Editor’s Note: Maxwell Allison is a WNUR alum, a continuing friend of the station, and the bassist for Good Willsmith. He spoke recently with Homer Flynn, head of the Cryptic Corporation and spokesman for the Residents.

Where are you guys right now? How is the tour going?

Tour’s been great—tour’s going really well. Other than the fact that it looks like we’re about to cancel a show in Northhampton, Massachusetts tomorrow because they’re expecting two to three feet of snow.

How many shows are on this tour in total?

There were 21, now there are 20.

Can you tell us what we can expect from the Residents’ Wonder of Weird tour?

Well it’s the 40th anniversary tour, so it’s retrospective. But being retrospective, or at least being The Residents, it’s not necessarily what someone might expect—it’s not obvious. There’s no Constantinople, there’s no Hello Skinny or Man’s World. They’ve actually chosen some fairly obscure material from their catalog that has been drastically re-arranged. So a casual fan could easily go in and think “this is all new material,” but the hardcore people will certainly find a lot of familiar stuff, and a lot of little gems they never expected to see showing up in a concert like this.

The Residents are playing in Chicago at Schuba’s on Friday, February 15th—a sold out show!—and at Lincoln Hall on Saturday, February 16th. How have the audiences responded so far?

The response has been great—actually the response is very good. At times spectacularly so.

How has the Residents’ touring lifestyle changed since the days of the Mole Show and the 13th Anniversary Tour – has it slowed down at all, or is it the same as it ever was?

It’s definitely slowed down. When they were doing the Mole Show, this was their first time in Europe. It was their first time touring and their first time in Europe. So not only are there all the touring problems that are inherent in anybody’s touring situation that have to be dealt with on a daily basis, but there’s the desire to go out and see the Eiffel Tower and take in as much of Europe as possible. And after a while you start to learn what your priorities are. At this point, things are pretty calm. Ultimately it’s all about the show, and for the most part people are resting, getting ready for the show, and when we get to a theater or a club, that becomes the focus for the next few hours and then that shuts off. You can’t let yourself get distracted, or you’re not doing your job.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Residents’ Ultimate Box Set?

It’s ultimately a collection of first editions of everything that the Residents have ever released—so that’s all the LPs, all the CDs, all the DVDs, CD-ROMs, singles, everything. It’s all wrapped up in one nice refrigerated package.

I remember reading that you guys are catering more towards fine arts establishments and museums.

The Residents have gotten a lot of attention in the museum world—as a matter of fact, the last Chicago show was at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

And some of the Residents’ material is at MoMA unless I’m mistaken.

Yeah—right, they had a video retrospective at MoMA about four or five years ago and they’ve had several pieces in the permanent collection and they’ve been included in several shows. Most people are not aware of the attention that The Residents have gotten in the fine art world, so that’s partly why we’re trying to push the UBS.

I know, Mr. Flynn, that you’re credited as the Residents’ visual artist and graphic designer, and I know that you yourself have had solo art showings over the years. Could you explain your own artistic process when it comes to visual art?

In terms of my own process, in terms of creating artwork for the Residents, it’s more about trying to see what this project is all about, and then trying to capture its essence visually in as simple a way as possible. And that usually involves a lot of discussion with the group, throwing various ideas out there, and then ultimately focusing on something, but it’s kind of changed over the years. Once again when it goes back to something like The Third Reich and Roll.

Yeah, with Dick Clark on the cover.

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