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The Quintron Controversy

Just as my fingers on these keys

Make music, so the selfsame sounds

On my spirit make a music, too.

Music is feeling, then, not sound;

----Wallace Stevens

"Peter Quince at the Clavier"

What fools these mortals be!

----Robin Goodfellow Puck

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Is Quintron a quack or the quintessence of cool and strange? (Perhaps, a bit of both.) Seeking a solution to the Quintron mystique sometimes seems quite a quixotic quest. Who is this "'No quotes!'" quasi-stellar sex object receding ever faster as he constantly expands? When quizzed about a technical question, Quintron's credibility quotient is extremely high. But ask about his personal life, and be prepared to be misled by a querulous quarry of mischievous misinformation to a quagmire of quavering quicksand.

Can we quash and quell all criticism and quench your curiosity? Quintron is New Orleans' premier underground patentee, producer, performer and prankster. Sometimes this quaint and quirky subgenius sizzles in the spotlight, and sometimes the mysterious wizard behind the curtain pushes your buttons and pulls your strings--as well as your legs.

As a child, Quintron built Heathkit stereos at home learning electronics from hands-on practical experience. In high school, the budding icon fronted a cover band called Idol Chatter. Eventually the offbeat organist emerged in a Windy City ensemble called Math establishing his DIY lo-tech aesthetic. A Mardi Gras excursion to New Orleans changed Quintron's life when he met Miss Panacea Pussycat. After a brief flirtation with The Milk of Burgundy Love in Chicago, the glad scientist moved his laboratory to the Big Easy Crescent City and began to translate his dreams into reality.

The Drum Buddy is Quintron's first patented invention. This light-activated analog rhythm machine converts beams from a bulb within a perforated coffee can into four discreet layers of sound. As the can rotates, different patterns of holes activate a pair of rhythm sensors corresponding to bass and snare drums as well as two screaming scratch sensors, whose tonal qualities can be altered by toggling various switches. The brightness of both inner bulb and stage lighting affects Drum Buddy's tone as well. Quintron also orchestrates a pre-programmed digital drum machine, a Wurlitzer Sprite Funmaker, and antique Hammond and Gulbranson organs to create primal, sensual, bacchanalian techno-primitive frenzy.

Skeptics scoffed at Galileo, Tesla and the Wright Brothers, but history has vindicated their innovations. Some cynics even claim that Drum Buddy does not actually exist and that all those strange yet compelling sounds must come from a computer or other digital device. The interactive capacity of Drum Buddy--"a direct link between the human hand and sheer electronic voltage"--sets Quintron's invention a quantum leap ahead of soundalike digital drones. Several prototypes such as The Spit Machine and The Disco Light Machine have been purchased by savvy musicians and DJs. Many more of the perfected and patented devices have been reserved for the advanced guard. These opinion leaders will be in the front ranks of Quintron's allies. Greg Wildes of Gas Tank Orchestra agrees that Drum Buddy is like "Mardi Gras in a can!"

As Plato studied with Socrates in the groves of Academia and as Elvis learned from Liberace in the saloons of Las Vegas, so Quintron is mentored by rhythm'n'blues legend Ernie K-Doe, whose Mother-In-Law Lounge mural depicts a symphonic symposium of soul man and disciple. And as Plato's theory was applied by Aristotle, Quintron has inspired a testosterone-fueled jiver in polyester leisure suit and frizzy disco wighat. (ADRV alum Jay Poggi) When asked by a WTUL DJ if he sampled Black Sabbath, MC Trachiotomy retorted, "Yeah, their philosophy...mentality is what it's all about."

This iconoclastic tribal mentality is shared by Crash Worship guitarist Jeff Mattson, who helped build Quintron's basement studio where the Drum Buddy promo was shot. As "Studio Owner Randy Jackson," Mattson swears he loves Drum Buddy's "phat bottom." And if infomercial announcer "Bob Global" looks familiar, you may have seen Eric Pierson acting in Oscar-bound Eve's Bayou, hosting Tribe TV, styling in Barq's and Levis ads, or singing with Gimp or Dulac Swade. Ringside, we find Gentilly stomper Jheri MacGillicuddy and fabled French Quarter eccentric Ruthy the Duck Girl.

