Jay Poggi (aka Quintron) has described his organ playing as a cross between the stylings of Raymond Scott, the composer whose music was famously used in Warner Bros. cartoons, and jazz organist Jimmy Smith. Aside from his organ playing, Poggi is a multi-instrumentalist who performs on traditional items like guitar, drums, and trumpet, as well as homemade inventions such as the Disco Light Machine, an attachment for drums where light is triggered by sound; the Spit Machine, a drum machine powered by saliva; and the Drum Buddy, which contains five oscillator circuits that create drum sounds when exposed to light.
Poggi has always kept his life very guarded from the press, granting interviews only on rare occasions. Since this has resulted in many unanswered questions about his life, he is viewed as a modern-day enigma. He has been known to pull such stunts as showing up for interviews in wheelchairs claiming he suffered injuries from falling out of a roller coaster; such was the case in a 1996 interview with the Times-Picayune newspaper's Bill Grady. Although Poggi is somewhat of a mystery, his general disdain for the press is well known.
The truth is, Poggi was born in Germany roughly around 1972, while his father was stationed there for military service. The Poggis didn't stay there very long, though, and soon relocated to Mobile, Alabama, in the United States. After a brief stay in Alabama, the Poggis packed up their belongings once again and set off for St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 17, Poggi parted ways with suburban St. Louis and set out for Chicago. The reason Poggi left for Chicago wasn't in pursuit of a particular music scene, but a particular drama troupe by the name of Theater Oobleck. Upon his arrival in Chicago in 1989, Poggi wound up enrolling at DePaul University, where he became involved with the school's drama department. He also joined the cover band Idol Chatter, which performed everything from Talking Heads to Chicago blues. Poggi soon lost interest in the structure of college and opted to leave after completing three semesters. By 1990, he was playing drums for the indie band Math and founded Wicker Park's Milk of Burgundy club.
After four years of performing together, Math broke up. Poggi took the opportunity to start a one-man band. He dubbed his new project Quintron, after the name of the company where his dad was employed as an electrical engineer. He recorded his first album, titled I.F. 001-011, for the Ypsilanti, Michigan label Bulb Records. The album was a foray into the sounds of Poggi's homemade percussion. He followed the release with a tour of the United States. One of the stops he made was at Pussycat Caverns, which was located in an old theater in New Orleans' Ninth Ward District. The venue was operated by Panacea Theriac (aka Miss Pussycat), with whom Poggi became an instantaneous friend and lover. Theriac visited Poggi in Chicago during 1995 at the Milk of Burgundy, and while she was there, Poggi was given his eviction notice. The club shut its doors later that year, and Poggi set out for a tour of the Southwest with Theriac backing him up on vocals and maracas. It was on the tour that Poggi and Theriac joined hands in marriage while they were stopped in Las Vegas.
Upon completion of the tour, Poggi settled in with Theriac in New Orleans. Both of them worked day jobs, Theriac as a seamstress and Poggi as an elementary-school science teacher. Poggi also started the Mighty Mouse Electric Service, where he worked as an electrician. In 1995, Theriac managed to persuade Poggi to set aside his drums in order to focus on playing organ. Poggi began writing a number of tracks on his Hammond S-6 organ for his second full-length album, The Amazing Spellcaster, which was released on Bulb a month prior to the closing of Pussycat Caverns in March of 1996. Looking for a new home, Theriac and Poggi purchased an old home in the Ninth Ward district of New Orleans.
