This irreverent quartet from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, with a style best described as hardcore pop with psychedelic and metal overtones, began gigging around the Black Country in 1986.
They soon released a self-produced EP entitled Poppies Say Grrr! (1986), which they packaged in brown paper bags and sold for a quid.
Birmingham-based indie label Chapter 22 signed the band and released several singles and their debut album Box Frenzy (1987), featuring the glorious There Is No Love Between Us Anymore.
The Poppies then veered off into unknown territory, sampling chunks from sources such as James Brown and Iggy Pop, with drummer Crabb abandoning his kit to join Clint centre stage and leaving a machine to do all the stick work.
Moving to RCA they began having hits in the form of Def Con One (1988) and Can U Dig It? (1989), but got kicked off a Public Enemy tour for not satisfying the hardcore rap contingent. They then hooked up with Italian porn star-turned-MP La Cicciolina to record an alternative World Cup anthem and kept the gossip columns of the music press busy with sordid tales of groupiedom.
During their time at RCA they managed to make three groundbreaking albums; This Is The Day, This Is The Hour, This Is This (1989), The PWEI Cure For Insanity (1990) and The Looks Or The Lifestyle (1992), for which the band traded in their drum machine in favour of a real drummer, called Fuzz.
In 1993 the band had their biggest hit ever with Get The Girl Kill The Baddies (UK #9) and were simultaneously dropped by RCA. They returned to the indie fraternity and, in 1994, released a collaboration with Fun-Da-Mental – the antifascist anthem Ich Bin Ein Ausländer (“I Am A Foreigner”) and headlined a Lollapalooza-style event.
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (with whom the band toured in the US) signed Pop Will Eat Itself to his Nothing label in the US and their fifth studio album, Dos Dedos Mis Amigos (1994), had something of an industrial sound – a far cry from the days of Sweet Sweet Pie. The album went Top 20 and spawned three Top 40 hits.
Things then went dramatically pear-shaped. Founder member Graham Crabb quit after internal conflict and, even though his bandmates later worked up some potent new material, the band finally hung up their grebo hats in 1996.
The band’s original line-up reunited for a UK tour in 2005.