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The House of Love

The House of Love

The House of Love are an English alternative rock band. Formed in 1986, the band rose to prominence in the UK as a leading indie rock band in 1988 and split up in 1993, eventually reforming a decade later in 2003. The band is best known for its detailed psychedelic guitar sound and for the successful singles "Shine On", "Christine" and "Destroy the Heart". The best-known members of The House of Love are singer/songwriter/guitarist Guy Chadwick and lead guitarist/backing singer Terry Bickers, who were the creative core of the original band until an acrimonious split in 1989 and who reformed the band together in 2003.FormationThe House of Love were formed in 1986 in Camberwell, London by former Kingdoms singer/guitarist Guy Chadwick. Chadwick had been inspired to start a new band by having recently seen The Jesus and Mary Chain playing live at London's Electric Ballroom and having written a new song called "Christine", which had given him ideas for further progress: "the idea of the sound of the group and what kind of musicians to look for... female vocals... a good take on the Velvets' sonics... and of course the image." Having initially made a false start by briefly recruiting an unnamed guitarist who turned out to be "a speed dealer... a complete nutter", Chadwick teamed up with an old friend - drummer Pete Evans - and recruited the rest of the initial House of Love lineup via an advert in Melody Maker. This brought together an international band of London-born lead guitarist Terry Bickers (ex-Colenso Parade), German rhythm guitarist/co-singer Andrea Heukamp and bass player Chris Groothuizen (from New Zealand). Chadwick opted to name his new band The House of Love after Ana├»s Nin's book A Spy in the House of Love.Creation Records years - early singles, departure of Heukamp and the first albumSigning to Creation Records, The House of Love released their debut single "Shine On" in May 1987 and toured with Felt and Zodiac Mindwarp. A follow-up single, "Real Animal" did little business, but the band consolidated by touring with The Mighty Lemon Drops. During the latter half of 1987, the band continued to tour: a third on the bill placing at a concert at the Town & Country Club was widely acclaimed in the press and convinced Creation Records to fund a third single - "Christine" - which was recorded in 1987 but not released until mid-1988."Christine" was the last of the band's recordings to feature Andrea Heukamp as a full member: having become tired of touring, she quit the band at the end of 1987. Although the split was amicable, Chadwick would later comment "Losing Andrea Heukamp was a massive, massive blow for me: I loved her voice and I loved her playing, she was easily as important as Pete, Terry or Chris." Heukamp appeared in the group shot used for the cover of the band's first long-form release - a 1987 Germany-only compilation of the first two singles and their b-sides, all of which she had played on. This record was untitled apart from the band name and was consequently just known as The House of Love or informally as The German Album. Heukamp's split from The House of Love would not be absolute, as she would return as a studio guest on some of the band's subsequent albums.Following Heukamp's departure, The House of Love began working on their debut album. The recording sessions were completed in just over a week, but the mixing sessions - allegedly fuelled by copious use of LSD - proved more problematic, with producer Pat Collier dealing with the final mix after disagreements within the band. The album was preceded by the release of "Christine" as a single in May 1988, which reached No. 1 in the independent charts. Later in May, the debut album was released. As with The German Album, the album lacked a formal title anywhere on the sleeve, and therefore became generally known as The House of Love.The band's growing success ensured that The German Album also gained a release in the UK and elsewhere. A fourth single, "Destroy The Heart", was eventually voted single of the year in John Peel's Festive Fifty. A highly successful year for The House of Love was concluded by front cover features in both New Musical Express and Melody Maker in the same week, a headlining slot at Creation's All-Dayer festival at the Town & Country Club, and a performance of "Christine" on the South Bank Show's review of the year.By this time, the band were hotly tipped as being the next British stadium rock band and a potential rival to groups of the scale of U2. Various major record labels began courting the band with large financial offers, and it became clear that the band would have to move up from Creation Records for the next career stage. Creation label head Alan McGee would later describe them as "one of the great Creation bands" and comment "I loved them and was gutted that they never stayed on Creation. For one year they could have taken on anybody live. Terry was a true genius, Guy a master songwriter, the recipe for big time success still to this day. They were a one-off in 1987. Maybe only I know how fucking crazy that band truly were. It's better left that way for all