Effective period / Period of releases: 1980 - 2019Severed Heads is an Australian group based and founded in Sydney in 1979. The group was originally known as Mr And Mrs No Smokin' Sign who started recording in 1977 and comprised of Richard Fielding and Andrew Wright (8). Tom Ellard joined the group in 1979 and shortly thereafter Wright departed. Once Wright left the group Fielding decided to change the name to Severed Heads. Fielding eventually left the group too, in 1981, citing it as becoming "too rock 'n roll", leaving Ellard as the sole continuing member of the group. A variety of people have played in Severed Heads, including Garry Bradbury, Paul Deering, and Stephen Jones (3), but over time the group has devolved to Tom Ellard.
Early Severed Heads music was characterised by the use of tape loops, noisy arrangements of synthesizers, and other dissonant sound sources, putting Severed Heads in the general category of industrial music. After several releases in that vein, Severed Heads began incorporating various popular music tropes, such as a consistent 4/4 rhythm, strong melodic lines, and resolving chord arrangements. This move was underscored by the incorporation of mimetic devices, such as drum machines. The result was a striking hybrid of the avant-garde, EBM and Synth-pop.
Severed Heads were signed to Nettwerk Records in North America, and Volition Records in Australia, and charted in 1984 with the song "Dead Eyes Opened". This deal lead to a world tour, which was as much a multimedia event, thanks to the video work of Stephen Jones. A period of more or less dance music influenced releases followed until Volition went bankrupt and Nettwerk dropped the band which led to a re-activation and digital distribution via their own SevCom imprint.
On 4th February 2008 Tom Ellard announced the end of the "Severed Heads".
However, they continue to play occasional live shows and played on 16th and 17th December 2011 at the 10th Anniversary BIM Fest in Antwerp, Belgium.
In 2013 they played the Adelaide Festival in Australia again.
2015 saw a performance at the Metro in Chicago for Cold Waves IV, as well as a North American tour.
2016 saw performances in Europe and back on their home turf Australia.
In 2019, they played another small tour in select cities across Europe and North America; they played their final show at the Metro in Chicago, IL, on 9th September 2019.