The Residents are an American musical group and art collective who have active since the mid-1960s, and best known for their avant-garde music and multimedia works. Since their first official release in 1972, they have produced a vast catalogue of albums, videos, live performances, books and CD-ROM projects.
Throughout the group's existence, the members of The Residents have ostensibly attempted to operate under a veil anonymity, preferring instead to have attention focused on their art output rather than their own personalities. In public the group appears costumed, with their signature costumes including eyeball masks, with top hats and tuxedos.
Their albums are often complex conceptual pieces, which are regularly prone to deconstruction, parody and homage of Western popular music. They are noted for surrealistic lyrics and sound, their disregard for conventional music composition, and the over-the-top theatrical spectacle of their live performances.
The bulk of what would later become The Residents, initially a group of friends comprising Randy Rose, Charles "Chuck" Bobuck, and Roger "Bunny" Hartley, originated in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the group attended high school and in the mid-1960s attended college at Louisiana Tech, together with the four people who would later become the group's management and production company, The Cryptic Corporation: Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, Jay Clem and John Kennedy.
The expanded group of friends and roommates formed an "anti-fraternity fraternity" known as "Delta Nu", but drifted apart after completing their studies, when some members of the group left Louisiana and headed west for San Francisco, eventually settling in San Mateo, California, where they decided to remain. During this time, Fox had started a tentative music management career, representing the rhythm and blues group The Alliance, featuring multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan.
While attempting to make a living, they began to experiment with tape machines, photography, and anything remotely to do with art that they could get their hands on. The Alliance disbanded in the late 1960s, and Sheehan sought refuge with the group in their small apartment, where they had only just begun earnestly experimenting with a high-end tape recorder Bobuck had been gifted by a friend who had recently returned from the war in Vietnam.
Sheehan brought with him a large number of musical instruments, including an acoustic guitar and an organ, and the final ingredients the group needed to begin formally experimenting with sound production fell into place. Fox, having also recently moved to San Francisco, began producing, editing and arranging the group's early recordings.
1967-1972 - The Delta Nudes / Residents Uninc. Edit
Earliest recordings (1967-1970) EditFrom approximately 1967 to 1970, the group began to make the first of possibly hundreds of loosely edited tapes, consisting mostly of home studio experiments, rehearsals and improvisational jams. Two of these unreleased reel-to-reel items, titled The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger and Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor, would be rumored for years but completely unheard to fans until the mid-2010s, when low-quality copies of both tapes surfaced on the internet
Roland Sheehan left the group and San Mateo in 1969, however by this point the rest of the group had gathered enough recorded items for Fox to begin compiling demo reels without the assistance of the multi-instrumentalist Sheehan.
Shortly thereafter, the group met two of their longest-lasting and most influential collaborators: a visiting British guitarist and multi-instrumentalist named Philip Lithman, who was introduced to the group by their friend Margaret Smyk in 1970, and The Mysterious N. Senada, an eccentric Bavarian avant-garde composer and music theorist, who appeared unannounced on the group's doorstep one day and decided to remain in order to mentor the fledgling group and collaborate with them on recordings and free-form jazz performances at open-mic nights in San Francisco.
The Warner Bros. Album and Baby Sex (1971) Edit
In 1971, the still-unnamed group sent a reel-to-reel tape to Hal Halverstadt at Warner Brothers, since he had worked with Captain Beefheart (one of the group's musical heroes). Halverstadt was not overly impressed with The Warner Bros. Album (describing it as "okay at best" in Uncle Willie's Cryptic Guide to the Residents), but awarded the tape an "A for Ariginality". Because the band had not included any name in the return address, the rejection slip was simply addressed to "The Residents". The members of the group then decided that this would be the name they would use, first becoming Residents Uninc. - the management arm of the anonymous group. By this time the band had also formed Porno Graphics, their graphic design arm, led primarily by Flynn throughout the rest of the group's existence.
The group's first performance was at The Boarding House in San Francisco in 1971. A photograph of Lithman playing violin during this performance led to him being given the nickname "Snakefinger", which he would use as his stage name for the rest of his life.
