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pillowtalk

Pillow Talk

CHAPTERHOUSE are now seen as the leading lights of the new rush of guitar hands and have been widely tipped us the next group to follow Ride into the charts. JIM ARUNDEL joins them on the road In Manchester and discovers how the hand are adapting to such acclaim and why they stand apart from The Scene That Celebrates Itself. Pics: STEPHEN SWEET

INTO THE DRESSING ROOM OF THE MANCHESTER
International comes a figure in tight yellow tartan flares. "The chicks love these strides, man. Ha ha. An one seen my supply of johnnies?" Much raucous deprevity an fifthy hub-bub follows as five boys lewd abaut tarts, booze, haemorrhoids and the rockest, rollest ways to take to the rood. "Waargh, we're off to shoe them birds we met in Bradford. Cor, talk about satisfaction!"
spacer Chapterhouse are on tour. And this is Spitfire, their support band, living it up to the limit just in case they never get another chance. If they carry on like this they probably won't.
spacer Chapterhouse area bit embarrassed; this isn't the impression they wanted to give the Melody Maker.
spacer "Hurry up, before you ruin your career," says guitarist Simon Rowe as Spitfire bundles out of the venue.
spacer "They've swallowed the whole rock' n' roll handbook," someone says. It'ss quiet in here now.

THE truth abaut touring is tedium: interminable travel, inedible food, the same video rewound and watched over and over until it's too snowy to see, compilation tapes ofyour favourite music that you never want to hear again once the tour's over.
spacer Touring is a form of alienation technique. Amnesty International should be looking into it.
spacer How are Chapterhouse coping?
spacer "It's a lot more comfortable now we're at this stage," says Simon in a plush room atthe Romada Renaissance hotel.
spacer Have you taken to heaving TV's outof the window yet?
spacer "No, but I can see how that would happen," says Russell Barrett, bassist and butt of in-lakes as The Band Idiot. "We've seen each other almost every day for the last three years, so if we didn't get on I could see that causing trouble.
spacer "We're becoming a bit more sensible," he continues, reaching for the Honey Roast Bombay Mix. "We're not like Spitfire, it's their first tour so it's all, 'wooah, let's get pissed and shag!"'
spacer Do you feel any kind of pressure or responsibility to behave in a rock'n'rolI way; always being off your faces, going on stage stoned, all that carry-on?
spacer "I think we care too much about what people will think ofthe gigs," says Simon. "People have paida lot of money to come and see us, that's where there's a responsibility."
spacer "We're always being told we're too nice," admits guitarist Andrew Sherriff sheepishly. "That's become a bit of a in-joke too. When we finished our degrees it was a great relief to be able to concentrate on being in a band. But I don't want only to be in a band, living out the rock lifestyle. When I see some heavy metol guy getting out of a limo I don't respect him at all, I just think there's more to life than that.
spacer "There's something about being in a band that's like being a child again. Especially on tour, that's where it's heightened because everything is done for you, your whole life is portioned out. You get told off by the tour manager if you' re late down to the lobby..."

