Interview with QUINTRON by Rob Vertigo
Did you ever think to yourself that Pee Wee's Playhouse woulda' benefited from a more Soul Train vibe? Or maybe you just need a little more Day-Glo color, puppet sweat and aftermarket auto parts added to your R&R lifestyle? I know I do. Every damn day. Well, welcome to the wild world of QUINTRON AND MISS PUSSYCAT. Kick-starting his musical career over 25 years ago while inventing his own instruments, noise makers and various other voodoo doo-hickies, Quintron rose up from his basement lab like a mad Bill Nye fueled on rhythmic clatter and garage noise. After a handful of records more akin to spook-show and dark-ride soundtracks, he landed an (un)holy bond with thee Miss Pussycat - a lass overflowing with dance fever, maracas and an unquenchable desire for stitching pom-poms onto sock puppets. Grooves were laid. Parties were notorious. Tours were routed. Etc. Flash forward - more than a quarter of a century later - and the king and queen of fun-fur and oscillating party funk have hopped aboard another fine Boogaloo outing. Here's a quick Q&A to help y'all get to know the inner workings of their organ-toned madness…
A few years years back, I learned that you were actually part of the late period CRASH WORSHIP line-up (chaotic San Diego/NOLA drum and noise outfit that notoriously strew quite a mess in their heyday). How'd that occur? Would those days be your first taste of live touring or performance?
I was already well into my touring career by the time I hooked up with Crash Worship. I opened for them as Quintron back when my setup was all drums. Check out my first LP I.F. 001-011 to hear what Quintron was like in those days...Very heavy avant percussion and noise. Jeff Matson (AKA "Strangebone") was the Crash Worship guitar player and he (and Dreiky) liked what I was doing so they asked me to join a string of dates which ultimately brought me to New Orleans. Ironically, I ended up replacing Jeff on guitar for about two weeks for reasons I would rather not go into. I kinda forcibly re-inserted Jeff back into the band. Long story for another day.
Can you break down for the unaware what exactly a Drum Buddy is and how/why you felt compelled to design it in the first place?
The Drum Buddy is basically a combination of a turntable and an analog synth. There is a rotating #10 sauce can with a light inside. The can has holes punched in it and as that can spins around it activates 4 or 5 different analog synth sounds...A 5 oscillator analog synth for which I received a US patent in the year 2000. I built it because I wanted a drum machine that I could quickly, physically mess with while playing organ at the same time. Basically, I am trying to take jobs away from human drummers because they are all alcoholic fuck ups and terrible drivers.
What brought about the change in sound from - say - the Bulb era terror-ride, carnival and kettlepot shriek years of Quintron past to the more groove and dance-oriented sounds now?
This is a very difficult question to answer. For one, I met Miss Pussycat and fell in love and that made me feel more like grooving than screaming into the sewer. Also, only angry drug-dudes and VERY crazy girls are into noise. I much prefer the jolly-dancing-gay-man / polka-dotted-lady demographic.
Being aware of the early recordings, it was initially quite a shock to hear the gospel record you did with OBLIVIANS (9 Songs with Mr. Quintron, on Crypt Records. Go buy it, NOW!). It totally floored me. How'd that come together?
Memphis is our sister city and we were all kinda friends, us and The Oblivians. Me and Greg were both super into gospel at the time and had had some conversations about it. I was listening to mostly white Pentecostal spirit music and Greg was steeped in everything else. The record was their idea. I rode the dog up 55, learned the songs in the studio on the house B-3, and headed back home the next morning. It came out great. People ask me about that record more than almost anything actually.
How did the collaboration between you and Miss Pussycat come to be? The two of you are goddamned magical, in my eyes. Like Captain & Tenille or Lux and Ivy - a real power couple.
I don't really like the phrase "power couple". I know you don't mean it this way, but it always comes off as insulting and sort of dismissive of the individual. It also implies business and conquest. Yuck. Pretty sure Lux and Ivy felt the same. Believe it or not, Miss P and I rarely collaborate. I am the Napoleon of music and she is the Napoleon of puppetry and we are both one another's indentured servants. Any power you perceive comes from two, very singular visions.
