Stuff You Knew About Long Before Everyone Else - PWEI


Welcome to WEEK 207 of MUSIC is Not a GENRE (Video Episode #33) Things That Happened Before They Happened

Pop Will Eat Itself – This Is the Day … This Is the Hour … This Is This! (1989) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_the_Day...This_Is_the_Hour...This_Is_This!

We become aware of things when they become an actual thing. When enough people and enough media get wind of something happening, and start to talk about it. It spreads and balloons into a stated genre, or trend, or cultural shift. It gets a label, a NAME. Like how rock n roll supposedly started in the mid-1950s.

Of course, that’s all really misleading. What we know as a thing has almost always been around far longer than we realize. Rock n roll songs – like, clear no-bullshit you can hear it rock n roll – existed as early as the 1940s. Cell phones & the internet were not invented in the 1990s. The first mobile phone call was made also IN THE 1940S. The internet has been around since the late 1960s. The first rap song was recorded also in the late 1960s. There are thousands of examples like this in all kinds of fields.

The commercial success and/or media/social awareness of something, or the gifting of a name/label, do not designate when it came into being. They just signify when enough people with enough money care about it enough to make it matter more.

But as any true music fan (or fan of anything creative) knows, history is way messier. Take Pop Will Eat Itself. This band in its late ‘80s – early ‘90s incarnation was a pastiche of post-punk, indie rock, post-modern glitch/sampling, pop, hip-hop, techno/dance, and metal. It was doing rap rock / nu metal before Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park – they even said back then how influenced they were by Public Enemy and LL Cool J (among others). It was incorporating samples into rock long before Beck. It was part of a nascent electro-industrial scene that existed long before that kind of music blew up in the 1990s.

Relistening to this, I remember how into them I was. Enough that I had this on both vinyl and cassette. I remember being blown away by how different they sounded from other British or American bands. How they blended together so many ideas and styles and sounds. It’s one of those bands I wish I’d gotten more into while they were happening. Honestly I don’t think I was ready to absorb their intricacies.

But I do know they influenced me. Their social/cultural commentary. Their rap-esque vocal delivery. Certainly their pastiche approach to crafting a song. Their strident rhythms & guitars. The British-ness of their Americanized music. I’ve had all that pulsing through my songs for years, including this one, from my band REC’s brand new EP, Syzygy for the Weird:

“Make Me Mic My Mouth” - https://youtu.be/PPb8lyj9Olc

Are you into industrial music at all like Nine Inch Nails? Do you remember PWEI? They did actually have a handful of minor hits: Listen to “Wise Up! Sucker”, “Can U Dig It?”, or “Not Now James, We’re Busy” to get a flavor. Are there trends or music styles or anything creative or technological that you remember existing long before they became famous? Discuss dammit!

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© 2018 by Nick DeMatteo

New York, NY