The wider world noticed PWEI were when signed to major label RCA, for starters they achieved top 40 hits with ‘Can U Dig It?’ and ‘Wise Up! Sucker’ off the album ‘This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is’ The first two ‘…This is This! and ‘Cure for Sanity’ were recorded with the aid of legendary producer Flood, who became known known for his work with Nine Inch Nails, U2 and many other popular 90s groups. ‘Cure for Sanity’ was arguably PWEI’s most experimental album, with a more electronic sound than previous efforts. RCA, meanwhile, was more interested chart success and so wanted the band to cut the lengthy instrumentals from their songs.
This is where we come in for 1992’s ‘The Looks or The Lifestyle’, the band recruited a live drummer (Fuzz) to complement their standard array of loops and pre-programmed drums and brought back some live guitars. The record was their most commercial and polished work to date, and this album for some would be the Poppies’ high point, featuring top 20 hits like ‘Karmadrome’ and ‘Bulletproof. Their live set also shines and features already classics and crowd pleasers like ‘Can You Dig It’ and ‘Def Con 1’ so it’s no surprise we hope that we have brought this original 1992 interview to the masses.
Right now, Sam Collins is focus in on one album ‘The ‘Look Or The Lifestyle’ in late 1992; Ready to interview with frontman Clint Mansell, strap in, enjoy…
The new album is more human, raw feel to it, was that a conscious decision or just the way the song-writing was going?
Clint: “Well. When we were doing the demos before Fuzz joined the band, the demos were all a bit ‘we’ve done that before’.”
A bit mechanical?
Clint: “Well, it wasn’t so much like that. It just sounded like things we had done before; we wanted a looser, more live feel to them. When we did ‘Cure For Sanity’ we got all the loops and programs together; We were saying this song would sound really good if we had a live drummer. We have seen Stereo MC’s and Jesus Jones do it and that worked really well, it looked good and sounded so different.
We were using a tape with the drum stuff on, so we could maybe get a bit more oomph out of it. But particularly when we were doing the new songs like ‘I’ve Always Been A Coward Baby’ we had a programmed drum beat it sounded really techno and ordinary. We just thought that’s shit. We were happy with the song, we just wanted more, we know the band could do something more, we knew Fuzz from around Birmingham. So we just said ‘let’s give it a go’ lucky for us he was into it. Songs like ‘I’ve Always Been A Coward Baby’ when you change the bass and put a different rhythm to it, the songs just come alive, there was a completely different feel.”
Did you find it hard to adjust to a real drummer?
Clint: “No we didn’t, Fuzz perked up a lot of the old songs by putting his character into them, we were sick to death of songs like ‘Can You Dis It’ or ‘Def Con 1’ we were bored shitless by them; when he started playing to them songs, it gave them a new life. It has worked out really well, he’s great. He has played with lots of bands like Big Bros, General Public and with some of the guys out of the Specials in International Beat, he is a great drummer.”
The song ‘Harry Dean Stanton’ from the album, anything in the naming that song?
Clint: “Whenever you see Harry Dean Stanton you get that same sort of feel that you get from that song; it’s just suited to him, down and out but positive about it.”
Enjoying It in fact?
Clint: “Resigned was the word I was thinking of, not pissed off about things, but resigned to facts. It’s great when you’re just watching some film and he turns up, it’s like’ Once upon a time, in the West’ he is one of the gang in that; he has even got a band as well. He does some almost country-ish type stuff. I imagine if someone was going to shoot the film my autobiography, it would probably be Harry Dean Stanton playing me.”
How are PWEI doing on America?
Clint: “Clinton still seems to be out in front; maybe that is god news for me, with me with the same name as the American President.”
If at all, how have your attitudes changed during your career?
Clint: “To a certain degree you start out very idealistic, you’re just into making up songs, but after a while you do come to realise a lot of it is a business. If you want to keep in the position that you want to be in, playing gigs and writing songs, you have to be aware of the business side which makes you a little bit old…
Does it make you cynical?
Clint: “It makes you cynical yeah; because you know have to be aware of those things, you feel f**king hell – I should have got a job in a bank.’ If I was going to be aware of business.’ I didn’t want to be in a band to-do those things. But if you want to keep on doing what you want to do, basically writing songs, doing gigs, recording records, you got to have an idea of the business side; particularly when you’re signed to a major label, if the books don’t balance at the end of the year, they cut the cash which supports you in what you want to do. You have to keep a bit of perspective.”
However, ‘The Looks or The Lifestyle’ is less immediately accessible than past work?
Clint: “The last records, the singles people listened to that period were probably more commercial than the singles we are working on now. But that was something we were into at the time. You’ve got to do at any given point what you want to do, if you feel right about it, you go with it.; you look back at later times and think, ‘I’m not too sure about that now’ but if it was what you want wanted to do, you have to go with it!”
At this point, John Porkbeast, a.k.a. Carter’s warm up man interrupts
“John: ”Karmadrome has probably more air-play on student’s charts. It’s about 5 in the student charts. What was your highest position in the charts?”
John: “You see bands like Wedding Present are still getting higher positions than that. I must say I like the Wedding Present but it just seems that the ‘poppies’ have crossed over and still don’t seem to get the same places.”
Clint: “I think I think though to a certain degree that sort of works in our advantage a little bit because we’re not in everybody’s faces, we are not picking up a cross over audience. When I was first into Banshees not many had heard of them, then they had a few singles then people at my school who I didn’t really respect were getting into them; Then I was thinking ‘I have lost this band now’. I think people who are into bands like us feel a little bit like outsiders, to a certain degree that does work to our advantage, we keep our core audience. Obviously it’s a disadvantage if we don’t break out to a big stadium type thing but like I say, it supports us doing what we want to do; I suppose we should praise the lord for that.”
What was it like to be the first UK independent band to play in the U.S.S.R?
Clint: “It was quite humbling really. It was really weird. They have not been exposed to many western bands and they were really into It., but it could be any band. They had gone for. After that going over to shoot the live video in Moscow, it just seemed to me that everyone was milking the situation rather than caring if somebody was starving to death, I mean that’s a bit more important than somebody’s latest rock video; so it was a bit weird really.”
Are you going to be writing a new tune for the next World Cup?
Clint: “I don’t know we will have to see if England qualifies first!”