Quintron [Rob Rolston], the ingenious musical weirdo who invented the Drum Buddy and the Spit Machine will be performing once again at the Cactus Club tonight with his maraca-shaking accomplice, Miss Pussycat. Standing behind his custom-made Hammond/Fender Rhodes combo fronted by the the body of a car with headlights and a licensce plate that reads “Quintron”, Rolston is a definitely a unique musical vision. Born in Germany, Rolston relocated to St. Louis and Chicago as a young adult, where he met his now-wife, Miss Pussycat [Panacea Pussycat]. Currently, Pussycat and Rolston reside in New Orleans and have taken their popular swamp-garage rock operation on the road since 1994 with much success. The duo’s latest release, Too Thirsty 4 Love was released on Goner Records in 2008.
The above video explains one of Roslton’s most show-visible and fascinating inventions, the Drum Buddy. According to Wikipedia, “the Drum Buddy, invented by New Orleans Ninth Ward one-man band Quintron, is a light-activated oscillating drum machine which operates on the principles of an optical theremin. An electronic instrument developed in the Spellcaster Lodge QElectronics laboratory, only 44 units hand-assembled by Quintron exist. Its four voices – Space, Snare, Bass and Kick, are triggered by activating a photoelectric cell either intermittently or with an on/off DIP switch in combination with exposure to light.
“The Drum Buddy is outfitted with a light fixture on a periscopic pipe fixed to its base. The fixture’s bulb can be controlled by means of a dimmer switch. The bulb hangs above a rotating platen upon which a number 10 can (the large size common to coffee, canned vegetables and some sauces) prepared with holes and non-reflective paint is placed. As the can rotates, its holes pass the Drum Buddy’s photoelectric cells, firing drum-like tones and theremin or Moog synthesizer-like chirps or buzzes.
“Accomplished purveyors of the Drum Buddy can operate the instrument freestyle by “scratching” the can back and forth against the resistance of the platen’s motor or by performing short solos on the bass channel’s 12-point chromatic scale.”