"We play guitar, and we formed a band,
and music is our chosen field to express
ourselves. We maybe could have gone into
other fields - and we are interested in other
art forms - but music is more challenging.
So therefore it is our way of purging
ourselves, and on a musical level we've got
no other ambitions other than that."
Chapterhouse's Steve Patman is
ruminating over what this year has meant to
his band. 'Whirlpool', their sensuous,
delicious debut LP went straight into the
National Charts at Number 13; gigs were
packed with an ever growing legion of
entranced worshippers, and the press, as a
result, have been banging their thesauruses
with glee, in the anticipation of finding that
perfect phrase to express the realms of
beauty from which Chapterhouse have
It's all been a mite confusing for the
Reading based longhairs whose first, grittily
psychedelic EP 'Freefall' came out less than
a year ago. But Chapterhouse have always
been wise beyond their years.
"Well, we kind of knew to a cenain extent
that it was all coming together quite well,
but getting that far up the Charts was quite a
surprise, "Steve admits. "Then, when it did
happen, and people started raving, we soon
found out that meant absolutely bollock all;
and that sucess as far as selling records is
no reflection of a band's talent.
"We know how good the record is. We
know how bad it is. We can do a lot better
than that. But it's taught us that the more
praise you get, the more irrelevant it
becomes, and the only thing you should
have aims towards is the music."
Nonetheless, the success of 'Whirlpool'
has proved one of Steve's pet theories
wrong. He once claimed that no one would
recognise the importance of Chapterhouse
until long after they'd split up.
"Well, yeah," he considers, flicking a
hefty lump of fringe out of his eyes. "Even
so, I still feel that I wasn't talking about
being recognised as successful, I was talking
about being recognised on a real level, for
what we were. And we're still not
recognised, cos I suppose it's gone to the
other extreme now, people are
complimenting us more than we deserve. I
suppose people will never realise what
we're capable of musically until we get
"We're kind of glad that it's taken a while
to happen, though," he continues. "If it had
happened on our first couple of EP's, we
wouldn't have been in a position where we
could have wholeheartedly backed up what
we were doing. As they came out, we were
almost immediately dissatisfied with them.
Although we're still in that position with the
album, and, to a lesser degree, 'Pearl', we
do feel a lot stronger as a band, and a lot
more definite about our aims. We've laid a
solid foundation to work on now. Now we
feel we can go anywhere."
The first few bars of the aforementioned
'Pearl' were what it took to convince the
world of Chapterhouse's worth. Here were
a band who could quite easily have stuck to
a safely commercial formula, but who, quite
simply, were not interested in that.
Chapterhouse grasped new ideas, new
technology with a passion, working them
into a limitless vision of what they knew
they could achieve.
"Definitely," Steve agrees. "We've only
got musical ambitions, and we want to be in
a position where we can be constantly
challenging ourselves, pushing ourselves
further. We don't ever want one of our
records to be the be all and end all of
"I don't know if we will ever achieve
what we feel we're capable of," he says,
eyes misting over at the prospect. "I almost
pride myself on my under achievement!
And we've always said that if we reach a
level when we're not going to improve any
further, we want to split. As an idealist, I'll
say that and stick with it. Because
ultimately, we are doing this for ourselves."
However, Chapterhouse's music has
always stemmed from a power to create
atmosphere, without you even having to
understand the words. 'Die Die Die', from
their first demo, was a rage in intensity, just
as 'Pearl' is a swooning aura of bliss. They
may be on a personal trip, but the effect a
Chapterhouse song can have on a person is
not to be underestimated.
"Yeah, well, that's great, and that makes
that personal achievement more
worthwhile," Steve responds. "If you have
done enough to move people, then that's
nice to know...and to know what you could
be capable of doing to people is outrageous!
"We once said that ultimately, one day,
we'd like to make a record that is orgasmic!
And there are records that exist that you can
put them on and have, like, a spiritual
orgasm, in the mind."
This said, though, Steve is a bit afraid of
his audience getting too fruity.
"It's easy to get a false impression of the
kind of people who are into the music, cos,
unfortunately, the ones who want to come
and meet you after a gig aren't the ones that
you really want to meet. We do get a lot of
girls, and we do try and be nice. Russell
gets all of them, really, cos he's got the
Neanderthal look that girls apparently go
"We've never been rude to anyone," he
goes on, "but I'm sure there is a point where
you can't deal with it any more. Because
these people are in such awe. And, firstly,
you feel that you don't deserve that from
anybody, and on top of that, you feel
indebted to them, cos they've gone through
so much for you. There's people that have
slept in bus shelters after gigs, and people
that have travelled all the way from
Glasgow to the ULU and then not had a
ticket," he recounts, in genuine awe.
"It leaves you in a position where you feel
indebted to them, but through no fault of
your own. But it does your head in, cos you
wouldn't do that for anyone."
It's because you are filling a void in these
people's lives, though. That's why your
music is so potent.
"I hope so," Steve nods. "Really, we do
just experiment in various emotional
landscapes. We do try and create
atmospheres. Our songs aren't created to
say anything. Basically, music is just
escapism, and we want to create a
beautiful place to escape to. That's why,
when we come out with a song, we'll write
all the lyrics last, to enhance that idea. The
music can inspire certain emotions, and if
you write lyrics that are an extension of that,
then no part of the music has greater
importance than anything else. It's all
What makes Chapterhouse so special is
that they realise the power of what they are
dealing with, and know how to put it into
"The thing about music...," Steve begins,
"I think it was James Joyce who said, out of
all the arts, music is the only one that can
effect you immediately, without you having
to read anything into it. Not like looking at
a painting and seeing what it does to you, or
reading a book and having to analyse what
is said. Music is the only art form that can
go straight in there. So, therefore, I feel
we're dealing with the most powerful
artform. Although, in a lot of ways it's been
trivialised to the point that in a lot of ways
it's the most meaningless artform, from
most people's perspectives, to me it is the
"To use that to its full is what we're
about. And to try and lift people to
somewhere that is a good place to be. We
don't want people to live in a dreamworld -
but we would like to create some good
places to go when they feel like it!"
Orignally appeared in Siren Issue 1. Copyright © Siren