Frequently Asked Questions

What is a clifford?
The current definition of a clifford is essentially a person who is interested in the work of Severed Heads. (The term comes from an album Severed Heads released, titled Clifford Darling, Please Don't Live in the Past. They released it in 1986 in response to people who thought they had sold out when they started recording songs, complete with vocals, rather than solely tape loop noise pieces.) But, like all good terminology, the usage of the term clifford has shifted to mean pretty much anyone with an interest in Severed Heads.
Is this the Severed Heads FAQ, then?
No, that's hosted at Kevin Busby's site. That also defines the term clifford.
What is a clifffest?
A social gathering of cliffords, almost always held in a place that serves alcohol. Sydney clifffests have been held in various inner-city pubs.
What are these clifford compilations people talk about?
A surprising large proportion of the list members make music, ranging from hobbyists to actual working musicians. In 1996 we were curious about what sounds we all made, and so we decided to produce a compilation of our own original tracks, and distribute them to ourselves and other list members. Given the technology of the day, this was a cassette release. However, a list institution was born, and every couple of years or so we get inspired by some theme, and someone volunteers to produce another compilation.
How do I get copies of these clifford compilations?
There is no one person who produces the clifford compilations. Also, some of these compilations incorporate novel packaging. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that for original physical copies of each compilation, you simply have to have been there at the time to get a copy. However, this site will provide high-quality downloadable copies of the tracks when hosting and bandwidth constraints allow. Some compilers may choose to reissue their compilations - these will simply be announced on the list as per new compilations.
What happened to the Severed Heads mailing list?
The Severed Heads mailing list closed down on February 11, 2005. It had run in different locations since 1992. One of the main points of the mailing list was to be a manifestion of one of the ideals of Severed Heads: that of breaking down the barrier between the artist and the audience. Ultimately it was too successful in that goal, when the general free-for-all nature of the list ended up with what several long-term list members (including the list owners) felt were uninteresting posts overwhelming any meaningful dialog. Perhaps some of us were just becoming old and intolerant, and we felt that lasting over a decade was pretty good going in internet time. Perhaps it was time for the new guard to take over and build the community they wanted.

What happened instead was the community divided. First, the Exiles mailing list was created as an independent entity. Then, shortly afterwards a more closed BBS community (called Twister 4) was started under the Sevcom umbrella. The closed nature of this meant that it didn't really achieve a viable number of participants, so a web forum called Twister 5 was opened, which was open to all (including russian spambots, resulting a manual admin step being introduced, which seemed to offend the sensibilities of some of the Exiles). That said, there was (and still is) some overlap between the two communities.

What happened to the Twister 5 BBS?
The 5th incarnation of Twister closed down in March 2008, about a month after the official announcement of Severed Heads disbanding. The precise circumstances are unclear. Tom did quit as a member of the BBS, leading to some other people to choose to leave. But for a while it did appear that the BBS would continue. However, it ended up being removed altogether.

Perhaps some of us were just becoming old and intolerant... Perhaps it was time for the new guard to take over and build the community they wanted.

What was the Twister 5 Experiment?
Twister 5 was labelled as an experiment. This seems to have been a controversial label, with one of the most ridiculous pieces of speculation being that it was a business for Tom, a "research experiment" to sell to students doing psychology thesis. Although Tom has since post-rationalised the experiment, my recollection of it was simply as an attempt to open up the community to the wider public again, after the more closed nature of Twister 4. It was an experiment because the hosts were unsure whether the community would (a) grow to reach a number of active users to make it a viable community and (b) degenerate into the free-for-all that split the mailing list in the end.
What were all the Twisters anyway?
  • Twister 1 was an old-school dial-up bulletin board run by Tom.
  • Twister 2 was an old-school dial-up bulletin board taken over by someone else when Tom had too little time to keep running his BBS.
  • Twister 3 was the name given to the Severed Heads mailing list after it was shut down, because the name Twister 4 had been given to the new BBS that replaced the list. The list was not called Twister 3 at the time. This name covered the list at both its hosts: Next Publishing and later Sevcom / SDF. Yary Hluchan's original adolph-a-carrot mailing list, since it was independent of Severed Heads / Sevcom, was not one of the Twisters.
  • Twister 4 was an internet-based BBS using a commercial client and server (KDX). While it was open to all, many people didn't like the closed environment, not to mention the quirky UI.
  • Twister 5 was a web forum BBS, using the near-ubiquitous phpBB. It had a small number of sections open to guests, but the bulk of the forum required membership.
| Bernie Maier | $Date: 2008/03/18 $ | $Revision: #11 $ |