RESIDENTS ON TOUR!
Bright Lights Tour, Some Band History, and Videos For
Your Listening Pleasure
by Mark Marker
This band is unlike anything
else you have ever heard or seen. After 40 years of freaking people
out, they take it to the road again!!! While Carlos is missing from
this tour, the drum robot, never missed
a beat. One of the other guys is also not an original member, but
is a family member. Not sure who the Newbie is, because two guys
look identical, despite being decades apart in age. The eyeballs
were missed, but the stage show was still entertaining. These guys
hail from San Francisco, and have maintained their secret identities
for their entire career. However, if you are dying to get a peek
of who they are, and what they look like, THEY
DIDN'T HAVE A ROAD CREW AND LOADED OUT WITHOUT COSTUMES!
So go see them live, while you still can, and take pictures!!! My
editor refused to allow me to release their face to the public.
S0.... YOU go take pictures and post them on Facebook!!!!!
The show was awesome! The music was scary, funny, sad and joyous.
Impeding doom actually was hilarious, but REAL. So laugh at your
own demise, I did. If you take all the dialogue out of a scary movie,
a really scary movie, and leave all the sound effects, and music,
you are getting closer to what The Residents sound like. They played
a good set, in length and texture. The crowd was there, but I expected
a few more folks to be in attendance. Actually
expected this to sell-out. It didn't. The crowd was stuffy,
but attentive. VERY attentive. To the point we got hushed when we
even whispered. Security seemed new, but the bar staff rocked! Thank
you bartenders! The music made you headbang
and breakdanceat the same time. Combining Death Metal and Disco
without ever sounding like either. Truly the most unique band ever. Residents are completely in
their own world.
The first official release under the name of "The Residents"
was in 1972, and the group has since released over sixty albums,
numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects, ten
DVDs. They have undertaken seven major world tours and scored multiple
films. Pioneers in exploring the potential of cd-rom
and similar technologies, The Residents have won several awards
for their multimedia projects. Ralph Records, a record label focusing
on avant garde
music, was started by The Residents.
The band was originally from Shreveport, La, and ended up in San
Francisco in the late 60's. They have a lot of material that was
recorded before they actually became The Residents. They sent some
of their material to Warner Bros early in their career, and did
not include a name on the return address, and Warner Bros., sent
them a rejection letter addressed to Residents. They decided to
keep the name. Thank you Warner Bros., for naming the most original
band in the world, even though you never released a single record
Their catalog is so expansive, that we will only talk about a few
of their gems. We will help you find everything offered by them
and the moles through links at the bottom of this feature.
of the Mole" is a conceptual album that tells the story of
the Mohelmot people who live and work underground. A flood into
their underground world results in immediate evacuation and subsequent
exodus across a desert to the sea, which is inhabited by the Chubs.
The Chubs see the Moles as a dedicated, hard working race they can
exploit with little pay. Everything is cool for awhile, but soon
the Moles realize their exploitation and war ensues. The war is
short, solves nothing, and the tension remains at the close of the
Residents depict this story with synthesizer, drum machine,
bass, guitar, and heavily processed vocals. This album sounds as
if it were literally recorded under the ground, with layers of low
tone synth sounds and dark vocals creating the underground world
of the Moles. The record opens with a low synth
blast and a bass guitar melody over a steady drum machine high hat
sample. Then a female chorus chimes in:
should be left alone
Unless they have a happy home"
is followed by a news report (the voice of Penn Jillette)
warning of the storm that will inevitably floods
the Moleís holes, setting the stage for disasters to come.
an audio standpoint, the attention to balance in frequency and the
stereo image on this album are quite interesting. Most of the base
sounds are panned left and right to allow sonic space for main vocals
and high frequency synth effects, and
the tonal balance between low and high frequencies is uncanny. The
arrangement of these odd sounds is crucial, as this is the soundtrack
to a play with out visual aid. The auditory experience conjures
amazing images in the listenerís mind - the album graphics may help
to define these images, but it is the music and lyrics that coax
the mindís eye to truly "see" this play.
on a 16-track 1" machine, I believe the arrangements were recorded
in sequence given the flawless transitions from song to song (or
act to act). Listen, for example, to the transition between "It
Never Stops" and "March to the Sea" - the fade out
of "It Never Stops" continues to silence until, after
a short pause, "March to the Sea" begins, fading in at
the exact location that "It Never Stops" faded out. This
indicates to me that this record was pre-planned to follow the story
in sequence. The mix must have been a nightmare since there are
so many smooth transition and crossfades (mind you, this was recorded before automation
or computer editing).
shining example of brilliant sound arrangement to accent the story
is evident in "The Observer". The character in this act
is making observations during the Molesí travel to the new land:
have been deceived, I have murdered and
I have seen the soul of an unborn lamb;
It can burn a hole in a guilty man,
But it cannot stand in a distant land"
up musically by the ping ping of an electronic
drum machine and tiny guitar that follows the melody of the observerís
story. Accents are provided by low synth
blasts and timpani-like sounds. In combination, these sounds and
the lyrics give the impression of movement in a slow, swaying motion,
much like a beaten down laborer or down-and-out family during the
depression era, walking (nay, crawling) through the Dust Bowl. Powerful
after the Moles arrive in Chubland, another character decides that if he could build
a machine, he could free the Moles from Chub slavery. The sound of said
machine is analog synthesis at its best! You hear the machine
start up and build momentum with each successive modulator added
into the pounding rhythm. Then, as quick as it buildsÖ it dies,
signaling failure for the inventor.
