Pop Will Eat Itself (also known as PWEI or The Poppies) are an English alternative rock band, originally formed in Stourbridge in 1986, with members from Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country. Initially known as Grebo gurus, their style changed to incorporate sample driven indie and industrial rock. Their highest charting single was 1993's ""Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!". After initially disbanding in 1996, and having a brief reformation in 2005, they issued their first release in over five years in 2010.
Early years: 1981-1988
An early permutation of the band formed in 1981 under the name From Eden; members included Clint Mansell, Adam Mole, Chris Fradgley, Malcolm Treece and Miles Hunt (Treece and Hunt went on to form The Wonder Stuff). From Eden recruited Graham Crabb to replace Hunt on drums before splitting up. Crabb, Mole and Mansell recruited Richard March and changed their name to Wild and Wandering, named after a Wasted Youth album, and they eventually became Pop Will Eat Itself in 1986. They took their name from a quotation in an NME article on Jamie Wednesday by David Quantick.
In 1986 the band released the "Poppies Say Grrr!" single which became the 'Single Of The Week' in the NME and playlisted by BBC Radio 1. Crabb moved from drumming to singing and was replaced by a drum machine called 'Dr. Nightmare'. Their style continued to expand with "There Is No Love Between Us Anymore" and "Def. Con. One" (1988). As a result, PWEI were signed to the record label RCA and they achieved Top 40 hits with "Can U Dig It?" and "Wise Up! Sucker" from their album, This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This! In October 1988 they were bottled off the stage when supporting Public Enemy, although invited to tour the then Soviet Union.
The RCA years: 1989-1993
They released three successful albums on RCA. The first two (…This is This! and Cure for Sanity) were recorded with the aid of Flood, known for his work with Nine Inch Nails, U2 and Depeche Mode.
On 1992's The Looks or the Lifestyle? the band recruited Robert "Fuzz" Townshend as their drummer to complement their standard array of loops and pre-programmed drums. The album peaked at UK #15, and featured the Top 30 hit singles "Karmadrome" and "Bulletproof!" By January 1993, however, the band's biggest supporters at RCA had left the company, and the remaining executives did not understand the band or their music. The band was dropped from the label before the "Get the Girl! Kill the Baddies!" single was released. It went on to peak at number 9 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band's biggest hit.
Industrial influence: 1994-1995
RCA agreed to write off the debts that the band had accumulated in recording studio fees in return for PWEI's back catalogue. They signed a recording contract with Infectious Records, a label initiated by their friend Korda Marshell, who had signed them to RCA, but had since left the label.
PWEI's political stance became more explicit with the release of the single "Ich Bin Ein Auslander". A collaboration with Asian group Fun-Da-Mental, the song had anti-nazi styled lyrics and reached the UK Top 30. A different version of this song later appeared as the opening track on the 1994 album, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. The album peaked at #11 in the UK Albums Chart and spawned their then final single release, "Everything's Cool", which became their ninth Top 30 UK hit.
The band found some new popularity after signing with Trent Reznor's Nothing Records in the US, and touring with Nine Inch Nails, as well as having their songs used on the PlayStation game Loaded. In March 1995 the band released the Dos Dedos Mis Amigos remix album Two Fingers My Friends! which featured remixes by The Orb, Apollo 440 and Renegade Soundwave. It was about this time that Crabb left the band and was replaced by Kerry Hammond with Mansell taking over full vocal duties. The band continued recording and touring until 1996, including a collaboration with The Prodigy. However, the band took a break before finishing production of their next album with Reznor. One track from this period was released, a cover version of Gary Numan's "Friends".
Almost all artwork and corporate identity for the band's record sleeves and merchandising were designed by the Sheffield based, now defunct design house The Designers Republic. The Designers Republic's work with PWEI can be found in the Design Museum, London.
All PWEI songs were credited to Vestan Pance. It was a pseudonym for the band as a whole. Although the songs were mainly Crabb or Mansell compositions, using a pseudonym was considered more interesting than just All songs by Pop Will Eat Itself. When Townshend joined the band, an attempt to change the name to 'Vestan Pance and Socks' was denied by RCA.
