Interview With: Quintron & Miss Pussycat, part 2

Here is part two of [probably] the longest interview ever. Quintron and Miss Pussycat are totally rad, and sat down with me for quite a while. Totally worth a read — lots of insight to two totally awesome New Orleans characters. We talked about everything from marching band to Dolly Parton to old school Philadelphia punks, and everything in between. Enjoy!

Quintron: So how did you get this website started?
Jessica/PopWreckoning: One day we decided we should have our own TV show or something and I guess the website was the closest we could legitimately come to it.

Q: Yep!
PW: It started out with no direction at all and we tried to do so many things. Now we’re focusing mostly on music and it seems to be working out really well. We have a lot of good contacts, I think.
Q: Yeah, yeah. Maria from Blue Ghost contacted you, right?
PW: Yeah, yeah.
Q: She’s really good to the band, and she’s so nice!
PW: I know, I love her. She was so excited, she was like “Yes! We’ll set something up; it’ll be awesome!” But I heard you don’t really do a lot of interviews, so I was really honored. Why did you let…Why are you letting me interview you right now?
Q: After Katrina, I started doing interviews ‘cause I felt like I would be an asshole to not talk to people about this, like, horrible American tragedy, or human tragedy and say, “I will be mysterious and not do interviews.” It’s really unfair to people that just need to hear the truth. So, I sorta of started doing interviews after that, and then I never stopped. But I won’t say yes to everything. I hate being videotaped. I feel that is a curse on our live show.
PW: Yeah, the live show is so awesome.

Q: I don’t want it to be for tomorrow, I want it to be for right now. And I don’t wanna, it’s nothing against like YouTube or bootleggers or whatever, it’s like a video camera just shuts me down. I can’t look at them. And I feel a little bit dead when I see somebody with a video camera. And that person is not living at this show.
PW: They’re living through a lens.
Q: They’re living through a lens and they’re thinking about tomorrow. Their not thinking about right now, and it’s all we’ve got, right now. But I think that photography is totally different and audio taping is different. But there’s something about videotaping that temporarily takes the soul away from the video taper. It doesn’t take my soul like the Indians believe that it takes your soul, the soul of the performer. But I think it takes away the soul of the person that’s in that room like they’re not experiencing real life. You know, it freaks me out.
[Miss Pussycat joins Q and I at the bottom of the stairs]
PW: Hey. So, how are you both doing?
Q & MP: Great!
PW: Great. It was a wonderful show. I had a good time.
MP: Thank you! It’s been a really fun tour with The Black Lips and they’re really sweet and nice…
PW: And loud. [their set provided ample background noise to the interview]
MP: A little loud. But I think they’re my favorite band that…it’s been the most fun tour ever. I think they’re my favorite band around.
Q: [At random woman walking down the stairs] Is that coat green?
PW: That’s a nice coat.
Random woman: Well thanks! Sorry to be in the way.
PW: Not a problem. Don’t worry; we’ve got a lot of tape.
MP: I think maybe the “Oops!” tour is equally as out there in this similar way.
PW: You both grew up kind of Southern, you [Quintron] lived Alabama and Missouri…
Q: Alabama and St. Louis. And Miss P grew up in Antlers, Oklahoma. Southern-ish, but more like Midwest. I grew up a little bit in the South South, but I also lived in Germany ‘cause my dad was in the Air Force when I was really little.
PW: Moved around a lot?
Q: Like Dee Dee Ramone.
PW: Badass. What inspired you both to eventually move to New Orleans where you are now?
MP: I went there to see a painting that was in the museum in City Park by Dorothy Tannen, and then just everything happened. I just ended up staying. It was just, things happened; I couldn’t leave.
Q: I moved there because of Miss Pussycat. I had to be near her at all times.
PW: How did you two end up meeting?
MP & Q: Mardi Gras.
Q: I was playing at her house. She ran a club in the 9th Ward and we bumped into each other on the street. And knew. She knew who I was from, I dunno, psychic powers.