I know that you and Pussycat has been busy making films and videos for quite some time and you recently completed a European travel book for Goner Records - do the two of you have any other upcoming outsider artsing's beyond this stage show in the works?
A new album coming out in a year or so.
I assume from the interactive stageshows you and Miss Pussycat put together, there must be other influences beyond sound and music that drive y'all. Do you have any soft spots for roadside attractions or oddball southern folk artists? Places like the UCM Museum in Louisiana or the famous "See Rock City" Georgia, etc? If so, any faves - places or people?
All of the above. Are you from the south?? Miss P has major influences from the world of puppetry and I read a lot of obscure crime fiction. Check out James Hadley Chase and Peter Allen. Also, a TV show called Torchy The Little Battery Boy...a huge influence.
What's your earliest memory of music making you wanna dance, create or perform for people?
Playing drums on a set of encyclopedias in my parents’ basement.
What would be your ideal scenario or favorite place to perform? Like a bucket list sorta show?
Seems kinda insane that we have not been to Japan. I don't really have bucket lists though.
I know you've been busy pulling duties in the GARY WRONG GROUP and Gary plays in your WEATHER WARLOCK outfit as well. Are there any other collaborations on the horizon?
Weather Warlock is an ever-changing line up. Right now, the core writers are Me, Aaron Hill (EYEHATEGOD), and Kunal Prakash (JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD). When Weather Warlock tours, we pick up two or three locals in every city to join the band. This project exists to explore long-form biker jams and to erect zip-lines between different cities and scenes. Our Brooklyn show in May featured classical sitar player, Neel Murgai (BROOKLYN RAGA MASSIVE), Paula Henerson on sax, and Faten Kanaan on synth. More and more, this is what I want from music. I want expansion and explosion, not the same 25 leather jacket ding-dongs playing shows for each other.
Favorite place to eat in NOLA? Po' Boys or BBQ?
I don't care about BBQ. Poor Boys all the way baby. I have a ton of favorite places and they don't necessarily have the best food. I like my restaurants quiet, comfortable, casual, clean, and well-cooled. I think my favorite hang is to go to Liuza's on Bienville with my buddy Aaron Hill (EYEHATEGOD, WEATHER WARLOCK, KING LOUIE, etc) and have a cup of seafood gumbo and then roast beef poor boys with extra pickles.
What do you like about the Bay Area?
The Bay, NYC and Chicago are by far the best audiences in the world for a touring band. This is one of those cities where it really seems like people need live music. Shows in Oakland are not an urban luxury for the wealthy; they are an important social network which supports hundreds of people. Also, the constant creativity that comes out of California bands is staggering. Ya'll are kicking America's ass right now. I like everything about the Bay actually...It is sunny AND Satanic. Perfect combo. And this festival has found a brilliant way to blur the line between artists and fans. We are ALL fans at the end of the day. IGGY, DEVO, THE DAMNED, etc are the top of the heap right? But I guarantee you that when JOHN WATERS walks by, celebrity knees will buckle in his presence...and John Waters is the biggest Rock’n’Roll fan of all! Anyways, it's a beautiful balance that Marcos has struck here and so many festivals just don't get it. As corporate fests become larger, with more "diverse" programming, the organizers and employees become disinterested bottom-line obsessed workers and you see more and more buffers between musician and fan. Ack...Don't get me started on the dirge of these gigantic "everything" festivals. And if you are a "journalist" who only reviews bands at festivals and you don't go to club shows, fuck you, you lazy piece of shit. Give that VIP pass and all of your free drinks to the kid who you are standing in front of - the kid who paid, and stood in line, and knew about these bands LONG before your lazy Netflix-watching ass. Get off of my cloud you FOLLOWER! Rub your nose in the dirt for a change. We need you to crawl through gutters and find us the next pirate pin-up. We DON'T need to know whether ARIEL PINK was in a bad mood at Coachella. Nothing against Ariel...he is genius. Just making a point here. Long live Burger Boogaloo, may it never ever grow up!
Any last words, wise sage?
Yes. A wise man will say all that he needs to say in the second-to-last question. Silent exits save lives.