That same year another demo tape was completed and submitted to Halverstadt, entitled Baby Sex. The original cover art for this demo tape was a silk-screened copy of an image blown up from an advertisement the band had received unsolicited in the mail. The advertisement was for a pornographic magazine from Denmark, and featured an image of a woman fellating a small child.
Shortly after completing (but not releasing) Baby Sex, the band left San Mateo and relocated to 20 Sycamore Street, San Francisco; a studio they named "El Ralpho", which featured a completely open ground floor (seemingly ideal for a sound stage), allowing the group to expand their operations and also begin preliminary work on their most ambitious project up to that point, a full-length film entitled Vileness Fats, which would consume most of their attention for the next four years.
Santa Dog and the birth of Ralph Records (1972) Edit
In 1972, the band formed Ralph Records as a small, independent label to release and promote their own work. To inaugurate the new business, the group recorded and pressed the Santa Dog EP, which then their first recorded output 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 with no response until Bill Reinhardt, program director of KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon received a copy, which would receive heavy rotation on his show. Reinhardt met the group at the Sycamore Street studio in the summer of 1973 with the news of his broadcasts. The Residents gave Reinhardt exclusive access to all their recordings, including copies of the original masters of Baby Sex and The Warner Bros. Album.
1974-1982 - The Original Dogma Edit
Meet The Residents (1973) EditFollowing the formation of their record label, the band formally adopted The Residents as their name and released their debut album Meet The Residents on Ralph in 1973. Their most sophisticated recording effort up to that point, Meet The Residents would later be considered by the group to be the official beginning of their catalog.
The debut album gained little attention at first, but shortly after its release it came to the attention of Portland, Oregon disc jockey Bill Reinhardt, who began giving The Residents significant airplay on KBOO-FM.
After travelling to San Francisco and meeting the group, Reinhardt was given 50 of the first 1,000 copies of Meet the Residents for promotional purposes. Some of these copies were sent to friends, listeners and critics, and two dozen were left for sale on consignment at the Music Millennium record store, where they sat unsold for months. KBOO-FM DJ Barry Schwam (also known as Schwump) aided in promotion by giving the group airplay on his program as well.
Not Available and The Third Reich 'n Roll (1974-1976) Edit
The Residents, by this time, were at a rough point in their career. According to documented Residents legend, there was internal turmoil which resulted in a large, "embarrassing" food fight. The group ultimately decided to resolve this tension in 1974 by recording what would later become Not Available – taking N. Senada's Theory of Obscurity to its logical conclusion, the completed album was placed in storage to be released only when everyone involved had forgotten about its existence.
The Residents' second official full-length album The Third Reich 'n Roll followed in 1976. A pastiche on 1960s rock and roll with an overarching Nazi theme, the album featured a single composition on each side of the record, with each track approximately 17½ minutes long, using recordings of classic rock and roll songs that were spliced, overdubbed, and edited with new vocals, instrumentation and tape noises. To further promote The Third Reich 'n Roll, in lieu of an organized tour of live performances (a concept which the band were still wary of at this time) a short film was shot on the sets which had been constructed for Vileness Fats, with The Third Reich 'n Roll thus also becoming their first music video.
Abandonment of Vileness Fats and birth of The Cryptic Corporation (1976) Edit
Throughout this time the group had been working tirelessly on Vileness Fats, while also producing a steady string of music releases, and by this point had filmed fourteen hours of raw footage while still having shot only two thirds of the incomplete script.
To make things worse, the group had chosen to shoot the majority of the film on then-groundbreaking black and white 1/2" video tape, which had already become obsolete due to the introduction of the Beta and VHS colour formats. There was no way that the video could be transferred effectively to film, and re-shooting the years of footage was out of the question. Finally, and reluctantly, the group would abandon the Vileness Fats project shortly after the release of The Third Reich 'n Roll.
Despite this demoralizing failure, and the tensions within the band which had risen over the course of the production, the band's fortunes began to pick up when The Third Reich 'n Roll's initial pressing sold strongly and also encouraged sales of the first album (which had only sold forty copies in its first year).
Around this time, the group's friends and collaborators Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, Jay Clem and John Kennedy, having already informally assisted the group with operations of Ralph Records, as well as cover art and sound editing and production, formed the management company The Cryptic Corporation to represent The Residents. Clem became the band's spokesman, Fox edited, produced and compiled the band's 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 by the four).
