Abney Park (band)

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Abney Park
Abneypark2011.jpg
Background information
OriginSeattle, United States
GenresSteampunk
World music
Industrial dance
Years active1997–present
LabelsNone (self-produced)
Associated actsRanch Hand Robbie and the Wasteland Wranglers, Good Co
Websitehttp://www.abneypark.com/
MembersRobert Brown (Vocals, Darbuka, Diatonic button accordion, harmonica, bouzouki, bağlama, ukulele)
Kristina Erickson (keyboards, Piano)
Skye Warden (Guitar)
Mitchell Drury (violin)
Derek Brown (Bass)
Past membersJosh Goering
Titus Munteanu
Daniel Cederman
Jody Ellen
Nathaniel Johnstone
Traci Nemeth
Krysztof Nemeth
Robert Hazelton
Magdalene Veen
Jean-Paul Mayden
Finn von Claret
Madame Archel (Rachel Gilley)
Robert Gardunia
Thomas Thompson
Henry Cheng
Lee Tillman
Jennifer Savage
Abney Park Band in Torrance California on February 25, 2017

Abney Park, a steampunk band based in Seattle, was responsible for initiating the steampunk musical subculture, transforming steampunk from a little known literary genre to a popular movement, and inspiring many later steampunk bands, writers and craftsmen. Their name comes from Abney Park Cemetery in London (UK). Formerly a goth band, Abney Park has transformed their look and sound and has been called the "quintessential" spokespeople of steampunk culture.[1]

History[edit]

Early days[edit]

Abney Park is the creative brainchild of Robert Brown, who formed the band in 1997 and continues to be the lead singer, principal songwriter, artistic director, and chief manager of the band.[2] Brown released the first full-length album Abney Park in 1998, and in 1999 released Return to the Fire. The band's third album "Cemetery Number 1" drew from their first two albums as well as introducing several new songs. These early albums pioneered steampunk themes prior to the band’s adoption of the steampunk label with lyrics depicting clockwork boys and steampowered dystopian cities (“the Change Cage”, and “Twisted and Broken”).

In 1998 the Tacoma-based counter culture magazine “Pandemonium” first labeled Abney Park a “goth band,” citing their electronic sound and Robert Brown’s deep baritone voice. (The band is named after an iconically gothic cemetery in London, where Brown lived and studied for a period in 1988). This label stuck, and influenced the band’s musical and visual style, which culminated with their 2002 release From Dreams Or Angels. Their songs "The Change Cage", "Black Day" and "No Life" reached number one on the Industrial, Dark-wave and Black Metal music charts, respectively[3]

In 2005, the band released Taxidermy,[4] which is a collection of new versions of songs from past albums, three live tracks and two covers. In 2006, the release of the album The Death of Tragedy marked the beginning of a major change for the band, as their music departed from a goth/pagan sound to a more world music/fusion one.

Becoming steampunk[edit]

In early 2005, Robert Brown took the creative leap of transforming Abney Park from a largely goth industrial band into a steampunk band. As Brown said on his live journal post March 13, 2005, “(We) seem to be a sort of specialized variation on Steam Punk, sort of a ‘Victorian Sci-fi Adventurer’. As if we just arrived by jet-powered-zeppelin for a midnight dig just outside of Cairo in the 1900s - I’m excited because I feel like for the first time our appearances are starting to capture the same level of imagination and exotic tones the music and lyrics always have.”

As part of that transformation, fictional identities were created for the main performers; e.g., Robert Brown became known as Captain Robert. Since steampunk is largely derived from science fiction and fantasy literature, a fictional backstory was created to set a stage for their new music. According to that story (as told in The Wrath of Fate: Book 1 of The Airship Pirate Chronicles, by Robert Brown) the band's plane collided with a time-travelling dirigible called the HMS Ophelia— said to have been created by a Dr. Leguminous Calgori in a freak storm. The band commandeered the vessel, deciding to become airship pirates, and formed a new band from the surviving members of the crash. Much of their music since that time has been based around this fictional backstory.[5] “The new, eclectic sound is attributed to the strange instruments and exotic musical influences lifted from the numerous locations and eras they have visited in the airship Ophelia, featuring “clockwork guitars, belly dancers, flintlock bassists, Middle-Eastern percussion, violent violin, and Tesla powered keyboards blazing in a post-apocalyptic, swashbuckling, Steampunk musical mayhem.’[4]

In the spring of 2008, they released Lost Horizons, their first wholly steampunk-themed album, and in 2009, the band released Æther Shanties, their tenth album. A recording of a live performance of their next album, The End Of Days, can be found here. Their seventh studio album, was released on October 15, 2010.

