Quintron invented the dream-machine-slash-drum-machine called the Drum Buddy and Miss Pussycat invented Pussycat Caverns for her puppets, and from their Spellcaster Lodge in New Orleans they are re-inventing America. They are equally able to befriend Burmese pythons and Lou Reed, but only one appears on their new album cover. This interview by John Henry
Where did you come up with the idea for the new record cover? It’s really great.
Quintron (vocals/organ/drum buddy): The idea is we had access to a twenty-foot-long Burmese python and it was time to make a record. That’s the idea. My friend Jeanie wanted to have her picture taken with this huge snake and the location happened to be our house and, well, it would just be ridiculous NOT to make a record cover with a twenty-foot Burmese python, right? I think that I can not disclose the name of the person who owns this snake because it is very illegal to own a snake of that breed and that size. Let’s call him ‘a friend.’
You took the photo inside the Spellcaster Lodge—is that the new look of your venue since you’ve repaired it from the storm damage?
Q: Yes, that is the new Spellcaster Lodge—decorated entirely with Miss Pussycat’s design of Mardi Gras petal paper, which is used to decorate truck floats for the final parade every Fat Tuesday.
Miss Pussycat (vocals/puppets): It’s like an inside-out Mardi Gras float.
How much repair did you have to do to the Lodge after Katrina?
Q: Basically—tear down all the walls and rebuild them because they were moldy. All the walls are soundproof—four layers thick—so we had to take them all down and rebuild them. Rebuild the doors, rebuild the door casings, put new wall covering on, new sound system—everything on the inside needed to be done.
What did you do during Gustav? Did you take off or batten down the hatches?
Q: We went straight to the eye of the hurricane in Baton Rouge and stayed with a colonel friend of ours. We got to see the hurricane and run around in it because it doesn’t flood in Baton Rouge—it’s above sea level but that’s actually where it went. They had more violent winds there than here, but we got to get really drunk and run around in the hurricane and watch oak trees fall down.
P: It was a rare daytime hurricane. Normally this kind of thing happens at night, but this one was daytime so we got to actually see it and have fun with wicked old Mother Nature.
Q: Then the colonel made us clean his yard and his neighbors’ yards.
Who’s the colonel?
P: We can’t say.
Q: But can we please stop talking about hurricanes? I’m sick of tragedy defining us. Fuck Katrina, fuck Gustav, fuck recovery, fuck rehab, and fuck God. We didn’t drown, life rules, and our record cover has an illegal snake picture on it. THE END!
I heard you have a new puppet stage that throws up. What’s that all about?
P: Yes, my puppet theatre can talk. It can talk and it has eyes and teeth and arms and trap doors.
Do you have a new puppet show that goes along with the new theatre?
P: Yes, I do. It’s called the Haunted Art Gallery and it’s about the art world. See I think when you go to see art it would be really cool if it would give you—and I’m serious now—if it would give you psychic powers. If it was a vortex into the astral plane—that’s what I always want. I want it to be like a coven. So that’s what it’s about. It’s about witchcraft and parapsychology in the arts.
Are you bringing this on tour and doing it in L.A.?
P: Yes, and I made my puppet theatre two feet wider. Our van is so full. Quintron has started bringing more equipment. He brings two Leslie speakers now so I felt like I had to take up more space. There’s not room for anything else now.
What about the newest Drum Buddy model—will you be using that on this tour as well? What’s different about this one than the old one?
Q: The cabinets for new design are made from ‘sinker cypress’ which is this 300-to-800-year-old wood that was submerged in the swamps of Louisiana and harvested for furniture. I think it was first harvested for outdoor furniture and siding and then it became as precious as gold and people started using it for really fine furniture and there’s only a little bit of it left. I know people in the woodworking industry here and they’ve had bits and scraps left. So I had enough to make ten Drum Buddies out of this very precious sinker cypress wood. Electronically the difference is the circuits are cleaned up, it doesn’t buzz as much, and you can now play through it. It’s now an effects pedal in tandem with the Drum Buddy sounds.
Did you sell any of the new models?
