Steampunk Chronicle’s 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards

We are proud to have been vot­ed best non-fic­tion by The Steam­punk Chron­i­cle’s read­ers.  The awards cer­e­mo­ny was held Sun­day night as part of The Arti­fice Club’s Steam­FEST, and while unfor­tu­nate­ly nei­ther Jeff nor S.J. could be present, they were able to accept via voice mes­sage.  Read by S. J., it said:

Dear Steam­ers,

Jeff and I are hon­ored by this award.  Our num­ber one goal in writ­ing this book was to show how much momen­tum is behind this move­ment, and you can’t have momen­tum with­out a won­der­ful com­mu­ni­ty like you all.  Hav­ing our read­ers with­in that com­mu­ni­ty vote us best in non-fic­tion tells us we did accom­plish that goal, and inspires us to con­tin­ue accom­plish­ing it.  Thank you all so much. We could not have done this with­out you.  Now enough mush– go back to enjoy­ing STEAMFEST!

Cheers,
Jeff and S. J.

Thanks again to the read­ers, writ­ers, and edi­tors of The Steam­punk Chron­i­cle, and espe­cial con­grats to all the nom­i­nees and win­ners.

Posted in Fun times, Laurels, Steampunk Bible Coverage Comments Off on Steampunk Chronicle’s 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards

In Memoriam: Joshua Pfeiffer interviews Paul Roland, Part I

We’re thrilled to have not just one, but two spe­cial guests here today at the 2.0 Fac­to­ry: Vern­ian Process’s Joshua Pfeif­fer and psych-pop and pro­to-Steam­punk musi­cian Paul Roland. I can be cer­tain our read­ers are aware of Vern­ian Process and Pfeiffer’s Steam­punk music col­lec­tive label Gild­ed Age Records, but many may not be as famil­iar with Roland.

Paul Roland was one of the first musi­cians to write about Vic­to­ri­ana and Edwar­dian themes.

Rock­ing for over 30 plus years, Roland’s music flirts with var­i­ous gen­res like goth, psych-pop, and folk, with a uni­fy­ing theme of explor­ing sci­ence fic­tion and hor­ror tropes, espe­cial­ly those with a Victorian/Edwardian bent. With­in his songs, lis­ten­ers willl find tales inspired by H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, H. P. Love­craft, and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as orig­i­nal his­tor­i­cal and roman­tic char­ac­ters like opi­um addicts and Rip­peresque mur­der­ers.

The first to fea­ture uchronie mate­r­i­al in his tunes, Roland’s music has been the inspi­ra­tion for sev­er­al promi­nent Steam­punk musi­cians like Pfeif­fer, as he told S. J. in an e-mail exchange:

As for Paul Roland, if any­one deserves cred­it for spear­head­ing Steam­punk music, it is him. He was one of the inspi­ra­tions I had in start­ing my project. He was writ­ing songs about the first attempt at manned flight, and an Edwar­dian air­ship raid in the mid-80’s long before almost any­one else….”

Know­ing Roland was inter­est­ed in an inter­view, it seemed only nat­ur­al that one icon inter­view anoth­er, and we’re thrilled that Pfeif­fer agreed to helm the fol­low­ing inter­view with Roland.

This spe­cial will be fea­tured in two parts. The sec­ond part, which will be run­ning Wednes­day, will include a give­away with lucky win­ners receiv­ing Roland’s IN MEMORIAM, a dou­ble-CD com­pi­la­tion fea­tur­ing the best of his goth and Steam­punk work over the past 30 years. Stay tuned for more details, but if you are inter­est­ed in sam­pling his wares, he has made sev­er­al tracks avail­able for free down­load here.

With­out fur­ther ado, let’s hand it over to the mae­stros.

Joshua Pfeif­fer: When you first hit the scene in the ear­ly 80’s, how did your lis­ten­ers react to the Vic­to­ri­an Fantasy/Occult/Horror themes in your music? Did you find that a lot of peo­ple under­stood your influ­ences, and/or appre­ci­at­ed your old world sen­si­bil­i­ties?

Paul Roland: The first album I made, The Were­wolf of Lon­don, was released in March 1980 under the band name Mid­night Rags (an allu­sion to shrouds, not jazz! because I had an obses­sion with old black and white hor­ror movies from the 1930s and I had been addict­ed to Amer­i­can hor­ror comics such as Ghosts, The Witch­ing Hour and House of Mys­tery since the age of ten or so). But there was no Vic­to­ri­an ele­ment in my lyrics at that time unless the sto­ries hap­pened to be set in that peri­od, as with the title track, which I had bor­rowed from War­ren Zevon because I felt that songs about Were­wolves should only be set in the fog of Vic­to­ri­an Lon­don and it was too good a title to be used just once.

I was still find­ing my voice then (I was 19 when I record­ed that album), and was writ­ing in a vari­ety of styles which is why there are sparse acoustic songs (“Lon Chaney” and “Fly­ing Ace”) along­side rock songs dom­i­nat­ed by key­boards in a cross between Ultra­vox and Gary Numan! Not that I was into those bands, but the key­board play­er that I worked with had been in a prog rock band called Sev­enth Wave and he was both a bril­liant musi­cian and had good taste when it came to blend­ing key­board sounds, so I was hap­py to give him the space to show me what ideas he had for the songs.

