When the Sisters went underground after the ’85 split, with the Sisterhood project and the relaunch taking centre stage, any focus on the early line-ups seemed to fade away, with Von refusing to talk about what he viewed as ancient history and there being no definitive history of the early days available.
So in 1988 into the gap stepped fan Andrew Pinnell, piecing together a readable if somewhat lacking (based as it was on press cuttings and personal opinion) chronological history of the band in his glossy fanzine Heartland, self-financed and printed A5 on glossy paper much in the same way (and retailing at the same exorbitant price) as an academic journal of the day. The first volume, sporting a red head-and-star cover, ran to 500 numbered copies, and featured a patchy version of the band’s history up to Ben Gunn’s departure, although the biggest section by far was devoted to Sisters’ bootlegs. In his introduction, Pinnell stated that his aim was for Heartland to become a “forum of debate for people interested in the Sisters of Mercy,” something which would only really become true some fifteen years later with the launch of the well-known on-line Forum of the same name.
Pinnell also requested the help of his readership in “the passing on of knowledge”, so having sent off to his Warminster base for a copy of Issue One having seen it mentioned in other publications, I duly sent him a lengthy letter detailing some personal reminiscences of that era, many of which now feature on this blog. On his personal “Heartland” headed paper in neat black print, Pinnell sent a reply thanking me for my contribution in a somewhat pompous tone (not dissimilar to my own at the time), adding that this information was helpful “more than you could ever know”.
A second volume (of 1000 copies in a blue cover with dustsheet) appeared around the same time (1989), followed by the third, and before long Pinnell had been contacted by an impressed Eldritch and asked to run TSOM Information Service a.k.a. The Reptile House, leading to the reissue of an updated Heartland anthology of issues 1-3 (including some of the info which I had provided in the narrative) and ultimately to the launch of Underneath the Rock. The fourth and final Heartland appeared in Summer 91 and brought the story up to date to that point, and featured a “proper” spine, colour plates and the word “Approved” across the Head and Star logo, a real achievement for a fan who had started the magazine three years earlier believing he “could produce something better than all the other Sisters’ fanzines available at that time."