The Residents are an American multimedia art and music group originating from Shreveport, Louisiana, who have been officially active since 1972. Since their inception, the group have produced a vast catalog of albums, videos, live performances, multimedia projects, and books.
The Residents ostensibly attempt to operate under a veil of anonymity, preferring to have attention focused on their artistic output rather than their individual personalities. Since 1976, they have been represented publicly by The Cryptic Corporation, a management and public relations company founded by four of the group's associates.
The Residents have been noted for their surrealistic lyrics, concepts and sound, their disregard for conventional music composition, and the over-the-top theatrical spectacle of their live performances.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins (1965-1969)
- 1.2 Earliest recordings and foundation of Residents, Uninc. (1969-1971)
- 1.3 Santa Dog and the birth of Ralph Records (1972)
- 1.4 Meet The Residents, Not Available and The Third Reich 'n Roll (1973-1976)
- 1.5 Abandonment of Vileness Fats and birth of The Cryptic Corporation (1976)
- 1.6 Fingerprince and Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen (1977-1978)
- 1.7 Eskimo and the release of Not Available (1978-1979)
- 1.8 Commercial Album (1980)
- 1.9 The Mole Trilogy and split of The Cryptic Corporation (1981-1983)
- 1.10 Archival releases and The American Composer Series (1983-1984)
- 1.11 The Big Bubble, 13th Anniversary, and Stars & Hank Forever (1985-1987)
- 1.12 Death of Snakefinger and God In Three Persons (1987-1988)
- 1.13 Uncle Willie's Eyeball Buddies, Cube-E and The King & Eye (1988-1989)
- 1.14 Freak Show, Our Finest Flowers and the end of Ralph Records (1990-1992)
- 1.15 Gingerbread Man, Hunters and Bad Day On The Midway (1994-1996)
- 1.16 "The Missing Year" and I Murdered Mommy! (1997-1998)
- 1.17 Wormwood, Icky Flix and Demons Dance Alone (1998-2003)
- 1.18 The Way We Were, The River of Crime and The Voice of Midnight (2005-2007)
- 1.19 The Bunny Boy and The UGHS! (2008-2009)
- 1.20 The Randy, Chuck and Bob Trilogy (2010-2016)
- 1.21 The "Real" Residents and the death of Hardy Fox (2017-2018)
- 1.22 God In 3 Persons Live, Dog Stab! and COVID-19 lockdown activity (2019-present)
- 2 Identities
- 3 Body of work
- 4 See also
- 5 External links and references
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The Residents' earliest roots can be traced back to a group of friends who met in high school in Shreveport, Lousisana, which included future collaborators such as Homer Flynn, Jay Clem, and John Kennedy.
In 1963, following the group's enrolment in Louisiana Tech University, they founded a counterculture "anti-fraternity" known as Delta Nu, which also included Hardy Fox and Barry and Palmer Eiland. The group went their separate ways after their studies; by 1966 Kennedy had moved to California to work, and Fox had moved to Dubach, Louisiana.
Earliest recordings and foundation of Residents, Uninc. (1969-1971)
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In spring of 1968, Hardy Fox (and other future Residents) moved to a small apartment on 17th Avenue in San Mateo, California, where they began experimenting with music, art and photography. In 1969, Fox and the group (now joined by Homer Flynn) recorded songs such as "I Hear Ya Got Religion"  and "Moonman" on a high-end tape recorder which had been given to Fox by a Vietnam veteran who had bought it in Hong Kong.
In 1970, the group were once again joined by Jay Clem and Palmer and Barry Eiland, and in June, multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan arrived at the apartment with a U-Haul filled with musical equipment, including an electric guitar and a Hammond B-3 Organ. By August, Sheehan had left the group, and they had compiled two rough demo tapes, Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger, from the hours of open reel tape items they had accumulated
Shortly after this, the group met two of their most influential collaborators; a talented British guitarist named Philip Lithman, and The Mysterious N. Senada, an eccentric Bavarian avant-garde composer and music theorist, who had appeared unannounced on their doorstep one day and decided to remain.
