Circus music: Can it be sexy? Sure it can. Especially if you have a strapping young man bouncing around his drums, a cute blonde manipulating a pile of organs, and their dueling vocals, crisscrossing or blending together like a sonic smoothie. OK, so it's not circus music, but it does remind me of baby elephants bouncing on trampolines.

Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel are the wedded couple known as Mates of State, whose unique sound can easily be identified on a coffeehouse mix tape. Their third album, Team Boo, is a warm, intimate wave of bliss with lots of handclap breakdowns, more elusive lyrics and even some horns.

The San Francisco duo recently answered some probing questions via email.

Willamette Week: I'm sure most of your days are spent making music, but what's a day like when you just need to get away from music? A football game? Training attack dogs? French movies?

Mates of State: Yes, a Vikings game would be nice, or movies, or friends, or wandering the streets, glacier riding, chess, walking diagonal paths in the grass, catching up on normal things like sleep, or bills, yoga, hypnotizing cats.

Is San Francisco cooler than Portland?

San Francisco has some cooler things about it, but people in Portland know how to have a good time when bands play. SF doesn't always know that it's very simple to enjoy yourself while listening to music. But SF is the most beautiful city, and there is always something interesting going on. Portland seems more active in an organic way. It might be a tie overall.

Are there certain writers who inspire your lyrics?

Sometimes they do. Hesse, Fitzgerald, Vollman, Achebe, Schlosser.

You've been called "adorable" by some who critics scoff at that word (the nerve!). Would you punch someone who was mean to you?

Faster than you can say adorable asexual snaps and bites.

I love handclaps, but I also love cowbells. Where are the cowbells?

Reminds me of that Justine Bateman movie, Satisfaction. Great use of a cowbell, we'll leave that for her.

I always thought it would be great if there were a "married couple band" that would end each show making out on stage. Like a John-and-Yoko kind of thing, but sexier. Is this a good idea?

Damn right it's a good idea. Follow us backstage after any show and learn the truth.

Mates of State play with the Thermals and I Am the World Trade Center Tuesday, Oct. 7, at Meow Meow, 527 SE Pine St., 230-2111. 9 pm. $10. All ages.