by Aly Runke, contributing writer
SCIFI.radio DJ Willow Leafstorm has been an extremely busy fairy at SDCC 2014! This time, she caught up with steampunk performers David and Isabella “Bunny” Bennett (Spine and Rabbit) from Steam Powered Giraffe (SPG) to talk to them about their music and other ventures in the steampunk culture. Steam Powered Giraffe got their start in 2008, the founders, twin siblings David and Bunny Bennett began in junior college by performing on the street as people-bots, something quite popular on San Francisco’s Pier 39; if you’ve ever been there, you’ve surely seen such performers along the sidewalk. From there it was a slow but steady rise to having their own concerts and shows.
The band tours all around the San Diego area at different venues, including different conventions, and has stops outside California as far away as Ontario, Canada. If you want to see them in person, they are playing at Nerdfest in Orlando, Florida and Ani-Jam in Fresno this year. To keep up with other dates and appearances like their Facebook page, follow their twitter and visit the SPG website.
Beside touring and putting out albums, the band has its own card game and web comic, as well as videos of their concerts. The web comic tells the story of what the robot characters in the band do offstage. Spine, Rabbit, and the others were built in the 1890s and are AI’s with a talent in music. David Bennett works on the comic and explained why he enjoys working in this medium as well, “In a comic book you can do just about anything, you’re not limited by reality and that’s really fun.”
When talking about their character’s lives the twins were very upbeat, obviously holding their characters near and dear to their hearts, and they use their story as the inspiration behind the albums they’ve produced. Spine told Leafstorm, “the robots have been around since the 1890s and they’ve basically dabbled in every genre of music throughout the decades.” The group has three albums out, the first has a more vaudeville sound, and the latest dabbling in the ’60s and ’70s styles, with what they called a Beatles feel. You can see this for yourself, as they will soon be releasing a DVD of a show they did last summer in collaboration with steampunk artist Professor Elemental. The twins also hinted at doing future collaborations in their music with various artists including Professor Elemental.
Steam Powered Giraffe, while having a lot of their own songs, loves to do fun song covers and parodies. One such cover they recently released was “Diamonds” by Rihanna. The twins talked about covering songs, “Diamonds” in particular, “most of them start out as jokes we’re not a serious band we like to make fun of ourselves in the music that we do, it was a joke to have one of our deep voice characters which is the Spine which I play do a pop song that a female usually sings and that was basically the reason why we did it.”
The band’s fan-base has grown over the years and eats up everything Steam Powered Giraffe throws at them, so when Bunny officially announced her gender transition and opened up a bit to her fans about her personal journey and feelings this year, she almost had to laugh at how they reacted. She explained that the fans couldn’t care less about the gender of their beloved performer or the character she played. They were much more caught up in whether the character’s costume was going to change, latching onto such a small detail in the large picture as fans are wont to do.
The only other thing on the fans’ minds now is the need to know more about when they will get a new album and some details were shared with SCIFI.radio. The fourth album to be released by Steam Powered Giraffe will be entitled The Vice Quadrant and, according to the twins, they are in no hurry to release it, wanting to milk out the love for the third album as long as possible. When Leafstorm pressed for details the two did give just a bit more; this new album will be different from the past three, containing a more specific focus of being a space opera. The twins indicated it would be mostly rock ballads, influenced by the likes of David Bowie and Queen. Leafstorm again asked for any teaser they could dish out. Spine said all they had were track names and left us to ruminate over the song title “In Love With Progress and Technology.”