The Bunny Boy was the 2008 project from the Residents, but it's much more than just an album. The album was inspired by the Bunny Boy Internet series (no longer available at www.residents.com), which also extended into the tour. Here's the supposed story: a friend of the Residents' has had his brother go missing, apparently on the island of Patmos in Greece. This friend ("Bunny") is a (mostly) computer illiterate man who spends most of his time in his "secret room." He's got some clues: postcards from Patmos and the contents of his brother Harvey's computer. From the secret room, he posts video messages (the webisodes) on the Internets hoping that people will help him find his Armageddon-obsessed brother (who went to Patmos because that's where St. John supposedly received the Book of Revelations). But the story became more than just clues on the website. Bunny (seemingly portrayed by the Singing Resident) gives out an e-mail address asking for help. In the following weeks, Bunny responded to individual e-mails giving further clues, or not, as the case may be. Bunny seems disturbed and confused, but is it just over his missing brother? Is Harvey really missing? Is Harvey dead? Is Bunny crazy? Is Bunny Harvey!?!?! There are certainly myriad clues, but which ones unlock the mystery? It's a brilliant multimedia story line. Musically, this is a more stripped-down effort than their recent offerings. Songs are short, and they're more "rock" than the last few albums, although they seem to get more electronic as the story progresses (a symptom of Bunny's deteriorating mental condition?). Toward the end, they employ some cool programming and almost techno beats. The album doesn't advance the story line too much, although there appear to be further clues in the sparse lyrics and photos in the booklet. And as opposed to the last several releases, The Bunny Boy features the Singing Resident almost exclusively on vocals (and mostly singing, too; not the screaming of old).
But here's the part that really had the Residents community buzzing: many of the objects in Bunny's secret room seem strongly connected to Residents history/lore. Many of the direct questions asked of Bunny were given answers known to coincide with views already offered by the Residents themselves (like "What's your favorite Residents album?"). The addresses listed on the postcards are all previous locations of the Residents' home/studio or Ralph Records. Bunny states that he wanted to be a butcher, then in an e-mail reply states that one of the Residents or one of the Residents' fathers was a butcher. After the Demons Dance Alone tour (2003), the Residents stated they were taking a few weeks vacation...in PATMOS! There have already been what seem to be autobiographical details released in the Kettles of Fish package and the re-released Mole Trilogy liner notes, as well as in the Demons Dance Alone live show and the stories from River of Crime. Is that what The Bunny Boy is really about? Is the actual character of Bunny really the Singing Resident?!?! The interactive part of this concept is supposed to expand into other media as the story progresses, and Bunny reports that the Residents have asked him to accompany them on the tour (an offer he eventually accepted). Are they really providing clues to their identities, or are they just messing with all of us? Ah, such is the beauty of the Residents. The most mysterious avant-garde rock group ever remains almost as mysterious as when it appeared more than 35 years ago. Other albums will surely be more lauded in the Residents' canon, but The Bunny Boy may well be their crowning conceptual achievement (and that's no small statement). It will be fascinating to see where this all leads.