Bush Tetras

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Bush Tetras
At the Slipper Room, NYC 2013
At the Slipper Room, NYC 2013
Background information
OriginNew York City, United States
GenresPost-punk, no wave, dance-punk
Years active1979–1983, 1995–1998, 2005–present
Labels99 Records, Fetish Records, Stiff Records, ROIR, Thirsty Ear, Tim/Kerr Records, Polygram Records
Associated actsThe Contortions, Lovelies, Command V
MembersPat Place
Dee Pop (Dimitri Papadopoulos)
Cynthia Sley
Val Opielski
Past membersJimmy Joe Uliana
Adele Bertei
Laura Kennedy
Bob Albertson
Don Christenson
Julia Murphy
Cindy Rickmond

Bush Tetras are an American post-punk band from New York City, formed in 1979. They are best known for the 1980 song "Too Many Creeps", which exemplified the band's sound of "jagged rhythms, slicing guitars, and sniping vocals".[1] Although they did not achieve mainstream success, the Bush Tetras were influential and popular in the Manhattan club scene and college radio in the early 1980s.[1] New York's post-punk revival of the 2000s was accompanied by a resurgence of interest in the genre, with the Tetras' influence heard in many of that scene's bands.[2]


Formation and early years[edit]

The Bush Tetras formed in 1979, and soon solidified with a lineup of Cynthia Sley (vocals), Pat Place (guitar), Laura Kennedy (bass) and Dee Pop (drums); vocalist Adele Bertei and guitarist Jimmy Joe Uliana were brief early members. Place had previously been the original guitarist and a founding member of the no wave band the Contortions, though the Tetras sound was less frantic and disjointed,[1] and she had also appeared in some of Vivienne Dick's movies.[3]

The band's debut 7" EP, "Too Many Creeps", was released in 1980 on 99 Records.[1] It reached No. 57 on the Billboard club play chart.[4] The follow-up, "Things That Go Boom in the Night", was issued in 1981 by Fetish Records, hitting No. 43 on the UK Indie Chart. The Rituals 12" EP, produced by Topper Headon of the Clash and including the popular "Can't Be Funky", was released in 1981 by Fetish in the UK and by Stiff Records in the U.S. It reached No. 32 on the Billboard club chart.[1]

Two live tracks (a cover of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey" and "Punch Drunk") appeared on the 1981 Stiff Records compilation Start Swimming, documenting a one-night showcase of New York bands (also including the Bongos, the Raybeats and the dBs) at the Rainbow in London on February 20, 1981. Another live release, the cassette-only Wild Things (1983), was issued by ROIR.

Kennedy and Pop left in 1983, replaced briefly by bassist Bob Albertson and drummer Don Christensen, but the band soon broke up.[1] ROIR issued a posthumous cassette-only collection, Better Late Than Never (Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983) in 1989.

In the 1984 Kiki Smith/Ellen Cooper Cave Girls (film), Bush Tetras music plays over long passages of out of focus, foggy, visually noisy, action.[5]


The original lineup of Bush Tetras reformed in 1995[1] and released the album Beauty Lies in 1997.[1] Two other compilations were also issued, a CD version of Better Late Than Never retitled Boom in the Night (Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983) in 1995, and Tetrafied: Previously Released Recordings in 1996.[1]

In 1998, they recorded an album with producer Don Fleming for Mercury Records, titled Happy, but it was shelved when Mercury was sold (the album was finally released in 2012 by ROIR).[1]

In 2005, they added bassist Julia Murphy and resumed performing in New York City. They toured Europe in summer 2006.

Original bassist Kennedy died on November 14, 2011, after a long battle with liver disease.[6][7]

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.[8]

In early 2016, Val Opielski (formerly of Krakatoa, Walking Hellos, PSXO and 1000 Yard Stare) joined the group on bass.[9]

In 2018, they released an EP, Take the Fall, on Wharf Cat Records.Then, in 2019, they released a 7" single, "There Is a Hum", on Thirdman Records.

Other projects[edit]

After the band's initial breakup, Sley 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 the 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 Waldos, Nona Hendryx, Band of Outsiders, Lenny Kaye, Jahn Xavier and the Gun Club. He also performed with jazz musicians Eddie Gale, Roy Campbell Jr., Marc Ribot, Mark Helias, Dick Griffin, Billy Bang, Borah Bergman and Hanuman Sextet.

Pat Place also played with Maggie Estep's I Love Everybody and Joey's Oscar in the 90s; at one time, she was a member of James Chance and the Contortions, playing steel guitar and featuring on the Brian Eno-produced No New York as one of four bands in the initial New York no wave scene.


Studio albums[edit]

  • Beauty Lies (1997, Polygram Records)
  • Very Very Happy (2007, ROIR)
  • Happy (2012, ROIR)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Too Many Creeps" 7" EP (1980, 99 Records) No. 57 Billboard Dance Club Songs
  • "Things That Go Boom in the Night" 7" single (1981, Fetish Records) No. 43 UK Indie Chart
  • "Can't Be Funky" 7" single (1981, Fetish Records)
  • Rituals 12" EP (1981, Fetish Records/Stiff Records) No. 32 Billboard Dance Club Songs
  • "Page 18" 12" single (1996, Tim/Kerr Records)
  • "Too Many Creeps" 7" single (2011, ROIR)
  • "Take the Fall" EP (2018, Wharf Cat Records)
  • "There is a Hum" 7” (2019, Thirdman Records)

Live albums[edit]

  • Wild Things cassette-only (1983, ROIR)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 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)

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • "Cold Turkey" (John Lennon cover) and "Punch Drunk" on Start Swimming (1981, Stiff Records)
  • "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)
  • "Sister Midnight" (Iggy Pop cover) 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)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bush Tetras: Biography by Mark Deming." AllMusic.com. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Strauss, Neil (October 24, 2002). "THE POP LIFE; Punk Meets Disco, Again." NYTimes.com. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  3. ^ Pat Place: Interview by Tim Broun" (2011). Furious.com. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  4. ^ Billboard, AllMusic
  5. ^ Kiki Smith interviewed by Joseph Nechvatal on Cave Girls, Collaboration, and Some of Her Earliest Works published January 14, 2020 at Hyperallergic
  6. ^ Shane Mack (November 14, 2011). "RIP: Laura Kennedy of Bush Tetras". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 24, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Fred Mills (2011). "Bush Tetras' Laura Kennedy R.I.P." Blurt.com. Blurt magazine. Archived from the original on December 17, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ ROIR (say roar!) (February 28, 2013). "Cindy Rickmond New Bassist for Bush Tetras". ROIR. Retrieved February 28, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Image: Bush Tetras at Lincoln Center (July 30, 2016). Facebook.com. Retrieved July 17, 2018.

External links[edit]