SOBER NIGHT SENSATION!
FRANKLY, I'm relieved. I'm fed up with reading about bands who've pencilled in a Date With Cirrhosis in articles where band and hack weave around in the county in some kind of chemical stupor, can't stand up for falling down, determined to burn rubber and leave their mark on The Road.
spacer Instead, this is a quiet conversation with some warm, modest people, music fans who found themselves on a stoge almost by accident. They started by macking about in a rehearsal room, high on playing favourites like old Stooges songs and garage classics like Kit & The Outlaws' "Don't Tread On Me". The guy that ran the practice rooms offered them a gig. They called themselves Incest and played most covers. Two dates later they were Chapterhouse, supporting Spacemen 3 in London.
spacer "Actually participating in the music industry, you begin to see it in a different light" says Andrew. "we did start off as fans but now it's difficult, partly because you've seen how corrupt the business actually is, and partly because every piece of music in the same area, ie guitars, you just analyse and pull to pieces. That's why it's refreshing to listen to music away from what we're doing, like Betty Boo orJohnBarry. We're really into those strings."
spacer Although they may be a bit phased by all the attention they're getting, Chapterhouse are certainly not smug or vain or strutting about believing all the publicity about The Scene That Fancies Itself.
spacer Russell looks pained. "It's really awful to be categorised like that. It's upsetting. Now the album's out I hope people will see that we are our own thing."
spacer Critics of the newer bands say that the music is stotic, polite somehow. Punk was cathartic, The Stooges were reacting against flower-power. What are you reacting against?
spacer "Slagging people 0ff," says Russell, only half-kidding.
spacer "It's not appropriate any more to have that Mary Chain attitude problem," says Andrew. "We're not consciously trying to be chummy with other bands and being part of a scene. We don't all sitdown and listen to Slowdive, Lush and Moose all the time, that's nonsense, but I'd rather say good things about bands."
spacer But rock audiences have tradition ally equated arrogance with glamour. It's that Last Gang In Town, WiId On Our Behalf thing that the fans look for, isn't it?
spacer "It's always been the music first for me," asserts Russell to assent from the others. "I used to hate all that slagging..."
spacer The door bursts open. It's Stephen Patman, the other singer and guitorist who has been absent since the gig. It's about 3am. He's been out, er, "researching the fanbase".
spacer "What's that on your jacket?" asks Russell, noticing the red marks on Stephen's back and collar. "lt's blood!"
spacer Andrew's closer. "Upstick!" he shouts. Uproar ensures. Just the man to ask. Is this an anti-glamour generation, Stephen?
spacer "No, I don't think so," he says, once he's settled on the floor. "I'm sure the public go for glamour and presentation. In our set we play some slower songs and the crowd don't know what the f**k to do, they've come to get a charge from the uptempo tracks. Indie fans are ruled by the same criteria as people who listen to mainstream music, they'll buy Carter or Ned's Atomic Dustbin for the adrenalin."
spacer "Yeah," says Andrew, "you're attracted to a band's aura." So have you felt the need to cultivate an aura?
spacer "It's got to be natural or people don't believe it. Iggy Pop puts on an act but he does it so well it's believable. But most people admire are just being themselves and happen to be cool bastards."
spacer How do you read to criticism then?
spacer "We usually agree with people who slag us off," says Andrew, too nice to be true. "But it's awful when people fabricate things to fit in with some preconceived theory, like those stories about us supposedly hating Curve because they used samples. 'Falling Down' and 'Pearl' use just as much sampling as Curve do. We think Curve are brilliant we're not musical snobs, wallowing around inour own scene."
spacer "We get angry about the rubbish that's written about us," he adds, going on to mention a totally spurious story in that morning's Daily Mirror. "We sometimes feel we've got a profile without much foundation, and until people are seeing the truth you feel fragile and transient. Peaple see us as a comfortable, middleclass band, but doing this is away of shaking off our backgrounds, we don't want mortgages, nine-to-five jobs and gardens. We're rebelling, I suppose.
spacer And then, I say, pointing at his trousers, your mum goes and irons a crease in your jeans." "That's a cross you have to bear," says Stephen.

WHAT do you say to the charge that the buried vocals and walls of guitar are a way of disguising lack of emotion? Do you stand for anything? "Escapism," Stephen concludes. "Escape from the physical side of life. It's hard to say exactly. I don't write them. Something in here does." He points at his head. "When they come out I recognise them, but they're images and emotions of the experience without actually talking about the experience itself."
spacer "We've never set out to write a song that is as plain as day," Andrew confirms. "All the songs I like the most are the ones that have been the hardest to get into. Suddenly you'll see behind the masks. They grab you more because you've had to delve into the song rather than have the emotions thrust upon you. You can let it wash over you, but there's something there to grasp if you need it."
spacer What's wrong with Chapterhouse?
spacer Andrew pauses for a few seconds. "I think we should be more graspable."
spacer "I'm all for that," says Russell, faintly lecherously.

Orignally appeared in Melody Maker July 20, 1991. Copyright © Melody Maker

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