Quintron & Miss Pussycat Use Puppets and Mad Science to Make You Sweat

Quintron and Miss Pussycat
Quintron and Miss Pussycat Gary Lavourde
If there's one thing you can expect to do at a Quintron & Miss Pussycat show, it's sweat.

During one of the band's early shows at The Trunk Space, they worked the packed room into such a frenzy that it felt like the walls themselves were dripping with perspiration. Every time they've come back to the Valley over the years to play at venues like The Trunk Space and The Great AZ Puppet Theater, they've been able to work that same mojo on the crowd.

For most bands, a puppet theater wouldn't be an ideal (or logical) choice for a concert venue. But most bands don't integrate a full-on puppet show into their performances. In addition to sharing in the vocal work and playing maracas with Quintron, Miss Pussycat is also a puppeteer. The band usually open their shows with one of her productions.

It creates the feeling that you're watching a weird children's show, and the band just happen to be the show's musical guest.

Miss Pussycat's puppet shows are as surreal and wacky as the puppets themselves. Made from felt, knick-knacks, and all sorts of odds and ends, her puppets look like radioactive plush toys. The puppet shows take on an even stranger note when you consider that Miss Pussycat got her start with the Christian Puppet Youth Ministry. What would the baby Jesus think about Quintron & Miss Pussycat? He wouldn't be thinking at all – he'd too busy dancing and looking at all the crazy puppets.

The other half of the duo is an inventor and oddball in his own right.

Besides being a gifted organist, Quintron is also an inventor. You don't have to look much further than his custom organ to see his mad science skills at work. Quintron's instrument is built into the front body of a classic car whose headlights still work.

Quintron has created a variety of unique instruments. He's made a hand organ called a Spit Machine that integrates saliva into its circuitry. He's developed a synth called the Weather Warlock that's “played” by the weather. It uses an array of sensors to detect and respond to changes in temperature, wind changes, and sunlight.

His most famous invention, though, remains the Drum Buddy. A mechanically rotating, five-oscillator, light-activated drum machine, the Drum Buddy has caught the attention of performers like Nels Cline and Laurie Anderson, who've bought their own units from Quintron over the years.

The band are more than the sum of their puppets and mad science parts, though.

The two of them produce a campy, jittery sound they call “Swamp-Tech” dance music. It's a strange gumbo of New Orleans party music, R&B, The Cramps, and The B-52s.

Giddy and gleeful, Quintron and Miss Pussycat shout and sing with bratty verve over distorted organ music and rinky-dink beats. It's a sound that's virtually impossible to resist live.

It's a testament to the band's formidable energy and passion that they still played shows after Quintron was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013.

“I did another tour after I found out in the window before the chemo started," Quintron told The Guardian. "I brought all my friends to just forget everything. I didn't give myself time to feel something. We called it the 'Isle of Denial' tour.”

It was during this period of illness and recovery that Quintron invented the Weather Warlock. The pair were also offered a dual artistic residency by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, greatly elevating their profile in the art world. (Miss Pussycat's puppets have also been featured in several museum exhibitions.)

After passing through a difficult period in their lives, the band are back to doing what they do best: rocking crowds to the point of exhaustion.

Quintron & Miss Pussycat will play The Trunk Space on
 Monday, June 26.

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Ashley Naftule