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The Residents reside on absurdist pop’s freaky fringes 

The enigma of a band drops Ten Little Piggies

For nearly 40 years, the Residents have flourished in the freaky fringes of absurdist pop, churning out disturbing theatrics and musical experiments that wreak havoc on the senses. Virtually nothing is known about their identity other than rumors. All of their activities are facilitated by an elusive organization known as the Cryptic Corporation, and the Residents don't do interviews. "The Residents do art and don't feel like interviewing is a medium they work well in," says the group's manager, Hardy Fox, via e-mail. "They are happy to let their projects speak for them. ... Or let me speak for them, LOL."

Anonymity has bestowed the group with an incredible mystique. Albums have ranged from a parody of '60s pop hits, titled The Third Reich 'n Roll, to an acclaimed concept album about life in the Arctic Circle called Eskimo. Other albums reinterpret the works of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, John Philip Sousa and James Brown, all with a mutant art skulk that oozes with unease. Squirming keyboards, traditional instruments, ambient sounds and creepy vocals balance noise and melody, characterizing a sound that touches on everything from Devo to Captain Beefheart without ever staying put for long.

Elaborate costumes are also part of the group's M.O. Their appearance as four characters dressed in tuxedos and top hats with gigantic eyeball heads has been branded as the group's image, but it changes for every performance.

The latest Residents CD, Ten Little Piggies, is a pastiche of melodies and non sequitur narratives that Fox calls a "futurist compilation" of new music that will be played when they perform in Atlanta. But, Fox adds, "This is not a tour in support of an album. It is a tour in support of an experiment."

NBCBayArea.com recently described the show as "a semi-retrospective of their entire career," and the "complete reinvention of their songbook was one of the show's strong suits."

As for the eyeball heads, those have been gone for a long time. "The saddest thing that can happen to a group (or a human) is that as they age they become caricatures of their previous selves, going through life imitating what they believe other people want them to be." Expect anything.

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