#926: ‘Ich Bin Ein Auslander’ – Pop Will Eat Itself

To say that ‘there aren’t many bands like Pop Will Eat Itself’ is an understatement. In fact, the group changed their style and methods so often that at times even they didn’t sound like Pop Will Eat Itself. However, at the root of it all, they’re a group whose history of strange behaviour and infectious music has always intrigued me.

My first exposure to Pop Will Eat Itself came back in my second year of high school, in 2006. For some sort of English project, we were tasked with cutting out pieces of old magazine to do …well, something. The magazines we were given were your typical run of the mill gossip magazines, with a few music magazines thrown in. I saw these music magazines, and stashed them into my school bag to salvage them from their immediate future of being cut up.

I got these magazines home and pored over them completely. They were issues of Q magazine, from early 1994, instantly drew my attention due to the fact that they were published only two months before the death of Kurt Cobain. While that isn’t exactly anything to write home about, these magazines all featured segments in which they theorised playfully about what Cobain would do next, or what the new Nirvana album will sound like. I was somewhat mesmerised, since with hindsight, I realised all these questions would go unanswered. (Well, save for ‘what will Kurt Cobain do next’, that one was answered tragically.)

But during the course of reading these magazines, I kept seeing articles on two bands; The KLF, and Pop Will Eat Itself. What struck me about PWEI was their irreverent nature and attitude towards the music industry. I could see that these guys really didn’t care about much. Not that I could relate, I was always anxious, but I admired it. This attitude even seeped into their logo, which famously copied the Pepsi logo, accompanied by the words, and their modus operandi, ‘Sample It, Loop It, Fuck It, & Eat It’. (Years later I would finally buy a (bootleg) PWEI shirt with this logo, which made me happier than it should have.)

When I was able to discover the music behind this enigmatic group, I discovered something that took me by surprise. While the first track of theirs I heard was ‘Everything’s Cool‘, whilst walking alone late at night, I was somehow still feeling up to discovering more of their music. For the longest time, I stuck to the album that these magazine I found were promoting; Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. It was the last album the group would release prior to their initial breakup, and it contained much more of an industrial rock sound than what they were known for previously.

One of the tracks that truly grabbed me was ‘Ich Bin Ein Auslander’, a song which protested fascism in all forms. While the title and the chorus paraphrased John F. Kennedy’s famous ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’ speech, the rest of the track took on a very harsh stance against the current state of England’s immigration issues.

When I first discovered the track, I found it to be somewhat timely, a piece of history captured via music. I didn’t know enough about politics to be aware of the current political situation in England, but I knew enough to know that this song was, by that point, outdated. What is a shame though is the fact that now, 23 years after the track’s release, the current political climate has changed to the point where the song is now relevant again. Here’s hoping that Pop Will Eat Itself are able to make as much of a statement as they did 23 years ago this time.

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