Demystifying the Residents

Homer Flynn, one of the members of the Crypic Corporation whose members "babysit" The Residents, graciously consented to answering a few questions about the engimatic band we know as The Residents. Here are his responses.

How many people in the world really know the true identity of The Residents?

Thousands. The Residents are just as open with their identities around friends, family, coworkers, etc as they are protective in public. So, if you multiply 25 years by 4 families, recording sessions, tours, video shoots, CD-Rom programmers and artists, office staff, friends and friends of friends, etc...

The Residents have built an aura of enigmatism around them both because of their anonymity, their costumes and their strange stage shows. Yet, I would say it is the music that is their most defining accomplishment. How much (of the enigma) would you say contributes to their popularity?

The enigma/mystique/mystery counts for a lot. When The Cryptic Corp took over and expanded Ralph Records in the late seventies the idea was that more "commercial" bands would be signed therefore relieving The Residents of pressure to sell records; they were to remain free to follow the spirit of their creativity (or as The Residents charmingly put it, they had to "follow their moose"). It was a good plan, but it failed because even though the other acts (Snakefinger, Tuxedomoon, MX-80 Sound, Yellow, etc) were indeed more superficially "commercial" than The Residents, their sales were not as good. Eventually we came to realize the power of the mystique in creating a loyal following. It shows up again whenever The Residents play live; they play so infrequently and their performances have such "event' status, that more (many more) people come to their performances than buy their CD's. It's ironic how many groups with major lable distibution couldn't do more than one or two nights at The Fillmore, while the "uncommercial" Residents did five - almost at the same level as superstars like Boz Skaggs.

When The Residents started up, they were different and experimental for their times, and even given their weird music they became extremely popular in a few years. The public however was fickle and now The Residents perform and produce to a niche market. Has this affected their music aesthetic in any way?

No. They still "follow their moose".

Are there any more tours/live shows in the works?

There is a new album in the works and possibly more shows after that; this would mean performances next Sept/Oct. That's a long time in The Residents' reality and something else may come along and distract them.

Do you know what The Residents' views on the current music scene, and the music industry?

In general, they see the current music scene, like the culture overall - conservative.

The Residents have influenced a tremendous number of bands and musicians, but who are The Residents' influences, and what music do they listen to and like?

Residents influences are many: Moondog, Sun Ra, The Beatles, George Gershwin, Bill Monroe, Ennio Morricone, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Willie Dixon, Harry Partch, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Nina Rota, Charles Mingus, Frank and Clyde, Stan Kenton and that's only the beginning of a long, long list. Currently they mostly listen to soundtracks, 40's & 50's blues, country and country/swing and music from Indonesia.

What are their future recording plans? I heard a rumour about an album in the works... can you give us an idea of what it would be like?

An album is definitely in the works, but at this point I have no idea what direction they are going other than to incorporate a lot of new musicians. It's scheduled for a fall '98 release.

Have The Residents thought about making and directing a full-length motion picture? (Again there's a rumour that one is in the works.)

A movie about all the thoughts, talks, ideas, meetings and, of course, rumors regarding The Residents making a movie would make a pretty good film itself. So far, as they say, it's all flash and no cash. There are current talks going on with Hollywood people about some exciting possibilites, but I can't comment further at this time.

Where do you see The Residents in the year 2000?

Not much different than what I see now: still busily operating in their distinctly alternate universe, while occasionally popping up in the "real" world to say "hi," "fuck you," or "God bless Puffy, Jr."

Music ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || || February 6, 1998