concerned."The House of Love eventually opted to sign to Fontana Records, with McGee continuing for a while as manager. Ominously, by this time the band's drug use had begun to escalate even further, as had internal problems with egos and dissension.The Fontana years, part 1 (stepping up and losing track)The first House of Love release on the Fontana label was the single "Never", which was issued against the band's wishes, and stalled just outside the Top 40, as did the follow-up, "I Don't Know Why I Love You". During summer 1989, The House of Love played a week-long residency at the I.C.A in London, varying their sets and featuring support bands as diverse as Pere Ubu, Stone Roses and the Rainbirds.The recording and mixing of the band's next album (and first for Fontana) was beset with problems. The band members were distracted by hedonism, ego and indecision, going through four different producers and multiple studios. The stress of Fontana's commercial expectations were also playing a part. In 2005, Chadwick recollected that "the guy who signed us (Dave Bates) had signed Def Leppard and Tears for Fears so he had a lot of clout. He insisted on putting us together with producers who were quite obviously wrong for us. He was completely uninterested in anything that didn't have a huge chorus in it. He wanted hits, basically. He also ordered a load of remixes that we hadn't authorised and we absolutely loathed."Much later, Chadwick was to regard signing with Fontana as the worst mistake in the band's career. At the time, Terry Bickers was of this opinion already. Having always been unhappy with the implications of the Fontana deal, and now feeling justified in his fears, he began to retreat into anxiety and drugs, eventually succumbing to manic depression. By this time, Chadwick's own responsibilities and external pressures - fuelled by his growing drug and alcohol habit - would turn him into what he would later described as "(a) monster. A nice monster, sometimes, but a monster none the less." Before much longer, Chadwick and Bickers were no longer talking to each other. Meanwhile, Groothuizen and Evans took time away from the House of Love to play in a related band called My White Bedroom, led by singer/songwriter Patric and also featuring guitarists Pete Donaghy and Simon Walker (the latter also playing with The Dave Howard Singers) plus keyboard player Mick Gallen.The next House of Love single, "I Don't Know Why I Love You", was released in November 1989 but stalled at number 41 in the charts despite being Radio 1's Single of the Week. A sixty-plus date UK tour was set for the end of the year, with a great deal of press and public attention, but this would prove to be the last straw for the band's initial lineup. In 2005 Bickers recollected "After our first album it was manic. A classic case of too much too soon. We needed a break... We had spent eighteen months in the studio recording our second album. Everything we produced got rejected and we were at the end of our ropes. Then as soon as we got the last track down they said 'Right, now off you go on tour'. It was a recipe for disaster."The Fontana years, part 2 (the second album and departure of Terry Bickers)During the tour, the increasingly difficult relationship between Chadwick and Bickers worsened and Bickers abruptly left the band mid-tour. At one day's notice, Simon Walker was recruited directly from My White Bedroom and The Dave Howard Singers as replacement lead guitarist. He made his debut at the band's concert at Portsmouth Polytechnic on December 4, 1989.Initially, the band claimed that Bickers was taking a break due to exhaustion. It soon became clear that the break was permanent, having followed a notorious incident inside the House of Love's tour van when Bickers had begun chanting "Breadhead!" at Chadwick while setting fire to the band's money in a protest against what he saw as the band's increasing commercialisation and materialism. Looking back on the incident two years later, Bickers confessed "That was frustration. I just found at the time that I didn't have the same aspirations as the rest of the band. I was more into exploring music than exploring the exploitation of markets around the globe. They were really into crusading. And winning. I wasn't."Bickers would go on to form the psychedelic rock band Levitation and for some time, he and Chadwick would continue to spar via the music press. At one point, Chadwick claimed that despite Bickers' stellar reputation as a player it was in fact he himself who had played "90 per cent" of the guitars on the band's recordings (a claim that he later withdrew). Bickers in turn described Chadwick as "a megalomaniac." In spite of the feud, over a decade later Chadwick would confess that he had soon come to want Bickers to return to The House of Love (and that he had hated seeing his volatile former bandmate caricatured in the press as "Bonkers Bickers" over the next few years) but had failed to actually communicate this to Bickers himself.The House of Love's second album (also untitled, but generally known as either House of Love, the Butterfly album, or simply Fontana) was finally released in January 1990, nearly two years after their debut album. It