The House Of Love - a biography
The House Of Love - biography
The House Of Love came together in early 1986 in a shabby bedsit
at 8 Allingham Street, Islington when Guy Chadwick (vocals
and guitar) played a new song to his girlfriend Suzi Gibbons.
Chadwick's previous band, Kingdoms, had enjoyed a one-single career
on RCA, and in their wake he found himself with a batch of songs,
but no band and no label. The song was Christine and suddenly
the seeds of his new band were sown. Guy had decided to form a
new guitar based band having seen the Jesus and Mary Chain play
one of their famous riot gigs at the Electric Ballroom, London.
He decided to name his new band after the book "A Spy In
the House Of Love" by Anais Nin.
He placed an advert in Melody Maker and recruited Terry Bickers
(guitar), New Zealander Chris Groothuizen (bass) and
Andrea Heukamp (guitar and vocal) alongside old friend
Pete Evans (drums). The House of Love was now properly
born and they soon began jamming together at Terry's Camberwell
squat. Word spread quickly through the area and they soon began
to play gigs at various squats, a disused cinema last used by
Dickie Dirts jeans warehouse. The Dickie Dirts gigs soon became
a local 'happening' as did gigs at Stoke Newington's The Three
The House Of Love - 1987
Knowing that Alan McGee was involved with the Jesus
and Mary Chain, Guy began to bombard him with tapes and phone
calls. McGee wasn't overly impressed but his wife Yvonne kept
playing "Shine On" and finally persuaded the
creation label boss attend their gigs . His first impression was
that they 'don't even have a bass player' whilst songs 'played
at 33rpm and lasted seven and half minutes.' But he was bewitched
and booked them into Livingstone Studio's to record their debut
single in May 1989. The charming simplicity of its chorus ensured
favourable reviews, Danny Kelly making it "Single of the
Week". The band set out to tour with Felt and Zodiac Mindwarp
and came close to being beaten up in London.
Debut single cover
During the summer a follow up single was recorded,
"Real Animal" again it was brilliant but ignored by the mass
media, onyl Janice Long at Radio 1 championed the single.
Where its predecessor almost glided along, "Real Animal"
was a routine rocker and was generally ignored by the media. Heavy
touring with the likes of The Mighty Lemon Drops helped them gain
a wider fan base. Around this time Guy and Suzi became the proud
parents of a baby daughter, Cydney. They played third on the bill at The Town
and Country Club in London and were described as "devastating".
As a result Alan McGee asked them to record an album. Naturally the band
agreed and began their next single "Christine;. Everyone tried
to mix the song, Alan McGee describing his version as 'chainsaw hoovermatic'.
Eventually the band ask studio owner Pat Collier to have a go.
The album was recorded in eight days with Pat Collier but again mixing
became difficult. Everyone had been doing a lot of acid and the
mixes were described by McGee as "the Cramps meet Dr. Mix
and the Remix - where's the vocal honey?". Various band members
and friends were asked to mix the album but finally Pat Collier,
the studio owner, completed the final mix. Tired of the constant
touring in the latter half of 1987, Andrea Heukamp had left the
band to return to Germany before the release of their third single,
"Christine", a foretaste of the debut LP. A haunting,
almost mesmeric, guitar soundscape from Bickers provided the perfect
backdrop to Chadwick's pained vocals, a recipe repeated to great
effect on "The House of Love" (1988). The single
shot to no.1 in the independent charts ahead of the album in May
The album started to sell and became no.1 in loads
of independent charts throughout Europe. Thrust into the media
spotlight, Chadwick and his cohorts suddenly could do no wrong.
A compilation of the first two singles plus two unreleased tracks,
intended for release abroad, was imported back into the UK and
sold well. Guy approached the band and Alan McGee with what he
felt should be their next single, "Destroy the Heart",
but no-one seemed to like the slow dirge like song. However when
Guy decided to speed the song up and back it with a gentle acoustic
song called "Blind", written about his girlfriend and
band photographer Suzi Gibbons, everyone new it would be a success
Their fourth single, "Destroy The Heart", ensured the
boom continued and placed them on the covers of N.M.E and Melody
maker in the same week and was later voted single of the year
in John Peel's festive fifty. To top it all the band headlined
the Creation All-dayer festival at the 2,500 capacity Town &
Country Club in London. As a finishing touch to the year the band
were asked to perform "Christine" on Melvin Bragg's South
Bank Show's review of the year. Everyone agreed they were going
to be massive!! Already the music press were starting to declare
them the next English stadium band, "a band to rival U2"!!
