Formed late in 1980 as a spinoff from the sparking embers of NZ’s definitive art-punk band The Features, Fetus Productions initially comprised Jed Town, with new recruits Sarah "Serum" Fort and Mike Brookfield. The Features' Karel van Bergen and James Pinker would join the band within a few months to record their debut album.
Jed Town’s pre-Fetus bands include Optic, Stonehenge, Acid Grease, The Superettes and The Anaesthetic.
The name Fetus Productions was based on a poem Town had written about the human race in 1979, including his thoughts on human reproduction. “I was inspired by images found at various medical libraries of genetic mutations found in humans and animals and began to Photostat the images and cut them into collages,” Town has said. “I showed them a friend, Mike Brookfield, and he was inspired to create many works with fluorescent colours on canvases.”
‘What’s Going On’ was recorded at Groovex Studio in Sydney in 1981 and 1982, and featured Groove Myers on keyboards and Phil Punch on engineering duties. “I mixed the track in about six hours, but the recording process took nearly two years,” Town has said. “Only weeks before the studio closed I realised that the siren at the beginning was missing. It had been deleted. Once it had been re-recorded with a Pearl Syncussion drum machine, the track came back to life, and is as you now know it.”
After moving to Australia, Town and Serum tried to form a group with Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, later known as Dead Can Dance, but the collaboration didn’t work out.
When this author interviewed Town in the mid-1980s, he sported scarily modified “fangs”, while a jar containing what appeared to be a real fetus sat benignly nearby.
Karl van Bergen