Popularity[edit]

Now sometimes called the "quintessential" steampunk band, Abney Park has been featured in major news media[5][6] and interviewed by several genre magazines and websites,[1][7][8][9][10] and has been highlighted on MTV[11][12][13] and G4TV[14] as primary examples of the steampunk musical scene.

Abney Park has performed at numerous festivals. It was the featured band at the first Steamcon in 2009[15] and has appeared at Steamcon numerous times since. They have appeared three times at World Steam Expo, five times at Dragon*Con; also WGW, Utah Dark Arts,[16] Bats Day,[17] Convergence, Ravenwood Festival,[18] Masque and Veil, Queen Mary Pyrate Daze,[19] the Bay Area Maker Faire,[20][15] and Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention.[21] Internationally, they have made four appearances at Whitby Gothic Weekend in the UK, two appearances at Wave Gotik TReffen in Leipzig, Germany, and four at the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition in Ontario Canada.They have been in demand for shows in St Petersberg and Moscow, Russia, Spain, Australia, and the UK.

Their music has also been featured in many compilation CDs, including Gilded Age Records' An Age Remembered: A Steampunk and Neo-Victorian Mix,[22] Cleopatra Records' The Unquiet Grave vol. III, Sepiachord's A Sepiachord Companion, BLC Productions' Annihilation and Seduction,[23] Squish Me Down Records' Eighteen (Eighteen NW Bands Benefit CD)

Their music has also appeared in several movie soundtracks, including Insomnis Amour, Goth, and Lord of the Vampires. The Abney Park song "Sleep Isabella" was used in a scene in the HBO series True Blood, Season 5 Episode 4.[24]

Discography[edit]

Albums:

Compilations:

  • Building Steam (2014) Live DVD
  • The Music Videos + Live From Russia (2015) Live BD/DVD
  • Anachronomicon (2016) 5CD collection divided by theme

Other songs:

  • Cellophane Wings (It was written even before the earlier days. Furthermore, it wasn't recorded or performed live but these lyrics are part of the Airship Pirates RPG among the other songs)[31][32]
  • Custom Song "Sleep Isabella" (singer Robert Brown offered to rewrite and rerecord the lyrics of this song for a custom version)[33]

Airship Pirates RPG[edit]

In August 2011 Cakebread & Walton, using Cubicle 7 Entertainment as their publisher, released a role playing game based on the world of Abney Park's backstory. Set in the post-apocalyptic world after their album, The End Of Days – a future world with a severely disrupted timeline – Airship Pirates features steampunk themes and Victorian-era style. Airship Pirates places players as air pirates in command of their own steam-powered airships. There they will seek not only to pillage the skies, but to plunder history, possibly causing even greater disruption to the past. Meanwhile, the world below struggles in Victorian-style squalor under an oppressive government that maintains control through clockwork policemen.[34] In December 2011, the RPG game won Diehard GameFAN's "Best Core Rulebook of 2011" award.[35]

Novels[edit]

