Tuxedomoon: No Tears for the Creatures of the Night

Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger


While the Sex Pistols were regurgitating old Who and Chuck Berry riffs in London, and the Ramones were dumbing down the Beach Boys' sound in New York City, something truly weird was going on in San Francisco. Formed in 1977 by multi-instrumentalists, Blaine L. Reininger and Steven Brown (and later joined by Peter Principle and puppeteer/weirdo, Winston Tong) Tuxedomoon are a group that, like their singular Ralph Records label-mates, The Residents, fall into exactly one category, the category of Tuxedomoon. With a sonic aesthetic difficult to describe (electronic, erudite, evil, with lots of strings and a sleazy sax, if that helps) but once called the sound of "ectoplasmic formation" (any better?), Tuxedomoon never fit into the San Francisco punk scene, they were viewed as "too European." Not surprisingly, the band decamped to Rotterdam, then Brussels in the early 1980s where they were more warmly received. Since then, Tuxedomoon have rarely played in America –just five concerts– and I can count myself as lucky enough to have attended one of them.

Tuxedomoon celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2007 with a box set, "77-o-7" consisting of a new album (Vapour Trails), a CD of the new album played live, a rarities disc and a nearly three-hour long DVD of their multi-media film works and performance documentation. A friend gave me this box set not that long ago and it absolutely floored me. I played it for weeks on end and the video material was a joy for a longtime fan to behold. There's also been a definitive 450-page book book written on the group titled "Music For Vagabonds: The Tuxedomoon Chronicles" by Isabelle Corbisier, that looks really great. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Official Tuxedomoon website
Tuxedomoon on MySpace
"No Tears" video
Tuxedomoon on Glenn O'Brien's TV Party (note Debbie Harry cameo)
"Jinx" music video directed by Graeme Whifler
"Special Treatment for the Family Man" (about Harvey Milk's killer, Dan White)
"59 to 1" music video
"Desire" (with Jean-Michel Basquiat on spray-paint) from "Downtown '81"
"Jinx" live, 1979
"Nervous Guy" on TV Party
"Found Films" trailer
"Victims of the Dance" (a loft jam)
"The Stranger" (with Winston Tong)
Totally Wired: Simon Reynold's extensive email interview with Tuxedomoon's Steven Brown

Thanks Frank Alongi from Ryko!