At the Slipper Room, NYC 2013
|Origin||New York City, United States|
|Genres||Post-punk, no wave, dance-punk|
|Years active||1979–1983, 1995–1998, 2005–present|
|Labels||99 Records, Fetish Records, Stiff Records, ROIR, Thirsty Ear, Tim/Kerr Records, Polygram Records|
|Associated acts||The Contortions, Lovelies, Command V|
|Past members||Jimmy Joe Uliana
Bush Tetras are an American post-punk band from New York City that was popular in the Manhattan club scene and college radio in the early 1980s but never achieved much mainstream success. Their music combined funk rhythms and dissonant guitar riffs.
Lead guitarist Pat Place and vocalist Cynthia Sley produced the most distinctive aspects of the Tetras sound. Place's guitar lines were rhythmic and distortion-filled. She had been the original guitarist and one of the founding members of the no wave band The Contortions. With Bush Tetras, Place continued to pursue some of the musical ideas she had explored in the Contortions, although her distinctive slide guitar is absent from many of the Tetras songs. Sley's vocals were half-spoken, half-sung. In songs like "Too Many Creeps" and "Can't Be Funky," she repeated simple phrases over and over again, creating a hypnotic monotony similar to Place's guitar rhythms.
Place appeared in some of Vivienne Dick's movies, co-starring with Lydia Lunch and other musicians from New York's thriving late 1970s and early 1980s music community, an offshoot of no wave. These appearances contributed to the band's prominent position in downtown New York in the early 1980s. New York's post-punk revival of the 2000s was accompanied by a resurgence of interest in this period, with the Tetras' influence heard in many of that scene's bands.
The group scored two dance hits in the U.S. in the early 1980s – "Too Many Creeps" peaked at No. 57 Dance in 1981, and "Can't Be Funky/Cowboys in Africa" peaked at No. 32 in 1982 – before their initial split.
Sley later joined up with Ivan Julian of Richard Hell and the Voidoids to form Lovelies. They put out one percussive post-punk album, Mad Orphan (109 Records), in 1988. In 2008, she formed Command V with Pat Irwin of the Raybeats and B-52s, and Rachel Dengiz. They released a self-titled album in 2012 on Mush Records.
Drummer Dee Pop also performs with improvisational jazz groups Radio I-Ching and Freedomland, and has performed or recorded with rock-oriented bands and artists including Floor Kiss, Immaculate Hearts, The Shams, Black Flies, John Sinclair, Jayne County, The Amazing Cherubs, Fur, Michael Karoli (Can), Richard Lloyd, James Chance, The Slits, Odetta, Gary Lucas, Bobby Radcliff, Patti Palladin, Darlene Love, Andy Shernoff, The Walsos, Nona Hendryx, Band of Outsiders, Lenny Kaye, Jahn Xavier and the Gun Club. He also performed with jazz musicians Eddie Gale, Roy Campbell, Marc Ribot, Mark Helias, Dick Griffin, Billy Bang, Borah Bergman and Hanuman Sextet.
Bush Tetras briefly reformed in the mid-1990s and released the album Beauty Lies in 1997. In 1998 they recorded an album titled Happy with producer Don Fleming (it was not released until 2012). In 2005, they added bassist Julia Murphy and resumed performing in New York City. They toured Europe in summer 2006.
In February 2013, Cindy Rickmond (formerly of Cheap Perfume, Grayson Hugh, Church of Betty and Unknown Gender) briefly replaced Murphy as the band's bassist.
In early 2016, Val Opielski (formerly of Krakatoa, Walking Hellos, PSXO and 1000 Yard Stare) joined the group on bass.
- Beauty Lies (1997, Polygram Records)
- Very Very Happy (2007, ROIR)
- Happy (2012, ROIR)
Singles and EPs
- "Too Many Creeps" 7" EP (1980, 99 Records) (#57 Billboard Club Play Songs)
- "Things That Go Boom in the Night" 7" single (1981, Fetish Records) (#43 UK Indie)
- "Can't Be Funky" 7" single (1981, Fetish Records)
- Rituals 12" EP (1981, Fetish Records/Stiff Records) (#32 Billboard Club Play Songs)
- "Page 18" 12" single (1996, Tim/Kerr Records)
- "Too Many Creeps" 7" single (2011, ROIR)
- Wild Things cassette-only (1983, ROIR)
- Start Swimming (Live at the Rainbow, London) with The Bongos, Raybeats, The dBs, others. (1981, Stiff Records)
- Better Late Than Never (Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983) cassette-only (1989, ROIR)
- Boom in the Night (Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983) (1995, ROIR)
- Tetrafied: Previously Released Recordings (1996, Thirsty Ear)
Selected compilation appearances
- "Punch Drunk" and a cover of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey" on Start Swimming (1981, Stiff Records), a live record documenting a one-night showcase of New York bands at the Rainbow in London on February 20, 1981
- "Das Ah Riot" on The Last Testament (1983, Fetish Records)
- "Rituals" on New York Rockers (1989, ROIR)
- "Too Many Creeps" on Totally Wired (1995, Razor & Tie)
- "Cowboys in Africa" on I [Heart] New York Punk! (1995, free with Mojo issue 144)
- A cover of Iggy Pop's "Sister Midnight" on We Will Fall: The Iggy Pop Tribute (1997, Royalty Records)
- "Too Many Creeps" on New Wave Dance Hits of the '80s: Just Can't Get Enough (1997, Rhino Records)
- "Too Many Creeps" on Rough Trade Shops - Post Punk 01 (2003, Mute Records)
- "Can't Be Funky" on New York Noise (Dance Music from the New York Underground 1978-1982) (2003, Soul Jazz Records)
- "Too Many Creeps" on The Definitive Story of CBGB (The Home of U.S. Punk) (2006, Salvo)
- "Punch Drunk" on So Indie It Hurts: Roir Rocks Volume One (2008, ROIR)
- "Too Many Creeps" on Death Disco (Mojo Presents a Compendium of Post-Punk Grooves) (2014, free with Mojo issue 246)
- Cynthia Sley - vocals (1979–1983, 1995–1998, 2005–present)
- Pat Place - guitar (1979–1983, 1995–1998, 2005–present)
- Dee Pop - drums (1979–1983, 1995–1998, 2005–present)
- Val Opielski - bass (2016–present)
- Laura Kennedy - bass (1979–1983, 1995–1998)
- Jimmy Joe Uliana - guitar (1979)
- Adele Bertei - vocals (1979)
- Bob Albertson - bass (1983)
- Don Christenson - drums (1983)
- Julia Murphy - bass (2005–2013, 2015)
- Cindy Rickmond - bass (2013)
- Billboard, Allmusic
- Shane Mack (November 14, 2011). "RIP: Laura Kennedy of Bush Tetras". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- Fred Mills (2011). "Bush Tetras' Laura Kennedy R.I.P.". Blurt.com. Blurt magazine. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- ROIR (say roar!) (February 28, 2013). "Cindy Rickmond New Bassist for Bush Tetras". ROIR USA. Retrieved February 28, 2013.