2022 marks the fiftieth anniversary of music released by The Residents. This San Francisco-based group has remained resolutely faceless and anonymous over the decades, while producing some of the most unusual, twisted, startling, and flat-out funny music ever created in the USA – some of the most beautiful music too. Among the most notable recordings are their surrealistic debut album Meet The Residents; The Third Reich ‘N Roll, a blistering dissection of 1960s rock; Eskimo, their landmark reinvention of a vanishing culture; Mark of the Mole, a frightening parable of conflict between slave and owner classes; The Tunes of Two Cities, extending the Mole saga into a sampling of both peoples’ music; and the haunting God in Three Persons, which dives into American religiosity and hucksterism.

The group has observed their golden anniversary with the release of a feature film entitled Triple Trouble, written and directed by Homer Flynn and The Residents, which was screened this year as part of the acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festival’s exciting line-up. Triple Trouble marks a return to The Residents’ roots, insofar as the film incorporates footage from their never-completed black-&-white video, the now legendary Vileness Fats. Scenes and images from that bizarre 1970s project arise within the paranoid narrative of Triple Trouble, in which a San Francisco plumber stumbles upon the spread of an unknown fungus that is invading not just the pipes of sinks but the bodies of people as well. Employing a sharp black & white that permits certain colorations to pop out, this imaginative and unnerving film noir also incorporates footage from another uncompleted Residents film: the criminal tale Double Trouble, an aborted work whose color sequences serve as the memories of Triple’s plumber protagonist Randall “Junior” Rose. His late father was a musician who was in a band called The Residents that made an unfinished film called Vileness Fats… Yes, the snake eats its own tail, in a circular construction that echoes The Residents’ fondness for elliptical, tongue-twisting speech and lyrics, derived from their embrace of the Theory of Obscurity, as heard in the film’s concluding clip from Vileness Fats.

Further expanding the phantasmagoria of Triple Trouble are psychedelic dream sequences created by master video artist John Sanborn. And in keeping with The Residents’ appetite for cultural appropriation, the film also includes glimpses from Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead – offered as disturbing counterpoints to the nightmare atmosphere of Triple Trouble, where the past never dies and the future never arrives. Actor Dustin York brings passion and conviction to the role of Randy Jr., a former priest who now kneels to unclog sinks, even as he continues to grieve the loss of his gun-toting, football-loving mother (seen in flashbacks and played by Sims voice actor and language-inventor Gerri Lawlor, whose 2019 death marked an end to Double Trouble’s production). As he keeps discovering clues of a pervasive, possibly extra-terrestrial fungus, Randy’s own life steadily unravels, despite the affection of his Wiccan girlfriend Suzi (Isabelle Ellingson) and the friendly assistance of an AI-enhanced, flying and talking drone (voiced by Isabelle Barbier).

If all this sounds profoundly weird – as well as weirdly profound – that’s because it is. The Residents wouldn’t have it any other way. Don’t miss it!

Check The Residents website – https://www.residents.com/ – for screenings near you, and learn more on the official Triple Trouble website, https://www.3xtrouble.com/

Laura Albert

Laura Albert has won international acclaim for her fiction. Writing as JT LeRoy, she is the author of the best-selling novels Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, and the novella Harold's End. Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, reissued by HarperCollins, have also been released as audiobooks by Blackstone Publishing. Laura Albert is the subject of Jeff Feuerzeig's feature documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story and Lynn Hershman Leeson's film The Ballad of JT LeRoy. She has written for The New York Times, The Forward, The London Times, Spin, Man About Town, Vogue, Film Comment, Interview, L'Équipe Sport&Style, Filmmaker, I-D, and others – more recently, the cover article for Man About Town and her reflections on fashion for VESTOJ. A writer for the HBO series "Deadwood," she also wrote the original script for Gus Van Sant's Elephant and was the film's Associate Producer. She has written the short films Radiance for Drew Lightfoot and ContentMode, and Dreams of Levitation and Warfare of Pageantry for Sharif Hamza and Nowness. For Tiempo de Literatura 2020's “The Narrative Universe of Laura Albert,” she engaged in a wide-ranging ZOOM conversation with Fernanda Melchor, International Booker Prize Shortlist author for her acclaimed novel Hurricane Season. Twitter: @lauraalbert Instagram: @laura_albert