Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Residents

Stumbled across this interesting band called The Residents. had this to say about the band...

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 channelled 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.

The reason that this caught my attention in regard to Urban Legends is because many people refuse to allow the band to remain a secret. In countless interviews (including this interview with Chris Hollow) you find the spokespeople for the band fighting off someone who is pressing about the identity of the band. I sense that there is some similarity to urban legends, because people really want to understand something that they cannot. In The Residents case, the band members have remained a secret for 30 years and yet people still ask questions about the members in the band. In the case of urban legends, I get a feeling that many of them start or are formed because people need to understand something that they cannot understand. For instance with cow tipping, I highly doubt cattle owners started the urban legend. Instead it was most likely started by people who knew nothing about cows (or the country life in general) and so in an effort to understand it this ridiculous story surfaces. Well in the end the late and great dead Frank Zappa is NOT a member of The Residents (as asked by interviewer Chris Hollow) and the countless attempts at pinning famous artists to this collective will most likely never stop, but luckily the band does not seem to mind all that much. Long live bands that wear eyeball masks.


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