MP: Oh no, to tell you crazy…Quintron, I’d never seen your. I’d never heard his music. I’d talked to him on the phone to set up this show that was at a secret nightclub at my house. We were having a big Mardi Gras show. I guess he came a few days early; and I saw him walking down St. Claude Avenue, the street that we live on now, and I just knew that was Quintron. I was with my friends, Judy and Biscuit and I was like “Pull over! Stop the car! That’s gotta be Mr. Quintron.” Then I ran up and said, “Are you Quintron?” And it was!
PW: That’s pretty awesome. It’s meant to be. So when did you, you’ve [Quintron] been playing music for…
Q: My whole life. I mean, from teenager-dom on. As long as I can remember.
PW: And Miss Pussycat, when did you start getting into music, because you’ve been doing puppetry for a really long time?
MP: Yeah, I started doing puppet shows, actually, I was in the Christian Puppet Youth Ministry in the Baptist Church. We went on tour and we practiced a few times a week and took it pretty seriously. But I actually studied music kind of my whole life. I took piano lessons when I was about seven and eight. Then I was a trumpet player and then I played baritone and then I played tuba, I was a first chair tuba player. I played tuba in marching band. And then I studied cello and I went to Midwestern Music Camp. And then I just sorta of realized I can not carry a tune if it was in a bucket. I just have no rhythm whatsoever. I’ve just always really, really loved music. I have some of my first records I had…before I could talk I had records. I had “Popcorn” [mimics the tune], I loved that one and, I dunno, I always had records. My grandmom had a piano and I would always make a lot of noise on it, it drove her pretty crazy. I wasn’t ever in a band until now. Like a real…I was in marching band. Concert band.
PW: Marching band and concert band is a real band.
Q: This isn’t even a real band.
MP: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean like a pop music band. That was classical music, or John Phillips Sousa. I love John Phillips Sousa! I listen to John Phillips Sousa everyday.
PW: That’s interesting, not many people say that.
MP: It’s great!
PW: I had a lot of friends in marching band in high school…I was kind of a marching band groupie.
MP: Oh really? We you in it?
PW: I didn’t play anything. No, our band director in high school was Evil Dictator Guy and I took a lot of art classes instead. I dated kids in marching band, but I wasn’t in it.
MP: Oh, no. Our marching band was great! We had this big half-time show for Homecoming where we all had secret glow sticks and when it was the special time, they’d shut off all the lights in the whole football field and we all brought out our glow sticks and broke ‘em and did like this special thing. We played a song and the trombones went like this [mimics a trombone] and we all had a little glow stick routine. And then there was one part at one other Homecoming show, our band director must have been crazy, where we all had kazoos. I don’t remember what song we played for either one of these routines, but it was awesome and we all had kazoos and we all played a song on kazoo.
PW: Since I thought I was doing my interview before the show, one of my questions was, “What exactly is swamp-tech?” Which is what your music is labeled, I guess?
Q: It’s like a cross between swamp-pop and ghettotech. Ghettotech is like electronic beats and kinda fast, like super perky dance music. Swamp-pop is like Southern rock and roll, kind of.
PW: I actually have never heard that term before.
MP: It’s just part of music that’s from home.
Q: Yeah, there’s so many different…I guess we’re the premiere swamp-tech band according to journalists.
PW: I’ll be sure to note that. I think you’re the first swamp-tech band I’ve ever seen.
Q: Most of them don’t leave Louisiana.
PW: Why not?! Tell them to come out, we’d love to see them!
Q: MC Trachiotomy is pretty good. He tours.
PW: That’s a pretty sweet name, actually.
Q: MC Trachiotomy? Yeah, yeah.
MP: He’s great!
Q: He’s played here and he’s put a bunch of records out. Statutory Triangle, they’re a good one. That’s a good name!