In 2012, a novel was released entitled The Wrath of Fate: Book 1 of The Airship Pirate Chronicles, by Robert Brown. Set in a post-apocalyptic steampunk future, the book is a companion to Abney Park's music and RPG game, exploring Abney Park's backstory and fictional setting in greater detail. A second novel in the series, Retrograde, came out in 2013, followed by a third novel, "The Toyshop At The End Of The World", in 2015.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tome (September 24, 2009). "INTERVIEW — Captain Robert of Abney Park". Dieselpunks.org. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  2. ^ "Abney Park | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  3. ^ "Volume 16, Issues 7-12", Electronic Musician, Polyphony Pub. Co., 2000, p. 28, 2000
  4. ^ a b Kim Lakin-Smith (2008-06-20). "Pump Up The Volume: The Sound of Steampunk". Matrix Online : the news and media magazine of the British Science Fiction Association. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  5. ^ a b Caroline Sullivan (17 October 2008). "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1899". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  6. ^ Ruth La Ferla (May 8, 2008). "Steampunk Moves Between 2 Worlds". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-14.
  7. ^ "Abney Park Interview". Aether Emporium. 12 October 2006. Archived from the original on 2009-09-23. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  8. ^ "Lost Horizons with Abney Park: Catching up with Ophelia's crew". Aether Emporium. 21 May 2008. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  9. ^ Rebecca Firth (2008-08-27). "Dread Captain Robert and Abney Park Sailing the Metaphorical High Seas in the Name of Steampunk". WooEB. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  10. ^ Caitlin Dougon (28 April 2009). "Hanging With Abney Park". Spartan Youth Radio. Archived from the original on 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  11. ^ Andrew Ross Rowe (September 29, 2008). "What Is Steampunk? A Subculture Infiltrating Films, Music, Fashion, More". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  12. ^ "MTV News video: 'It's Airships, Pirates And Goggles'". MTV. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  13. ^ "MTV News video: Abney Park's 'Airship Pirate'". MTV. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  14. ^ "Abney Park — Steampunk Culture Video". YouTube. Archived from the original on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  15. ^ a b "Steamcon Musical Acts: Featured Musicians". Steamcon 2009. Archived from the original on December 6, 2009.
  16. ^ "Dark Arts Festival 2006 Schedule". Dark Arts Festival website.
  17. ^ jillian (July 24, 2006). "Bats Day In The Fun Park". LA Metblogs.
  18. ^ David Koon (July 10, 2008). "Steaming into Fayetteville: Big-name goth and steampunk acts gear up for this weekend's Ravenwood Festival". Arkansas Times.
  19. ^ Liz Ohanesian (September 20, 2009). ""Best of" Awards: Pirates Versus Steampunks at Pyrate Daze". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on 2010-02-27. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  20. ^ "Abney Park: Music Stage 1". Maker Faire Bay Area 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-12-10.
  21. ^ "Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention: Entertainment". Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention. Archived from the original on 2013-03-10.
  22. ^ DJ FACT.50 (2007). "An Age Remembered — A Steampunk / Neo-Victorian Old World Mix". Discogs. Gilded Age Records. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  23. ^ "Annihilation And Seduction". Discogs. BLC Productions. 2003. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
  24. ^ Jef With One F (Jul 2, 2012). "True Blood: Steampunk and Strippers". Houston Press.
  25. ^ "Abney Park — From Dreams Or Angels". Discogs. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  26. ^ "Abney Park — Taxidermy". Discogs. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  27. ^ "Abney Park — The Death Of Tragedy". Discogs. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  28. ^ http://www.sepiachord.com/index/?p=5127[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ others, The Zen Cart® Team and. "Under The Floor, Over The Wall (2016) - $16.00 : Abney Park Market, Steampunk & Neo Tribal Fashion & Music". abneypark.com.
  30. ^ others, The Zen Cart® Team and. "Crash (2017) - $13.00 : Abney Park Market, Steampunk & Neo Tribal Fashion & Music". abneypark.com.
  31. ^ others, The Zen Cart® Team and. "Abney Park's Airship Pirates RPG (download) - $23.00 : Abney Park Market, Steampunk & Neo Tribal Fashion & Music". abneypark.com. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  32. ^ Brown, "Captain" Robert (September 26, 2012). The Lyrics Of Abney Park. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 163. ISBN 978-1478297154.
  33. ^ others, The Zen Cart® Team and. "Custom Song - Sleep Isabella - $500.00 : Abney Park Market, Steampunk & Neo Tribal Fashion & Music". abneypark.com. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  34. ^ "'Abney Park's Airship Pirates' RPG". ICv2. 2011-04-18.
  35. ^ "Diehard GameFAN's 2011 Tabletop Gaming Awards". Diehard GameFAN. 2011-12-26. In a year in which nostalgia was the dominant theme, Airship Pirates was a breath of fresh helium. From the novel approach to party composition and character creation to the beautiful binding, Abney Park’s Airship Pirates was not just a great book, it was the start of a great adventure.

External links[edit]