Today the legendary no-wave punk band Bush Tetras have released the title-track from their upcoming LP, They Live in My Head, out July 27th on Wharf Cat Records. It's a jangly and jagged barn-burner, "about people living in your head rent-free and how life is not all it seems," the band writes in a statement. "Not quite a ballad, with its wild fast choruses, kind of like falling off a cliff."

On the heels of the album announcement and a sold out show at Brooklyn's Union Pool, the New York Times selected the lead single "Things I Put Together" as the first track on their weekly music roundup, proclaiming them "a quintessential Lower East Side post-punk band." Bush Tetras has been credited as the band that "bridged the gap between the Ramones and Sonic Youth" (NY Post), and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore said they are "without a doubt, one of the greatest rock-and-roll groups born and bred in New York City." Needless to say, Bush Tetras have made an enormous impact on rock 'n' roll in New York City and beyond.

Their first album in 11 years, They Live in My Head was produced by Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, who is now the band's drummer, joining them after founding member Dee Pop passed away in 2021. Also joining the band on bass is Cait "Rocky" O'Riordan of The Pogues and Elvis Costello. You can catch the new Bush Tetras lineup at their album release show on September 15th at Greenwich Village venue Le Poisson Rouge.


Bush Tetras have made punk music at the fringes for over four decades. Flashes of reggae, bursts of noise, guitars that rattle, shake and snake, born out of a gutter behind CBGBs. The band’s first iteration lasted just a few years, from 1979 through the early ‘80s. But they respawned time and time again, contorting their sound, tweaking the vision, remaining completely singular and indispensable along the way.

In the late 2010s the group—Pat Place, Cynthia Sley, and Dee Pop—reformed again, releasing an EP, Take the Fall, in 2018. It was their first offering of new music in over a decade. A few years later in, 2021, they released a career spanning box set called Rhythm and Paranoia. The New York Times called the box set an artifact that “proves for decades [that Bush Tetras] continued to evolve in surprising yet intuitive directions.” And in Pitchfork’s Best New Reissue, Rhythm and Paranoia revealed “just how vital [Bush Tetras] remained each decade.” Around the same time of the release, the band began working on a full length record, starting writing sessions during the pandemic over Zoom. Right before the release of the box set, beloved drummer Dee Pop passed away.

Determined to complete the record to honor his memory, the Tetras went into the studio to finish what they’d started, once the timing was right. They brought in a new drummer, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, who also served as producer. Enter They Live in My Head.

They Live in My Head is the band’s third full length record since their formation in 1979, but that fact is a little misleading. Bush Tetras have written songs together for decades. They’ve thought about their output, they’ve played heart stopping live shows. They Live in My Head is a natural evolution to the band’s sound. When Shelley joined the band, Bush Tetras went into the rehearsal space, entering into kinesthetic writing sessions. “We just went into the rehearsal space and things just would fall right into place,” says Place, “We’d just start playing and the next thing would happen and we’d know where to take it.” This intuitive approach to songwriting lends itself to music that feels urgent, natural, the kind of stuff you can really grind your teeth and dance to. Opener “Bird on a Wire,” is trancelike. Place’s guitars shoot off sparks of lightning, bassist RB Korbet keeps things dubby. Sley sings about tiny satellites spinning round, clocks on the wall, the feeling of looking at the world from down below. It’s dedicated to her mother, who passed away in 2022.

The record is a collection of songs that often reflect on the past, of thinking back to old memories, and honoring those who are no longer with us. “We thought a lot about memories from 1979 in New York City.” says Sley, “It’s a reflection of growing up together, what we were eating, what we were doing, weird little things people probably won’t get. But that’s cool.” Look no further than “Ghosts of People,” to see that in practice. The song is searching: Shelley’s drums keep pace, Place’s guitar meanders through closed doors and portals. “Ramen and slices/snickers and coke/burn your crosses in the snow,” sings Sley.

There’s ample moments where Bush Tetras reflect on the immediate challenges of the 2020s: the pandemic, the need to protest, the need to stand up against what is right in the face of evil. Bush Tetras have always been a political band, a band that calls out all kinds of bullshit, and They Live in My Head, is absolutely no exception. “Tout est Meilleur,” is about the radical possibilities of appreciating the little things during the crisis of the pandemic. It’s smooth as butter, groovy as all hell, where guitars and bass eat up post punk goodness while Sley sings in French. “2020 vision,” is a scorcher. “I don’t want no man-splaining,” says Sley in one memorable moment. And in another: “Looking back at 2020/all I know it’s been a journey.” The song leaves you breathless, angry, it is a call to arms to get on the streets and get something done. No need to sit around idly watching the world turn.

Bush Tetras are always like this: a band that demands your attention, that isn’t definable by any sort of genre descriptors or cheap shots. Four decades on they’re as essential as ever, ready to make you think, make you dance, hit up a mosh pit and throw elbows in your combat boots, but only if you won’t be a jerk—or a creep.

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