Charles Bobuck (also known as "Chuck") was the primary composer, arranger and keyboardist for The Residents from their inception in the mid-1960s as The Delta Nudes, until his retirement from the group in 2016.
From 2011 until 2017, Bobuck engaged in a prolific solo career, freely exploring a number of ideas that did not fit neatly into The Residents' already considerable oeuvre.
Origins / The Delta Nudes (1945-1972) Edit
Charles Bobuck was born ca. 1945. He made acquaintance with future musical collaborators Randy Rose and Roger "Bunny" Hartley (also known as "Harvey") in high school in Shreveport, Louisiana in the early 1960s.
Bobuck, Rose and the Hartleys formed the prototype group that would become The Residents in college at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana shortly after that. The group, an "anti-fraternity fraternity" jokingly nicknamed "Delta Nu", also featured a rotating ensemble of friends, including brothers Barry and Palmer Eiland, and the four people who would later become The Cryptic Corporation, John Kennedy, Jay Clem, Homer Flynn, and Hardy Fox. Kennedy left for California in 1966, and many members of the group gradually went their various ways.
In 1968, Bobuck, Rose and the Hartleys, growing tired of life in the south, all headed for northern California. After staying in San Francisco for several months, the trio ended up in San Mateo, where they decided to remain, living and working in near-total seclusion. Flynn, Fox, Clem and Palmer Eiland would all move to San Francisco in 1969, effectively reuniting the "Delta Nu" group for the first time in more than a year.
While attempting to make a living, the group began to experiment with painting, silk-screening, and photography, but despite a mutual interest in music and sound in general, Bobuck had not yet begun to experiment with making his own music. This would change when the group met multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan, who had turned up at Bobuck and Rose's apartment bearing a U-Haul trailer full of musical instruments, including a Hammond B3 organ.
Around the same time, Bobuck also received a high-end two track reel-to-reel tape recorder as a gift from a friend who had recently returned from the war in Vietnam. This allowed the group to make the first of possibly hundreds of loosely edited reel-to-reel items consisting of home studio experiments, primitive original compositions (such as "Moonman", recorded after the moon landing in 1969), improvisations, jams, and abortive covers of contemporary pop songs. The majority of these early experiments were supposedly destroyed by The Residents in the 1970s, though some feature on compilations such as ERA B474 and The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss, as well as the reel-to-reel tapes known as The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger and Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor.
Sheehan left San Mateo later in 1969, however by this point the group had gathered enough recorded material and pawn shop musical instruments to continue recording and compiling tapes without the assistance of the more musically proficient Sheehan. Bobuck and the unnamed group created two further demo tapes for submission to Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt in 1971, entitled The Warner Bros. Album and Baby Sex, and adopted the name The Residents based on the way Halverstadt had addressed a tape he was returning to them.
Composing and arranging for The Residents (1972-2001) Edit
In 1972, The Residents issued their first official release, the double 7" EP Santa Dog, through their new record label Ralph Records. The group's debut album, Meet The Residents, was compiled by Fox and Bobuck (in accordance with Bavarian avant-garde composer and theorist N. Senada's Theory of Phonetic Organization) partly from a series of sessions that Bobuck and the group had recorded with various friends every Tuesday for several months. The album was released in 1974, and sold only forty copies in its first year. This was followed by the sessions for Not Available, the group's second album, which would not be released for another four years, in accordance with N. Senada's Theory of Obscurity.
The group had also adopted this theory by choosing not to credit themselves, and by appearing only in costume in promotional photos and album art. Bobuck's composition work would feature on the group's "classic" run of albums through the 1970s, which would gain the group increasing notoriety and appreciation from the music press, their fans, and their peers.
Increasing independence and departure from The Residents (2001-2016) Edit
Throughout his tenure as the primary composer and instrumentalist for The Residents, Bobuck regularly developed ideas that were considered by other members of the group not to constitute Residents releases proper, but rather as related off-shoot projects. The first example of what would later become known as "Charles Bobuck Contraptions" appeared in 2001 as the EP High Horses, credited to The Residents' Combo de Mecanico.
A similarly credited project, the album Coochie Brake (this time credited to The Residents' Sonidos de la Noche) appeared ten years later following the reveal in 2010 of the identities of Randy, Chuck, Bob and Carlos as the members of The Residents.
Following this, Bobuck began to release solo works, or "contraptions", under his own name, officially beginning in 2011 with the release of Dolar Generar in 2011, and continuing with Chuck's Ghost Music, Codgers on the Moon in 2012, and Life Is My Only Sunshine in 2013. The Highway followed in 2014, as well as Roman de la Rose (The Pink Romance), a tribute to Roman, Bobuck's husband of several years.
In 2015, nearing the end of Shadowland (the final installment of the Randy, Chuck and Bob trilogy of tours), Bobuck retired permanently from live performance with The Residents, citing health concerns. Initially Bobuck had intended to continue composing for The Residents, having always preferred his work in the studio to touring as a performance group, but Bobuck would ultimately retire from the band entirely in 2016, with some of his final contributions to the group being featured on their 2017 album The Ghost of Hope.
Retirement and "contraptions" (2016-present) Edit
Following his retirement from the group, Bobuck continued to release "contraptions" which he promoted through his website Hacienda Bridge (and its fortnightly newsletter), including What Was Left of Grandpa (which had originally been intended as a Residents album) in 2015.
Bobuck was particularly prolific in 2016, issuing a large number of releases, including the novella with music THIS in 2016. 2017 saw the release of the 1960s pop inspired album Nineteen-Sixty-Seven, the Meet The Residents cover project Clank Clank Clank, and a series of collaborations with his manager Hardy Fox.
Discography with The Residents (1972-2016) Edit
Solo "contraptions" Edit
- Postcards From Patmos (2008, reissued as a Bobuck contraption in 2012)
- Dolar Generar - Una Noche Lost En Van Horn, Texas (2010, reissued as a contraption in 2011)
- Chuck's Ghost Music (2011)
- Lying Horse Rock (2012)
- Codgers on the Moon (2012)
- Maxine (2012)
- CB Suite (2013)
- Life Is My Only Sunshine (2013)
- Radio Thoreau (2013-2015)
- The Highway (2014)
- Roman de la Rose (The Pink Romance) (2014)
- Missing Soldiers - The Favorite Songs of Clara Barton (2015)
- As A Child I Sold The News, Now I Sell The Olds (2015)
- What Was Left of Grandpa (2015)
- The Swords of Slidell (2016)
- Bobuck Plays The Residents (2016)
- Nineteen-Sixty-Seven (2017)
EPs and singles
- Dog Tag (2009, reissued as a Bobuck contraption in 2014)
- GOD-O: Music for a Gallery Opening (2012)
- Gosh Darn Chickens - Three Bobuck Contraptions (2012)
- Never Known Questions (2014)
- Sinking Solo (2014)
- Cymbals Ring (Old Vinyl) (2014)
- Shake It Shake It (I Wet My Bed) (2014)
- Walk Over (2015)
- Later Tonight (2016)
- Wallpaper (2017)
- Clank Clank Clank (2017)
- THIS (2016)
- Eggs For Breakfast (Eggsistential Thoughts Volume 1) (2017)
- Egg Booty (Eggsistential Thoughts Volume 2) (2017)
See also Edit
- Randy Rose
- The Delta Nudes
- The Residents
- Combo de Mecanico
- Sonidos de la Noche
- Black Tar and the Cry Babies
- Hardy Fox