In 1971, the group sent a reel-to-reel tape to Hal Halverstadt, an executive at Warner Bros. Records who had been instrumental in signing Captain Beefheart to the label. Halverstadt was not overly impressed with the tape (entitled The W***** B*** Album), but awarded it an "A for Ariginality". Because the group had not included any clear name on the package, it was returned addressed to "Residents, 167½ 17th Avenue, San Mateo". The group adopted this "bland, colorless name" as their official nom de plume, becoming Residents, Uninc..
The first known live performance of Residents, Uninc. was at an open-mic night at The Boarding House in San Francisco in October 1971. Later in the year the group completed another demo tape to be submitted to Halverstadt, later known as B.S.. Halverstadt remained unimpressed overall, but encouraged the group to continue sending him their recordings as there were "enough heavy breathers here in Burbank to make it worth the postage".
Santa Dog and the birth of Ralph Records (1972)
At the end of 1971, Residents, Uninc. left San Mateo and relocated to a former print-works in San Francisco, which they named "El Ralpho". The building featured a completely open ground floor, allowing the group to expand their operations significantly, and also begin preliminary work on their most ambitious project up to that point: a full-length feature film entitled Vileness Fats, which would consume most of their attention for the next four years.
In 1972, the group formed Ralph Records as a small independent label to release and promote their own work. To inaugurate the new label, they recorded and pressed the Santa Dog EP, which became their first recording to be released to the public. Designed to resemble a Christmas card from an insurance company, the EP consisted of two 7" singles, with four songs between them.
The group sent copies of Santa Dog to west coast radio stations (as well as Richard Nixon and Frank Zappa) with no response, until William Reinhardt (then program director of KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon) received a copy and gave it heavy rotation on his show. Reinhardt met and befriended Residents, Uninc. at El Ralpho in the summer of 1973, and they gave Reinhardt access to all their recordings, including copies of the original masters of B.S. and The W***** B*** Album.
Meet The Residents, Not Available and The Third Reich 'n Roll (1973-1976)
After the formation of Ralph, the group shortened their name to simply The Residents, issuing their debut album Meet The Residents on Ralph in 1974. The album was compiled (in accordance with N. Senada's Theory of Phonetic Organization) from hours of tapes the group had recorded of regular jam sessions on Tuesdays, and during breaks in the filming of their feature film Vileness Fats. Their most sophisticated recording effort up to that point, Meet The Residents is considered by the group to be the official beginning of their catalog. Only forty copies were sold in the first year of its release.
The Residents, by this time, were at a rough point in their career. Personal and creative conflicts had arisen among the group, including the issue of a love triangle involving two Residents, which supposedly resulted in a large, "embarrassing" food fight. They ultimately decided to resolve this tension in 1974 by developing an operetta entitled Not Available – taking N. Senada's Theory of Obscurity to its logical conclusion, the recordings were placed in storage, to be released only when everyone involved had forgotten about its existence.
The group's second album (in order of release), The Third Reich 'n Roll, followed in 1976. A pastiche of 1960s bubblegum pop and rock, the album consists of two suites, each approximately 17½ minutes long, containing cover versions of classic rock and pop songs which the group spliced, overdubbed, and edited with new vocals, instrumentation and tape noises. To further promote this album, a short film was shot on the sets which had been constructed for Vileness Fats. Also entitled The Third Reich 'n Roll, this film became the group's first music video, and is today recognized as one of the earliest examples of the medium.
Abandonment of Vileness Fats and birth of The Cryptic Corporation (1976)
Throughout this time, The Residents had been working tirelessly on their experimental feature film project Vileness Fats, and by 1976 had shot around fourteen hours of raw footage for the film, constituting only two thirds of the still-incomplete script.
To make matters worse, the group had chosen to shoot the majority of the film on black and white 1/2" video tape which had since become obsolete due to the introduction of the superior Beta and VHS colour video formats. Finally, and reluctantly, the group would abandon the project altogether, shortly after the release of The Third Reich 'n Roll.