An untitled track from Quintron appeared on a live compilation on Atavistic Records by January of 1997. Poggi mixed the compilation, titled CIA via UFO to Mercury, which featured other acts such as the Flying Luttenbachers, Trenchmouth, the Scissor Girls, and Poggi's old band, Math. That summer saw the opening of a new club, called the Spellcaster Lodge, under the ownership of Poggi and Theriac. The venue opened on July 4 in the basement of Poggi and Theriac's new home in New Orleans. The surroundings contained a turquoise ceiling, white plants, and red-and-white-striped wallpaper. The opening included performances by R&B great Ernie K-Doe and Quintron. Later that month saw the release of a Quintron/Oblivians collaboration titled Play 9 Songs with Mr. Quintron on Crypt Records. The garage punk of the Oblivians, mixed with Quintron's improvised keyboard lines, set the ground for an album of juke joint spirituals. It was around this time when Poggi and Theriac started their own label, Rhinestone Records, to release their output. The new imprint was set into motion with help from Skin Graft Records. Poggi closed the year by contributing the track "Nightclub Organist" to the Skin Graft album Camp Skin Graft: Now Wave Compilation alongside artists such as Bobby Conn, Dazzling Killmen, Melt Banana, Lake of Dracula, Cheer-Accident, Shorty, and Theriac's puppet band, Flossie & the Unicorns.
Poggi's Skin Graft debut album, These Hands of Mine, appeared in November of 1998. Following the release, Quintron performed shows at New York's Knitting Factory and charted on Rock & Folk magazine's best releases of the year poll. On his promotional tour for the release during March of 1999, Quintron was booked on the nationally syndicated Chicago talk show Jenny Jones. He was met by an audience of hecklers. The appearance was followed by his first European tour. While on the journey, Poggi and Theriac were invited to record a session for John Peel's show on BBC radio. Peel had learned of Quintron after being exposed to Theriac's Flossie & the Unicorns album, L.M.N.O.P. Poggi and Theriac returned to the United States in late May and ended the tour for These Hands of Mine in early June. Quintron rounded out the year by performing an October tour in the southern United States.
The early part of 2000 was spent working on an infomercial to showcase Poggi's musical invention, the Drum Buddy. Before that project was completed, however, Bulb reissued Quintron's first album, I.F. 001-011, that March. A month later, Poggi debuted his Drum Buddy machine, which converted light into analog rhythm patterns. Poggi hired his actor friend Bob Global and Tucson, Arizona weather anchor Rebecca Simms to host the infomercial for the Drum Buddy, which also featured Theriac as Miss Pussycat, Quintron's friend MC Trachiotomy, the Drum Buddy Dancers, and K-Doe. The surreal 49-minute video aired on some late-night television stations where viewers had the chance to purchase one of the machines for the price of $999.99. Skin Graft released the Drum Buddy Demonstration Record, Vol. 1, which was a counterpart to the machine, where the listener could learn how to play the contraption.
That July saw the release of Quintron's next album, Satan Is Dead, on Bulb. The record was more focused than any of Poggi's previous efforts, demonstrating his knack for forming actual song structures. The follow-up LP came quickly, as Quintron's seventh full-length album, The Unmasked Organ Light-Year of Infinity Man, was released on September 19. The release, which ended up being a collaboration between Bulb and Rhinestone Records, marked the recording debut of Poggi's Drum Buddy. Quintron eventually made and sold 44 Drum Buddies before reaching his self-imposed manufacturing deadline.
He returned in 2003 with Are You Ready for an Organ Solo? on Three One G; that year, Skin Graft also reissued Drum Buddy Demonstration on CD. The following year saw the CD debut of The Frog Tape. In 2005, Quintron and Miss Pussycat moved to Tigerbeat6 and released the CD/DVD album Swamp Tech, which featured new music from Quintron and an accompanying puppet movie by Miss Pussycat. Just before the duo went on tour to support the album, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. While both Quintron and Miss Pussycat were fine, their house sustained water damage and the pair lost instruments and puppet-making supplies. Quintron and Miss Pussycat continued with their fall tour, which also included a series of benefit concerts to help them rebuild in the wake of the disaster. Too Thirsty for Love arrived in 2008, while Sucre du Sauvage, which was recorded at New Orleans' Museum of Art and City Park from January to May of 2010, arrived in early 2011. ~ Stephen Howell, Rovi