The Cryptics took over the day-to-day operations of Ralph, and provided the band with an improved public relations platform, capitalizing on the increasing attention they were receiving for their musical work.
Following The Third Reich 'n Roll came two singles, "The Beatles Play The Residents And The Residents Play The Beatles" (featuring their sound collage piece "Beyond The Valley Of A Day In The Life", consisting entirely of samples of Beatles tracks and ephemera) and "Satisfaction", a distorted and abrasive cover of The Rolling Stones' track which pre-dated DEVO's cover of the same track, and which was recorded as a distillation of the ideas explored on The Third Reich 'n Roll. The single's liner notes featured the first mention of The Cryptic Corporation as the producers and managers of the band.
Fingerprince and Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen (1977-1978) Edit
Fingerprince, a particularly ambitious project not unlike the earlier Not Available recordings in style and scope, was released in 1977. The band's original intention with Fingerprince was to release it as the very first "three-sided" album – they had found a way to simulate a third side by arranging the grooves on one side of the vinyl album to play a completely different program of tracks depending on which series of grooves the needle was dropped on.
This idea was abandoned when the group discovered that Monty Python had executed the very 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 the Fingerprince album on later reissues.
The Residents followed Fingerprince with their Duck Stab! EP, featuring their most comprehensible 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 the Duck Stab! EP was too long for the 7" records it was pressed onto, it was shortly thereafter compiled with another unreleased EP from the same time (entitled Buster & Glen) as the Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen LP, now regarded as one of the group's most essential releases. The LP would also be supported with a short film for the track "Hello Skinny", directed by the group with Graeme Whifler.
Following Fingerprince, the band began composing their most ambitious conceptual project yet, the Eskimo LP, containing music consisting of non-musical sounds, percussion and chanting in a "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 the complex work 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 group 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 band felt was likely to be their magnum opus, remixed the album's tracks in a disco style, resulting in the 1980 Diskomo EP. The cover art of Eskimo boasted the first instance of the group wearing eyeball masks and tuxedos, which would later be considered by many to be the signature and most-recognizable costume worn by the group. The group had only intended to wear these costumes for the cover of Eskimo, but would adopt the costumes as it provided them with a unique and recognizable image.
The Commercial Album (1980) EditIn 1980, The Commercial Album was released, consisting of 40 songs, each lasting one minute. The project was a pastiche of advertising jingles and their similarity to pop singles; 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 The 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.
Additionally, The Commercial Album also led to the creation of One Minute Movies, a short film by the group and Graeme Whifler containing four music videos for tracks 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) EditIn 1981, Mark of the Mole was released as the first part of an expansive trilogy of 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.
Jillette would appear between songs telling long and intentionally pointless stories, and antagonizing the audiences. During one performance, an audience member assaulted Jillette while he was handcuffed to a wheelchair near the end of the show. 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 the complete dissolution of the band.
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 St. 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 (including the partially recorded third part of the series) being placed indefinitely on hold, and The Residents' previously prolific schedule of releases would slow considerably over the next year.
1983-1989 - American Composers, 13th Anniversary and Cube-E Edit
Following the near break-up of the band, in 1983 the band would not release any new music, but still managed to release The Mole Show live album and video, Intermission, an EP consisting of music created to play before and after the band's Mole Show performances, and Title In Limbo, a collaborative album with Ralph label-mates Renaldo & The Loaf, which was recorded in 1981.
The band followed these releases with George & James in 1984, volume one of The American Composer Series; a new series which the band conceived would include at least ten volumes and continue until the year 2000. This album profiled the works of George Gershwin on one side, with the other side consisting of a cover of the first half of Live At The Apollo by James Brown.
In 1984, the band also released Residue of the Residents, a compilation of "mop tapes", or outtakes from recording sessions dating from Baby Sex up to The Tunes of Two Cities. This retrospective focus would continue with the creation of Whatever Happened To Vileness Fats?, a new, condensed edit of the hours of footage for the Vileness Fats film, with an entirely new soundtrack created by The Residents.