reached the Top Ten and eventually sold over 400,000 copies. The album was preceded by a new version of the band's first single, "Shine On" - released in seven different formats, the song saw them break into the top 20.The Fontana years, part 3 (A Spy in the House of Love and multiple concerts)The House of Love continued and completed their tour with Simon Walker now firmly settled in as guitarist. The last date of the tour was a sold-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This was the band's commercial peak. A fourth single from the Fontana album - "The Beatles and the Stones" - reached the top 40 of the singles chart in March 1990. The House of Love continued to tour in both America and Europe, with former member Andrea Heukamp returning to the band later in the year to add backing vocals.A second compilation album called A Spy in the House of Love was released in late 1990, consisting of older scrapped material and a sampling of the band's large backlog of b-sides. A stopgap measure to keep up the band's momentum, it failed to match the sales of Fontana (although a single, "Marble", reached number 5 in the U.S. Modern Rock charts).On 31 August 1991, the House of Love performed three London concerts on the same night - the first at the University of London Union in Bloomsbury, the second at the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town and the third at The Boston Arms in Tufnell Park. Despite the publicity stunt nature of the evening, the band received good reviews and it was considered that their challenge had paid off. However (and considering their level of action) the band was about to enter a fairly long phase of creative torpor. Exhausted by touring, Chadwick and the band kept a low profile for the closing months of 1990 and for most of 1991. While Chadwick rested, Evans, Walker and Groothuizen took advantage of the time off to return to My White Bedroom, which released its lone album in 1991 after two years of delay.The Fontana years, part 4 (Babe Rainbow and departure of Walker)The delay proved costly for The House of Love, as it ensured that the band lost momentum. It also coincided with the rise of grunge in the United States and the arrival of The Stone Roses on the British music scene, both of which rapidly consumed the attention of the British music press and rock reviewers. In October 1991, The House of Love returned with a new single "The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes". Although this was hailed in the press as another piece of beautiful pop by the band, it failed to chart (amid accusations of record company distribution incompetence).Follow-up recording sessions for a third album dragged for six months, with Chadwick struggling to successfully achieve the sonic vision which he had for the band. Producer Warne Livesey contributed to the writing of the emerging songs, and former member Andrea Heukamp guested on the studio sessions to add extra guitar and backing vocals. The single "Feel" was released in April 1992 but, like its predecessor, failed to chart. This was also the fate of the next single, "You Don't Understand". Meanwhile, the band's struggle in the studio produced another lineup casualty, with Simon Walker leaving over musical differences. He was replaced as guitarist by former Woodentops member Simon Mawby.A single, "You Don't Understand" preceded the new album but, like the single before it, failed to break into the top 40. The third full House of Love album, Babe Rainbow, eventually emerged in July 1992. Despite the time spent on it in the studio, it failed to garner much critical acclaim, although it sold respectably (peaking at number 34 on the UK Album Chart). A fourth single from the album, "Crush Me", was the band's lowest-placing single release on Fontana, peaking at number 67 in the UK.The Fontana years, part 5 (departure of Mawby, Audience with the Mind and break-up)During 1992, the band attempted to reverse their fortunes with more hard touring (travelling as part of a triple bill with Ocean Colour Scene and Catherine Wheel, but while the band were still greeted with respect this did not translate into the desired sales. Simon Mawby left the band at the end of the year, once again leaving Chadwick without a lead guitar foil.The House of Love began work on their fourth album in January 1993. In contrast to previous efforts it was recorded in under two weeks, with Chadwick playing all of the guitar parts and with Groothuizen and Evans contributing (for the first time) to songwriting. As with Babe Rainbow, Andrea Heukamp made a guest appearance (this time, only on backing vocals). The band laid plans to record their fifth album later in the year, following a tour of France. However, on their return to London Pete Evans announced to the band that he wanted to retire from the music business.Uncertain of how to proceed, The House of Love kept Evans' departure under wraps while Chadwick concentrated on promoting the new album, Audience with the Mind, by himself. The album was released in June 1993 and scraped into the top 40 of the album chart, only remaining in the chart for one week. As with its predecessor, it was poorly received by critics and showed no sign of