Anyone who knows me a little bit knows that I love The Residents. Their blatant disregard for the rules of songwriting and their irreverent love of discord has been an inspiration to weirdos across the globe. They’re a hard nut to crack into, but if you do you will find a catalog of over 60(!) albums since their birth in 1969. They thrived off of their Theory of Obscurity, meaning that The Residents have never publicly declared who is in the actual band. Though there are rumors, especially since the perverse evolution of the internet, there have yet to be any confirmed members apart from the dear Hardy Fox who had passed away last year.
It warms my crooked little heart to know I am not alone in this obsession. Despite their best efforts, The Residents have garnered an international cult following while remaining completely anonymous. Never appearing in public without a disguise, the mystique of their methods will outlast the physical vessels of the players. This brings me to Who Killed Ralph?. Started as a project by Tom-Erik Loe of Norway, Who Killed Ralph? is a kind of continuous tribute to The Residents. Welcoming any and all players who would like to submit their own versions of Residents tunes, it stands as a pillar in the Church of Obscurity.
With the voluminous amount of material produced by The Residents, there is no shortage of options for an inspired musician to tackle. This was also exercised by The Residents themselves last year with the release of I Am A Resident, where the band invited fans to cover their own music for an official release. Who Killed Ralph?, named after The Residents own label Ralph Records, currently has 8 volumes available for free on Bandcamp. With no sign of slowing down, this could easily extend another 50 years more. Someone will always be ready at the helm.
So if you’re feeling ambitious, if you’re feeling weird and bored with your standard can of pop formulae, reach out to the fine folks at Who Killed Ralph?. And while you’re at it, find yourself a Residents album to curl up with. They have more than enough variety.
Suggested Residents Albums:
Meet the Residents
Nicholas Panagakos is a writer based out of Cambridge, MA. He has published one book of poems and illustrations titled Laughter You See and plays in bands regularly. Soon to open a home for adult orphans. Buy him a drink.
Anti-Cop. Anti-ICE. Pro-Union.