The group's fortunes began to improve when The Third Reich 'n Roll's initial pressing sold strongly and also encouraged sales of the first album. The group followed The Third Reich 'n Roll with two singles, The Beatles Play The Residents And The Residents Play The Beatles, and "Satisfaction", a heavily distorted cover of The Rolling Stones' song which was intended as a distillation of the ideas explored on The Third Reich 'n Roll.
On the 31st of July 1976, the group's friends Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, Jay Clem and John Kennedy officially founded the management company The Cryptic Corporation to represent them and operate Ralph Records. Clem became the group's primary spokesman, Fox edited, produced and compiled their increasingly prolific output, Flynn was already handling Pore Know Graphics, and Kennedy took the role of President (admittedly a fairly empty title, as overall responsibilities were handled more or less equally between the four). At the same time the group, Ralph and the newly formed Cryptic Corporation left the Sycamore Street studio for an even larger office and studio space at 444 Grove Street.
Fingerprince and Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen (1977-1978)
Fingerprince, an ambitious album not unlike the earlier Not Available recordings in style and scope, was released in 1977. The Residents' original intention with Fingerprince was to release it as the very first "three-sided" album entitled Tourniquet of Roses – the group had discovered a way to simulate a "third side" on the album by arranging the grooves on one side to play a completely different program of tracks depending on which groove the needle was dropped on.
This idea was abandoned when the group discovered that Monty Python had executed the same idea three years earlier with their Matching Tie and Handkerchief album. The unissued "third side" of Fingerprince was later released as an EP titled Babyfingers, and the Babyfingers tracks have since been re-integrated into Fingerprince on later reissues.
The Residents followed Fingerprince with the Duck Stab! EP, featuring their most accessible pieces of music up to that point. This release would receive positive attention from the music press, further developing the band's cult following. As Duck Stab! was too long for the 7" records it was pressed on, it was thereafter compiled with another suite of tracks from the same period entitled Buster & Glen. The resulting Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen is now regarded as one of their most essential releases.
Eskimo and the release of Not Available (1978-1979)
Shortly prior to the release of Fingerprince, The Residents had begun composing their most ambitious conceptual project to date, Eskimo - a "documentary" album containing music consisting of wind sounds, percussion and chanting in a fictional "Polar Eskimo" language. Rather than being songs in the traditional sense, the tracks on Eskimo would more closely resemble "live-action stories" without dialogue.
The recording of Eskimo was fraught with complications, leading to repeated delays and earning the ire of The Cryptic Corporation and Ralph Records. Unwilling to rush their creative process, The Residents disappeared and left the Eskimo master tapes in England with their friend, percussionist Chris Cutler.
With mounting financial obligations to consider, the Cryptics responded by releasing Not Available in 1978. Despite the original conditions of its recording, The Residents were not bothered by this deviation from their plan since the decision to release the album did not affect the philosophical conditions under which it was originally recorded.
Eskimo would finally be released in 1979, and to further promote what the group felt was likely to be their magnum opus, remixed the album's tracks in a disco style, resulting in the 1980 Diskomo EP. Eskimo also boasted the first appearance of The Residents in eyeball masks and tuxedos, which would later become the most iconic and recognizable costume worn by the group.
Commercial Album (1980)
In 1980, The Residents released Commercial Album, consisting of 40 songs, each lasting one minute. The project was a pastiche of advertising jingles and their compositional similarity to pop songs; the liner notes state that each track on the album should be repeated three times in a row to form a complete "pop song".
To promote Commercial Album, The Residents purchased 40 one-minute advertising slots on San Francisco's most popular Top 40 radio station at the time, KFRC, such that the station played each track of their album over three days. This prompted an editorial in Billboard magazine questioning whether the act was art or advertising.
