The house that rock built

It’s only taken 25 years, but British alternative rock band House of Love with frontman Guy Chadwick are finally making their way to Israel.

House of Love frontman Guy Chadwick (left), seen here with guitarist Terry Bickers (photo credit: SUZIE GIBBONS)
House of Love frontman Guy Chadwick (left), seen here with guitarist Terry Bickers
(photo credit: SUZIE GIBBONS)
Guy Chadwick knows the music business; he’s been playing in bands since the 1980s. He formed House of Love in London in 1986 with guitarist Terry Bickers and went on to enjoy success with their self-titled debut and their follow-up album, Babe Rainbow. But House of Love split up just a year after, and it would be 10 years before they would reform. Chadwick and Bickers are now back together and back on the road. They will play at Zappa Herzliya on February 15. Chadwick sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss the rollercoaster of success, taking a musical hiatus, and coming to Israel for the first time.
How did music first enter your life?
I was living in Singapore as a very young child. I have two older brothers. We used to listen to the Beatles. In Singapore there was no radio, so the only music you could listen to was the music you had. The Beatles sounded amazing to me. My older brothers informed my musical taste. I used to hear all of their music. They had great records from the ’60s like Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones. That established my taste. When I started playing in bands, I was trying to emulate what was happening at that time, which was in the early ’80s. It was kind of post-punk, new wave music. I was into groups like The Cure and U2. That’s where I got my influences for being in bands. When I finally started the House of Love, I was much more focused on really thinking about what my musical preferences were and what I wanted to do. I always loved ’60s music because of my childhood. So that was what really focused me and got me writing better songs and thinking more about a better way to make music.
How did you decide on the name House of Love?
You have to think of a name. You form a group and you wonder what to call yourself and you’re thinking all the time and you think too hard. I just plucked it out of the air really. There’s a book called A Spy in the House of Love, which is what it comes from.
I’ve read the book and The Doors had a song called “The Spy,” which was taken from the book as well. I always loved The Doors.
So you’re playing in London in the 1980s and then the band splits up in 1993. What happened?
Yeah, we formed in 1986. Our first album came out in 1988 and it was a hit. We often get called an early ’90s band, but we were more of a late ’80s group. Having a successful album was great. It was good fun. I still feel quite lucky that we enjoyed such a time. It was a bit of a rollercoaster though, quite hard to keep our feet on the ground.
What happened was that we started to have internal friction and we had a very difficult time. We endured our first six months of success, but after that, things started going wrong. We changed record companies, which was a big mistake. We became very bogged down in making a second album and spent far too long making it. It wasn’t as good as it should have been. We had a big hit with “Shine On” off of our second album, so in actual fact, our second album sold more than our first because we had a hit. But Terry (Bickers), the guitarist, and I fell out very badly. He left the group and we carried on with replacement guitarists, who never worked out really. We were still a popular band in 1993. The last concert we did in England was at the Royal Albert Hall. But I got very depressed about the situation. I wasn’t happy at all about the way things were going, so I just folded it and took about five years off, which wasn’t a very good idea.
Why do you say that it wasn’t a good idea?
It’s not a good career move to disappear for five years. It’s just not. I made a solo album after that time, which was a good album actually, but it didn’t do very well.
The House of Love fans didn’t want me to make a solo album. They weren’t particularly interested. That was that, really.
Then several years later, the band gets back together. Can you talk about that?
Terry and I made friends again. We both felt that the group was something that we wanted to do creatively. So we got back together. It took us two or three years to get our relationship going properly and make an album. So we made a new album, which was pretty good and we’ve really enjoyed it.
We’ve been back together now for over 10 years. We are very lucky that we still have a good audience in Europe. We still have a pretty good audience in America, but the rest of the band have no interest in going to America, which is a shame. We still play in Europe, at festivals, and do an album every three or four years.
You’re coming to Israel on the 15th. Is this your first time?
Yeah, we were booked about 25 years ago to play in Israel and I really wanted to come, but the bass player that we had at the time didn’t want to, so we didn’t end up going. Our bass player now is Jewish and has been to Israel loads of times and played there. He’s in a band called Oi Va Voi. I think they’re quite popular in Israel. I can’t wait, I’m really excited to see Israel.
Will you have time to explore?
I’m coming earlier with my wife and 16-year-old daughter. My wife manages the band, so she is involved anyway, but she really wanted to come to Israel. We’ll be there for about six days all together. We’ll stay in Jerusalem in the Old City.
What can fans expect from the show?
We’ll play mainly old music. We are working on a new album and we do play two or three songs from our recent albums, but generally speaking, when people come to see us, they want to hear their favorite songs. That’s just the way it is. We love playing them; they still sound fresh to us.
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