The next year The Residents would finally return to the Mole Trilogy, producing "part four" of the trilogy, 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 - the appearance of unmasked models on an album cover surprised many fans leading them to question whether the pictured band were in fact The Residents themselves, though this has been entirely denied by The Cryptic Corporation and the four models on the cover of The Big Bubble have never been identified.
After this, their Japanese distributor approached them for a two-week run 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. Unlike The Mole Show, this tour was a financial and critical success, extending through to 1986 and resulting in the release of three live albums. During the US leg of the tour the band encountered a few 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 member's eyeball mask (Mr. Red Eye) was stolen, so it was replaced with a giant skull mask. The eye was returned by a devoted fan who discovered where the thief lived and stole it back, although Homer Flynn said the person who returned the mask was most probably the thief. It was put into retirement because they said it was "unclean" and in a bad condition – a superfluous shell. After this, the lead 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. The group had hoped to cover a number of different artists, but only two albums from this period saw completion and release, though at least two additional albums (including one dedicated to Sun Ra and Ray Charles, and another dedicated to Harry Partsch and Harry Nilsson) are known to have been at least partially attempted.
The 13th Anniversary Tour concluded in January 1987 in San Francisco, with a special appearance by Penn and Teller. In 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 his wake, and this performance was later re-recorded in the studio and released in a limited edition as The Snakey Wake EP.
Despite this unanticipated tragedy, the band continued to work on God In Three Persons despite not having been able to record Snakefinger's guitar parts for the album as planned. The album, a lengthy poetic fable in a clear narrative format, tells the story of a colonel who visits a carnival and becomes entranced by a pair of mysterious and androgynous Siamese twins. Musically, it features a recurring motif based on "Double Shot Of My Baby's Love" by The Swinging Medallions (earlier included in The Third Reich 'n Roll).
The album was finished and released in 1988 as their first album to be designed specifically for compact disc. God In Three Persons was intended by the band to be released in "various flavours", which included an instrumental "soundtrack" version of the album, and singles (including "Double Shot"), however the album did not sell as well as expected and only a small number of these various alternative "flavours" were never released.
In 1988, UWEB (or Uncle Willie's Eyeball Buddies) was formed as a successor to the long-defunct W.E.I.R.D. fan club. UWEB was unique, in that the band 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 band'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. It was also the first show composed exclusively of music written specifically for the show. The show was almost entirely backlit, with blacklights highlighting fluorescent pieces of costumes and set.
The first part of this show would be recorded in the studio and released as the UWEB 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. In a first-time departure from usual procedure, The King & Eye was recorded externally from The Residents' private studio, with the band choosing instead to record at Different Ear Studios as an experiment.
In 1989, The Residents secretly began work on an album which was to be titled Monkey On My Back. Uncle Willie reported on this album while it was being recorded, which earned UWEB the ire of the band for having spoiled the "innocent approach" the band wanted, and the album was apparently scrapped as a result. Plans for a fan convention around this time also fell through, which lead Uncle Willie to begin feeling that the fan club was beginning to do more harm than good.
1990-1997 - The Multimedia Era Edit
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. The Freak Show concept would recur repeatedly throughout the early-to-mid 1990s as The Residents became educated in new technologies and mediums (including a graphic novel).
1992 saw the band's 20th anniversary, which they celebrated with the release of Our Finest Flowers, an album which consists of new tracks made from elements of tracks from their entire discography. Similar in concept to the abandoned Monkey On My Back, it has been theorized that those recordings were eventually incorporated into this release. It would appear that The Residents had forgiven Uncle Willie for his earlier transgression in reporting on the secret recording of Monkey On My Back, however UWEB folded and ceased operation after four years.
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 the potential of this new format, which also saw them revisit the Freak Show album for a CD-ROM by Voyager in the same year. The Residents' CD-ROM works were primarily designed and animated by artist Jim Ludtke. At this time, The Residents were also working on an album entitled That Slab Called Night, which would later be abandoned and reconstituted into the soundtrack to the Discovery Channel 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 band's previous tours and shows in that they did not actually perform - rather, the "Freak Show Orchestra" consisted primarily of the band Už Jsme Doma.
