It’s funny how life has a way of coming full circle, how the universe can pull people together by connecting the cosmic dots. Such is the path that led Denver’s A Shoreline Dream to open for Reading’s Chapterhouse show in San Francisco via a connection with Ulrich Schnauss, with whom ASD has been collaborating with for the past few years.
It was Chapterhouse’s 1991 debut, Whirlgig, which instantly came to mind upon my first listen to Drop the Fear back in 2003 (or was it 2004?), the band Ryan Polisky started before prior to ASD in 2006. I gave Whirlgig to Ryan to borrow back then since he had yet to hear those jeweled tunes for himself. It was as if Stephen Patman (vocals, guitars), Andrew Sherriff (vocals, guitars), Simon Rowe (guitars), Russell Barrett (bass), and Ashley Bates (drums) were inspiring the Denver band unconsciously through the timeless stratosphere.
Fast forward a few years, and Ryan had been to London and Ulrich came to Denver to work on music collaboration projects. In July of this year Ryan was back in London working on a new song with Ulrich for Rocket Girl Records (to be released early 2011).
During his adventures, Ryan posted a photo on Facebook that I happened to see, and it blew my mind. There he was all smiles in this drinking establishment with Ulrich, Andrew and Stephen from Chapterhouse. You see, Ulrich is the king of collaborations, having made many friends and connections with musicians and musically-related peeps, and had been gigging with Chapterhouse since 2008 at the Truck Festival.
“Ulrich took me to meet Stephen and Andy, who have been running their own music licensing company for a while,” Ryan said, recalling how this encounter came to be. “I had come down with the flu and had a fever when I got into London. They wanted to go to a pub nearby and I was totally sick. But shit, I couldn’t say “no” to Chapterhouse buying me beers.”
The rest of night Ryan and Stephen talked about each of their musical projects and endeavors, about the current music scene, and about the Chapterhouse tour. By the end of the night, and numerous pints later, it was decided that A Shoreline Dream would open for the legendary group in San Francisco and Ulrich Schnauss on Saturday, October 9 at the Mezzanine.
This current tour was a rescheduled one, after the band had to cancel the previous tour earlier in the year…due to volcano activity. Not many bands can say that. Or the name of the volcano – Eyjafjallajökull.
Previous Chapterhouse gigs in San Francisco included one night, many years ago, when I caught them at the I-Beam on the Haight during the Blood Music tour, a venue where us Cali kids got to see everyone from the Wonderstuff, New Order and Strawberry Zots to Dick Dale, Faith No More and Hüsker Dü.
Blood Music took the band down a trail of deeper hooks and dance rhythms versus the atmospheric layers of Whirlgig; the bi-vocals and that infamous shoegaze (there, I said it) sound that solidified their names in the music history books. Glorious anthems like “We Are The Beautiful” took center stage while “Deli,” part-storytelling and spoken word, part dirgy, jangle beats and samples were more akin to the tripped out nature of Primal Scream’s “Higher Than The Sun” or Happy Monday’s “Step On.”
Unfortunately for us fans, life moved on for the group and that was the last of any new music releases from the foursome. Rownderbout, a compilation of B-sides, unreleased demos and singles came out in 1996, and Whirlgig had a limited re-release on Cherry Red Records in 2006.
We can all thank Ulrich for wielding his butterfly affect and getting Chapterhouse back on stage, having persuaded the group to join him during that Truck Festival performance in 2008.
After checking out the video of The Scala performance in London earlier this year, those amazing vocal harmonies and “Kiss Them For Me” jangled rhythms from “Pearl” (the video first appeared on MTV’s 120 Minutes on July 7, 1991) are still as beautiful as ever.
Saturday night at the Mezz will be a truly magical one.