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Headless Chickens Interview

Headless Chickens Interview

Monday 9th August, 2010 12:41PM

We catch up with Chris Matthews, singer and songwriter for Headless Chickens before their up and coming reunion shows.


Headless Chickens went through various incarnations. Which one is most memorable?

I remember them all really well, if that’s what you’re asking. There are way too many things that happened in the band’s 15 years to go into details, that would take a whole bloody book... which I should probably get a start on writing soon…

You joined the Flying Nun stable in the late 80s as a band on their darker side. How did you get along with the other artists on the roster – was their much of a community happening?

Well, as Children’s Hour, we actually joined Flying Nun in the early 80s, which continued on in 1985 when we formed the Headless Chickens. But, I knew virtually all the other early (and later) F. Nun bands personally and liked most of them immensely – there was a huge community among the F. Nun crowd because everything was word of mouth back then and everyone mostly loved each other’s bands. There was always a palpable buzz of excitement in Auckland, where we lived, when a band like The Clean or The Chills came to town for a show, because everybody seemed to be playing music purely for the absolute love of it, which is still obvious when you hear any of that stuff now.

In 1987 when you won the Rheineck Beer Rock award, just how much free beer did you get?

A lot. When we toured Stunt Clown, which was the album we made with the money they gave us, we swapped the Rheineck (or Weasels Piss Lite, as we preferred to call it) for decent beer in every pub we played in N. Z.

Headless Chickens was always well known for its mashing of electronic instruments with dark rock. Can you give a comparison of how different that was if something that new was being done today?

Ummm… I don’t know. Think of a band you like now that’s doing something new and interesting, I guess. There’s still plenty of them, which is always a good thing.

What has been your favourite record to write and record?

All of them.

How did this recording take place? Which studio, any special techniques?

Again, it would take pages and pages to go into all of that stuff, but we started off just recording at our home studio on a 4-track reel to reel machine in the mid 80s and worked our way up to digital 48-track studios by the end of the band in 2000, so we ran the entire gamut of recording processes and experiences. I prefer to record at home on my Mac these days, like just about everyone else.

What is your favourite instrument (that you own)?

My throat. Most guitars are pretty much the same but I’m the only one that has my voice, for better or worse.

What where you listening to in high school?

Everything good that had ever been recorded before 1980, which was when I left school. Joy Division were definitely my favourite band as a tortured teen.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Still everything, but 28 years more of it by this stage. Lykke Li’s ‘Youth Novels’ album is a current fave.

What is your dream collaboration?

For me? I’d kinda like to play with The Skeptics but that ain’t gonna happen, obviously. They’re probably still my favourite ever N. Z. band.

After seeing your type of music becoming favourable with younger audiences again, how do you feel about the over all progression of music? Are there still rocks to be turned?

Definitely. Like I said, there’s loads of great new bands out there. I’m really looking forward to seeing TV On The Radio at the Big Day Out, they’re doing some really interesting stuff.

With your reunion this year, what were your reasons?

Money, fame, power, etc. The usual stuff.

Will you be recording any new material or can we expect to hear any at your shows?

I’ve recorded some new stuff with my Robot Monkey Orchestra band (I’m on MySpace, check it out) but I don’t think the Chickens’ll do any new songs – too many old ones to play again and no plans to do any recording.

Undetheradar are big fans of Headless Chickens - can we score some of your vinyl please?

If you can find it – go and look on Trademe, like everybody else, that’s what I do…

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