Commercial Album also led to the creation of One Minute Movies, a short film by The Residents and Graeme Whifler containing four music videos from the album. Created at a time when MTV (and what would later become known as "music video" in general) was its infancy, the group's videos were in heavy rotation on early MTV lineups, since they were among the few music videos available at the time.
The Mole Trilogy and split of The Cryptic Corporation (1981-1983)
In 1981, Mark of the Mole was released, intended as the first part of an ambitious and expansive trilogy of six concept albums. The second part of the trilogy, The Tunes of Two Cities, followed in 1982, with the group's first tour, The Mole Show, following shortly thereafter.
The Mole Show was hosted by Penn Jillette, and featured The Residents performing behind a burlap screen, in a number of disguises (including the eyeball masks) while dancers and actors appeared in front of painted backdrops used to help illustrate the story.
The Mole Show was not a financial success, and seemed to support the band's previous reasons for never performing in a live tour. The tour's failure brought long-lasting tensions within the group to a head and almost resulted in their complete dissolution. In 1982, John Kennedy and Jay Clem left The Cryptic Corporation following disagreements about the direction of the group. Kennedy took with him the deed to the group's Grove Street studio, and raised the rent to a price the remaining Cryptics and The Residents could not afford to pay.
This change in the band's fortunes resulted in any further work on the Mole Trilogy being placed on hold indefinitely, and The Residents' previously prolific schedule of releases would slow considerably over the next year.
Archival releases and The American Composer Series (1983-1984)
Following the near break-up of the group, The Residents did not release any new music in 1983. They still managed to release the Mole Show live album and video, the Intermission EP, and Title In Limbo, a collaborative album with Ralph label-mates Renaldo & The Loaf, which had mostly been recorded in 1981.
In 1984, the group issued Residue of The Residents, a compilation of their "MOP tapes" - outtakes from recording sessions dating from their earliest recordings to outtakes from The Tunes of Two Cities. This retrospective focus would continue with the release of Whatever Happened To Vileness Fats?, a condensed thirty minute edit of the Vileness Fats film, with an entirely new soundtrack created by The Residents.
In 1984, the group, along with Ralph Records and The Cryptic Corporation, relocated to a new studio space at 109 Minna Street in San Francisco, allowing them to begin work on an ambitious new project, The American Composer Series. This series was originally planned to include at least ten volumes (profiling one selected composer per side of a vinyl album) and continue until the year 2000. The first volume, 1984's George & James, profiled the works of George Gershwin on one side, with the other side consisting of a suite covering the first half of Live At The Apollo by James Brown.
The Big Bubble, 13th Anniversary, and Stars & Hank Forever (1985-1987)
In 1985 The Residents returned to the Mole Trilogy, producing "part four", entitled The Big Bubble. Like The Tunes of Two Cities, this album also focused on the culture and music of the fictional civilizations featured therein. In this case, the album presents some songs by a fictional band called The Big Bubble, pictured on the album cover. Despite some further related recordings around this time and in the latter part of the decade, The Big Bubble remains the final completed entry in the trilogy.
After this, Wave Records approached the group for a two-week run of live shows in Japan. Admittedly reluctant at first to return to the stage after the underwhelming response to the Mole Show, The Residents created The 13th Anniversary Show, featuring their long-time collaborator Snakefinger. Unlike the Mole Show, The 13th Anniversary Show was a financial and critical success, extending through to 1986 and resulting in the release of three live albums.
During the American leg of the tour The Residents encountered some problems, including having the tour manager having to fan a member's keyboard because of overheating, being booked in a pool hall and having someone run on stage only to be thrown back into the audience. Backstage at the Hollywood Palace show on December 26, 1985, one Resident's eyeball mask (Mr. Red Eye) was stolen, so it was replaced onstage with a giant skull mask, which had originated as a prop from The Third Reich 'n Roll short film.
The stolen eyeball was eventually returned by a fan who claimed he had discovered where the thief lived and stole it back, though Homer Flynn later said that he believed the person who returned the mask was most likely the thief. After this Mr. Red Eye was put into retirement because it had been returned in a bad condition and the group felt it was "unclean" – a superfluous shell. After this, the affected Resident was known as Mr. Skull.
