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The Residents

Over the course of a recording career spanning several decades, the Residents remained a riddle of Sphinx-like proportions; cloaking their lives and music in a haze of willful obscurity, the band's members never identified themselves by name, always appearing in public in disguise -- usually tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks -- and refusing to grant media interviews. Drawing inspiration from the likes of fellow innovators including Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Captain Beefheart, the Residents channeled the breadth of American music into their idiosyncratic, satiric vision, their mercurial blend of electronics, distortion, avant-jazz, classical symphonies and gratingly nasal vocals reinterpreting everyone from John Philip Sousa to James Brown while simultaneously expanding the boundaries of theatrical performance and multimedia interaction.

It was commonly accepted that the four-member group emigrated to San Francisco, CA, from Shreveport, LA, at some point in the early '70s. According to longtime group spokesman Jay Clem -- one member of the so-called Cryptic Corporation, the band's representative body -- they received their name when Warner Bros. mailed back their anonymous demo tape, addressed simply "for the attention of residents." Finding no takers for their oddball sounds, the Residents founded their own label, Ralph Records, for the purposes of issuing their 1972 debut "Santa Dog," released in a pressing of 300 copies which were mailed out to luminaries from Frank Zappa to President Richard Nixon. Their debut full-length, 1974's Meet the Residents, reportedly sold fewer than 50 copies before the group was threatened with a lawsuit from Capitol Records over its cover, a twisted Dadaesque parody of the art to Meet the Beatles.

The follow-up, 1974's neo-classical excursion Not Available, was recorded with the intention of its music remaining unissued; locked in cold storage upon its completion, only a 1978 contractual obligation resulted in its eventual release. Released in 1976, Third Reich 'n' Roll was the next official offering, a collection of pop oldies covers presented in a controversial jacket portraying Adolf Hitler clutching an enormous carrot. After a 1976 concert in Berkeley, CA which cloaked the Residents behind an opaque screen, wrapped up like mummies -- the most famous of only three live performances mounted during their first decade of existence -- they issued an abrasive 1977 cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," which became an underground hit on both sides of the Atlantic at the peak of the punk movement. As the decade drew to a close, the group released a flurry of recordings, further building upon their growing cult following -- among them were 1977's Duck Stab/Buster & Glen; 1979's Eskimo (purportedly a collection of native Arctic chants); and 1980's Commercial Album, a compilation of 40 one-minute "pop songs" that aired on San Francisco radio only because the Residents played them during the advertising time they bought.

In 1981 the Residents embarked upon their Mole Trilogy, a prog rock collection of albums -- 1981's The Mark of the Mole, 1982's The Tunes of Two Cities, and 1985's The Big Bubble -- recounting an epic battle between a pair of tribes named the Moles and the Chubs; a lavish, multimedia tour, The Mole Show, followed. In the interim, the group also mounted another ambitious project, the American Composer series, although only two of the projected titles -- 1984's George and James (a reinterpretation of songs by George Gershwin and James Brown) and 1986's Stars and Hank Forever (celebrating John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams) -- ever appeared. Instead, in the wake of financial and corporate difficulties which resulted in the creation of a New Ralph label, the Residents issued the one-off God in Three Persons (a talking blues outing), and 1989's The King and Eye (a reinterpretation of Elvis Presley standards).

After losing control of the Ralph label as well as their back catalog, the Residents regained the rights to their music in 1990 and began reissuing long out of print material as well as the new Freak Show, a meditation on circus sideshows and carnival dementia. Four years later, Freak Show was reissued as a CD-ROM, marking the group's first leap into the new digital interactive technology; Have a Bad Day followed in 1996, and included the soundtrack to the CD-ROM game Bad Day on the Midway.