Residentsí signature vocal effect occurs throughout the
album, but it is most pronounced with the meaningful lyrics that
express raw, scathing hatred in "Donít Tread on Me". Occurring
right before the war starts between the Chubs and Moles, this piece
carries an embodiment of hate lyrics, hate sounds and hate vocal
effects which come through in spine tingling way. I believe the
vocal effects were created via a Leslie or ring modulator, its warbling
lending that much more darkness to the album. Add to that the frightening
recitation of these lyrics.
has hunger and hatred has eyes,
Hatred has purpose and hatred has size,
Hatred has honor but hatred hates lies!
Assailants of mercy
with hate in your eyes,
Do not disturb us, you
might be surprised,
We are not weaklings to tremble and die.
Hatred has dignity,
hatred is clear,
Hatred has courage and hatred is dear,
Hatred has virtue and hatred is here!
Odious enemy do not
There is no pity or tenderness here,
There is no mercy, just villainous fear!" ;
of the Mole closes with a light (as opposed to dense)
arrangement with dissonant violin, soft drum machine, and a harpsichord-like
synth sound, leaving the listener with
the feeling that all is still not well. The battle may have been
won, but the war is far from over.
is a masterful piece of audio excellence! It begins with a clear
vision of what the final album is to be and brings it to fruition,
and I strongly believe that a "good" recording is one
that achieves the artistic vision of the creator. A pop song is
hard enough to write, but try writing a six-act play that will be
performed only in sound. The Residents achieve this on Mark
of the Mole with a consistency in mood that brings the Mole
world to life in your living room. Every melody, every little flourish,
every liquid-smooth transition is crafted to mix fluidly from start
to finish, resulting in a well-balanced, well-recorded and true-to-life
picture of the concept that was the goal of this project.
Reich And Roll" is a nightmarish trip
through the pop music of the 60's. Although there seem to be two
songs on the album, these two songs actually meander from one pop
song cover to the next. The fact that they're all rolled together
gives you a sense that they don't mean anything individually, they
just contribute to the whole of pop. And that's not even saying
anything about the texture of the music. It sounds alternately like
pop with all of the life sucked out of it, nightmarish versions
of pop songs being covered by Satan and his band of demons, or a
couple of drunks in a basement playing what they remember of "In
A Gadda Da Vida." It all beautifully
serves its purpose: to tarnish the image of the music we hear on
the radio. By the end of the album, pop is left in a stinking heap
of bubblegum, synthesizers, and dog food.
starts with a Chubby Checker's German version of "Let's Twist
Again". I By the time they start chanting
the "Na nah-nah-nah-na"s from
"Land of 1000 Dances" you know you're in for something
special. Their cover of "Double Shot of My Baby's Love"
ends with what sounds like World War II era footage of a plane plummeting
to the ground. "Hey Little Girl" sounds absolutely evil
and sinister. "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" is sung in German and the only element
of the original left over is the occasional trumpet blast. The trumpet
blast sounds like it's getting swallowed
by a machine so that it turns into the guitars of "Talk Talk."
The Residents" takes the vocal and instrumental innovations
of the Beatles -- and Captain Beefheart
-- and rockets them out into deep space. Listening to the White
Album or Trout Mask Replica, you're never sure what you're going
to hear from one cut to the next; with Meet The
Residents, you can't predict what you'll be hearing from one moment
to the next. Forget about predictions -- you can't always be sure
what it is you're actually hearing. A lot of this music is utterly
unexplainable. You can't even grasp the 'well-it's-a synthesizer'
straw, because this low-budget, 1973 recording was plainly done
by hand. It's basically voices, piano, winds, some guitar, bass,
drums, brass, violin, and lotsa percussion
(undoubtedly including all sorts of household items and toys).
There are some distortion effects through mic
and instrumental preparations, but it's the Residents' use of tape,
the tracks they've razored and overdubbed and remixed and respeeded,
which makes their sound so uniquely bizarro.
And all these bizarrely unique tracks are served up dripping with
a deliberate eccentricity and a playfully grotesque sense of humor.
Listening to this music, you can feel the Residents staring straight
out at you, their teeth bared in the kind of fixed grin that's ordinarily
symptomatic of clinical dementia."
Thanks to The Residents, Ralph Records, Mute Records, Scott
Colburn, Bach Is Dead, Graham and Transmission Entertainment, The
Mohawk, Gravelvoice, Wikipedia, The Moles
and you for the pix, links, tix, video
and other vital information.
Residents Official Historical Site