1986 also saw the release of Stars & Hank Forever, the second (and to date, final) volume of the American Composer Series, dedicated to the work of John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams. The group had hoped to cover around twenty different artists with the series, but only two albums from this period saw completion and release, though at least two additional albums are known to have been at least partially attempted. The 13th Anniversary Show tour concluded in January 1987 in San Francisco, with a special appearance by Penn and Teller.
Death of Snakefinger and God In Three Persons (1987-1988)
In July 1987, The Residents were preparing God In Three Persons, their most ambitious concept album since Eskimo, when they received the news that their friend and long-time collaborator Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman had died of a sudden heart attack. The Residents performed at a wake in his honor, and this performance was later re-recorded in the studio and released in a limited edition as The Snakey Wake EP.
God In Three Persons, a lengthy poetic fable in a clear narrative format, tells the story of a disgraced evangelist named Mr. X who visits a carnival and becomes entranced by a pair of mysterious and androgynous conjoined twins. Musically, it features a recurring motif based on "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" by The Swinging Medallions (earlier featured in The Third Reich 'n Roll). It was released in 1988 as their first album to be designed specifically for compact disc, and their first proper studio album to be released on Rykodisc (following the 1986 compact disc compilations Heaven? and Hell!).
Uncle Willie's Eyeball Buddies, Cube-E and The King & Eye (1988-1989)
In 1988, a new fan club called UWEB (short for Uncle Willie's Eyeball Buddies) was founded by noted Residents fan Uncle Willie as a successor to the long-defunct W.E.I.R.D. fan club. UWEB was unique in that The Residents directly participated in its existence, providing otherwise unavailable recordings for limited, subscriber-only releases. Over the course of its existence, UWEB would release nine CDs featuring unheard music from the group's past and present, including The Snakey Wake, Liver Music, Daydream B-Liver and Stranger Than Supper.
In 1989, The Residents premiered their third tour, Cube-E, a three-act performance covering the history of American music. It was a step up from previous shows, featuring more elaborate dance numbers and sets, and was also the first show with a set list composed entirely of music written specifically for the performance. The stage was almost entirely backlit, with black-lights highlighting fluorescent sections of costumes and set.
The first part of Cube-E was recorded by The Residents in the studio and released as the UWEB exclusive Buckaroo Blues EP, and the third part would become 1989's The King & Eye, a surreal biography of Elvis Presley consisting entirely of covers of classic Presley singles.
Freak Show, Our Finest Flowers and the end of Ralph Records (1990-1992)
In 1990, The Residents turned their attention to emerging computer technology, beginning to make the majority of their music with MIDI devices, which would define their sound during this time. With these new instruments, they recorded and released Freak Show. A concept album, each track offers an insight to the character of a circus freak.
On November 17th, 1991, the Japanese computer company NEC staged a special invitation-only performance in San Jose, known as Ty's Freak Show (after co-director Ty Roberts). The Residents were accompanied by Laurie Amat in her first live performance. The show was video taped with a new NEC video deck and, as The Residents performed, Todd Rundgren edited the footage into a live video mix on stage with NEC's Light Source editing software.
1992 saw the group's 20th anniversary, which they celebrated with the release of Our Finest Flowers, an album which consists of new songs comprised of elements of older tracks from their discography. In the same year, they issued Twenty Twisted Questions, their first (and only) laserdisc, featuring a collection of their video works and footage from live shows, organized within a unique interactive menu.
Gingerbread Man, Hunters and Bad Day On The Midway (1994-1996)
In 1994, The Residents released Gingerbread Man, featuring their first foray into computer graphics. The Gingerbread Man CD was "enhanced" with additional CD-ROM content, marking the beginning of a series of experiments by the group with this new format (in collaboration with artist Jim Ludtke). The group also revisited the Freak Show album for a CD-ROM by Voyager in the same year. At this time, The Residents were also working on an album entitled That Slab Called Night, which would eventually be reconstituted as the instrumental soundtrack to the Discovery Channel documentary series Hunters: The World of Predators and Prey in 1995.
