Pop Will Eat Itself (also known as PWEI or the Poppies) was a band formed in Stourbridge, United Kingdom with band members from Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country. An early version of the band formed in 1981 under the name From Eden; members included Clint Mansell, Adam Mole, Chris Fradgley, Malcolm Treece and Miles Hunt . Graham Crabb was recruited (Graham being the only respondant to replace the 'piss poor' Miles Hunt on drums).
An early version of the band formed in 1981 under the name From Eden; members included Clint Mansell, Adam Mole, Chris Fradgley, Malcolm Treece and Miles Hunt . Graham Crabb was recruited (Graham being the only respondant to replace the 'piss poor' Miles Hunt on drums). After From Eden splintered into two bands (Treece and Hunt went on to form The Wonder Stuff) Mansell, Crabb & Mole formed Wild and Wandering, recruiting Richard March on bass. They eventually became Pop Will Eat Itself in 1986, taking the name from a quote in an NME article about Pop 'eating itself' suggesting that popular music continues to recycle ideas.
The band honed their songwriting skills with a string of catchy two-minute pop songs released on EPs both as Wild and Wandering and Pop Will Eat Itself. With the help of DJ John Peel, these EPs saw some airplay and enjoyed some popularity among university students. After the band feared they had accomplished all they could with their sound, they found new influences in hip hop acts such as the Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Public Enemy. Graham soon dropped the drum sticks for a mic and was replaced by a drum machine called "Dr. Nightmare." Their style continued to develop with classics such as "There Is No Love Between Us Anymore' and the anthemic "Def Con One". As a result, PWEI were signed to major label RCA and they achieved top 40 hits with "Can U Dig It?" and "Wise Up! Sucker" off the album This Is the Day?This Is the Hour?This Is This!
RCA's larger studio budget allowed the band to develop its potential further, and they released 3 successful albums on that label. The first two (?This is This! and Cure for Sanity) were recorded with the aid of legendary producer Flood, known for his work with Nine Inch Nails, U2 and many other popular 90s groups. Cure for Sanity was perhaps PWEI's most experimental album, with a more electronic sound than previous efforts. RCA, meanwhile, was more interested chart success and so wanted the band to cut the lengthy instrumentals from their songs.
On 1992's The Looks or The Lifestyle, the band recruited a live drummer to complement their standard array of loops and pre-programmed drums and brought back some live guitars. The record was their most commercial and polished work to date, and was arguably the Poppies' high point, featuring top 20 hits like 'Karmadrome' and 'Bulletproof.' The single 'Get the Girl! Kill the Baddies!' registered as the band's biggest hit in January 1993. By this point, RCA had already grown tired of PWEI's stuborness and dropped them before the single was even released (the song went on to peak at 9 in the UK singles chart). Because of this, the band became the first ever to perform on Top of the Pops without being on a record label. The British National Party had recently caused an uproar in Tower Hamlets by winning a council seat, and it looked possible that the UK would see a revival in far right politics. In response to this, The Looks or the Lifestyle introduced a hitherto understated political angle, as the album inlay used the "red arrow" emblem of the Anti Nazi League and offered the organisation's address.
Getting dropped from RCA turned out to be a blessing for the Poppies, as the label agreed to write off the massive debts that the band had accumulated in studio fees in return for PWEI's back catalogue. After a minor bidding war, the Poppies decided to sign to Infectious Records, a label recently started by friend Korda Marshell (who had signed them to RCA in the first place but had since left the label) that offered them the artistic freedom they required.
PWEI maintained their stubbornly "cartoon like" image, despite producing thoughtful and often surprisingly dark tracks (for instance "Wake Up! Time To Die!", "88 Seconds", and "Mother").
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 was scathing attack on the far right and the apathy that seemed to greet its resurgence. A different version of this song later appeared as the opening track on the 1994 album, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos.
By this time the band had toned down its garish public persona and veered off in a new and more industrial-based direction with the aid of long time fan Trent Reznor. Many fans were upset that the 'Is everybody happy?!' pogoing Poppies were gone and put off by the new direction, but the band found new popularity after signing with 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'.
The following year the band released the Dos Dedos remix album Two Fingers My Friends which featured remixes by The Orb, Apollo 440, Renegade Soundwave and many more. It was about this time that Graham Crabb left the band and they recruited 'The Buzzard' of Yeah! God (who had recorded 'wild guitar' on previous albums but was never a full time member) and Clint took over full vocal duties. The band continued down the industrial route and were still recording and touring until 1996, even recording a collaboration with Orbital. Unfortunately, the band took a break before finishing production of their next album with Trent Reznor, and while not officially splitting, failed to complete the work citing boredom and musical differences. One track from this period was released, a cover of Gary Numan's "Friends," and provides some indication of the band's direction at the time.
A reunion of sorts happened in 2005 when the members performed eight gigs in the UK. Demos were also recorded during this time. However, Clint Mansell and Richard March were unable to continue with the reformation, and the remaining members have decided to pursue what the reformed PWEI started under the name Vileevils.
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.
In July 2011, a new line-up was announced, featuring Graham Crabb as the only original member, adn Mary Byker undertaking co-vocalist duties. On October 3rd 2011 the album, New Noise Designed By A Sadist, was released on Cooking Vinyl, followed by a UK tour.