reversing the band's commercial decline since Fontana. No singles from the album were scheduled or released. Without a drummer, with a group reduced to only two members and a vanishing commercial profile, Chadwick admitted defeat later in the year and disbanded The House of Love. After the break-upBy his own admission, some years after the event, Chadwick took the split of The House of Love very badly and succumbed to depression - "It was very hard to get out of bed. I was ill. After the group finished it was such a huge awakening. I just cracked up, and couldn't function for years." Ironically, Chadwick's battles with depression enabled him to better understand why Terry Bickers had left the band, and would eventually lead to a reconciliation between the two. Despite his difficulties, he would make several further attempts at a musical career, going on to form The Madonnas in 1994 (splitting the band in 1995) and subsequently the similarly short-lived, Belgium-based Eyedreams in 1996. Neither bands would release any records. He resurfaced as a solo artist in 1997, releasing one album, 1998's Lazy Soft and Slow.Despite Evans' claims of having retired from music, both he and Chris Groothuizen continued for three more years with My White Bedroom. Groothuizen would subsequently coproduce and engineer the debut album for British chansonnier Simon Warner in 1996 before taking on a new career as an architect and lecturer. From 1994 onwards, Evans began an ongoing collaboration as producer and musician with teenaged singer-songwriter Cat Goscovitch. He contributing heavily to her projects Billy Rain (1994) and Nut (1996) as drummer, guitarist and co-songwriter, and returned as one of her key collaborators in 2010.Terry Bickers stayed with Levitation for two albums before acrimoniously quitting the band onstage in 1993. He went on to form another short-lived space rock band, Cradle, and was involved briefly in other projects during the late 1990s, but never returned to the prominence or consistent work he had enjoyed with The House of Love and Levitation. In the early 2000s, he re-established contact with Guy Chadwick.Various re-releases and compilations kept the band in the public eye, including 1998's Best of The House of Love and 2000's The John Peel Sessions 88-89. In 2001, PLR reissued the entire set of recordings which the band had made during their most critically acclaimed period (on Creation Records) with the release of 1986-88: The Creation Recordings. In 2004, The Fontana Years was released, covering the turbulent period of the second album.Reformation & Days Run AwayIn 2003, the reconciled Chadwick and Bickers reformed the House of Love at the urging of former agent Mick Griffiths. The duo also re-recruited Pete Evans as drummer. Although Chris Groothuizen was invited to rejoin and thus reform the "classic" band lineup, he amicably refused, opting instead to remain in his architectural career. His place as bass guitarist was taken by Matt Jury. In 2005, the band went on to tour throughout the UK, Ireland and Sweden, and released a comeback album - Days Run Away - on the Art & Industry label, to some praise.Bickers and Chadwick seemed confident that age, perspective and situation meant that they could avoid the problems which had divided the band in 1990. Interviewed at the time of the release of Days Run Away, Chadwick admitted acceptance of the fact that "we're really different people. It's a very complex kind of friendship, and I think it'll always be slightly fractious. We don't have this huge buddy thing going on though at the same time it's very intimate... We've always had a very instinctive way of communicating with each other, which I guess is why we make good music together." Bickers in turn reflected "I think we're both old enough and ugly enough to address any issues head-on and keep our tempers in check. We're also doing things at our own pace rather than letting a record company dictate what we do, which helps... It's still early days but communication is good and so is the music. This is about letting bygones be bygones and just getting on with it. Personally, I've never been happier."Current activity and continuing reissuesThe House of Love (the band's 1988 debut album) was reissued on CD in 2007. This led to the band being invited to play the album live in its entirety as part of the Don't Look Back concert series. In 2009, Live at the BBC covered the band's post-Bickers BBC session recordings from 1990 to 1992. In November 2012, Cherry Red announced the release of an 3-CD deluxe edition of their debut album, adding all the remaining Creation recordings and a whole disc of unissued demos and alternative versions.2012 onwards; She Paints Words in RedOn December 5, 2012, The House of Love Official Facebook page confirmed that the band had recently completed a new studio album to be released sometime in the near future. The album was recorded with original members Guy Chadwick (vocals, guitar), Terry Bickers (guitar) and Pete Evans (drums) accompanied by bassist Matt Jury. In early 2013 the title was revealed as She Paints Words in Red and it was released on March 25 by Cherry Red Records.


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