Steam Powered Giraffe

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Steam Powered Giraffe
Origin San Diego, California, United States
Genres Folk, rock, vaudeville
Years active 2008-present
Associated acts Rumbledore
Website www.steampoweredgiraffe.com
Members David Michael Bennett
Isabella Bunny Bennett
Sam Luke
Steve Negrete
Past members Erin Burke
Jon Sprague
Michael Philip Reed
Matt Smith

Steam Powered Giraffe (SPG) is a musical project formed in San Diego in 2008 that is popular in the steampunk subculture. Led by twin siblings David Michael Bennett and Isabella "Bunny" Bennett,[1][2] its two remaining original members, the act combines sketches, pop culture references, improvised comedic dialogue, and original music.

Career[edit]

The members of Steam Powered Giraffe met while taking Theatre Arts at Grossmont College. Afterwards they became members of local San Diego mime group Troupe SD. Trained in pantomime by Seaport Village mime Jerry "Kazoo" Hager, and with collective backgrounds in clown, theater, music, and visual design, Jon Sprague and the Bennett twins, Bunny and David, started street busking as quirky robotic characters (then known as Peoplebots) in January 2008 at Balboa Park, California, along with fellow mime artist Erin Burke, who left the group in 2011.[3]

Since their inception, the band has performed at popular Southern California venues including The San Diego County Fair, The San Diego Zoo,[4] The Wild Animal Park, Legoland California, Ontario Mills, The Queen Bee's Art & Cultural Center, and at numerous Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Steampunk Conventions.

In October 2009 the band released their first album, Album One. It contained the previously released single from May 2009 titled "On Top of the Universe".[5] In early 2011 the band released a single, "Honeybee", announcing that it would be on an upcoming second album,[6] and in late 2011 the band announced the release of an interim "live" album entitled Live at the Globe of Yesterday's Tomorrow.[7] Their second studio album, entitled The 2¢ Show, was released in May 2012.[8] Their music can also often be heard on a number of steampunk radio broadcasts that stream worldwide, such as The Clockwork Cabaret.[9] The band's song "Electricity Is In My Soul" is available on the Rock Band Network.

On October 30, 2011, the band was mentioned by name in the comic strip Luann. The strip showed the title character and two of her friends dressed in steampunk attire, going out to attend a SPG concert.[10] The title frame, which didn't appear in the online version but only in print, showed a giraffe's head and neck with steam escaping its ears and nostrils.

In 2012, they were voted Best Live Comedy act (and runner up for Best Family Entertainment act) on San Diego A-List.[11]

Besides their musical endeavors, the band publishes a web comic[12] and has produced a card game based on characters in their backstory.[13] In April 2012 they released a DVD entitled, Steam Powered Giraffe: The DVD (and the Quest For the Eternal Harp of Golden Dreams).

On September 24, 2012, the band announced on their Tumblr that Jon Sprague was leaving/let go from the group.[14] On October 1 it was announced that the drummer for the band, Sam Luke, would become the latest robot in the band, "Hatchworth".[15] On 2 November 2012, Hatchworth made his stage debut with SPG at Youmacon in Detroit, Mi. Later, Matt Smith was named SPG's new drummer.

During this time, SPG also introduced the characters of the Walter Girls into their shows. The Girls started out by manning the band's merchandise tables at performances, but have started figuring in to the SPG stage show and back story. Described as "blue matter engineers", the porcelian-white skinned and blue-haired Walter Girls are essentially the robot's caretakers on stage.

In 2013 Bunny Bennett, and David, announced that the character of Rabbit was upgraded with a female body.

In June 2013, SPG released a cover of Rihanna's "Diamonds", essentially a solo performance by the Spine. The accompanying video, released to YouTube, introduced a new character to the SPG canon, a robotic giraffe puppet named GG (voiced by Bunny Bennett). GG appeared again in July when the band released a comedic video, "Walter Robotics Rap", to YouTube.

On 9 August 2013, Steam Powered Giraffe announced the title to their third album, MK III, on the band's website and tumblr page. The specified release date has been announced by the official Steam Powered Giraffe tumblr to be December 3. The band recently released a cover of Icona Pop's "I Love It" on their YouTube channel.

On March 18, 2014, it was announced that Michael Reed and Matt Smith would no longer be performing members of Steam Powered Giraffe. The Bennett twins stated that the reasons for their departure was to focus more on the theatrical elements of the act and touring.

In June 2014 "Christopher" Bennett stated on tumblr that her chosen name is Isabella Bunny Bennett after previously announcing her status as a transgender individual.

