Steve Abel

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Steve Abel
Steve Abel (cropped).jpg
Background information
OriginMount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand
GenresAlternative Rock, Indie Folk
Years active1994–present

Steve Abel (born January 1970) is a New Zealand singer-songwriter and environmental activist.

Abel contributed his song Hospice for Destitute Lovers, and voice, as the character of Gert, to Florian Habicht's art-noir feature film Woodenhead (2003). His debut album Little Death, recorded by Nick Abbott at Montage Studios in Grey Lynn, garnered favourable reviews when released in February 2006. It featured a “Kiwi supergroup” of notable New Zealand musicians including Geoff Maddock of Goldenhorse and Bressa Creeting Cake; Mike Hall and Milan Borich of Pluto; and Gareth Thomas of Goodshirt; and guest vocals by Kirsten Morell, also of Goldenhorse.[1] Little Death was awarded the Alternatui for 2006 Album of the Year.[2]

Abel’s second album Flax Happy, featured the same band as his debut under the name The Chrysalids (after the 1955 novel by John Wyndham). It was recorded mainly at Roundhead Studios by Dale Cotton in July 2007. Two songs featuring Texan chanteuse Jolie Holland were recorded by Lee Prebble at The Surgery in Wellington. Flax Happy was released in 2008 (NZ) and 2009 (UK) to critical acclaim in both territories.[3] Journalist Graham Reid described Abel as, “A refined writer whose lyrics have a bone-bare quality – the sound of someone writing and singing from a place where there is no guile, just hard truth and clear eyes.”[4]

Having moved to live in Geneva in 2008,[5] and encouraged by fellow musician Delaney Davidson, Abel entered and won The Saddest Song in the World Competition in Berlin in May 2009.[6] He played at the CMJ music festival in New York later that year, and in November began recording his third album Luck/Hope with Jolie Holland, Shahzad Ismaily and Grey Gersten at Manhattan's Rivington 66 Studio.[7]


Abel was involved from 1998-2000 in the successful campaign by Native Forest Action to stop native logging on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.[8] He later worked as a campaigner for Greenpeace from 2002 to 2006 during which time he was prominent in the New Zealand movement against genetically engineered food crops. He was also involved in actions against the proposed coal-fired power station Marsden B in Northland, New Zealand including a nine-day occupation in 2005 and the operation of a pirate radio station Heatwave FM which broadcast from Ruakaka in November 2006.[9] The Marsden B proposal was later abandoned. Abel was one of the coordinators of the re-recording of the Don McGlashan song "Anchor Me" in 2005 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.[10]

Returning to Greenpeace in 2010, he helped coordinate the historic March Against Mining which took place in Queen Street Auckland on 1 May 2010.[11] The march, later contributing to a government back-down on proposed mining of high-value conservation estate,[12] was reported as the “biggest protest in a generation”.[13] He campaigned in 2011 with Te Whānau-a-Apanui against the Brazilian oil company Petrobras’ plans for deep sea oil drilling in the Raukumara basin which included a flotilla[14][15] that spent 42 days at sea.[16] Petrobras relinquished their drill permits in December 2012.[17] Abel has publicly advocated for peaceful civil disobedience as a means to resisting the oil industry and achieving political action to address climate change.[18][19]

He currently resides in Auckland.


Studio Albums[edit]

  • 2006: Little Death by Steve Abel
  • 2008: Flax Happy by Steve Abel & The Chrysalids
  • 2016: Luck/Hope by Steve Abel


  1. ^ "Most Abel backing". New Zealand Herald. 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  2. ^ "Waiheke Community Radio: In My Humble Opinion". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  3. ^ "The Quietus | Reviews | Steve Abel & The Chrysalids". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  4. ^ "Steve Abel and the Chrysalids: Flax Happy (Monkey/Rhythmethod)". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  5. ^ "Top musicians band together for album". 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  6. ^ "Steve Abel in Berlin 2009". 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  7. ^ "Steve Abel in NYC (+video) | The Big Idea". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  8. ^ Christian, Peter (1999-02-03). "Arrested protesters draw criticism". The Press.
  9. ^ "Activists scale Marsden B in climate change protest". New Zealand Herald. 2006-11-04. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  10. ^ Nippert, Matt (2005-06-25). "Shore thing". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  11. ^ "Greenpeace - New Zealand climate campaigner Steve Abel speaks before the March against Mining". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  12. ^ Kay, By Tracy Watkins and Martin (2010-07-20). "Government confirms mining backdown". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  13. ^ "Biggest protest in a generation". New Zealand Herald. 2010-05-02. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  14. ^ "Rousing Send Off for Flotilla Opposing Deep Sea Oil Drilling | btob". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  15. ^ Gavelle, Jerome (2011-03-30). "Protesters sail east". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  16. ^ Reid, Neil (2011-04-18). "Protest flotilla sails back to basin drilling spot". Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  17. ^ "Petrobras announces it ain't lovin' it in New Zealand". GREENPEACE New Zealand. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  18. ^ "Greenpeace blockades oil conference". Stuff. Retrieved 2016-07-02.
  19. ^ Editor, P. M. C. "Climate change protesters blockade oil summit in Auckland's Sky City | Asia Pacific Report". Retrieved 2016-07-02.

External links[edit]