In 1995, The Residents released what would be their final complete experiment with the CD-ROM format, the immersive game Bad Day On The Midway. This game was accompanied by a soundtrack album, Have A Bad Day, the following year. In November 1995, Freak Show was also developed into a stage performance by a theater company at the Archa Theater in Prague. This performance differed from the group's previous shows in that they did not actually perform - rather, the "Freak Show Orchestra" consisted primarily of the band Už Jsme Doma.
"The Missing Year" and I Murdered Mommy! (1997-1998)
1997 was the group's 25th Anniversary, which they celebrated with the release of Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses, a compilation album and box set featuring a selection of tracks recorded between 1971 and 1996.
1997 has also been referred to as "the missing year" in Residents history, as they worked on a number of new projects during the year but no substantial new studio releases ensued. During this time they created a new live performance piece entitled "Disfigured Night", which they performed a handful of times throughout the year, culminating in their performance at the Fillmore.
The Residents made one final attempt at a CD-ROM game, I Murdered Mommy!, in 1998, but the collapse of the CD-ROM industry (and their publishing company Inscape) resulted in the group leaving this effort unfinished and unreleased, although an album of music recorded for the game's soundtrack was released in 2004 as a limited edition.
Wormwood, Icky Flix and Demons Dance Alone (1998-2003)
The Residents released Wormwood in 1998. A concept album, Wormwood's lyrics are derived from violent stories from the Bible. The group toured to support the album, and these performances featured the group departing from pre-programmed music and again using a live band, including guitarist Nolan Cook.
As a response to the 2001 World Trade Centre attacks, The Residents released the album Demons Dance Alone in 2002, and followed this with a tour of the same name. In an unusual move, the album handed almost half of the vocal duties to vocalist Molly Harvey. This album was also followed by a live tour in 2003.
The Way We Were, The River of Crime and The Voice of Midnight (2005-2007)
In February 2005, The Residents toured Australia as part of the What is Music? Festival with their 33rd Anniversary show, a two-hour retrospective set entitled The Way We Were. The performances on The Way We Were tour were recorded and were released in 2005 as a limited edition CD and DVD set. 2005 also saw the release of the concept album Animal Lover, which tells a series of stories of human failures and misery, as seen from the perspective of animals.
In 2006, The Residents launched a hard-boiled crime serial, The River of Crime - their first project with Warner Music Group's Cordless label. Following the success of the podcast, The Residents launched their weekly Timmy video series on YouTube.
In 2007 the group recorded the score for the documentary Strange Culture and also released a double instrumental album, Night of the Hunters, in which they revisited the 1994 sessions which became the soundtrack to the documentary series Hunters. In October, the album The Voice of Midnight (inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "Der Sandmann"), was released on Mute Records.
The Bunny Boy and The UGHS! (2008-2009)
In 2008, The Residents announced on their website that they would begin their first American tour since Demons Dance Alone in support of an album entitled The Bunny Boy, which was released in September. The tour began the following October, with further dates in Europe in November. The Bunny Boy project also included a YouTube video series of the same name, which was later compiled and released on DVD as Is Anybody Out There? in 2009.
2009 also saw the release of The UGHS! - a mostly instrumental album made up of music composed earlier in the group's career, which had then been completely reworked for The Voice of Midnight.
The Randy, Chuck and Bob Trilogy (2010-2016)
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In January 2010, The Residents began a new tour named Talking Light, with dates in North America and Europe. For this tour, which lasted until April 2011, The Residents appeared as a trio, as well as seemingly revealing their identities: "Randy", "Chuck" and "Bob", with a fourth member, "Carlos", having recently left the group to care for his ailing mother in Mexico, after deciding that "the rock 'n' roll life style wasn't for him after all".
