Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps


Bush Tetras are an American post-punk No Wave 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”. 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. 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.


Formation, name, and early years

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, and she had also appeared in some of Vivienne Dick‘s movies.

The band was named after a tiny African primate the band found very cute called “bush babies“, and a kind of fish the band liked called a “neon tetra” (taking one word from each of those names). The band thought the name sounded “tribal”.

The band’s debut 7-inch EP, “Too Many Creeps”, was released in 1980 on 99 Records. It reached No. 57 on the Billboard club play chart. 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-inch 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.

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 Bongosthe 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. 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 film Cave Girls, Bush Tetras music plays over long passages of out of focus, foggy, visually noisy, action.

Bush Tetras
OriginNew York City
GenresPost-punkno wavedance-punkavant-funk
Years active1979–1983, 1995–1998, 2005–present
Labels99 RecordsFetish RecordsStiff RecordsROIRThirsty EarTim/Kerr RecordsPolygram Records
MembersPat Place
Cynthia Sley
Steve Shelley
Rocky O’Riordan
Past membersJimmy Joe Uliana
Adele Bertei
Laura Kennedy
Bob Albertson
Don Christensen
Julia Murphy
Cindy Rickmond
Dee Pop (Dimitri Papadopoulos)
Val Opielski
RB Korbet