Q: All of them except I kept one. I sold one to Nels Cline who is an improvisational guitar player from Los Angeles. He’s also the newish guitar player in Wilco. I sold one to Laurie Anderson in New York. I got to hang out with the Louster. I got to jam with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson for forty-five minutes or I don’t know—for a long time. Lou was very suspicious of the Drum Buddy at first. Laurie Anderson got very excited when I brought it there to give her her first lesson and show her how to use it. She said, ‘Oh, my friend Lou will really love this.’ So Lou came over and he was really suspicious and assumes that everything is an audition for him. He thought it was for him or I was trying to make him one or that I was some kind of door-to-door Drum Buddy salesman. He really thought that, I think. After a while he got his distortion out and started playing through it, and he got really into it. Then she played her violin through it. Laurie Anderson is a really sensitive incredible musician. You can tell from meeting her and hearing her improvise for two minutes that she was really an artist. It’s suited to her music, I think. Her whole thing is simplicity—a childlike simplicity.
Is she going to use it when she plays live?
Q: I haven’t heard anything—not a peep about whether she’s using it, whether it’s in a closet, whether it’s been recorded in the studio. I’m pretty sure it’s not on tour because we know her bass player and he would have told us if it was on tour.
Along with the new record you put out you released a puppet video—is that the same episode you did for Vice TV?
P: This is the first season of Trixie and the Treetrunks but it has credits. Online it didn’t have credits, and the credits are really beautiful. It’s got some bonuses like Witch in The Club bloopers and the Making Of which was for Dutch television that they let us put on as an extra bonus. Quintron was the director of photography and our friend Darren Deluco helped us out some and Jayme Kalal and Lefty Parker and tons of our friends were puppeteers. Jayme Kalal was there for almost every shoot—he’s great. It was all in our basement basically.
How long is this tour and where are you going?
Q: We’re basically going to go on tour for the rest of the year and then into next spring and summer. Not constantly but we’re going to go to Mars and back. We haven’t been out on a real tour for a year. Well, we did a tour with the Black Lips and we did a tour with Peaches.
P: We went on a tour last summer with our friends from New Orleans.
Q: King Louie’s band Black Rose, The Pussuaders—a Persuaders cover band—Overnight Lows but that was just a southern tour.
What made you go with Goner Records to put the new album out?
Q: Because they rule and they are the best record label in the world and we’ve been friends forever. They’re on it—they are so on it. Eric and Zac and their store and I don’t know! It’s hilarious that we can be on a garage-rock label and Tiger Beat and 31G.
They’ve kind of gone beyond just being a garage-rock label, don’t you think?
Q: That’s good for them, and they’re dear old friends but that’s not why—it’s because Goner rules.
Did you go up to Memphis for Goner Fest and do any promotional stuff for the album?
Q: No, we couldn’t do it. We were going to bring the snake in a limo with Jeanie and sign posters but we didn’t have time.
P: We should have rubber snakes for sale at the merch table or just sell snakes.
Q: Can you sell pets at rock shows? Snakes are deaf and they like cigarette smoke, too. Oh, wait—check out my tour outfit. [Quintron runs into the Spellcaster and grabs something.]
It’s a denim jumpsuit with a cobra back patch, two champagne glasses and a rose that says ‘Too thirsty for love.’ Where did you get that made?
Q: In Chalmette at Embroidery Unlimited. I’m very excited about this new jumpsuit.
Do you have a matching outfit that goes with the jumpsuit?
P: We’re going to have a denim theme. Shopping Bear and I are going to have matching outfits with Drum Buddies on them.
L.A. RECORD PRESENTS QUINTRON AND MISS PUSSYCAT WITH STATIC STATIC, GOLDEN TRIANGLES AND DJ SHORT SHORTS ON FRI., OCT. 10, AT THE ECHOPLEX, 1154 GLENDALE BLVD., ECHO PARK. 8:30 PM / $12-$14 / 18+. ATTHEECHO.COM. QUINTRON AND MISS PUSSYCAT’S TOO THIRSTY 4 LOVE IS OUT TUE., OCT. 14, ON GONER. VISIT QUINTRON AND MISS PUSSYCAT AT QUINTRONANDMISSPUSSYCAT.COM.