Offers arrived thick and fast and the music press
were busy reporting on offers of one million pounds, along with
copious amounts of drugs!! Despite the huge sums of money being
waved in front of them, the band eventually agreed to sign for a
reputed 400,000 pounds with
Dave Bates from Fontanna/Phonogram, now known as Mercury. With the
label keen to issue a new single as soon as possible the band
entered the studio's once more. Although the band had wanted to
release "Safe", the legendary 'lost' Creation single
that they had recorded with Daniel Miller, as their next single
their wishes were overridden and "Never" was released
to an unsure press reaction. To make matters worse "Safe"
was tucked away on the 'B' side along with "Soft As Fire",
which Guy described as "one of my favourite House Of Love
songs". The single just missed the UK charts but live performances
through Europe showed that The House Of Love were still growing,
In the early summer of 1989 The band decided to play a week long
residency at London's prestigious I.C.A venue. They performed
differing sets each night combing old material with the new. Supported
by the likes of Pere Ubu and the Rainbirds the band perform sets
that range from "good rock" to "pure brilliance".
Throughout the year the press was paying an increasing amount
of attention not only to the House of Love's music, but also to
their rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Stories of alcohol and drugs that
make Oasis look tame were being printed each week. Terry Bickers
was burning money backstage whilst Guy was smashing up his favourite
guitar. The hedonism was getting the better of the band whilst
the recording of the second album dragged on. New producers were
hired and fired. New studios were moved into and moved out of.
Having decided to re-record their second album (four different
producers eventually received credits), the band released "I
Don't Know Why I Love You" in November 1989. It too failed
to crack the Top 40, despite being hailed as Single of the Week
on Radio 1 it only reached number 41, but the audience and press
reaction to the start of their sixty-something date UK tour ensured
the band remained firm favourites for making it big. They still
adorned covers of the music press and in early December when Terry
Bickers left the band the press were scrambling for the top story.
Originally the band declared that Terry was exhausted and would
return after Christmas. However, Guy and Terry soon began trading
insults in the music press and it was clear that having been dropped
of at a Welsh train station to make his own way home, Terry wouldn't
be invited back into the house!!
Simon Walker, then guitarist with the Dave Howard Singers, was
asked at one day's notice to fill the gap and made his first performance,
rather nervously, at Portsmouth Polytechnic on December 4th 1989.
Although cited as irreplaceable Terry's shoes were soon filled
and Simon became a firm band member.
With Simon Walker.
The new year brought about the release of the newly recorded version
of "Shine On" , a single released in no fewer
than seven different formats with a variety of extra tracks, which
saw them break the top forty and appear heavily on UK radio and
TV. The subsequent release of their next album, often referred
to as "Fontana" or the "Butterfly"
established them as a critical and commercial success. The album
went on to sell over 400,000 copies around the world and entered
the UK top ten. The UK tour continued and culminated in a sold
out Royal Albert Hall gig, described by Guy as his favourite venue.
The band then toured Europe and America in heavy rotation whilst
"The Beatles and the Stones" was released, this
time on ten different formats!!, leading to another UK top forty
hit. The original video director wanted all the band to dress
up as the Beatles and the Stones, an idea vetoed by the band!
The record company wanted to release "Shake and Crawl"
as the next single but the band insisted they could come up with
something new. The next scheduled single was to be called "Sigh"
but although performed live, the song never saw the light of day.
To help tide the fans over the band compiled an album of 'B' sides
that had got lost in the rash of formats and added four previously
unreleased tracks from the aborted 1989 sessions to the collection
that became known as "Spy in the House of Love".
The compilation gave the band some breathing space but the fans
and critics wanted new material, now!!
To keep the fans in touch the band decided to play three concerts in London, all
in the same evening!! On 31st August they performed at ULU, Town & Country Club and
finished at London's Boston Arms. With a different set at each venue the band proved they
could still deliver the goods and fans and critics were quick to lavish their praises.
It was almost twelve months before any new material
was forthcoming, as spending the best part of a year on the road
took its toll on Chadwick. "The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes"
was eventually released in 1991 but sunk almost without a trace
as the media who had hailed The House of Love as great white hopes
just eighteen months previously began to look to America and the
grunge phenomenon for their front-page stories. Although the single
was widely regarded as a beautiful pop single it failed to impact upon the charts -
rumour has it that this was due to the record company failing
to ensure it was available in the main high street shops. Whatever
the reason it started to look like the foundations of the house
were crumbling!! Around the same time the band and Alan McGee
decided to part company.
