The House of Love: Bless this house

Fifteen years after an acrimonious split, The House of Love are making music once again. Terry Bickers and Guy Chadwick tell Fiona Sturges how they kissed and played on

In 1989, Terry Bickers, guitarist and co-founder of The House of Love, was turfed off his tour bus and abandoned by the rest of his band on the edge of the M5. He and the singer Guy Chadwick had been at each other's throats for months and it was becoming increasingly clear that one of them had to go. In the event it was Bickers, though even he couldn't have predicted the unceremonious nature of his ejection. With no way of getting home, he was forced to thumb a lift to the nearest train station. Two days later, he received a phone call from Chadwick informing him he was sacked.

In 1989, Terry Bickers, guitarist and co-founder of The House of Love, was turfed off his tour bus and abandoned by the rest of his band on the edge of the M5. He and the singer Guy Chadwick had been at each other's throats for months and it was becoming increasingly clear that one of them had to go. In the event it was Bickers, though even he couldn't have predicted the unceremonious nature of his ejection. With no way of getting home, he was forced to thumb a lift to the nearest train station. Two days later, he received a phone call from Chadwick informing him he was sacked.

Bickers says it was no more than he deserved. "I should put this in perspective," he says gravely. "We were on this really gruelling tour. The night before we were in Wales and I'd kept everyone awake rowing with my wife on the phone. The next day we were on the bus and everyone was really strung out. I started being really loud and annoying and picking fights with everyone. Guy said to me, 'Look, we need to talk' but I wouldn't have it. Ten minutes later I was out of the van. If I had been in their shoes, I'd have done the same thing."

Bickers and Chadwick didn't speak for nine years, which makes it all the more surprising to find them chatting amiably in a restaurant not far from Bickers' home in Brighton. Two months ago they released Days Run Away, their first House of Love album in more than a decade, and next week they embark on a two-week UK tour.

"Are we tempting fate?" ponders Bickers. "I don't think so. 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 was their old agent Mick Griffiths' suggestion in 2003 that the pair resume their creative partnership. By this time, Chadwick and Bickers had been in phone contact for some years and had even mooted the idea of writing songs together.Things moved slowly at first - a whole year passed between their initial meeting and their first rehearsal as a band. "It was weird for while," says Chadwick. "But we've always had a very instinctive way of communicating with each other, which I guess is why we make good music together."

With its gentle melodies and shimmering guitars, Days Run Away pretty much picks up where The House of Love's 1988 debut album left off, with Bickers and Chadwick effortlessly summoning the old chemistry. "Love You Too Much" is a poignant study of sexual infatuation, while "Maybe You Know" reads as an apology from Chadwick to Bickers - "Maybe you know by now it kind of got out of hand/ And there were times when I really thought it couldn't end."

Of their relationship now, Chadwick states: "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."

It was music rather than friendship that brought Bickers and Chadwick together in the mid-Eighties. After a short spell with the ill-fated, glam rock-inspired band the Kingdoms, Chadwick put an ad in the Melody Maker for a guitarist for a new band. Taking their name from Anais Nin's 1954 novel, he and Bickers formed The House of Love late in 1986.

They quickly became the darlings of the indie scene, with Chadwick and Bickers becoming talked about in the same reverential tones as Morrissey and Marr. Signed to Alan McGee's Creation label, they had their first hit, "Shine On", in May 1987. The following year they released their self-titled debut album, containing the classic singles "Christine" and "Love in a Car", to instant acclaim.

Among the lessons that Bickers and Chadwick have carried with them from the early days is to trust the people you're working with. Both regard their move from Creation in 1989 to the major label Fontana as one of the worst decisions of their career. "The guy who signed us had signed Def Leppard and Tears For Fears so he had a lot of clout," Chadwick says. "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."

Their first two singles on Fontana, "Never" and "I Don't Know Why I Love You", both stalled at Number 41 in the charts and the critics slowly turned against them. Meanwhile, the band's relentless schedule was proving unmanageable.

"After our first album it was manic," says Bickers. "A classic case of too much too soon. We needed a break... We had spent 18 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."

Chadwick soldiered on with The House of Love for another couple of albums after Bickers' departure, but called it a day in 1994. "I stayed in bed for three years after that," he says blithely. "I was very depressed, unable to function, effectively dead. A lot of the last 10 years have been spent getting my head together and bringing up my daughter. I made a couple of attempts to make records but I was never happy with them."

A year after his dismissal, Bickers formed Levitation, a band that gathered a fervent following on the live circuit and eventually signed a deal with Chrysalis. But Bickers, who was suffering from depression, decided to leave. By now an old hand at dramatic exits, he laid down his guitar in the middle of a gig and just walked off stage. Bickers shakes his head. "It was a crap thing to do," he says. "It was unfair on the people that came to see us and on everyone in the band ... The reason I left the way I did was because I didn't want to give anyone the opportunity to talk me round."

Through a combination of therapy and the martial art Shin Tai Do, he has conquered his depression and is ready to restart his career. Chadwick, too, believes that his dark days are behind him and, like Bickers, is optimistic. The pair have already committed to making another album as The House of Love. "It's still early days," says Bickers with a smile. "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."

The single "Gotta Be That Way" (Art and Industry) is out on 25 April. The House of Love play Sheffield Leadmill on Sunday and then tour nationwide.

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