes a lot to throw me, but Jesus, this movie was way out there. I couldn't shake its effect. For days and weeks, it's all thought about. So the title just stuck. It was disturbing at first, and now I just think it's kind of cool."

'Kind of cool' is an apt way of describing Bad Lieutenant's breezy debut album, Never Cry Another Tear, which sees Sumner teaming up with former New Order guitarist Phil Cunningham and a new find, guitarist and co-vocalist Jake Evans.

"I carry this legacy around with me. Two iconic bands - that's a heavy thing when you think about it" Bernard Sumner

Sumner is keen to sing the praises of Evans, having 'discovered' him at a friend's birthday party a couple of years ago. "It's not every day you stumble across somebody you think is amazing," says Sumner, "let alone somebody you think you can form a band with. Finding Jake was one of those moments you just can't plan on."

Once Sumner, Cunningham and Evans decided to make music together ("three guitar players - can you think of anything more ludicrous?" Sumner says with a laugh), they eschewed big studios in favor of home set-ups and a more DIY approach. "It wasn't all about keeping costs down," says Sumner. "It was just easier to be creative without worrying that this engineer or that producer had to make it home on time."

With Never Cry Another Tear just out - watch the video to Sink Or Swin below the podcast with Bernard Sumner - Bad Lieutenant are gearing up for a series of live shows, both in the UK and the US. Ex-New Order drummer Stephen Morrison is on board as a touring member, as is Blur bassist Alex James.

"I think we're going to surprise people with how fun our live set is," says Sumner. "Still, I carry this legacy around with me. Two iconic bands - that's a heavy thing when you think about it. But at the end of the day, I just want to play and have a good time. We'll do old stuff, new stuff - everybody should be happy."


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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.