In 1997, the band celebrated their silver anniversary with the release of the career-spanning overview Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses. Wormwood: Curious Stories from the Bible followed the next year, with Roadworms (songs from Wormwood as performed in the stage show) being issued in mid-2000. They followed that up with the Icky Flix DVD, an incredibly detailed collection of their videos that featured both old and new soundtracks, 5.1 digital stereo Surround Sound, countless hidden videos, and in-depth histories of each individual track. A subsequent tour incorporated the DVD, while guest singer Molly Harvey joined the band on-stage for some truly creative duets. Several high concept projects followed the 2002 compilation Petting Zoo. The first was Demons Dance Alone, a complicated pop album that recalled the catchier material from Duck Stab and The Commercial Album. The live retrospective Kettles of Fish on the Outskirts of Town contained three CDs and a DVD. Despite the release of so much old content, new material wasn't in short supply. Their releases throughout the latter end of the 2000s' first decade included Animal Lover (2005), Tweedles! (2006), The River of Crime (2006), The Voice of Midnight (2007), The Bunny Boy (2008), The Ughs! (2009), Ten Little Piggies (a sneak peak at projects in the pipeline, released in 2009), and Coochie Brake in 2011. Much of it, of course, was highly conceptual. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Mush Room

1. Mush Room

2. Musical Chairs In 3/4

3. Sticks And Legs

4. Dung Beetles At Work

5. Broken Brake

6. Yellow Marrow

7. When The Wealthy Were Wise

8. Song For Grace

9. Between A Rock And A Hard Space

10. The Birth Of Mush Room

11. The Dream I Almost Remember

12. Only Room For One More Mush

x

Track List: The Bunny Boy

1. Boxes Of Armageddon

2. Rabbit Habit

3. I'm Not Crazy

4. Pictures From A Little Girl

5. What If It's True

6. Fever Dreams

7. Butcher Shop

8. I Like Black

9. Secret Room

10. My Nigerian Friend

11. It Was Me

12. Golden Guy

13. The Bunny Boy

14. Blood On The Bunny

15. I Killed Him

16. The Dark Man

17. Secret Message

18. Patmos

19. The Black Behind

x

Track List: The Voice Of Midnight

1. The Sandman

2. Mental Decay

3. Claire's Response

4. In The Diary

5. Professor Caligari

6. The Telescope

7. True Love

8. Seven Cats

9. Catatonia

10. The Proposal

11. The Tower

12. Epilogue

x

Track List: Mark Of The Mole & Intermission

Disc 1

1. Voices Of The Air

2. The Ultimate Disaster

3. Migration

4. Another Land

5. The New Machine

6. Final Confrontation

Disc 2

1. Lights Out (Prelude)

2. Shorty's Lament (Intermission)

3. The Moles Are Coming (Intermission)

4. Would We Be Alive (Intermission)

5. The New Hymn (Recessional)

x

Track List: The Tunes Of Two Cities / The Big Bubble

Disc 1

1. Serenade For Missy

2. A Maze Of Jigsaws

3. Mousetrap

4. God Of Darkness

5. Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)

