Back in the late eighties and early nineties, the erstwhile, unassuming West Midlands town of Stourbridge found itself at the heart of the indie music scene with native bands The Wonder Stuff, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and grebo gurus Pop Will Eat Itself all making waves.
While The Wonder Stuff were love-'em-or-hate-'em indie popsters of the highest order, Ned's and PWEI - aka The Poppies - were more of a lifestyle choice, each coming as they did with catchy merchandising and marketing. A Wonder Stuff t-shirt said that you liked indie but a Ned's or Poppies top was a statement of intent.
Pop Will Eat Itself, formed in 1986, spent a decade rocking, sampling, looping, riffing and white-rapping their way to a reputation for quirky, catchy, throwaway indie pop. Laced with pop culture touchstones and dark humour, debut LP, 1987's 'Box Frenzy', was an antidote to the all-pervading paper pop of Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
Box Frenzy summed PWEI up with standout tracks 'Hit the Hi-Tech Groove' (which sampled Mel and Kim's 'Respectable'), a cover of Sigue Sigue Sputnik's 'Love Missile F1-11' and the beyond risqué 'Beaver Patrol' (Fact Generator: Beaver Patrol popped up in Dan Aykroyd/John Candy vehicle 'The Great Outdoors').
Into the nineties, the Poppies lost their edge a little but broadened their appeal. Nonetheless, each of the six records released before the band's 1996 break-up was a manifesto of sorts. Along with 'Box Frenzy', 1989's 'This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This!' has also stood the test of time well.
As have Pop Will Eat Itself. Derided by those who didn't get the joke, the band is now regarded with affection and some admiration. Thankfully, there's an opportunity to make amends with PWEI having reformed in 2005 and with a new LP ('New Noise Designed By A Sadist') scheduled for release in October, ahead of an autumn tour.
The current line-up features founding member Graham Crabb and a new band. Former lead singer and Poppies mainstay Clint Mansell is not part of the current line-up, continuing instead to spend his time in LA writing film scores - including for 'Smokin' Aces', 'The Wrestler' and 'Black Swan'. No, really.
The autumn PWEI tour begins back at the Garage in Glasgow (where they played last week) on 12th October, then onto Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Islington and more before the final gig of the tour at the Birmingham O2 Academy on Friday 28th October.
We will have tickets for all dates from 9AM on Friday 29th July, priced £16 (£18 for London).