Crabb concentrated on his ambient side project Golden Claw Musics. After the rest of the band split in 1996, March and Townshend went on to form the big beat band Bentley Rhythm Ace. Townshend also released two solo albums and Mansell wrote a number of film scores, including Requiem for a Dream, π, Doom, The Fountain, The Wrestler and Moon.
The band reformed to play their first gigs in eight years, in Nottingham, Birmingham, and London in January 2005. These gigs were notable for their Instant Live albums, whereby ten minutes after the completion of each gig, double live albums of the performance could be purchased.
The band released a preview of new material called 'Sonic Noise Byte' on 4 November 2005, as a torrent download for members of their official website pweination. However, an announcement on the official website in March 2006 confirmed that Mansell and March would no longer be involved in the project due to other work commitments, effectively ending the PWEI reformation. However the remaining band members continued as Vileevils, and released the tracks "Retro Dreaming" and "Street Fightin" for download via the pweination website.
A secret, one-night PWEI reunion was scheduled to happen at the Vileevils show at Stourbridge Rock Cafe on 9 June 2007, but was foiled when Mansell was unable to obtain a visa in time to fly back to the UK. March still appeared at the show, and after the Vileevils set they played the planned PWEI songs, sans Mansell.
PWEI World Service: 2010-present
On February 23, 2010, a press release was issued to those on the dPulse Recordings mailing list, stating that Crabb would be discontinuing work on the Vileevils project, to concentrate on reviving Pop Will Eat Itself with a new PWEI album, new band and tour dates to be announced. On 11 May 2010, PWEI released the "Axe of Men 2010" single on a CD/DVD combination, featuring "Axe of Men 2010", a remastered "Sonic Noise Byte", and a DVD with Vileevils material.
- Box Frenzy (1987)
- Now for a Feast! (1988)
- This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This! (1989) UK #24
- Cure for Sanity (1990) (expanded reissue in 1991) UK #33
- The Looks or the Lifestyle? (1992) UK #15
- Weird's Bar and Grill (Live) (1993) UK #44
- 16 Different Flavours of Hell (Best of) (1993) UK #73
- Dos Dedos Mis Amigos (1994) UK #11
- Two Fingers My Friends! (1995) UK #25
- Wise Up Suckers (BMG best of) (1996)
- The Radio 1 Sessions 1986-87 (1997)
- PWEI Product 1986-1994 (Anthology) (2002)
- Reformation: Nottingham Rock City 20.01.05 (2005)
- Reformation: Birmingham Carling Academy 22.01.05 (2005)
- Reformation: Birmingham Carling Academy 23.01.05 (2005)
- Reformation: London Shepherds Bush Empire 24.01.05 (2005)
- Reformation: London Shepherds Bush Empire 25.01.05 (2005)
- The Best Of (2008)
- 2000 Light Ales from Home (1986) under the name 'Wild And Wandering'
- The Poppies Say GRRrrr! (1986)
- Poppiecock (1986)
- Very Metal Noise Pollution (1989) UK #45
- Amalgamation (1994)
|Year||Title||UK chart pos.||US chart pos.||Album|
|"Sweet Sweet Pie"||-||-||Now for a Feast!|
|"Love Missile F1-11"||-||-||""|
|"Beaver Patrol"||-||-||Box Frenzy|
|"There Is No Love Between Us Anymore"||66||-||""|
|"Def. Con. One"||63||30||This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This!|
|"Can U Dig It?"||38||-||""|
|"Wise Up! Sucker"||41||-||""|
|"Touched by the Hand of Cicciolina"||28||-||Cure for Sanity|
|"Dance of the Mad"||32||-||""|
|"X Y & Zee"||15||11||""|
|"Karmadrome" / "Eat Me Drink Me Love Me"||17||-||The Looks or the Lifestyle?|
|"Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!"||9||-||""|
|"RSVP / Familius Horribilus"||27||-||Dos Dedos Mis Amigos|
|"Ich Bin Ein Auslander"||28||-||""|
|"Axe of Men 2010"||-||-||n/a|
- Unspoilt by Progress VHS (1991)
- Reformation: Birmingham Carling Academy 23.01.05 DVD (2005)