Randy Rose, the singing Resident, wore a mask resembling an old, bald man, while keyboardist and composer Charles "Chuck" Bobuck and guitarist Lionel Bob wore dreadlock wigs, illuminated breathing apparatus and goggles. Talking Light told stories about various characters' obsessions with ghosts, imaginary people, and supernatural phenomena. One of these performances was featured as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival curated by Matt Groening in May 2010 in Minehead, England.
The Residents released several albums related to the Talking Light concept between 2010 and 2012, including the instrumental albums Dollar General and Chuck's Ghost Music, live album Bimbo's Talking Light, and studio album Lonely Teenager. In October 2010, Rose performed a set of thirteen Residents tracks in Olomouc, Czech Republic, with the band Už Jsme Doma, who had previously been involved in creating the Freak Show Live performance in 1995.
In late 2011, The Residents presented a new performance piece at The Marsh in Berkeley, California, entitled So Long Sam. A new version of this piece, retitled Sam's Enchanted Evening, was subsequently performed as a Randy Rose solo venture in March 2012 at Henry Street Settlement in New York City.
In January 2012, The Residents released the album Coochie Brake under the guise of Sonidos de la Noche. Coochie Brake focused on an ambient and slightly ethnic sound, with vocals by the group's former drummer Carlos.
In December, The Residents released an infomercial starring Rose, announcing the availability of The Residents' Ultimate Box Set - a 28-cubic-foot refrigerator containing the first pressings of every Residents release to date, as well as other ephemera (such as an eyeball mask and top hat). The Cryptic Corporation advised in a press release that the intended audience for this project was within the realm of fine art, and, accordingly, the price of the set is $100,000.
In January 2013, The Residents began their "40th Anniversary Show" (actually taking place on their 41st anniversary), the second in the Randy, Chuck and Bob trilogy, entitled The Wonder of Weird. Bobuck later claimed to have experienced health problems during the first show of the tour.
In 2014, it was reported that the band were taking part in the filming of a documentary, Theory of Obscurity, directed by Don Hardy and offering "an unparalleled glimpse behind the scenes of the world's most mysterious band". The film was completed in 2015 and premiered at SXSW Film Festival.
In May 2014, the final installment in the group's Randy, Chuck and Bob Trilogy was launched, a new tour entitled Shadowland. Partway through the tour, Bobuck, announced he was retiring from live performances. Following this, he retired from the group altogether, continuing a solo recording career outside the auspices of The Residents.
The Residents signed to Cherry Red Records and in September 2016 announced their next studio album (and their last to feature direct input from Bobuck), The Ghost of Hope, with the release of a single, "Rushing Like A Banshee". The Ghost of Hope is a concept album derived from historical accounts of train accidents. In November, the group released a video featuring Randy, announcing a new film project entitled Double Trouble, which would incorporate the footage from the unfinished film Vileness Fats into an entirely new story.
The "Real" Residents and the death of Hardy Fox (2017-2018)
In March 2017, following the release of The Ghost of Hope, The Residents begin touring a new performance entitled In Between Dreams beginning in Japan and continuing with further dates in Wales. With these performances the band introduced a new four-person line-up - Tyrone on vocals, Eekie on guitar, Erkie on keyboards and Cha Cha on percussion.
The group announced during this time that they were working on two new studio albums, a concept album about people and objects that recur intrusively in peoples' minds entitled Intruders, and a blues-influenced album with the working title Dyin' Dog. Tracks from both upcoming albums would be premiered over the course of the In Between Dreams tour.
In 2017 the group also announced a new concept - a PledgeMusic campaign asking fans to submit covers of their favorite Residents tracks from the length of their career to be compiled into an album entitled I Am A Resident!
I Am A Resident! and Intruders were both completed and released during 2018, alongside the first entries in Cherry Red Records' ambitious pREServed series of newly remastered and expanded editions of the group's discography, beginning with the first four studio albums (not including Not Available) in early and late 2018, as well the first-ever official release of their 1971 demo tape The W***** B*** Album as a limited edition vinyl pressing for Record Store Day in April.
