The Residents' career allegedly began around 1970 in San Mateo, California. Music and sound were their earliest interests but since they were not musicians, the tape recorder became their tool of choice. Now considered pioneers in the use of the "home studio," over the years The Residents bought the first four track, eight track, sixteen track and digital recorders available on the consumer market.
They experimented with many different musical ideas before sending out their first real product as Christmas cards in 1972; it was the now legendary Santa Dog, a two-record set of 45rpm discs. Since that time they've released nearly twenty album length discs as well as many singles and EPs, each resounding with their hallmark style of outlandish experimentation.
While the pursuit of ideas through music and sound was proving positive, The Residents still were not satisfied. The optical end of their vision remained unseen. In 1976 this attitude and a pile of old newspapers yielded an interesting result__a new art form called the "music video". A few years later in 1982, The Museum of Modern Art in New York recognized The Residents as one of the inventors of this form, and that video, "The Third Reich N' Roll", and another, The Residents' One Minute Movies", were added to their permanent collection.
But the restless creativity of The Residents was still on the move. While their first ten years were wildly fertile, they were beginning to feel confined by their introverted existence in the studio. Real time performance for a live audience seemed like a worthy challenge so they took their ideas on stage. As performance artists at a time when the definition did not yet exist, the shows of The Residents, like their music and videos, were unique. While touring in Japan, Europe, and America, they completed over 200 performances with three different productions from 1982-1990.
Finally they came to 1992. With twenty years of musical releases, videos, live performances, TV work (for MTV and Pee Wee Herman) and a couple of books out in the world, The Residents decided that it was time for a little reflection_ and some of their friends have helped out. In June, 1992 the prestigious Voyager Company released an interactive laser disc that accurately compiles the milestones of their long career and in October, 1992, The Museum of Modern Art held a film and video retrospective while also co-sponsoring an installation of Residents' performance and video artifacts at The Kitchen in New York. The Residents themselves have added to the celebration by creating a shiny new album from moldy old ideas__lovingly referring to as, Our Finest Flowers.
And has that restless energy finally begun to run out? Aren't twenty years of artistic indulgence, all in the name of antifame, more than enough? Apparently not for The Residents. The Voyager Company is currently planning to release their first interactive CD-ROM early in 1993; based on The Residents' Freak Show compact disc and graphic novel releases, it becomes the vehicle with which they blast their way into the uncharted waters of yet one more new art form. And or course there are more albums, videos, books and live performances in the works. Antifame has its own reward. pp11-12