So much music, so little time. So without further ado, I present The House of Love guide to blowing it:
Place an ad, form a band, give it a literary name, tour, tour some more, tour again, sign for promising indie label Creation Records, release a compilation of EPs in Germany, release an album (but don’t give it a name) and generate a heap of interest in and out of the indie scene.
By this point, you should be the next big thing. You are the new U2. Or you will be. Any day now.
Sign for an indieish arm of a major label for an ungodly sum reportedly in the region of £250,000, and release two singles (“Never” and “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”) both of which miss out on the top forty by one place. Chuck the guitarist out of the band and tour bus and make him get the train home, record an album (but don’t give it a name), tour some more, release a Smiths-esque compilation album (but don’t officially give it a name). Touring is boring: play three gigs in three venues on the same night instead. Release a third album and single, neither of which chart.
Don’t give up. Plug away, finally nail a song you’ve been working on for a decade and include it in your next album. Success! Your album charts. For one week.
Oh, I forgot one very important step. At some point fairly early on you need to start taking ridiculous amounts of drugs, drink too much, burn money backstage, and destroy your equipment. Without that, and maybe by not signing the wrong record deal, you might not be able to complete the programme.
Given how The House Of Love so concisely and perfectly tore themselves apart, and how many times they so nearly but just didn’t quite chart (indie chart success was had, but that wasn’t what Fontana paid the big bucks for) you have to go right back to the start, with three early singles “Shine On”, “Christine” and “Destroy The Heart”, the last of which was a Peel Festive Fifty single of the year, to get a sense of the excitement surrounding the great hope of the late 80s. The guitar sound that Terry Bickers could have patented (but which singer Guy Chadwick briefly claimed as 90% his in their public spat after Bickers left the group) could have been the golden ticket. The fire and energy, critical worship, they had it all. Coulda, shoulda, woulda…
Guy Chadwick went on to form The Madonnas, a band that released precisely no albums or singles, but which did hang around long enough for them to support The Cranberries on their heading in the opposite direction tour, before embarking on a solo career with the release of “Lazy, Soft and Slow” - a down-tempo collection of love-adorned ballads variously described as “sleep-inducingly samey” (Uncut, March 1998), or “Masterfully understated stuff from a much missed and quietly inspirational maverick” (Mojo, March 1998).
The great redemption story that no-one quite believed would be written, however, is that somehow the band, minus bass player Chris Groothuizen, reformed in 2003, and two years later released “Days Run Away”. It was an impossible dream to hope it would scale the lost heights, but it does a far, far better job of it than anyone could have reasonably expected. Start there and work your way back, or go straight to the newly remastered and deluxified triple CD release of their debut album; either way it’s all but perfect.