Star Scene: Graham Crabb ~ POP WILL EAT ITSELF (PWEI / Poppies)

Graham Crabb’s scene is family and football. The co-founder of indie industrial band,  Pop Will Eat Itself (also known as PWEI or The Poppies), states: “I’m kind of a family man these days, so I love doing that. I’ve got the kids supporting Tottenham Hotspur. I’m a big fan and we’re doing better than we have at any point in my lifetime, so that’s quite interesting. Yeah, that’s kind of it, I think.”

A far cry from one of his first band, Wild and Wondering, who were touted as Blind and Blundering – for obvious reasons. PWEI formed from the mainstay of the aforementioned band and From Eden in 1986. Crabb expands on the formation of the band and on his influences: “Towards the end of the ’70s was when I was old enough to start going to gigs or buying records, so that would be the sort of tail end of punk. I used to like a lot of UK punk bands, just stuff like the Ramones, and then I guess it went to post-punk, so it was kind of The Cure and Banshees and Joy Division, stuff like that. That led me on to more electronic stuff, and throughout the ’80s I got more into electro and hip hop, and probably even acid house in the late ’80s. So, it all kind of entered a melting pot and that was really the main sources of my inspiration.” He continues: “Actually, [PWEI] was another band to begin with called From Eden, which Clint and Adam were in. They were advertising for a drummer because Miles Hunt, now with The Wonder Stuff, had just left that band, so I stepped in as drummer. That band went through a split and so it was me, Adam and Clint left. We recruited Richard, became Pop Will Eat Itself, and that was the beginnings. We started up a little Portastudio so you could record four tracks with audio, which sounds very quaint and old-fashioned now, but at the time it was novel and it was great ’cause it was affordable. So, we used to do that before we could afford to go into a studio. Once we got into a studio we loved all the trickery that you could do, and that’s kind of when all the sampling and electronics took over.”

Crabb continues: “It was pretty mad really, because we’d all got boxes of records and I think we even had samples on cassettes in those days. We’d have a tune going in the control room and would be all trying to find samples that we could fit in. I mean, it was a great creative buzz. It was just constant and we sort of went round the clock, grabbing bits of sleep whenever we could, occasionally. The studio process was done in six weeks, but it was a very intense six weeks. As I say, it was just all hands to the pump and we were really pleased with the result. It was the first album we did with Flood (Mark Ellis), who’s obviously gone on to bigger things with U2 and Depeche Mode. But he was an inspiration to us, he showed us how to do a lot of things, particularly mic-ing up, putting an amplifier in the studio and sending out samples and drum loops through the amplifier to get a totally different sound, which was all new to us and it was lots of new experiments, which we loved.”

Unassumingly Crabb states that the well-crafted polished result of the album, This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This! was due to Flood. “Flood produced a superglue. He kind of pinned it all together. I suppose, in lesser hands, it could’ve sounded a bit of a patchwork quilt, but, as you say, I think the end product is good because we had a good producer on board, too.”

For Crabb, the difference nowadays in the recording process is that “it’s a lot more remote”. He explains: “We’ve all got equipment at home so somebody can start a song, they can send the files, you download them, you put them up on your computer, you come up with what you’re doing, send your files off. It’s just files bouncing backwards and forwards all the time, so we don’t really get in the studio together that much.  And we kind of really didn’t in the old days. The guitar would be done separately and then the bass would be done separately, but it was all expensive studio time, whereas nowadays, with the software and everything being computerized, you can take your time and do it at home at no extra cost, so the process is, I think, better in many ways now.”

Translating recordings into live performances, again Crabb is modest. He states: “Live, we just try to be entertaining, I think. Obviously we want it to sound good, but we’re not trying to present the fact that we’re musos or incredibly competent and proficient musicians, ’cause we’re not. People see through that quite easily. Yeah, it’s about entertainment, so if we run about the stage and bump into each other and somebody fluffs a note, well, it’s all sort of part of the fun.”

See Crabb and PWEI perform their recording live on their whirlwind Aussie tour,  starting tonight in Sydney, featuring original members Graham Crabb and Richard March alongside Apollo 440 and Pitchshifter vocalist Mary Byker and bassist Davey Bennett.

England’s Finest, POP WILL EAT ITSELF return! With a very special International Guest, JIM BOB best known as the singer of indie cult heroes CARTER USM. Plus our own electro rock bandits CALIGULA who reform especially for this tour!

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Get ready for a setlist chock full of Poppies fan favourites – Everything’s Cool, Wise Up Sucker, Def Con One, Ich Bin Ein Auslander, Can U Dig It? plus more!CARTER USM last toured in 1995 so for CARTER fans this will be a rare chance to hear their classics – Sheriff Fatman, Anytime Anyplace Anywhere, The Only Living Boy in New Cross, Bloodsport for All and more!

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‘a cracking show… full of the hits’ – Saminator

‘diehard fans grin from ear to ear and sing every lyric’ – Louder Than War

‘high-energy set… show of epic proportions’ – Spotlight Report


Find My Tickets

Thu 8th March – Brisbane
The Triffid

Fri 9th March – Melbourne
Max Watts

Sat 10th March – Sydney
Factory Theatre

Sun 11th March – Perth
Rosemount Hotel

Check Out the Tour Playlist on Spotify!

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.