PW: That is a good name. I like that name. I’ll have to check them out. Speaking of special things: Drum Buddy. I just watched the demo for that online the other day, that thing is awesome!
Q: Did you watch the new demo?
PW: I think so.
Q: It’s got Pavarotti in it.
PW: Yeah, I saw the new one. It was really cool. Where did the idea for that come from?
Q: I’ve been working on that for a long time. It was just an instrument that I wanted to play myself, so I had to develop it. ‘Cause I can build synthesizers and I have a little bit of a background in electronics. So I just built this thing that I wanted to play and I kept improving it and building another one and another one and another one. I changed some things about it that would make it better, more playable. Then it turned into something that I could actually patent and sell.
PW: You’ve sold them to Laurie Anderson and…
Q: I’ve sold them to Laurie Anderson and the other famous person is Nels Cline, who’s the guitar player of Wilco.
MP: Mr. Dibbs has got one.
Q: This hip hop DJ from…
MP: Minneapolis.
Q: Well he’s from Ohio. He lives in Minneapolis, but he’s from Ohio. He’s in that band Atmosphere. He’s a really awesome DJ. He was the first one to do [Black Sabbath‘s]“War Pigs” as a hip hop remix. “In the fields a flower burning” that’s him. But Drum Buddy’s not on there.
PW: How long does it take to build a Drum Buddy?
Q: It’s hard to say how long it takes to build a Drum Buddy, ‘cause I build them 10 at a time. And I don’t build them all the time. I did one special run in 2000 and I did a very short, special run in 2008 of 10 of them. And 10 of them took me…
Random dude: Awesome show, guys. That was fun as shit. [High fives Quintron]
Q: Thank you. …maybe four months of solid 40-hour work weeks. Maybe not 40-hour work weeks, but four solid months of working pretty darn hard. Many, many hours to make 10. Would you [Miss Pussycat] say that’s about right?
MP: Mmhmm.
Q: So do the math. I dunno. A lot.
MP: Yeah, but that included research and marketing and doing a lot of, it’s not just one Drum Buddy. It’s this whole special mode you go into.
Q: And I do that [makes swimming motions with arms]. We’re making swimming motions [telling the recorder].
PW: I’ll note that in little brackets.
Q: Yep. I make all the Drum Buddys under water.
PW: Well it’s the sinker cypress that you make it from.
Q: [Impressed] The new ones are from sinker cypress which is cypress that has been under water for, some of it up to like 600, 800 years. Cypress and teak are the only two woods that don’t decay after being submerged in water for long, long periods of time. They have dragged these timbers from, like, the original cypress harvest back in the 1800s or whatever. And then those trees themselves, that were maybe like 3 or 400 years old when they fell in the swamps. Then they dug them out and they’ve got this weird, green, amazing, bizarre, luminescent…it’s almost like wood that glows. It’s got this weird, it looks swampy; there’s no other way to describe it. But it’s got this weird, greenish, bizarre, swampy…
PW: One of them you decided to auction off on eBay to benefit…
Q: Part of it was money that went to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, which is a clinic for musicians in the city of New Orleans that do not have health insurance, which is almost all of them. So it’s like this way to get dental care and just general health care ofr musicians. ‘Cause there are just so many musicians there. Really, it’s one of the biggest occupations.
PW: Yeah, it’s a huge music city.
Q: Yeah, it’s a city where a lot of the working people in the city are musicians, which is pretty amazing. But they don’t have health insurance, of course.
PW: So did you guys get involved with it because you guys…
Q: We got involved with it through our friend Antoinette Kato.
MP: When we go to the dentist or whatever, we go through the Musicians’ Clinic. They’re awesome! They’re great. I think it’s the first place in the country that has this program, maybe the only place. I think other people are looking at it, but it’s like a flagship.
Q: I mean, you’re screwed, you know? You can’t afford health insurance. So it seemed like a good thing to give money to, ‘cause it’s like giving money to yourself in a way, or, like, your community. It’s better than Red Cross or UNICEF or something ‘cause it will directly go to keeping things alive at home.