6. Praise For The Curse

7. The Secret Seed

8. Smokebeams

9. Mourning The Undead

10. Song Of The Wild

11. The Evil Disposer

12. Happy Home (Excerpt From Act Ii Of "Innisfree")

Disc 2

1. Sorry

2. Hop A Little

3. Go Where Ya Wanna Go

4. Gotta Gotta Get

5. Cry For The Fire

6. Die-Stay-Go

7. Vinegar

8. Firefly

9. The Big Bubble

10. Fear For The Future

11. Kula Bocca Says So

x

Track List: Animal Lover

Disc 1

1. On The Way (To Oklahoma)

2. Olive And Gray

3. What Have My Chickens Done Now?

4. Two Lips

5. Mr. Bee's Bumble

6. Inner Space

7. Dead Men

8. My Window

9. Ingrid's Oily Tongue

10. Mother No More

11. Dreaming Of An Anthill (Teeming)

12. Elmer's Song

13. The Monkey Man

14. The Whispering Boys

15. Burn My Bones

Disc 2
x

Track List: The 12 Days Of Brumalia

1. Day 1

2. Day 2

3. Day 3

4. Day 4

5. Day 5

6. Day 6

7. Day 7

8. Day 8

9. Day 9

10. Day 10

11. Day 11

12. Day 12

13. The Feast Of Epiphany

14. Teddy

15. I Tried To Cry

16. The Cry Of The Crow

17. Struggle

18. Boneless Boy

x

Track List: Petting Zoo

1. Betty's Body

2. Wolverines

3. Kick A Picnic

6. Fire Fall

7. How To Get A Head

8. The Aging Musician

9. The Sour Song

11. Harry The Head

15. Moisture

16. Hello Skinny

17. Constantinople

19. Smelly Tongues

x

Track List: Wormwood

1. In The Beginning

2. Fire Fall

3. They Are The Meat

4. Melancholy Clumps

5. How To Get A Head

6. Cain And Abel

7. Mr. Misery

8. Tent Peg In The Temple

9. God's Magic Finger

10. Spilling The Seed

11. Dinah And The Unclean Skin

12. Bathsheba Bathes

13. Bridegroom Of Blood

14. Hanging By His Hair

15. The Seven Ugly Cows

16. Burn Baby Burn

17. Kill Him!

18. I Hate Heaven

19. Judas Saves

20. Revelation

x

Track List: Freak Show Special Edition

Disc 1

1. Everyone Comes To The Freak Show

2. Harry's Introduction

3. Harry The Head

5. Herman, The Human Mole

6. Wanda Does Her Act

7. Wanda The Worm Woman

8. Jack Amuses The Crowd

10. Benny Bounces

11. Benny The Bouncing Bump

12. Mickey The Mumbling Midget

13. Lillie

14. Nobody Laughs When They Leave

Disc 2
x

Track List: Commercial Album

1. Easter Woman

2. Perfect Love

3. Picnic Boy

4. End Of Home

5. Amber

6. Japanese Watercolor

7. Secrets

8. Die In Terror

9. Red Rider

10. My Second Wife

11. Floyd

12. Suburban Bathers

13. Dimples And Toes

14. The Nameless Souls

15. Love Leaks Out

16. Act Of Being Polite

17. Medicine Man

18. Tragic Bells

19. Loss Of Innocence

20. The Simple Song

21. Ups And Downs

22. Possessions

23. Give It To Someone Else

24. Phantom

25. Less Not More

26. My Work Is So Behind

27. Birds In The Trees

28. Handful Of Desire

29. Moisture

30. Love Is...

31. Troubled Man

32. La La

33. Loneliness

34. Nice Old Man

35. The Talk Of Creatures

36. Fingertips

37. In Between Dreams

38. Margaret Freeman

39. The Coming Of The Crow

x

Track List: Not Available

1. Part One - Edweena

2. Part Two - The Making Of A Soul

3. Part Three - Ship's A'Going Down

4. Part Four - Never Known Questions

5. Epilogue

x

Track List: Duck Stab - Buster & Glen

1. Constantinople

2. Sinister Exaggerator

3. The Booker Tease

4. Blue Rosebuds

5. Laughing Song

6. Bach Is Dead

7. Elvis And His Boss

8. Lizard Lady

9. Semolina

10. Birthday Boy

11. Weight-Lifting Lulu

12. Krafty Cheese

13. Hello Skinny

14. The Electrocutioner

x

Track List: The Third Reich 'N' Roll

1. Swastikas On Parade

2. Hitler Was A Vegetarian

x

Track List: Meet The Residents

1. Boots

2. Numb Erone

3. Guylum Bardot

4. Breath And Length

5. Consuelo's Departure

6. Smelly Tongues

7. Rest Aria

8. Skratz

9. Spotted Pinto Bean

10. Infant Tango

11. Seasoned Greetings

12. N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues)

x

Track List: Coochie Brake

1. Theater Of Shadows

2. The Noche Called My Nombre

3. Gotta Believe

4. Rot Of Ages

5. Outside The Fence

6. Tied To A Cactus

7. Crocodile Tears

8. Dead Man On The Floor

9. Runaway

10. Bitter Biter

11. Please Don't Go

x

Track List: Kettles On Fish On The Outskirts Of Town

Disc 2

12. Hello Skinny

18. Walter Westinghouse

Disc 3

10. I Hate Heaven

12. Hanging By His Hair

14. Mr. Misery

16. Judas Saves

Disc 4

3. Forty Four

5. Six More Miles

15. Loss Of Innocence

19. Constantinople

21. Herman, The Human Mole

33. Walter Westinghouse

Comments

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I saw the bunny Boy show when it came to DC but don't remember the year the album says 09 but it seems like the 9:30 Club show was like 11 or 12 anybody remember, know ,want to comment?
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Residenta gourpie since 78.........
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What the actual fukk?
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Hugga chugga kinky syrup slurping sliding stairways sideways post-apocaly p t i c highways dying flying throwing flowing malty hair; stare; share the fare jah. the residents in a sentence.
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Not bad I kinda like this its very mysterious
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Chokapol: Duck Stab IS up.
