A loss in the Residents’ camp has turned into a gain for the avant garde San Francisco group’s fans.
In the wake of the retirement of Hardy Fox, co-founder of the group’s Cryptic Corporation management and production company, current company president Homer Flynn struck a new deal with Britain’s Cherry Road Records and the MVD Entertainment Group in the U.S. which in turn led to a plan for deluxe and expanded re-releases of the Residents’ 46-year catalog. It begins Friday (Jan. 19) with the reissues of 1974’s Meet The Residents and 1976’s The Third Reich ‘N Roll, featuring more than 30 previously unreleased tracks between them — three of which are premiering exclusively below.
Flynn tells Billboard that Cherry Red product manager Richard Anderson spearheaded the idea for the reissues. “By some master stroke of luck he’s a huge Residents fan, so he’s kind of personally invested in all this stuff,” Flynn says. “What they wanted to do, which surprised me, was an extensive reissue series of the entire catalog, or at least the major releases, and to bring in bonus material. Hardy had always been the keeper of the Residents archives, so I inherited that from him and lo and behold there was all this material that I didn’t even know existed.”
Seattle engineer Scott Colburn, another Residents devotee, was enlisted and charged with sifting through and remastering the material, a process Flynn describes as “kind of crazy. The majority of it was on reel-to-reel tapes, some of them seven-and-a-half inches per second. I really had no idea a lot of this stuff existed.” The material, he adds, include demos, outtakes, concerts, live in-studio performances and more, along with essays and archival sleevenotes. Meet The Residents adds the 1972 Santa Dog EP, while Third Reich ‘N Roll includes the group’s legendary “Oh Mummy” show.
Flynn predicts that the reissue series will spawn new entries about every three months, while the Residents are keeping busy with new projects. Two albums are currently in the work, one of all-new material and another that will be drawn from the 197 submissions to the I Am A Resident Campaign, where the group asked fans to submit their versions of Residents songs. The group initially envisioned picking 15-20 for inclusion on an album, but Flynn says it’s now thinking about putting together “almost a mash-up of as much of the material as can possibly be included. It has a very odd kind of quality because it almost puts you in a kind of dream state as it flows from one fragment to another with it all seeming very familiar but nothing being quite right. It’s really unspooling now.”
The group’s other major project is a resurrection, of sorts, of Vileness Fats, a film the group worked on from 1972-76 but abandoned when it became too unwieldy — though some scenes have surfaced on YouTube. The new endeavor is being spearheaded by Don Hardy Jr., who wrote and directed the 2015 documentary Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents and “recontextualizes a lot of the original material,” according to Flynn, into a fresh story that references the past work. “That seems to be picking up some steam now,” Flynn reports. “We have a producer in France, and it looks like a producer in Germany is getting on board. There’s a production budget in the works now, so we’re beginning to get optimistic about it.”
The Residents kick off a North American tour at the Regent Theatre in Los Angeles on April 4 and trek through the U.S. and Canada until wrapping in Dallas on May 3. Check out tour dates here.
“Numb Erone” (Live) “Breath And Length” (Version) “The Letter”