In 1995 Flying Nun released compilation CD Abbasalutely, made up of ABBA covers from their stable of artists. Headless Chickens contributed with this decidedly heavy cover of 'Super Trouper', ABBA’s ninth and final UK chart topper. The monochrome music video for the remake takes place at the RNZAF Base at Whenuapai, with the Chickens adopting many precarious positions on top of aircraft. It was directed by Jonathan Ogilvie, who helmed numerous Flying Nun music videos. The song's title was inspired by a popular concert spotlight.
Another treasure from director Sam Peacocke — who also directed Vodafone Award-winning Mint Chicks video Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! — this promo channels the kind of obtuse storyline that Mint Chicks songs were known for. It opens on a tiny lego band ordering a comatose man in a rabbit hat to help them. Sulky teenagers, feuding couples and a high dive into a tin bathtub complete the outlandishly art-directed picture, before arriving at the clip's high-water mark — the bunny boils over.
Co-written by lead singer Fiona McDonald, 'Juice' celebrates the days when she watched morning music shows as a child. Alongside scenes of children playing outside, things take a more sinister turn indoors, with one particularly nightmarish sequence showing her younger self restrained in a dentist’s chair. 'Juice' was released paired with Chickens song 'Choppers', and won Single of the Year at the 1994 NZ Music Awards. It was originally recorded by McDonald’s other band, Strawpeople, under the title 'Dreamchild'. It featured on 1994 Strawpeople album Broadcast.
Named after the German word for a type of gas chamber used in Nazi concentration camps, 'Gaskrankinstation' was the first single off Headless Chickens' second album Body Blow. Actor Peter Tait (Bogans, Kitchen Sink) stars as gas station attendant Ivan, whose desperate monologue drives the track, while the band play some comically tortured-looking instruments in the parking lot. Anita McNaught also makes a cameo appearance as the "lady newsreader" of Ivan's affections.
Do robots dream of mechanical owls? A young woman in distress wakes up to find she has a 'robot problem' in her apartment. As the wee ‘bots (resembling animated cuisenaire rods) cause mayhem, she calls for help on her rat-phone. Roused from the Winter Gardens, an exterminator and his giant caged owl come to the rescue. The promo was one of several shot for The Mint Chicks by Crystal Bear-winning short film director Sam Peacocke (Manurewa). To create the miniature robots, life-size puppets were shot in front of a green screen, then composited into the action.
With its skittering drum loops and unsteady vocals punctuated with bursts of industrial-strength noise, Donka is an early example of Headless Chickens’ ever-evolving sound. Director Stuart Page (working with the Chickens' Grant Fell) cuts together a wild collage to echo the song’s mood swings. Chris Matthews' deadpan delivery to camera — occasionally in butoh-type face paint — provides a spot of calm amongst the blizzard of grotesque close-ups, absurd costumes, time-lapse and triple exposures. Fell wrote later that the video cost $527.55 to make.
Headless Chickens were a rogue electronic act on the traditionally guitar-dominated Flying Nun label, so it makes sense that this Chickens video would be equally outlandish. Inspired by both the Mexican Day of the Dead and Eastern European circus traditions, it has the band dressed as gypsies, beckoning us towards the chaotic carnival which they inhabit. Accompanying the band are a brigade of performers, including knife throwers and stilt walkers, only adding to the surreal feel.
‘Cruise Control’ is one of the Headless Chicken’s most poppy and accessible songs, and became a hit in New Zealand, and (in remixed form), in Australia. This studio shot promo, for the ‘Eskimos in Egypt’ remix, has Fiona McDonald and the Chickens packed into a touring car cruising to old school rear projected nighttime cityscapes. It’s dark and moody: a wry touch of Hollywood glamour mixed with early 90s Auckland - dated by Knight Rider, bling and brick-sized mobile phones.
George was the first Flying Nun single to make it to number one in New Zealand, and the video is also a strong one. Brooding black and white shots of singer Fiona McDonald are frenetically cut together with dark images (tattooed man crawling on concrete, wily old bloke holding birthday cake) that match the menacing lyrics of the song.
The Ray Columbus and The Invaders' 60s classic gets a modern make-over by the Mint Chicks, to mark the Invaders' induction into the NZ Music Hall of Fame. The clip was shot on the night of the Music Awards where Columbus and co were honoured. Shot in black and white, the video embraces the 60s theme, with a stage performance involving mini-skirted go-go dancers and swirly psychedelic back-projections. Backstage footage of the surviving members of The Invaders also features, as do shots from the original She's a Mod promo clip.