Sun City Girls
|Sun City Girls|
|Origin||Phoenix, Arizona, USA|
|Genres||Experimental rock, free improv, Avant-garde|
|Labels||Placebo, Majora, Nauscopy, Eclipse, Amarillo, Abduction|
Alan Bishop |
The Sun City Girls were an American experimental rock band, formed in 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona. From 1981 the group consisted of Alan Bishop (bass guitar, vocals), his brother Richard Bishop (guitar, piano, vocals), and Charles Gocher (drums, vocals). Their name was inspired by Sun City, Arizona, an Arizona retirement community. In 2007, Gocher died following a long battle with cancer, bringing an end to the group. In a 26-year career, they produced 50 albums, 23 cassettes, 6 feature-length videos, and many other recordings.
They found little mainstream success, but they continue to inspire a devoted following and have recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums, released in small editions by labels like Placebo, Majora, Eclipse Records, Amarillo Records, and their own Abduction Records. Their music was hugely varied, spreading across genres such as spoken word, free improvisation, jazz and rock. Their records typically incorporated lyrics that rely heavily on their interests in mysticism, paranormal topics (especially UFOs), religious cults and other esoterica, often also manifested in their song titles, lyrics and album art. Performances by the group were often wildly unpredictable, sometimes verging on performance art, with elaborate costumes, kabuki-inspired makeup, and the creation of a festive, ritualistic atmosphere with audience participation.
Critic Steve Leggett writes, "Throughout its history SCG has remained a challenging, unpredictable, and eclectic musical unit, operating outside the commercially driven aspirations of the mainstream recording industry, and the group has become somewhat of a beacon to independent musicians and artists everywhere." Writing in the Village Voice, Ted Hendrickson argues, "They've never made any sense, conventionally speaking, and that's what makes them them."
Originating from the Arizona punk rock scene which included Meat Puppets, JFA and The Feederz, Sun City Girls quickly began to incorporate lengthy improvisations, beat poetry, surf music, jazz, tape music, and elements of South Asian, South American, Middle Eastern and African music.
Until the late 1980s, most of the band's releases were issued on audio cassettes which gained legendary status among cassette culture enthusiasts. But a shift to the LP format had already begun with seminal records such as Sun City Girls (1984), Grotto of Miracles (1986), Torch of the Mystics (1990), Dawn of the Devi (1991), Bright Surroundings Dark Beginnings (1993), and Kaliflower (1994). Dante's Disneyland Inferno and 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond the Rig Veda, both double-CDs released in 1996, were perhaps the pinnacle of the band's aesthetic. Frequent SCG collaborators in recent years have included violinist Eyvind Kang and sound engineer Scott Colburn.
The Sun City Girls band remaining members currently reside in Seattle, Washington. Alan Bishop heads the label Sublime Frequencies and performs and releases records under the names Alvarius B and Uncle Jim. In the early 1980s, he was in the short-lived band Paris 1942 with Maureen Tucker from the Velvet Underground. In 2005, he edited a compilation titled Crime and Dissonance of Ennio Morricone's late 1960s and early 1970s soundtrack work. Rick Bishop performs as a solo guitarist under the name Sir Richard Bishop. Charles Gocher released a solo CD called Pint Sized Spartacus in 1997, and performed with a number of groups, including the Master Musicians of Bukkake, Tripod, and the New Session People.
After Gocher's death, Alan and Rick announced that they would no longer perform or record music using the Sun City Girls name. However, they do plan to release existing archival Sun City Girls recordings as time permits.
Note: The cassettes released by Cloaven c. 1987-1990 are listed in the order they were released. The dates of the recordings appear after the album titles.
- "Sun City Girls' Charles Gocher, R.I.P.". Article on Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
- Masters, Marc (September 11, 2012). "Underscore: Sun City Girls". Pitchfork. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- Steve Leggett, "Biography for Sun City Girls", allmusic.com.
- village voice > music > Sun City Girls at Knitting Factory; Funk Brothers at the Apollo Theater; Tulip Sweet and Her Trail of Tears at Pedro's Bar and Restaurant
- Kurt B. Reighley, "Alan Bishop", Seattle Metropolitan, December 2008, p. 63.