Backstory[edit]

The band's fictional backstory explains why they pantomime as robots. According to that narrative, the "musical automatons" were invented by a rich San Diego inventor named Colonel P. A. Walter in 1896 and kept in the Walter family over the years. Called the 8th 1/2 Wonder of the World, the robots were a technological marvel that ran off steam powered engines and artificial intelligence. The band's name is said to come from Walter's first robot, a giant mechanical giraffe. A fictional timeline on the band's website chronicles the band's supposed "appearances" throughout the years at such notable places as the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and The Ed Sullivan Show.[16]

Band members[edit]

  • The Spine (David Michael Bennett) is a futuristic dieselpunk robot with a titanium alloy spinal column. His skin is smooth silver, and he wears a black fedora and a vest.
- lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, mandolin, keyboards (2008-present)
  • Rabbit (Isabella Bunny Bennett) performs as a copper clockwork robot, often "malfunctioning" at shows and their panels.
- lead and backing vocals, accordion, keytar, megaphone, melodica (2008-present)
  • Hatchworth (Sam Luke) is an art deco robot made from a stove. He was supposedly one of Colonel P. A. Walter's original robots, but was locked away until The Jon left the band. He wears a bowler, sports a bushy orange mustache and wears a black military tunic with red accents.
- drums, backing vocals (2011-2012), lead and backing vocals, bass, guitars (2012-present)

Past members[edit]

  • The Jon (Jonathan "Jon" Sprague) was a gold art deco robot part of the original four members, who wore a black shirt, striped pants, and red suspenders and bow tie. He generally displayed childish mannerisms and was supposedly powered by Crystal Pepsi. Jon Sprague was let go from the band in 2012 due to commitment issues and currently works as an artist and photographer in La Mesa, San Diego County, California.
- lead and backing vocals, mandolin, bass, drums (2008-2012)
  • Upgrade (Erin Burke) was a silver and pink stylized robot and part of the original four members. She wore a black dress and cap and was known for being girly but with tomboyish outbursts. She has an unrequited crush on The Spine. Erin Burke left the band in 2011 to pursue an acting career.
- vocals, tambourine (2008-2011)
  • Michael Philip Reed, known as the "One Man Band" - guitar, banjo, synthesizer, ukulele, bass, piano, vocoder, backing vocals (2011–2014)
  • Matt Smith - drums, backing vocals (2012–2014)

The Cavalcadium[edit]

When Steam Powered Giraffe grew in popularity, the band opened a fansite called the Cavalcadium (thecavalcadium.com). The website features more in-depth lore of the Steam Powered Giraffe universe, an area to help promote the band, and a fan forum.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Live at the Globe of Yesterday's Tomorrow (2011)

Singles[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Whut is Steam Powered Giraffe". Steam Powered Giraffe. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ "GG: The Giraffe". Steam Powered Giraffe. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Steam Powered Giraffe - Artist Bio". ReverbNation. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  4. ^ "San Diego Zoo : Extended Summer Hours and Entertainment at Nighttime Zoo". Random San Diego. June 9, 2011. Retrieved 11-01-2011. 
  5. ^ "New Single With An Album On The Way!". Blogspot. Retrieved 06-12-12. 
  6. ^ The Spine (February 2, 2011). "Steam Powered Giraffe Blog: Honeybee Now Available!". Blogspot. Retrieved 11-01-2011. 
  7. ^ Steam Powered Giraffe (2011-11-16). "Live at the Globe of Yesterday's Tomorrow". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  8. ^ "The 2¢ Show Now Available!". Blogspot. Retrieved 06-12-12. 
  9. ^ "The Clockwork Cabaret Podcast". Retrieved 11-01-2011. 
  10. ^ Luann comic strip at Comics.com Retrieved 2011-10-30
  11. ^ "2012 Award Winner". San Diego A-List. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  12. ^ "Steam Powered Giraffe The Webcomic". The Webcomic List. Retrieved 11-02-2011. 
  13. ^ "Steam Powered Giraffe The Card Game". Game Night Guys. February 24, 2011. Retrieved 11-01-2011. 
  14. ^ http://officialsteampoweredgiraffe.tumblr.com/post/32204911846/jon-sprague-departing-steam-powered-giraffe-dear
  15. ^ http://steampoweredgiraffe.blogspot.com/2012/10/welcome-hatchworth.html
  16. ^ "Steam Powered Giraffe Pseudo-History". Retrieved 2011-10-31. 

External links[edit]