Everyone else: Did u hear about the Ultimate Box Set theyre selling 10 of?! Comes in a fridge, has an archival original pressing of EVERY album, an official eye/tophat mask and more! Price: $100K lol thats BOLD
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the Blast from the past!
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luke.ingolds b y
asdfasdfds
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DUCK STAB DUCK STAB DUCK STAB!!!! Cmon,Pandora , i t s my FAVORITE Residents album!!! These are MY KINDA -------uuuhh h h h h - - - - - PEOPLE( ????? )
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I came to the rez late. I'm glad to support em though
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True artists.
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@Tory Z Starbuck i listen to Mr. Bungle and The Residents in whatever mood i'm in :)
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Never understand them, but always like them.
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Mr. Bungle would never even have existed without the Residents. As much as I appreciate Mike Patton and crew, He would probably be the first to say The Residents really had a pull on me...
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This is not a slam to Mr. Bungle because when in the mood I listen to them as well but The Residents are REAL in the way that if it was discovered that they were all from a different planet or plane of existence it would be easily accepted. Where Mr. Bungle have a few tricks up their sleeve they are not as multilingual as the Residents. Snakefinger, Tuxedomoon and Chrome also came from this school of art and thought.
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mradowski
Are these guys retarded? Bummer how they lump someone amazing like Mr. Bungle with this group of fuckups
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the greatest rock n roll band ever.
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Pioneers in a serious way! They embraced any new technology over the years and tried to apply it to their work. They are the creators of today's common 'sampling' technique, but they did it in the early to mid 70's. They among the first to make music videos, among the first to experiment with using computers to create music, created cd rom's when they were cool, and were overall...fe a r l e s s . Amazing what a lifetime of 'cid can do huh?
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It talks about albums, but The Residents perform AMAZING live shows. AMAZING!!!!
Report as inappropriate
Similar Artists??? Maybe the Pink Dots. But really, what can be similar to the Residents. They are one of kind!
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hattaman
greatest band ever. easily.
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I'm the only one at my school who listens to the Residents. Everyone else listens to dubstep and eminem. The residents are the most interesting band I have ever heard, and I wish some of my friends liked real music like this.
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The Residents are a fantastic band. I used to play these guys to death when I was a DJ at a college radio station. I played the Commercial Album in between innings during Baseball broadcasts.
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stellarviole t
only 8 people "like" the Residents?!? I always KNEW there was something fundamentall y wrong with facebook... I'm sure Pandora will get around to including "Freak Show", "Gingerbread Man" and "Stars and Hank Forever" in the compendium, until then, I hope the rest of those who've submitted comments on this page will join me in a rousing minor key variant chorus of 'we are the world' - this is the place where I would put a smiley face if I were one of those people who used emoticons...
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I've only heard one song by these guys, but after reading about them, I love them.
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phypolite7
Need to hear "Happy Home". It's been 25 years already.
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calvin000
Did the Residents sit at the feet of Robert Calvert? Or perhaps next to his shoes?
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crabalocker9
C'mon, if Pandora can include "Third Reich n' Roll", then they could also include "Eskimo".
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dcsides
Residue of The Residents! It was their best stuff! Their rendition of Jailhouse Rock was the best remake of any song ever done!
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seriously, where the hell's duck stab
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unpleasant psychedelia. wonderful. my feel-bad band of the seventies.
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dyule
No Duck Stab?
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what? No mention of "What ever happened to vileness fats"
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wouldwebeali v e
There are no Residents. Enjoy.
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gretnoid
Howdy Resheads! Turn your friends on to Pandora.com okay? okay? okay?

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