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Hero image for Headless Chickens - Give It A Whirl Interview

Headless Chickens - Give It A Whirl Interview

Interview – 2023

The late Grant Fell was a member of Headless Chickens, famous for their distinctly experimental pop sound. Fiona McDonald joined the band for their second album Body Blow, spawning single 'Cruise Control', which achieved major success in New Zealand and Australia.

In this extended interview, recorded for 2003 TV series Give It A Whirl, Fell and McDonald cover many topics, including:

  • Early South Auckland and Pasifika music influences, and the Kiwi "lust for music" 

  • Early 80s music movements, and regional sounds (7 minutes in)

  • Merging genres and creative clashes, from Children’s Hour to Headless Chickens (9 minutes in)

  • McDonald being a longtime fan of Headless Chickens' "weird" sound (13 minutes)

  • Frustrations with unreliable technology (16 minutes)

  • Keyboard player Michael Lawry’s Kiwiana contributions (17 minutes)

  • Negative associations with the band’s name and sound (18 minutes)

  • Winning the Rheineck Rock Award in 1987, which drew new fans and backlash from local radio (20 minutes)

  • McDonald joining her favourite band, initially to record 'Cruise Control' (24 minutes)

  • Australian versus New Zealand music; giving up on commercial and international success, and leaning into the experimental (29 minutes)

  • 'The Chooks' touring in Australia (34 minutes)

  • Making a living from music — or not; thoughts about new musicians (38 minutes)

  • Favourite songs from the band (44 minutes)

Read more about Headless Chickens and Grant Fell, at AudioCulture (NZ On Screen's sister website)

This interview was recorded for the 2003 season of TV series Give it a Whirl. All audiovisual content is copyright to Visionary Film & TV, and may not be reproduced.
A lot of people didn’t "get" us. All they knew was 'Headless Chickens'; [that] it must be a dark, evil band, into voodoo or something, you know. We had that in Brisbane: we got booted out of — we weren't allowed to play a hall because they thought we were a voodoo band.
– Grant Fell on how the band's name put some people off, 19 minutes into this interview