Recording now began on the new album, which originally was not
to have included "The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes",
at Eel Pie Studios with Warne Livesey, who also helped co-write
several of the albums songs. Spread over three main sessions, Chadwick
struggled to find the
sound he was looking for in the studio. In one four week session the band
managed to record "Cruel", "Burn Down The World", "High"
and "Feel". Six months passed before
"Feel" was released, but it couldn't crack the Top 40 either.
"You Don't Understand", rush-released to give a much
needed publicity boost in advance of the now completed third album, also
failed in its task of breaking into the Top 40.
"Babe Rainbow" (1992), named after the painting
by 60's pop artist Peter Blake and released almost two and a half
years after "Fontana" had stormed into the Top
10, received largely tepid reviews and spent only two weeks on
the chart. Despite long deliberations in the studio the band had
lost the edge that had distinguished The House of Love's earlier
releases. Simon Walker left the band due to musical differences,
and strangely seemed to have his name changed to Simon Fernsby
in every subsequent press and fan club release!!, and was replaced by Jimmy Somerville's
guitarist Simon Mawby. Although the band publicly spoke highly of Simon Mawby, he never
appeared to fit the groups image or sound completely.
The band toured heavily, especially in America where they appeared
with Ocean Colour Scene and Catherine Wheel as band of a triple
touring bill, but the album never really reached the commercial heights everyone had hoped for.
Some claimed it was "too polished" but no one could deny the songs were Guy's strongest
yet. After a heavy year of touring and still waiting to reap the rewards of the
success that always seemed to be around the corner, Guy announced his intention to
return to the band's roots.
With new guitarist Simon Mawby.
The following January the band, now a three piece,
entered a London studio to begin work on their next album. Twelve
days later the now three piece band of Chadwick, Evans and Groothzuizen
had finished recording the twelve new songs. Eight days later the entire album was
recorded and mixed for the small price of £40,000, pounds. As a slight change
the new album featured tracs written by Guy, Pete and Chris,
plus at last a soaring version of "Into The Tunnel" a song written by Guy
in the mid-80's but never fully recorded. Most of the rest of the songs had been written
during the previous years US tour. The idea was to release the album before entering the studio to record
and release their second album of the year, Guy maintains most of the songs for the next
album were already written and we know these included "Slaughterhouse Friend" amongst
others that turned up during his solo career.
The band then returned to France, a country that had
always supported them well, for a short tour as a three piece
band. Although the tour was well received, when they returned to London Pete announced
that he wished to leave the group and the music business. Unsure of what to do the band
kept this news quiet whilst Guy travelled the world promoting the new album.
The album was released in June with very little promotion. The
band wouldn't tour, no singles would be released it was just sort
of out there for the fans. The motives behind the album was entirely
honourable and the sound was noticeably less polished than it
had been at any time since the band's days on Creation, but the
critics found the songs lacking in any real substance. The album
spent one week in the UK chart and then vanished.
Realising that The House of Love were no longer a viable proposition,
Chadwick consigned the name to rock's heritage. He has since formed
and disbanded both The Madonnas in 1994/95 and Eyedreams in Belgium
in 1996, neither releasing any records. Guy released a limited
edition single in November 1997 and his debut solo album, "Lazy,
Soft & Slow" in February 1998 to a warm welcome.
In 1998 Mercury records a "Best Of The House
Of Love" album but despite favourable reviews it failed to even break into the Top 100.
Since then the band have a released an album of John Peel Sessions which went largely ignored.
However, in June 2001, the band released their entire Creation Records recordings
on a single album to
highly favourable reviews. It was also reported that Guy was near to finishing
his second solo album with the help of Simon Walker, with whom he'd played several
shows in Japan in 1998.
In late 2002 it was announced that Guy was back working with Terry Bickers under
the name The House of Love. In early 2003 the pair were been re-joined
by the bands original drummer Pete Evans and a new bass player Matt Jury
to play their first gigs together in over a decade with a host of new songs.
The five gigs were extrmely low key and at times found the band playing third
on the bill to a Japanese ska band.
Time went by and again little was heard until summer 2004 when it was reported that
the band had entered Gravity Shack studios with Pat Collier to record a new album.
The subsequent album, "Days run away", saw the light of day in February 2005 with
a handful of live shows demonstraint that the band hadn't lost the energy and creative
spark that had made them special in the late 80's and early 90's.
For many years it looked as though the re-emergence of The House of Love would
be only a dream for their many worldwide fans, but now it appears to be becoming
a reality. Maybe this time they'll receive the critical attention they've long
By Dave Roberts - February 2005
All photographs Copyright Suzi Gibbons