PW: Do you have any other inventions floating around up there that you want to make in the future?
Q: Yes. We’ve been coming up with several inventions that I need to work on, on this tour. One of them is the, uh, Hot Water Onesie. It’s a full body suit, like a hot water bottle. Like a Michelin Man-looking kind of thing.
MP: Maybe not quite that big?
Q: No, it’s gonna be that big. And then you just…
Q & MP: You fill it up with hot water and you can wear it.
PW: Like bounce off each other and stuff?
MP: Well no, just to keep you warm.
Q: That would be fun, too! You can roll down the stairs. You can have a hot water helmet. But just for keeping really, really warm in colder climates, which we hate.
MP: On this whole tour, I kept wishing I had a hot water bottle to like stick in my shirt.
Q: Maracas that are also wine glasses and party poppers.
MP: Oh yeah!
PW: Party poppers exist, though. Or you mean…
Q: Party poppers that are maracas and wine glasses. Something else.
MP: Like, you turn it upside down to do something else and a glass shield would go over it. Then you could do something else, then you could drink out of it.
Q: And a coin-operated mp3 dispenser. Wouldn’t that be cool, at shows, if you could go up and bands had an mp3 dispenser that was coin-operated and you could be like, “I want this record.” And you put like $5 in and just plug the USB of your mp3 player or your iPod or whatever, into it and it downloads right into your player.
PW: That’s an awesome idea, ‘cause digital music is totally taking over.
Q: But David Bowie or Paul McCartney will have to do that first, ‘cause they’re rich.
MP: They will.
Q: They will. Old guys always invent technology.
PW: We’ll talk to their people; we’ll get them to do it.
Q: Yeah! Put my name on it, it’ll sell big time!
PW: Huge! Speaking of making things, do you [Miss Pussycat] make your own puppets, and your costumes, too?
MP: Yeah, yeah! I’m a seamstress. I made my puppet theatre, I made my puppets, I made my dress. I think that, like, really and truly, I like making things. And maybe I should’ve been a painter; that was kind of what I was really into. But the thing is, I really kind of hate the art world. I’ll just say that. But I love the music world and I love music. So I kind of, I was just kind of like, “I’ll do this and I’ll make it work.” I kind of like snuck in [hums innocently] and the first way I did it was my puppets had a band. The first puppet band was Flossie and the Unicorns. And I had these shows at my house, and I was like, “Hmm, I can have a band of puppets.” I just thought it was the best idea. And they put out records, so that was kind of the first thing. And then I was like, “Hmm, they can go on tour.” So that’s kind of how I snuck into this world that I really love, because I didn’t like the other one, the art world.
PW: I think you’ve done a great job of combining them, though. It worked out really well. Everybody, I mean you guys were behind the puppet thing, but everybody loved the puppet show.
MP: Well, thank you.
PW: Not everyone was as energetic as they should’ve been during the set, but…
MP: Maybe they were sleepy.
PW: I think maybe some of them didn’t know what to expect.
Q: That happens all the time. It was great. I thought it was great.
PW: Your [Quintron] organ and keyboards, that’s really cool, too. What kind of car is that supposed to be?
Q: Well, it’s a Lincoln. But the bumper is secretly…
MP: But tell her where the grill came from!
Q: The grill is Ernie Kato’s limousine. It’s a Lincoln Town Car grill, which they use on limos, also. [pause] Boring.
MP: No! It’s interesting!
Q: Ernie Kato’s a very famous New Orleans R&B singer. A guy I used to play with, and um, he’s dead now. But I was really friends with him, and I’m still friends with his widow.
MP: His big hit was “Mother In-Law.” [sings] “Mother in-law, mother in-law!”
Q: He’s one of the great vocal geniuses of New Orleans music of the 60s. Check out anything by Ernie Kato. It’s gold. It’s amazing.
