People who like the Ninth Ward dance-rock duo Quintron and Miss Pussycat really, really like them. I remember winding up in conversation late one night with a German fan after a 2006 show post-hurricane, pre-election frenzy. He had traveled to New Orleans with the goal of seeing a Q-and-P show high on his list. "It is obvious," he told me in his clipped, precise accent, "that Mr. Quintron would be a far better president for America than Bush."
Although he's an oddity here, to a particular-but-large contingent on the Continent and in the rest of the U.S., Quintron's disco-gospel organ represents New Orleans music. To that end, he and Miss Pussycat usually spend quite a few months out of the year on the road. The pair have stayed unusually homebound in 2008, working on their latest release (which came out Oct. 14), Too Thirsty 4 Love. The album appeared so suddenly that I asked Mr. Q if they'd made it abnormally fast.
"We actually took the year off to do this, plus the Trixie and the Tree Trunks miniseries (Miss Pussycat's newest puppet project, an ongoing drama that began as an exclusive for Vice magazine's online TV channel VBS)," he said. "It's unusual for us to write and record songs without playing them out, but I really wanted to try doing that, so we intentionally didn't go on tour for the whole year. We made the record and now we're working out the songs live."
P and Q's energetic swirls of analog organ and Drum Buddy beats often accompany songs that can be revealed as fanciful narratives, slightly encrypted, of events in their own lives and life in New Orleans, turning stories of road trips or nights out into intriguing fables. ('I'm not the kind of guy who can do, "I'm in a bar, I have the blues, boo-ba-doo,'" Quintron says. 'In order to sing something a thousand times, it kind of has to be turned into multilevel poetry, sort of mystical or magical.") As on recent albums which turned trips to the West Bank or shoplifting on Canal Street into something fanciful and epic, Too Thirsty 4 Love hints at magical journeys tucked away inside quotidian New Orleans life " much in the same way Miss Pussycat's puppet shows add whimsy, via animal characters and sparkly sets, to allegorical narratives of your basic rock 'n' roll bohemia. On a Pussycat-penned track, 'Grey Ghost," the vigilante anti-graffiti activist Fred Radtke gets mythologized.
'I don't personally know Fred Radtke, but I find him very intriguing," Miss Pussycat says. 'There's a visual dialogue going on between him and the graffiti artists, and even if you think he's horrible, you have to admit it's very engaging. If you're being honest, you have to admit he's an inspiration to graffiti artists." Radtke's profile as a local celebrity has reached the level of other well-known characters like the late Ruthie the Duck Lady or the French Quarter's bead lady, she says, and whether he's a villain or just background color, he's now part of the fairy tale. 'Plus, he's obviously very passionate about battleship grey. I really think he should be part of the biennial," she says, adding that one local gallery had thought about tricking Radtke into making an 'installation" of his work, by writing bait graffiti all over their outer walls.
Though this is Quintron and Miss Pussycat's first release on Goner, they've actually been close with the label's owners since before its inception, and the grassroots, friendly vibe of the project continues through the cover photo concept.
'Antoinette K-Doe's best friend Jeannie [who appears on the cover] wanted to do a photo shoot with the snake, and then it became the record cover," Quintron explains. 'We needed three or four people to wrangle the 20-foot snake and keep it from running away. But I kind of had it all in my mind. I wanted us to be toasting with milkshakes with the snake in a boudoir setting. Then the fangs came into the mix, as another kind of "thirsty' reference."
Readers can reach Alison Fensterstock at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Material for Quintron and Miss Pussycat's new album Too Thirsty 4 Love was produced during a yearlong break from touring.