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.

History[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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 off-shoot 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.[1]

Cynthia Sley later joined up with Ivan Julian of Richard Hell and the Voidoids to form the 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 theRaybeats and B-52s, and Rachel Dengiz. They released a self-titled album in 2012 on Mush Records.

Dee Pop also currently performs with improvisational jazz groups Radio I-Ching and Freedomland. Pop has also 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 resumed performing in New York City, and toured Europe in summer 2006.

Laura Kennedy, the band's original bassist, died on November 14, 2011, after a long battle with liver disease.[2][3]

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Studio albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • "Too Many Creeps" / "Snakes Crawl" / "You Taste Like the Tropics" [7-inch EP; No. 99-02], 1980, 99 Records
  • "Things That Go Boom in the Night" / "Das Ah Riot" [7-inch single; #FET 007], 1981, Fetish Records
  • "Can't Be Funky" / "Can't Be Funky (instrumental)" [7-inch single; #FE 15], 1981, Fetish Records
  • Rituals EP: "Can't Be Funky" / "Funky Instrumental" / "Cowboys in Africa" / "Rituals" [12-inch EP; #FE 16], 1981, Fetish Records
  • Rituals EP: "Can't Be Funky" / "Funky Version" / "Cowboys in Africa" / "Rituals" [12-inch EP; #TEES 12-07], 1981, Stiff Records
  • Better Late Than Never: 1980-1983 [cassette-only], 1989, ROIR
  • Boom in the Night (Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983), 1995, ROIR
  • Tetrafied: Previously Released Recordings, 1996, Thirsty Ear
  • "Page 18" / "Find a Lie" [12-inch single], 1996, Tim/Kerr Records
  • "Too Many Creeps" / "You Cant' Be Funky" [7-inch single], 2011, ROIR

Compilations[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • "Too Many Creeps" appears on Rough Trade Shops - Post Punk Vol. 1 (2003, Rough Trade Records)
  • "Can't Be Funky" appears on New York Noise (2003, Soul Jazz Records)
  • "Cowboys in Africa" appears on I [Heart] New York Punk! [free with Mojo issue 144]
  • "Punch Drunk" and a cover of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey" appear 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.
  • "Sister Midnight" appears on We Will Fall (1997)
  • "Too Many Creeps" appears on Totally Wired
  • "Too Many Creeps" appears on New Wave Dance Hits of the '80s: Just Can't Get Enough (Rhino Records)

Members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • 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)
  • Julia Murphy - bass (2005–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)
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