MP: Yeah, he’s great.
Q: But I got his limo grill. And it’s been to roads. His name is right here [pats the case he’s sitting on]
PW: Take him everywhere.
Q: Yep.
MP: And you traded Antoinette a Drum Buddy for it?
Q: I did. Yeah, I gave her one of the first Drum Buddy prototypes.
PW: What are you guys listening to? I mean besides The Black Lips every night?
Q: Maaaaan. Well, we just bought a bunch of good records on this tour. I bought the new Andrew W.K. record, which I think is amazing. It came out on Load Records. Have you heard it? It’s really good. There’s a song called “Las Vegas. Nevada” And actually we bought a bunch of, or I did, bought a bunch of New Orleans music at this record store in Boston. ‘Cause for some reason, Boston has got really good record stores and really good radio stations. And there was all this rare New Orleans music that was really cheap.
MP: Lazy Lester.
Q: Lazy Lester and Neville Brothers compilation.
MP: Guitar Slim Jr.
Q: Guitar Slim Jr.
MP: Who we see around town all the time. We used to see him everywhere: the post office…
Q: All this swamp-pop stuff.
MP: And Chief Thunder Tone!
Q: Chief Thundercloud. Thundercloud and the Chief Tones.
MP: And the Chief Tones! Like the Native American band.
Q: A Native American rock band.
MP: Not from New Orleans, but it looks really good.
Q: That’s what we’re gonna be listening to; is Chief Thundercloud and the Chief Tones.
MP: Yeah, I can’t wait!
Q: But on this tour, we have this compilation that we made, that’s a lot of post-Katrina bounce music. And, um, also this really amazing band called Get Wet from New York that’s from like the 80s. It’s this mystery record that Lou Reed produced, that we’re…that I’m really, really into. [Miss Pussycat laughs] The soundtrack to the movie Rhinestone starring Dolly PartonSylvester Stallone, on which Dolly Parton and Sylvester sing several duets. And Sylvester Stallone has this really amazing solo number called “Drinkenstein.”
MP: I can’t believe that’s him!
Q: “Budweiser, you’re created a monster / And they call him Drinkenstein.” Dolly Parton wrote it…
MP: Oh, man! And halfway through, he admits that he’s Drinkenstein and women love him because he’s
Q & MP: straaaaange!
Q: It’s good kitsch.
MP: It’s really good.
Q: ‘Cause Dolly Parton is a genius.
MP: We made our compilation CD for this tour on Valentine’s Day or Valentine’s Night, actually. We drank a bottle of champagne…
Q: Or three.
MP: And we were like, “Yeah! Let’s make a mix CD to play on tour!” We didn’t play it tonight, but normally we have the club play some house music if they don’t have anything really good, which they usually don’t, so…so we stayed up till like 5 in the morning making it.
Q: Just getting wasted and dancing and just recording.
MP: That’s the way to make a compilation, I think.
Q: Yeah, it was fun.
PW: Unless you had too much to drink and you wake up and you’re like, “What were we thinking?!”
MP: [growls] Terrible!
Q: [laughs] We did some editing the next day. We started getting onto really slow songs.
MP: YOU did! You were playing slow jams – I HATE slow jams. Who was that, Millie Jackson
Q: Millie Jackson, yeah.
MP: Ugh. You were like, “She’s the best! She’s the naughty one!” I would’ve died if you’d put those slow jams on there every night and we had to listen to it. I hate slow jams. I listen to a lot of Igor Stravinsky at home and a lot of John Phillips Sousa and I really love Hooked on Classics, that record…
Q: That’s so cultured of you…
MP: …I listen to it like everyday.
Q: …Except for Hooked on Classics.
MP: That is cultured!
Q: That is garbage! [laughs]
MP: I think it’s wonderful. It’s so good; I love the medley. They do this one great medley of, like, every classical hit. Oh, it’s so good. Have you ever heard of it? It’s got the handclaps in it [claps].
