We're Not Serious Artists

So reckon Pop Will Eat Itself, the band who put the `fun` into Indie-Techno-Funk...



The first-time I see Pop Will Eat Itself, It is nine o'clock on Wednesday, Clint is wearing baggy white pyjamas, Graham is fiddling with his fluorescent orange hair, Richard is yawning, Adam is messing with a video camera and Fuzz is getting undressed. They are onstage.


Pop Will Eat Itself live means pure cartoon mania. PWEI. P for ping! W for Whirrl!, E for eeee! and I for irrepressible indie invention. The crowd inside York's sterile Barbican Centre react accordingly, which is why Pop Will Eat Itself live also means gurning, bouncing, heat, energy, sweat, tee-shirts, beer and smells from hell. Put a peg on your nose and you could be watching the latest Hanna-Barbera creation. Unblock your nostrils and you might as well be in a pig farm.

But this doesn't matter because, right here, right now. Pop Will Eat Itself are celebrating their unofficial crowning as Britain's premier Techno-grunge posse (eight years in showbiz, eight hit singles and four 'Top Of The Pops" appearances) by kicking the comic strip shit out of the stage. While Clint and Graham come over all Beastie Boys, trading facetious little raps at the edge or the stage, gizmo-whiz Adam does his Bono/Zoo TV impression, zooming in on Richard's power chords and drummer Fuzz's Colgate grin. The swear word "fun" springs to mind.



You cannot hate Pop Will Eat Itself. It is the law.




Another law: after a Poppies gig, Thou Shalt Behave Abominably. Graham is following this law to the letter. Graham is sticking his tongue in my ear. Graham is collapsing to the floor. Graham is picking himself up, holding a frothily explosive can of beer against his groin and simulating spunky ejaculation. Graham is rugby-tackling your scruffily attired scribe and sending him crashing into a tableful of clean-cut-hard-nuts. Graham is drunk.


Graham is drunk because the gig is over and the four poppies are in a local sleazehall called "Toffs", where the (sadistic) management have seen fit to supply the band with a century's supply of strong lager and tequila chasers.


Adam, Richard and Fuzz react to the heady mixture by falling onto a sofa in the corner of the club. Clint leans against the bar, listens to "Cicciolina" playing over the PA and watches the video for "Get the Girl, Kill the Baddies" showing on the TV.


And Graham, for no apparent reason, decides to rant and rave his way through the A-Z of deleted expletives, with particular emphasis on the letters C and F.




He swears as he offers a tearful farewell to the moustachioed, muscle-bound meatheads at the door, who ask him if he wouldn't mind doing the local residents a favour and leaving the place quietly ("Bye Bye!" he yells. "See you soon!" he screams. "F***ing c***s." he mumbles). He even keeps swearing as he tumbles fringe-first down the steps of the club ("F-f-f-*-*-*-i-n-gc-c-c-*-*-*sl"). And he's still swearing in the cab back to the hotel, in between naming the entire 1972 Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal squads and, most curious of all, groping the shoulder of the driver.


"Don't worry," I fell the hapless cabbie. "He's in a pop group.




BUT the swearing really starts in earnest back at the hotel. The reason for all the ranting also becomes clear. Graham hates journalists, see. Has done for ages. Something to do with a certain hate campaign in the music press directed at Pop Will Eat Itself ever since their ignominious early days in the mid-Eighties and such ribald "sexist" delights as "Box Frenzy" and "Beaver Patrol".


For many, the Poppies will always be the scummy scuzzballs who went on the road with sensitive anorak janglers. The Shop Assistants, and tossed wank-mags around their tour van; are destined to remain the Grebo Brummies who drop their trousers at every opportunity and pour beer over all and sundry.


Clearly, what's all right for "Viz" isn't all right for a bunch of beatbox-rockers from the Midlands. Besides, PWEI aren't like that any more. Not really, anyway. Which is why Graham is so Frustrated at this (thoroughly inebriated, it must be stressed) moment.


And why, over a round of turkey salad sandwiches in the lounge of our hotel, he likens me to a specific part of the female anatomy precisely 246 times.


"I'm a violent man," warns Graham at the end of his harangue, brandishing a lettuce leaf. He then proceeds to detail exactly what he would like to do -physically - to all the cowardly Poppies-bashers who would never dare slag off the band to their faces. Don't ask.


Just as well I'm one of the few rock writers in this sceptered, cynical isle who believes the creed; You Cannot Hate Pop Will Eat Itself.




