About Severed Heads + NOL


Severed Heads are an Australian electronic music group founded in 1979 as Mr. and Mrs. No Smoking Sign. The original members were Richard Fielding and Andrew Wright, who were soon joined by Tom Ellard. Fielding and Wright had both left the band by mid-1981. Throughout the next decade several musicians joined Severed Heads' ranks; including Garry Bradbury, Simon Knuckey, Stephen Jones, and Paul Deering. In 1984 they released "Dead Eyes Opened" as a single, which was remixed in 1994 and re-released, the latter version reached No. 16 on the ARIA Singles Chart. Two of their singles, "Greater Reward" and "All Saints Day" , reached the top 30 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Ellard disbanded the group in 2007 and continued with other projects. Subsequent Severed Heads reunions have occurred in 2010 for a 30th anniversary concert, in 2011 they supported Gary Numan's tour of Australia, also that year they appeared at BimFEST in Antwerp, in 2013 they had a gig at the Adelaide Festival of Arts, and in September 2015 they toured the United States for the first time in over 20 years. In November 2016 they played at the State Library of Victoria as part of Melbourne Music Week and in November 2017 they headlined a one-off double act along with Snog at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria. Severed Heads will disband following headlining shows in September 2019.


In 1979 Richard Fielding and Andrew Wright formed an experimental electronic duo, Mr. & Mrs. No Smoking Sign in Sydney. By the end of that year Tom Ellard joined the group. They issued cassette albums including Mr and Mrs No Smoking Sign Go Cruising fer Burgers!. In December 2006 Ellard explained to Todd E Jones about the name change "e were called Mr. & Mrs. No Smoking Sign, because that was really ugly. Then, we wanted to fool people that we were Industrial and it worked. Severed Heads was a really dumb name, so that’s what stuck. Forever. I hate it by the way".


Their early music was characterised by the use of tape loops, noisy arrangements of synthesisers and other dissonant sound sources in the general category of industrial music. Wright departed late in 1979; leaving the duo of Ellard and Fielding to put together the band's early studio offerings;, including the A-side of a split album, Ear Bitten/No Vowels, No Bowels, with the B-side by Rhythmyx Chymx. Fielding then departed the band during the recording of 1981's Clean, leaving much of the work to be completed solely by Ellard.


After several releases in that vein, Severed Heads began incorporating various popular music tropes, such as a consistent 4/4 rhythm, strong melodic lines, resolving chord arrangements and Ellard's thin but gently eerie vocals and elliptical, poetic lyrics. This move was underscored by the incorporation of mimetic devices, such as drum machines and bass synthesisers. The result was a striking hybrid of the avant-garde industrial and pop. The group moved their live shows from "experimental venues and art spaces to rock clubs", and they issued further albums, Blubberknife and 80's Cheesecake in 1982; following the expansion of the band's lineup to include first synthesiser-player Garry Bradbury and then guitarist Simon Knuckey. Following the release of these albums Severed Heads were also joined by video expert and additional musician Stephen Jones.


1983 saw United Kingdom label Red Flame/Ink issued Since the Accident, which was subsequently released by Nettwerk records in North America, and Volition Records in Australia respectively. AllMusic's John Bush described the album as not "quite a crossover effort" with the lead single, "Dead Eyes Opened", being "surprisingly melodic synth-pop". Their recording deals led to a world tour, which was a multimedia event, due to the video synthesisers performed by Jones. After the tour they returned to Australia in August 1984. However this period saw more personnel change for the band; as Bradbury had departed during the recording of Since the Accident in 1983 , and Knuckey departed the band shortly prior to the commencement of the world tour in 1984; leaving the tour to be handled by the new lineup which consisted of Ellard, Jones, and the newly recruited Paul Deering.


In 1985 they issued City Slab Horror, on Ink for the European market. For this album Bradbury returned as guest musician and contributed to the vocals and songwriting on the release; following which personal clashes between Ellard and Deering led to Deering leaving the band in order to continue working with Bradbury. In October that year Jon Casimir of The Canberra Times described the group as "Australia's most innovative electronic band", which had an "obsession with the ugly and horrific" with music "reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle". Local label, Volition, compiled international tracks for the local only album, Stretcher . In August the following year they followed with Come Visit The Big Bigot. During that year Ellard and Jones took Severed Heads on a European and North American tour.Bad Mood Guy was issued by Volition in October 1987.The Canberra Times' Kathryn Whitfield felt the group had "gone way beyond experimental" to provide "a commercially viable product" while Ellard reflected "we have just worked carefully and solidly in an area that we think is good".


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Severed Heads + NOL", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Map & Directions To Venue

x close

Follow Us

facebook twitter