Born Clinton Darryl Mansell in Coventry, England in 1963, Mansell formed Pop Will Eat Itself in Stourbridge with keyboardist Adam Mole, bassist Richard March, and drummer Graham Crabb. He sang lead and played guitar. A Buzzcocks-influenced indie band, they issued their self-produced debut EP, The Poppies Say Grrr, in 1986. While recording their follow-up, Poppiecock, the group became immersed in sampling, drawing material from sources ranging from James Brown to Iggy Pop. Crabb eventually emerged from behind the kit to join Mansell as co-frontman when the band began to rely more on drum machines and programming. Honing a fusion of punk, hip-hop, and electronic dance music dubbed grebo, Pop Will Eat Itself kick-started a small revolution; by the release of their 1987 full-length debut, Box Frenzy, and the hit "There Is No Love Between Us Anymore," grebo was all the rage in the British music press. The influence of hip-hop was even more pronounced on singles like "Def. Con. One." and "Can U Dig It?," both included on Pop Will Eat Itself's 1989 album This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This!, their debut for RCA and only LP to reach the Billboard 200. "Touched by the Hand of Cicciolina," an ode to the Italian porn actress turned politician, was another hit, while 1991's Cure for Sanity marked an increasing interest in dance music. By 1992's The Looks or the Lifestyle, they had added a live drummer, Fuzz (aka Robert Townshend), to expand their ever-mutating sound. In early 1993, the band had their biggest U.K. hit, the Top Ten single "Get the Girl, Kill the Baddies," but they were nevertheless dropped by RCA. After signing to Infectious in Britain, they were picked up in the States by Nothing, a label owned by longtime fan Trent Reznor. Pop Will Eat Itself resurfaced in 1994 with the more industrial Dos Dedos Mis Amigos, which went to number 11 in the U.K. Prior to the release of a 1995 remix record, Two Fingers, My Friends, Crabb left the band to focus on family and his side project, Golden Claw Musics. Mansell took over full lead duties until the group decided to disband in mid-1996. That year, Mansell moved to New York, eventually meeting filmmaker Darren Aronofsky through a mutual friend a few months later.
Combining industrial-influenced original instrumental music by Mansell and preexisting tracks by acts including Aphex Twin, Orbital, and Massive Attack, the soundtrack for 1998's Pi proved a composing breakthrough for Mansell as the film garnered recognition for its writer/director at various independent-film showcases. The original score for their next collaboration, 2000's Requiem for a Dream, combined electronic and chamber music, and featured performances by the Kronos Quartet. Mansell's third feature was the 2001 mystery film The Hole with BAFTA-winning director Nick Hamm. Movies such as Knockaround Guys (2001), Murder by Numbers (2002), Nicolas Cage's Sonny (2002), and the adventure flick Sahara (2004) were among the many that followed in quick succession as Mansell committed to film scoring full-time. Pop Will Eat Itself did briefly re-form to play a handful of shows in England in 2005, resulting in a series of Instant Live double albums. When Mansell and March declined to make further plans with the group due to prior commitments, the remaining members continued on as Vileevils.
Mansell reunited with Aronofsky for the 2006 sci-fi drama The Fountain, which brought him his first Golden Globe nomination as well as awards from prominent critics including the Chicago Film Critics and International Film Music Critics Associations. Another film with Aronofsky, the 2008 bio-pic The Wrestler, featured prominent, atmospheric electric guitar performed by Slash. Back in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, Mansell's music for both Moon and Blood: The Last Vampire hit theaters in 2009, as did his work on the multilingual spy romance L'Affaire Farewell and the romantic comedy The Rebound. Mansell and Aronofsky ushered in the 2010s with Best Picture Oscar nominee Black Swan, earning Mansell a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.
Pop Will Eat Itself reunited in the studio in 2011 but without Mansell. Instead, he made his video game scoring debut with 2012's Mass Effect 3, following it with movies including Aronofsky's Noah (2014) and Ben Wheatley's High Rise (2015). He co-composed the score for the 2017 live-action version of Ghost in a Shell with Lorne Balfe and took sole credit for that year's animated feature Loving Vincent, about Vincent Van Gogh. He then reteamed with director Duncan Jones for 2018's Mute and joined the TV series Titans and DC Comics' Doom Patrol, which premiered in 2018 and 2019, respectively. ~ Marcy Donelson & Joshua Landau, Rovi
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