I'm not the only person on the planet who likes Pop Will Eat Itself, though. Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction recently said that, along with the Cocteau Twins, they were his favourite British group. Trent Reznor of American electro-terrorists, Nine Inch Nails, wants to remix some PWEI tracks. And the Joe Mangle character from "Neighbours" pogos down at the front of every Aussie Poppies gig.


I learn a lot about Pop Will Eat Itself on the early-morning train down to the 'Top Of The Pops' studios in Elstree the day after the night before. Mostly, I learn that PWEI are as crap at taking their drink as any other mortal (Fuzz sleeps all the way to King's Cross while Adam, at least a dozen shades whiter than pale, spends the entire journey with his face slumped forwards on a table, his tea-cosy hat over his head, only emerging once when he threatens to puke his ring).

I also learn that the Poppies recently got into a ruck with Antipodean King of Comedy, Nick Cave. "I did this interview with an Australian music paper,' recalls Clint, his head vibrating against the train window, 'where they asked me what I thought of the Nick Cave/Shane MacGowan single. And I described it as sounding like two old drunks in a pub. A few weeks later, we were at some record company party in Melbourne and Nick Cave was there as well. And he kept calling me a limey c*** with shit on your head'. Then the fists started flying and tables started getting smashed up and, basically, Graham twatted the bloke."



"If you see a picture of Cave with a scar on his forehead," winks Graham, casually peering up from his Sonic The Hedgehog game, "that was me." I told you: don't mess with these boys.




"People are confused by Pop Will Eat Itself," says a subdued Richard, settling into the bar in between takes down at 'Top Of The Pops". 'They're not quite sure if they like us."


'There's always been this view that we' re totally uncool," adds an even more subdued Adam. People call us nerds-they always have done. But that's probably something we courted, especially in the early days. We're lads. We like a laugh. We're like a bunch of schoolkids on a trip. We're not serious artists, as you can probably tell."


'We're a lot wiser than we were, though," chips in a completely subdued Clint. "We used to play up to things, but we can't be bothered now. It would be quite easy to lump us in with all the other brattish white boys who put samples and dance rhythms together, but really, we're not all that brattish anymore."


So you're not a gang of grotesque sexist reprobates from the Planet Shag, then? 'What do you think?" asks Clint, genuinely puzzled and just a little bit hurt.






The last time I see Pop Will Eat Itself, it is seven o'clock on Thursday, Clint is wearing baggy white pyjamas, Graham is fiddling with his fluorescent orange hair, Adam is messing with a video camera, Richard is yawning and Fuzz is getting undressed. They are on TV.


And we're all in our kitchens and bedrooms, grinning broadly as PWEI lurch into Manic Cartoon Mode and kick the comic strip shit out of the 'Top Of The Pops" studio.


Like I say, it's the law. You cannot hate Pop Will Eat Itself.




•Graham never wears underpants. Says the diminutive Poppie, "I'm pure sex, me".

•Clint is obsessed with Sophie from "Home and Away". "She combines the frailty of the human condition with a huge pair of knockers," says Clint.

•Pop Will Eat Itself's "Dance of the Mad" was once heard on the pub jukebox on "Emmerdale Farm". The landlord was told by a customer to "turn that rubbish down".



•Richard has a unique, tried and tested method for making his daughter behave. "I singe the soles of her feet with lighted cigarettes," he explains.

•Plans are afoot to make a Poppies computer game based on their current "Get the Girl" single.

•PWEI were once described in The Independent as "the poor man's Wonder Stuff". Retorted Richard, "That's not bad, coming from the poor man's Guardian."



•The group recently discovered that several college students are writing theses on the lyrics of Pop Will Eat Itself. "They wanted me to help them," says Graham, the Poppies' wordsmith, "but I didn't have a f***ing clue myself!"

•The Poppies are the only unsigned band ever to appear on "Top of the Pops".

•Drummer Fuzz used to be a bus mechanic.

•The chaps ran up debts in excess of ?500,000 but they don't have to pay a penny back because it was RCA's decision to drop the band.



•Clint has appeared in the tabloids on numerous occasions. Once it was suggested he was in love with "Page Three Stunna", Suzanne Mizzi. Another time, he was reported to have a tremendous fear of flying. "They said I tried to trash my way out of two planes".

•Graham spent a night in jail during a recent tour of Australia, for breech of the peace and possession of cannabis. He now keeps in regular contact with his cellmates.

•Fuzz's drums were once owned by The Glitter Band. Thus Pop Will Eat Itself are Britain's premier glam-grunge-hip hop outfit.