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Headless Chickens


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Formed in 1985 (initially as `International Headless Chickens’) as a special project to perform at the multi-media event The Nitpickers Picnic. The initial line-up was Children’s Hour members Chris Matthews, Johnny Pierce and Michael Lawry.

The project became permanent following the end of This Kind of Punishment and their first release was a track on the 1986 student radio compilation album Outnumbered By Sheep. Also in 1986 they released a self-titled EP that was well received both in NZ and overseas. They were one of the first bands in NZ to experiment with `abused’ technology: samplers, drum machines and synthesizers.

“The Headless Chickens steal the best bits from everything: a heavy dose of morbid surrealism, nursery rhymes, surf pop, the aforementioned psychedelia and lotsa brutal noise . . . Hedge Song’s opening being a psychedelic mess of backwards tapes and voices, tumbling into a whine of violins and voices screaming, cackling `here it comes . . .’ . . . It culminates in Chris Matthews’ `cinematic’ lyrical technique, a gallery of mostly grotesque characters, lurching up to leer at the camera/listener, before turning back to resume their tasks at hand . . . It’s a carnival and a house of horrors, claustrophobic, life, maybe art, maybe that psychedelia I was talking about.” (Rip It Up, April ‘87).

They toured NZ as support act to Nico before the untimely suicide of Johnny Pierce in August 1986, which forced them to find a new bass player. In June 1987 Grant Fell, formerly of Childrens Hour and NRA, joined them as bass player and soon after they also took on ex-Bird Nest Roys player Rupert Taylor.


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