England’s Finest, POP WILL EAT ITSELF aka PWEI aka the Poppies make a welcome return down under with their high energy, relentless live shows an unmissable experience. During the late 80’s and early 90’s Australia was like a second home for PWEI as they played a stack of memorable shows here gaining a rabid following along the way. An incredible collection of songs and a setlist chock full of fan favourites – Everything’s Cool, Wise Up Sucker, Def Con One, Ich Bin Ein Auslander, Can U Dig It?, Dance of the Mad Bastards, PWEIzation, R.S.V.P, Their Law, Bulletproof will ensure smiles all round.
Joining original members Graham Crabb and Richard March (who went on to form Bentley Rhythm Ace post PWEI) in a reinvigorated line up of PWEI is legendary vocalist Mary Byker (Gaye Bykers on Acid, Apollo 440, Pitchshifter) and Davey Bennett. Clint Mansell is no longer with PWEI and has gone on to record award winning film scores. Graham Crabb talks to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the tour.
Great news, that Pop Will Eat Itself, are coming back earlier next year for another Australian tour.
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, we’ll be back.
Did you expect to be back so soon after only touring a few years ago?
Well, I think it’s about time. I was going to get in touch with the promoter but he got in touch with me first though but I think it has it been three years since the last one. Slightly different band this time and we’ve got Richard March back on board, my original Poppy. That will be good and hopefully that’s interesting and something people will warm to. We’re all looking forward to it.
Richard’s back? How did that come about? Was that just right place, right time?
Richard got on stage with us for a few numbers at a festival in UK to play and he enjoyed it. I asked him if he wanted to do the next lot of shows and he was able to fit in which was good because he’s got quite a busy schedule. It is great to have him back.
Is that likely to be the scenario with some of the other former members? That might just come in and out, doing shows when they can fit it in their schedule?
Yeah, it’s a revolving line-up but I think that’s the extent to which we’ll have original members back.
The revolving line-up as you describe must keep the dynamics and energy fresh and exciting?
Yeah, that’s right. I think it’s good for the crowd to see a slightly different line-up. Next year there will be a slightly different line up. It’s like a pool of players really who all know their stuff and always on hand to complete a line-up.
Bringing Jim Bob along for the tour is an awesome coup?
Yeah, that’s right! He makes it a proper U.K. line-up coming out. Yeah, great to have Jim Bob there. It should be good, it should work well together.
With Pop Will Eat Itself, is there ever a master plan of where you’re trying to take the band? How does it work?
Not really. We went out to The States last year and Australia this time. I know there’s been so many places really, that we do okay at. U.K., Australia, and The States. So it’s cycles really, when we get asked to play again. If we can do it, then we look to get out there and play nice.
The band could fit into about any genre, that’s where I was going with the master plan. Do you aim to fit in a particular genre or want to be labelled a certain way?
I don’t think so, no. The music is a melting pot of whatever we listen to but there is no real attempt to fit into any genre other than being a kind of hybrid type of thing. I think each album can be slightly different to the last but I think it’s essentially A Pop Will Eat Itself type of sound. That’s the core of what we do.
So what do you think about the modern music today? Do you think it’s good? Is it bad? Does some of it inspire you?
Not really! It seems to have lost its edge very much. When I was growing up the things I used to listen to going from punk to post punk to hip-hop and acid house. They all had the kind of edge to it, which is missing these days, which is maybe why this, for want of a better phrase, the 90s bands are back in vogue.
Does that amaze you that what’s essentially old, is new again?
Yeah, it’s surprising really but you wonder why that is. Is it because there’s a void? There’s not enough new bands filling that hole that we used to occupy? Is there a lack of excitement in modern music? Maybe there is and maybe that’s why people want us to play again.
Are you still working on solo projects at the moment or is everything still one hundred percent Pop Will Eat Itself at the moment?
Well, I think after the Australian tour there’s a bit of down time. I’ll be looking at what tracks there are and whether there’s enough Pop Will Eat Itself tracks to do a new album. I’ve certainly got tracks of my own, which I might do something with.
I’ll probably get together with all the other guys and we’ll pull it all together and see what we’ve got and take it from there really. From experience, I think you need a lot of ideas to whittle down to make a good album. Although an album’s say about twelve tracks you need probably twenty five to thirty tracks to be able to cut it down to twelve to make it a good enough album. I guess that remains to be seen.
Is it too early to have ideas about sonically how it’s going to sound or do you have a bit of an idea of where you want to go with it?
I think the last album was quite heavy in an alternative type of way. I guess we’ve done that for the time being. I guess usually go more of an electronic route.
Does anything in particular inspire that? Is it just the way that this evolves and just happens?
I suppose after the act of making a really dense album it takes quite a lot of effort production wise. There’s lots of layering there. When you’ve done something like that I think there’s often a desire to go, “well this time I want to strip it down, and keep it more minimal.” That’s where I think my current ideas are positioned more.
Do you get much of an opportunity to take a break over Christmas and New Years to recharge, and get ready for next year?
Yeah, we’ve got three dates coming up in the UK before the year is out. There’s an all day festival. then we do our own London gig and Leicester gig. Then we’ve got a break really until the Australian dates. There’s a couple of months there to just take some time out and, get together, get a spot of rehearsing in before coming out. It’s a bit of time off!
Interview by Rob Lyon
Pop Will Eat Itself play the following dates…