POSTED Wed. Mar 4, 2015

Creative Culture

The Dropout Drops Out, With Help From Quintron

Local musician and inventor Mr. Quintron could not have conjured up his newest creation, the Weather Warlock, without the help of Tulane’s radio station, WTUL.

The Weather Warlock is a seven-foot tall synthesizer that reads all aspects of the weather — temperature, precipitation, wind, sunlight — and turns it into droning, therapeutic abstract music.

The idea began when WTUL gifted Quintron two old, antique mixing consoles, thinking he might need them, for something some day. “That particular type of console inspired me to build the Weather Warlock,” says Quintron.

“It’s made by LPD, and the physical design is really genius — it is a work of industrial design art. Those boards are the most well-printed circuit boards I’ve ever seen in my life. The face folds out like the hood of car, for accessibility, when you need to work on it. So much thought went into this thing — you don’t see them like that now — you didn’t see them like that then! All radio stations have now moved on to digital boards — who knows why.”

Though he radically changed the color, Quintron replaced the mixer’s switches and knobs to match its exact original holes. “I let the design dictate how far he I went with designing the circuitry,” Q explains. “And since I see ‘Weather for the Blind’ as like a radio station, the fact that it all would come from an old broadcast console seemed fitting.”

The Weather Warlock has been a hit with kids at New Orleans schools and libraries, from Uptown to Algiers, and at select spots on Quintron’s extensive worldwide music tours with his puppeteer wife, Miss Pussycat. Quintron has also put together an improvisational heavy metal band that plays along to the Weather Warlock during sunsets — the noisiest time of day for the invention. This Mothers Day will see the release of the first Weather Warlock album.

As with his other famous invention, the Drum Buddy, Quintron proceeded to build and prototype more Weather Warlocks. “One night he was hanging at my radio show and noticed that WTUL had one last extra old console,” says WTUL DJ GrisGris, Judah Lea, 33, whose show The Dropout has aired from 4-6pm each Wednesday for the last four years. “WTUL told Quintron they would give the console to him, and he agreed to do one of our benefit shows.”

This Saturday, March 7, at One Eyed Jacks, Quintron will repay his debt from behind his organ, as he provides “funeral music” for Lea’s show, The Dropout, which will soon (ahem) drop out of its time slot.

If you’re wondering where the name of the show comes from, here’s Lea: “I actually dropped out of the college I went to, and then here I was doing a show at Tulane, a college that I never even went to,” he laughs. “Normally WTUL DJs are just students. Though I’m not a student, faculty, or former faculty, I managed to sneak toward to the top of the list with my own slot.”

Lea describes his Dropout show with DJ Benny Divine as having emphasized, “Rock n’ roll, kraut rock, garage rock, psych punk — bands like Chrome, Aphrodite’s Child, and Ty Segall. Locally I fell in with Gary Wrong, Quintron, and Babes — those guys will all be playing at this funeral, because they kind of changed my tastes a little, so the show had been morphing to reflect more contemporary, newer bands.”

With no radio show, Lea will now focus his DJ GrisGris persona on his VHS-based found-sound and video art, which he displayed at most of Quintron’s local concerts in 2014. Behind the decks and the VCR for WTUL’s upcoming marathon weekend, Lea says his funeral roster will include the garagy bands Babes and Heavy Lids, the twangy Bobby Peters, 60s garage throwbacks the Planchettes, plus Woozy, featuring John St Cyr from Native America.

Quintron will play funeral dirges during a faux memorial service for The Dropout, says Lea: “Q has the coffin to put on stage, we have memorial wreaths, and funeral themed projections. Confrontational comedian ‘Patrick Shuttlesworth’ will act as pastor with Q[uintron] playing organ accompaniment. Patrick will sermonize and introduce every band, and each band will give eulogies for my show. I think Q’s practicing St James Infirmary. But I can’t say any more.”

Image by Allison Green.

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