1997 is considered "the missing year" in Residents history, as the band worked on a number of new projects but saw no new releases. However, during this time, the band would create a new live performance piece entitled "Disfigured Night", which would be performed a handful of times throughout the year, culminating in their performance at the Fillmore. The Residents would make one more attempt at a CD-ROM game, I Murdered Mommy, in 1998, but would leave this effort unfinished and unreleased, instead moving onto another new concept.
1998-2009 - The "Storyteller" Era Edit
Based on violent stories from the Bible, the Wormwood album was released in 1999. The album and its tour featured the band departing from pre-programmed music and again using a live band. During a performance in Athens, Nolan Cook had to leave the stage after taking a rock to the head from an audience member.
In 2002, as a response to the World Trade Centre attacks, The Residents recorded the album Demons Dance Alone and followed this with a tour of the same name. In an unusual move, the album handed almost half of the vocal duties to Harvey. Demons Dance Alone would be considered by many critics and fans to be The Residents' best album since 1988's God In Three Persons.
In February 2005, The Residents toured Australia as part of the What is Music? festival for their "33rd Anniversary", performing a two-hour retrospective set entitled The Way We Were. Video projections and unusual flexible screens were added to the stage set, creating an unsettling ambiance. The performances on The Way We Were tour were recorded and were released on CD and DVD in 2005, as well as the studio album Animal Lover, which tells a series of stories as seen from the perspective of animals.In 2006, The Residents released a hardboiled crime podcast series, 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 they recorded the score for the documentary Strange Culture and also released a double instrumental album, Night of the Hunters. In October, the album The Voice of Midnight (inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "Der Sandmann"), was released on Mute Records.
In 2008, The Residents announced on their website that their first American tour since Demons Dance Alone would be in support of an album entitled The Bunny Boy, which was released in September. The tour began in October and followed with dates in Europe in November. The Bunny Boy album was also supported by 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 band's career, which had then been completely reworked for The Voice of Midnight.
2010-2016 - The "Randy, Chuck and Bob" Era Edit
In January 2010, The Residents began a tour entitled Talking Light, with dates in North America and Europe. During the tour, which lasted until April 2011, The Residents appeared as a trio, and adapted new costumes, as well as seemingly revealing their identities: "Randy", "Chuck" and "Bob", with a fourth member, "Carlos", having recently left the band 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 "Bob" wore dreadlock wigs and illuminated breathing apparatus and goggles.
The songs which featured in Talking Light were 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 band would release 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 Sam's Enchanted Evening. A new version of Sam's Enchanted Evening was subsequently performed 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 lyrics in Spanish spoken by, apparently, a new singer. Over the course of the year the band celebrated their 40th anniversary with a new tour (the second in the Randy, Chuck and Bob trilogy) entitled The Wonder of Weird.
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. One such Ultimate Box Set was donated to the Museum of Modern Art. Another UBS was sold to a fan, who was only able to pay around $10,000 (after having the set delivered) before his money source dried up and he was unable to make further payments. The Cryptic Corporation have noted that the fan intends to one day pay the complete amount when he can afford to do so.
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 2016, the end of the Randy, Bob, and Chuck Trilogy was announced with the final instalment being their Shadowland tour. The band signed to Cherry Red Records and in September announced their next studio album, The Ghost of Hope, with the release of a single, "Rushing Like A Banshee". 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.
2017-present - The "Real" Residents Edit
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 of vocals, guitar, keyboard and percussion.
The group announced that they were working on two new studio albums, a concept album about people and objects that recur intrusively in peoples' minds called 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 Residents 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).
The pREServed series will continue in January 2019 with expanded remasters of Eskimo and Commercial Album, as well as a six disc Mole Trilogy box set and mail-order vinyl collection of the group's unreleased early recordings later in the year. Also expected at an unknown time in 2019 is the release of the group's long-awaited "blues" album Dyin' Dog.
- see article Identities of The Residents
The Residents catalogue Edit
- The Residents discography
- The Residents videography
- The Residents bibliography
- The Residents live shows
- List of interactive media
- List of unfinished projects
See also Edit
- The Delta Nudes
- N. Senada
- The Cryptic Corporation
- Charles Bobuck
- Combo de Mecanico
- Sonidos de la Noche
- Black Tar and the Cry Babies