In the studio, "The Amazing Spellcaster" despises the pretensions of bad British pseudo-classical art rock appealing to aristocratic snobs and nouveau riche bourgeois upstarts. Quintron is a man of the people who admires the organ stylings of James Brown, Jimmy Smith and the gospel prophets honored on his collaboration with The Oblivians, stars of Memphis director (Damselvis, Apocalypse Meow) J.M. McCarthy's Sore Losers. And, of course, Quintron stands on the broad shoulders of Leon Theremin, Bob Moog, Raymond Scott and Silver Apples' oscillating Simeon. Then go watch "Ghost TV!"

Quintron's production skills can be heard extensively on the Bobby Redbeet CD and the Engine #9 compilation featuring Famous Monster Sean Iseult of White Zombie. The "monster truck" vocals on The MacGillicuddys' rasslin' rocker "Don't Shatter My World" may test the limits of your sound system. And Quintron isn't beyond picking streetcorner hiphoppers as new breed contenders to challenge the tough turf of Master P.

Since this elusive and enigmatic man of mystery categorically refuses interviews, you've got to see Quintron play to know what he is all about. How many concerts have signs prohibiting nudity? Quintron's music is so erotic that it's hard for the crowd to keep their clothes on! No wonder Crash Worship found Quintron's evangelical fervor the ideal fluffer to work up the masses for their infamous Dionysian tribal/industrial orgies. Every show is a carefree return to childhood experimentation.

Each performance begins with a puppet show. Quintron and Panacea are the Punch & Judy of the musical world. And the Pussycat Playhouse is an important frame of reference for understanding their mentality. Harlequin and Columbine outwit baggy pants buffoons with sound effects by Drum Buddy.

Miss Pussycat's contribution to the Quintron equation must not be underestimated. Whether accompanying on backup vocals and percussion or staging her eagerly anticipated puppet shows, Miss P is an integral part of the overall spectacle. Panacea is the storytelling Wendy to Quintron's flying Peter Pan. And it is Pussycat who invites the listener to "Meet Me at the Clubhouse" at the beginning of These Hands of Mine.

A force in her own right, Miss Pussycat is a card-carrying member of Puppeteers of America, who has released several segments of her story cycle beginning with Flossie and the Unicorns. Whereas Quintron was reared as a cosmopolitan, Panacea was raised in the hills of rural Oklahoma's Red River Valley--where the big town is Paris, Texas. Little Miss Pussycat started working with puppets in Bible school: "When you grow up in the country, you learn to entertain yourself."

With episodes like "Free Guitar Lessons for Animals" and characters like Miss Foxyface, DJ Cardboard and Princess Pandora Stardust, Panacea's puppet shows are marvels of irreverence and whimsy. Usually the animals' peaceful play is disrupted by an antagonistic monster whose anger becomes his own undoing--as when an intruder tries to steal the secret of honey from Queen Latifah and her sweet bees. Such mini-morality plays are hints to hostile onlookers to keep cool. Don't take yourself so seriously.

After the puppet show, Quintron hunches behind his vintage Hammond with one hand on the keyboard and the other manipulating the Drum Buddy with teeth clenching a wireless carioke microphone. Miss Pussycat joins in on maracas and harmony vocals--occasionally backed by a street urchin choir or a bottle blonde chorus. Often a bubble machine blows glistening opalescent orbs into the audience. The crowd goes wild! Usually a second line of true believers gyrates in front of the stage to display their ample charms--quivering and quaking, then climactically squeaking, squealing, squirming and squishing. The beat is throbbing and the melody mesmerizing. If you're not totally comatose, you've just got to dance! Quintron is ecstatic, enthusiastic and rhapsodic--standing outside himself while seized and carried away by feeling.

If you want to know your P's and Q's, it's all there in the music and the puppet shows. This odd couple's choice of themes is highly self-referential: The Champs' "Meet Me at the Clubhouse" (calling out a quorum of our posse) and K-Doe's "A Certain Girl" ("What's her name?"/"I can't tell you!") to Leslie Gore's "You Don't Own Me" (Third degree from Kim Fowley). All the songs and stories reflect Pussycat and Quintron's unique alternative lifestyle. "Satan is Dead," so "Do the Stomp!" The secret of making honey is to sing and dance. This humming interactivity is the underground community's Utopian bliss. And of course, the best way to meet Quintron & Pussycat is to see them yourself on tours of America, Europe and--wouldn't you know--they're big in Japan. And when you do, break down!

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