In mid-2018, The Residents also announced a novel entitled The Brick-Eaters, to be released via Feral House. The novel, described as "an absurdist buddy movie of a story featuring a very tall and young internet content screener teamed up with an aging career criminal whose primary companions are an oxygen bottle and a .44 Magnum", was released later in the year, supported by public readings from the book by Homer Flynn (in his guise as "Captain Doc" of The Cryptic Corporation) with minimal musical accompaniment by The Residents themselves.
Shortly after the release of Intruders, on October 30th, the group suffered a significant loss when their long-time manager, collaborator, producer and arranger Hardy Fox passed away following a short battle with brain cancer.
According to an official statement from the group posted after his passing, "Fox's influence on The Residents was indelible; despite any formal training, his musicality was nevertheless unique, highly refined and prolific. Blessed with a vital sense of aesthetics, a keen ear, and an exquisite love of the absurd, Hardy's smiling face was a constant source of joy to those around him. He will be missed."
The life of Hardy Fox was celebrated by his friends and collaborators later in the year at the "Hardy Party" (named in the spirit of the group's earliest performances in 1971 and 1972).
God In 3 Persons Live, Dog Stab! and COVID-19 lockdown activity (2019-present)
The pREServed series continued throughout January 2019 with expanded remasters of Eskimo and Commercial Album, as well as a six disc Mole Trilogy box set in April, and a limited edition vinyl pressing of their hitherto unreleased demo tape B.S. for Record Store Day.
In April, the group also premiered a work-in-progress live version of God In Three Persons in Bourges, France. This theatrical version of the group's 1988 album was then further developed and premiered in its full production in January 2020 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The premiere MoMA show was recorded and released on vinyl and CD to crowdfund supporters as God In 3 Persons in September 2020.
In July 2019, The Residents released In Between Dreams Live, a live album featuring performances from the In Between Dreams tour, on Secret Records in July 2019. A three disc pREServed God In Three Persons set followed in August. In September, the group released a limited edition box set of five 7" singles featuring demos by obscure Louisiana blues singer Alvin "Dyin' Dog" Snow. These demos formed the basis for a cover album recorded by The Residents, entitled Metal, Meat & Bone, which was ultimately released in July 10th 2020.
The first phase of the pREServed campaign concluded in November 2019 with the release of an expanded Not Available, alongside a compilation of the group's early recordings entitled A Nickle If Your Dick's This Big. A seven disc Cube-E Box followed in October 2020. Further releases in the series are expected in 2021, including remastered editions of Freak Show and Gingerbread Man, and a long-delayed American Composer Series box set.
In late 2019, The Residents announced a new tour, Dog Stab!, to begin in April 2020 in support of the release of Metal, Meat & Bone. The Dog Stab! tour was ultimately postponed to 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2020, the group released their first stand-alone spoken word piece, The Healer and the Archer, as a limited edition single-sided LP with art by Leigh Barbier.
Time spent under lockdown during the pandemic caused The Residents to examine and explore the multi-track tapes from their 1970s albums, resulting in a series of "multi-track explorations" which are due for release in the near future as part of a pREServed mail order series of limited edition vinyl releases. The Residents also released a series of official latex eyeball masks in December 2020, created in collaboration with Sikrik Masks.
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Body of work
- The Residents discography
- The Residents videography
- The Residents bibliography
- The Residents live shows
- List of interactive media
- List of unfinished projects
- The Delta Nudes
- Residents, Uninc.
- N. Senada
- The Cryptic Corporation
- Charles Bobuck
- Combo de Mecanico
- Sonidos de la Noche
- Black Tar and the Cry Babies
- The Theory of Obscurity Documentary, 2015
- Somethin' Devilish - Jim Knipfel
- Charles Bobuck, THIS Is For Readers, 2016
- RandyLand Episode 1
- "The True Story of The Residents" by Matt Groening
- News Machine, October 30, 2018