Poppies' Power

The title of Pop Will Eat Itself's new LP "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos" stands for the rather charming "two fingers my friends."

But their bass player Richard March is not prepared to reveal who or what is the subject of their two fingered salute.


"It is for people to make their own minds up," said Richard, "it could be two-fingers to our old record company, the music press, or perhaps it is our victory salute - it is up to people to make their own minds up, really."


Pop Will Eat Itself (PWEI) are one of British music's most durable outfits. Formed in Stourbridge around 1986, the group quickly established cult status and signed a deal with major label RCA.


However, after three studio LP's, which were loved by their highly devoted and faithful fans but received only lukewarm reactions from the critics, the group left for pastures new.


A live album, Weird's Bar and grill, and the contractually obligatory "Best of" album came out on RCA but the band soon found a new deal with independent label, Infectious.


Fortunately, the "best of" record - named Sixteen Different Flavours of hell - was released with the co-operation of the band instead of the usual acrimony.


Explained Richard: "We had this kind of agreement with them, they wanted to fill it up with dodgy unreleased B-sides, but we didn't really want to do that. We wanted it to be more representative of how we felt we ended at that time - so it had the singles on, but also a few overlooked album tracks we were particularly fond of."


Ironically, the Poppies - as they are affectionately known - found their greatest success with their last studio album for the label - The Looks or the Lifestyle.


But Richard recalled a feeling that the label weren't 100% behind the band.


"I remember we had a single that went in the charts at number 16 but everyone in the office was going mad because Take That's single went in at 17 and we thought, mmmm, maybe this isn't the place for us".


He added "Part of the reason we left RCA was that they were sacking a load of staff as well, a lot of people we had been working with found themselves down the job centre. In the British music industry there is such a fast turnover of staff no-one seems to stay in a job for more than six months."


Fortunately the head of A&R at RCA - the guy who signs bands - also left the label and set up his own company - Infectious. PWEI were one of the label's first signings and soon released a single, RSVP. That was followed up by Ich Bin Ein Auslander, again a success with fans, but heralding a darker more brooding sound.


Admitted Richard, "There's always been a political side to us, but now the music is heavier, people take it more seriously."


The new album, then, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos, is an answer to the group's continued success in the face of adversity.


Said Richard, "There have always been people in the press who grudgingly accept we are not a one-off joke band. We just carry on doing what we are doing - that's why we wanted to be in a band in the first place."


The group are about to embark on a tour to promote the new album which includes Hanley's Victoria Hall on October 1st.


Now as far as the band are concerned, like the title of their new single, Everything's Cool.