Q: Sounds just like that…but worse.
MP: It’s great! It sounds great. Don’t listen to him.
PW: I’ll have to check it out for myself. You guys have 5 more shows with The Black Lips on this tour, then?
Q & MP: Yeah!
PW: How do you feel about that? What are you doing for the rest of the year?
Q: We’re gonna record a new record. Miss P is going to puppet camp in the summer. And then I think next year we’re gonna tour a lot. Headlining, oh headlining, yeah. But I wanna play, like, a party. We played…this was very fun tonight, I love this place, I think it was great, but funnest show we ever played was this weird upstairs, the last time we played here [Philadelphia]…
MP: Oh! That warehouse!
Q: I dunno what it was called. It was in Chinatown.
MP: Only kinda numbered.
Q: And it was just like this random warehouse and it was upstairs and it was sooo fucking fun.
MP: Somebody gave me a calendar they made and it has labs with abs on it.
Q: It was kind of a silkscreen studio and they also had shows. It seems like Philadelphia has got a lot of weird warehouse parties. That scene is, like, really big here.
PW: Yeah, it is. I went to a show, and I wasn’t expecting it to be like at someone’s apartment, warehouse party, and it kind of weirded me out at first, but it was really cool.
Q: Who was it, that guy Seth? The Astrocade?
MP: Yeah, The Astrocade.
Q: Astrocade. Right.
MP: That was a long time ago.
Q: That was a famous, old Philadelphia…
MP: They had all these old pinball machines and arcade games.
Q: They were videogame nerds.
MP: They were all, like, computer programmers? They would rebuild these arcade games.
Q: And you could play ‘em. They worked. People at shows could play this really obscure, 80s videogame that nobody’s ever heard of before and you had to put money in it to play it, and there were rock shows. We played one show with the legendary Mikey Wild. You know Mikey Wild? [sings] “I was a punk before you were a punk!”
PW: Yeah, he was before my time.
Q: He was before everyone’s time! He says it in all of his songs: “I was a punk before you were a punk.” [sings] “Vincent Price wasn’t very nice / Vincent Price!” [laughs]
PW: Well thank you very much, for hanging out. I really enjoyed the show.
MP: Come party in New Orleans!
Q: Come to New Orleans! Dine with us.
PW: I would love to, and I have your number so…
MP: OK, yeah!
Q: Come dine with us.
MP: I can’t believe you haven’t been…
PW: There are so many places I haven’t been. It’s a shame. I need to get down to New Orleans, the West Coast…
Q: You’ve never been to the West Coast?
PW: I’m an East Coast girl. And I’ve been to Europe.
Q: Where’d you go in Europe?
PW: I’ve been to London, Dublin, Paris, Luzerne and Munich.
MP: Oh, wow.
PW: Yeah, I like Europe a lot.
Q: How’d you like Munich?
PW: Munich was really cool; it was kind of tough because I don’t speak German. I took French in high school and college. So, I think that, it was a really cool city, I didn’t like it as much as the other places just because I couldn’t get around as easily – so it kind of inhibited, I think, the fun I could’ve had. And only one person in our group, it was a group of art kids from my high school, only one girl spoke German, so we all fought over who got to hang out with her.
MP: Is Luzerne where that museum was?
Q: It was Luzerne or Lausanne. One is in the south.
MP: We played at a festival there last year.
Q: Didn’t DuChamp start that?
MP: No, it was Jean Bouquet.
Q: I’m gonna go upstairs and get some food.
PW: Yeah, please, go. Thanks again! I really appreciate it.
MP: Oh yeah! Thank you!
Q: Yeah, thanks!

Q and Miss P were both really cool. I had a great time hanging out with them, and they’re live show is definitely not to be missed. Make sure to catch them on a headlining tour later this year! As soon as we hear about the dates, we’ll get them up here for you!

Quintron and Miss Pussycat: website | myspace | Drum Buddy


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