Suburban Lawns

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Suburban Lawns
OriginLong Beach, California, United States
GenresNew wave, post-punk
Years active1978–1983
LabelsSuburban Industrial, I.R.S. Records
Past membersSu Tissue (Sue McLane)
Frankie Ennui (Richard Whitney)
John Gleur (John McBurney)
Vex Billingsgate (William Ranson)
Chuck Roast (Charles Rodriguez)

Suburban Lawns were an American post-punk band formed in Long Beach, California in 1978 by CalArts students William "Vex Billingsgate" Ranson and Sue "Su Tissue" McLane. They later recruited Richard "Frankie Ennui" Whitney, Charles "Chuck Roast" Rodriguez, and John "John Gleur" McBurney.


After forming in 1978, Suburban Lawns released their debut single, "Gidget Goes to Hell", in 1979 on their own Suburban Industrial label. The song gained the band notoriety when its Jonathan Demme-directed music video was shown on Saturday Night Live.[1]

Their sole album, Suburban Lawns, produced and engineered by EJ Emmons and Troy Mathisen, was released in 1981 on I.R.S. Records, featuring new wave radio favorite "Janitor" (previously released as a single in 1980).[2]

It has been said that the lyrics of "Janitor" were derived from a real-life conversation between Sue "Su Tissue" McLane and friend Brian Smith. According to Smith, the two were conversing in a loud room when they first met:

She asked me what I did for a living. I said "I'm a janitor," and she thought I said "Oh my genitals." [Richard "Frankie Ennui" Whitney] overheard this and wrote the song.

According to Richard Whitney, this story is somewhat backwards; the music and all of the lyrics apart from “Oh, my genitals! I’m a janitor!” were already written when Sue McLane added them herself:

Su was definitely more of a poet than I have ever dreamed of being. The lyrics, except for Su’s contribution, are pretty straightforward science-nerd stuff about all things explosive. Su’s addition, whatever the source (and I have no reason to doubt what Brian Smith has apparently written about how Su came up with that addition), gave the song a poetical spin that added the dimension it needed to make it interesting. That’s exactly why, in my opinion, our best songs were those that were written collaboratively.[3]

Gleur departed during the recording of the Richard Mazda-produced five-song EP Baby, released in 1983, and the band folded shortly afterward.

Later projects[edit]

After the split, Whitney and Ranson formed a new, short-lived band called the Lawns, while McLane attended Berklee College of Music, where she studied piano.

In 1982, McLane recorded a solo album, Salon de Musique. She also played the role of Peggy Dillman in Demme's 1986 comedy movie Something Wild opposite Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta.

McLane is now a lawyer and ignores all requests for interviews and fan pictures or autographs.


Studio albums[edit]

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Gidget Goes to Hell" 7" single (1979, Suburban Industrial)
  • "Janitor" 7" single (1980, Suburban Industrial)
  • Baby 12" EP (1983, I.R.S. Records)


  1. ^ "Gidget Goes To Hell". YouTube. 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Interview: Suburban Lawns' Frankie Ennui". Retrieved 2015-10-26.

External links[edit]