Music / The Residents
Meet The Residents
An avant-garde rock group that have released over 100 albums, helped pioneer the modern Music Video, and produced some of the creepiest songs, both original and covers, for about four decades—all while staying anonymous to the public.

After almost 40 years as a faceless collective, in the early 2010's the members - while not revealing their real identities - adapted individual monikers and personas: Randy Rose (the singer; formerly known as Mr. Skull), Charles "Chuck" Bobuck (the keyboardist and composer), and Bob (the guitarist). A fourth member, Carlos, was said to have recently retired, although he was credited as a guest vocalist on one album. In 2016, Charles Bobuck announced his departure from the band. The following year, he admitted he was Cryptic Corporation member Hardy Fox. The remaining members have not yet given out their real names.

For additional info, Matt Groening wrote The True Story of The Residents for Uncle Willie. A documentary, Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents, was released in 2015.

Albums with their own TV Tropes pages:

Other projects:

Associated tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: The American Composer Series, where the Residents cover songs by prominent American musicians. Word of Saint Paul says that it was because the Residents had to pay royalties for the covers.
    • Mark Of The Mole was intended to be the first of a six part "trilogy", of which only four albums were released - the accompanying tour was a financial disaster that almost broke up the band, so they opted to move on to other projects. Of the released albums, Mark Of The Mole is the only one to have an overall plot, and it ends very ambiguously. The other three (Tunes Of Two Cities, The Big Bubble and Intermission) largely consist of music supposedly made in-universe by the clashing cultures depicted in the story.
  • Acceptable Targets: invoked They've taken half(?)-joking potshots at The Beatles a few times. Around the time The Beatles Play The Residents and The Residents Play The Beatles was released, (since-debunked) rumor had it that the Residents completely despised the Beatles.
    • When Carlos officially left the band, Randy followed up the announcement of such (made on at least one live show) by shouting "Fuck Carlos!"
  • Album Within An Album: The Big Bubble
  • Appropriated Appellation: Before they had settled on a name, they sent out a demo tape to Warner Brothers. Because the return address didn't include a name, their rejection letter was simply addressed to "Residents".
  • As the Good Book Says...: Discussed and deconstructed on Wormwood.
    Randy (as Mr. Skull): Nowhere does the Good Book say 'Jesus loves me.'
  • Ax-Crazy: The narrator of their version of "Satisfaction".
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: "Om Is Where The Art Is," off The Warner Brothers Album.
    Seattle wasn't built in a day,
    Did you know that? I bet you did.
    I have to be right, I cannot be wrong,
    After all, Jesus wasn't built in a day.
  • Concept Album: Most of them.
  • Creator In-Joke: Quite a few.
  • Creepy Children Singing: Subverted; it was actually regular collaborator Molly Harvey, although she was so convincing that many thought an actual child had done the recording.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Where to begin?
  • Darker and Edgier: Nobody can agree when exactly, but after a certain point, their albums became progressively heavier and bleaker.
  • Dirty Old Man: Randy.
  • Dream Team: They did a collab with fellow avant-gardists Renaldo And The Loaf, called Title In Limbo, in 1983.
    • Todd Rundgren was one of the guests on The Gingerbread Man
    • The Commercial Album had, as its special guests, the likes of Fred Frith and Andy Partridge.
    • Tweedles! saw the band working side by side with the entire Film Orchestra of Bucharest.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Seriously, good luck comparing Meet The Residents (or any of their demos) with anything they've put out since Not Available got released.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The titular character of Gingerbread Man might be one, if its description in Live at the Fillmore is anything to go by...
    • Randy: "...the cookie man somehow escapes his usual fate, and he becomes the hunter, instead of the prey. But being more spirit than substance, this gingerbread man has an unusual appetite, and he feeds on energy; dark, brooding, soul-sucking energy... and the human race offers more than he can count."
  • The Faceless: The band always performs masked, and would leave their true identities to speculation. During The New '10s, however, the bandmates began going under individual names.
  • Faceless Eye: Their signature masks.
  • Fake Guest Star: Oh, so many of them. Notably instances include Snakefinger, Carla Fabrizio, Molly Harvey, and Nolan Cook.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Possibly the only reason they got away with the artwork (NSFW) for Tweedles! was the way that they packaged it.
  • Gorn: The climax of God in Three Persons.
  • The Hedonist: The protagonist of Tweedles!
  • In the Style of...
  • Long Title: Imaginary Jack, a bonus disc included with Animal Lover bears the full title of I stood at my window staring at an arcing streetlight. A sudden wind made me pull my shoulders to my ears. I pissed into the dark. It smelled like canned tuna. My swollen lip throbbed. I could still taste the blood. My eyes rolled back looking for memories. I stopped. I was changing details in my mind,remembering only what I wanted it to be, not what it was. I had only a short time to do what had to be done, after that it would all be forever absorbed by my imaginary Jack.
  • Mind Screw
  • Miniscule Rocking: Commercial Album, which contains 40 tracks all lasting a minute each.
  • Orphaned Series: The Mole Series of six albums, of which only three appeared.
    • The American Composer series, which got buried two albums in under a load of royalty discussions.
  • Precision F-Strike: Their songs are usually rather clean, but they will belt out an expletive every now and then.
  • Pun-Based Title: The Third Reich 'n' Roll
    • The song titles "Guylum Bardot" and "The Booker Tease" are puns on the names of musicians: Guy Lombardo, a big band leader, and Booker T. Jones, front-man of the instrumental soul group Booker T & The M.G.'s. Similarly "Krafty Cheese" references Kraft cheese and the fact that the group thought the song sounded like "cheesy Kraftwerk".
  • Rock Opera:Though they've never been referred to as such, most of their concept albums could technically be this.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: Appeared in the costumes they wore during the Cube-E tour on Pee Wee'sPlayhouse, which they also scored on occasion.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: "Mother No More".
  • Skull for a Head: What the band resorted to when the Red Eyeball mask was stolen and returned in a beat-up state—the skull in question was originally a prop for a photoshoot.
  • Stylistic Suck:
  • Surreal Music Video: Every music video they've ever made.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Third Reich 'n' Roll has only two tracks, each called "Swastikas on Parade" and "Hitler Was a Vegetarian." The cover art depicts Dick Clark in a Nazi uniform surrounded by drawings of Hitler dancing.
  • Train Song: The concept album Ghost of Hope is all about notable train wrecks, so this is inevitable.
  • Updated Re-release: Inverted; WB:RMX saw release over a decade before The Warner Brothers Album.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: When it's invoked, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: In a few cases.