Forty years ago Monday (May 18), on the eve of Joy Division’s first U.S. tour, the group’s lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide at the age of just 23. The group — which soon morphed into New Order — created two dark and deeply resonant albums and several singles, including the now-classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” whose influence can be heard not only in music from the era but in countless more recent acts. Those range from New York-based turn-of-the-century rock quartet Interpol — whose singer, Paul Banks, sounds uncannily like Curtis — to a current post-punk trio from the Eastern European country of Belarus called Molchat Doma.
Although their lyrics are in Russian, the influence of Joy Division and New Order is obvious — and on the day of Curtis’ death, the act’s song “Судно (Sudno)” is trending on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart worldwide, rising as high as No. 2.
Unusually, the song has taken off on TikTok several times already this year, once in a strange video of a kid dancing while crying to the song, and more recently via a post from a San Francisco-based user of the app who uses the song to say he misses his native Russia.
While Joy Division’s story has been told many times, in books from bandmembers and Curtis’ wife as well as many others; in the documentaries “Here Are the Young Men” and a 2007 eponymous one; and also in the biopic “24 Hour Party People” about Tony Wilson, the founder of their label, Factory Records. This tribute is one of the more unexpected.
The Minsk-based band was set to tour North America this month, but the trek has been scrapped (for now) due to the pandemic. Hear the song “Судно (Sudno)” below.