The album was a very low key affair, financed by myself with a press­ing of just 1,000 copies (it was lat­er reis­sued by anoth­er label who had The Soft Boys with a slight­ly amend­ed track­list­ing and a colour cov­er). That was the thing to do at the time for bands who didn’t want to be both­ered doing the rounds of the major labels and who actu­al­ly enjoyed the busi­ness of design­ing their own records, dis­trib­ut­ing and pro­mot­ing them them­selves. It was the end of the first inde­pen­dent labels peri­od that fol­lowed on the heels of punk and so there was no real Goth or oth­er move­ment to embrace it. DIY labels were a genre in them­selves. I made the album I want­ed to make from a col­lec­tion of songs that I had writ­ten and hoped that it would find lis­ten­ers who would enjoy it. I wasn’t aim­ing at a spe­cif­ic audi­ence.

Thir­ty years lat­er when I was told that the author of a book on Bauhaus cred­it­ed Bauhaus and myself with intro­duc­ing Goth rock to Britain, I couldn’t take it seri­ous­ly, as I had sim­ply sold the 1,000 copies of the Were­wolf, had a few radio plays, one or two reviews (Zig Zag called me “a name to watch”) and a cou­ple of inter­views in the less­er music week­lies. But it appears that the album was a favourite at the Bat­Cave club in Lon­don, so per­haps the album made an impres­sion that way, by word of mouth, because it couldn’t have gone far with such a lim­it­ed press­ing. And in those days peo­ple didn’t make copies of albums for friends unless it was a cas­sette.

So, to answer your ques­tion, final­ly, I had no idea what if any impres­sion my music was mak­ing until I returned to music in 1985 (after tak­ing a three year break) with the Burnt Orchids mini album on which I indulged my predilec­tion for  Vic­to­ri­an and Edwar­dian sub­jects. I can’t say where that orig­i­nat­ed, oth­er than per­haps a child­hood fond­ness for the tales of H.G.Wells and the abid­ing mem­o­ry of a children’s TV play in which a dom­i­neer­ing father destroys the orchids that his son had been nur­tur­ing because he thought it “unman­ly.” (It was the inspi­ra­tion for the title track in which the son poi­sons the father, a theme that was not in the orig­i­nal play).

But as I wasn’t play­ing live at the time, I had no idea how many peo­ple were actu­al­ly lis­ten­ing to the album or what aspect of the songs might have impressed them. My only feed­back came from fanzines who raved about it and helped spread the word. At the time I thought it was because they saw me as some part of a Six­ties revival!

JP: Your music shares a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties to 70’s Prog-Rock, and Neo-Folk music. Are there any acts or artists, that you cite as major influ­ences?

PR: I was a big Marc Bolan fan from the age of 12 and lis­tened to prac­ti­cal­ly no one else until I start­ed mak­ing records myself, so that is why I sound like him on that first album.

Marc Bolan has been Roland’s hero since he was twelve-years old, and has hon­ored the rock leg­end in this com­pre­hen­sive biog­ra­phy.

But after the three year break, I lost that per­va­sive influ­ence and found my own voice in time for the Burnt Orchidsalbum. By then I had realised that I wasn’t going to be and didn’t want to be signed by a major label, so I may as well make the kind of music that I want­ed to make and to hear. No one was using real strings at the time and I had always loved that rasp­ing string sound on Bolan’s ear­ly records, so I thought I would cre­ate a cham­ber music ensem­ble sound to give the his­tor­i­cal and super­nat­ur­al songs a suit­ably Vic­to­ri­an ghost sto­ry type set­ting. It was only years lat­er that I heard The Left Banke and Dono­van, although their songs had con­tem­po­rary themes and Dono­van favoured a more jazzy approach. Per­haps it was because I didn’t have any sem­i­nal influ­ences that my music sound­ed dif­fer­ent and because I always wrote on an acoustic gui­tar which meant that the songs were enriched by oth­er instru­ments but could still sound inter­est­ing if stripped down to gui­tar and voice.

I had also liked 50s rock after see­ing the movie That’ll Be The Day in ’73. Those ear­ly rock records instilled into me the idea that you should say every­thing you need to say in 3 min­utes or less and get to the point from the first few bars or risk los­ing the listener’s atten­tion, an approach shared with Glam Rock which was at its peak when I first dis­cov­ered music. Writ­ers of news­pa­per arti­cles and fic­tion have to do the same and as I had been writ­ing short sto­ries since the age of nine, that idea of hook­ing the read­er or lis­ten­er from the first sen­tence or verse must have been upper­most when I began writ­ing songs.

My school friends intro­duced me to Yes, ELP, Led Zep­pelin but they were just for plea­sure. They didn’t influ­ence me as I didn’t want to make that kind of music myself. Though I must con­fess that “In The Court of the Crim­son King” by King Crim­son became a sig­nif­i­cant ref­er­ence point for the lat­ter Duel album, but noth­ing else by King Crim­son touched me as they didn’t repli­cate the medieval majesty of that debut album once Greg Lake left them top form ELP. Now I am into so many artists I couldn’t list them all, every­thing from rock­a­bil­ly to Ramm­stein, but again, these are for plea­sure, they don’t per­vade my own imag­i­nary world.

JP: Any cur­rent musi­cians you are lis­ten­ing to that you would rec­om­mend to your fans?

PR: Too many to list here. I have a very eclec­tic taste. I wrote a biog­ra­phy of Marc Bolan last year so I have been lis­ten­ing to his entire back cat­a­logue and still nev­er tire of any­thing pre 1974. Psy­chobil­ly CDs are con­stant­ly on the stereo along with Iggy Pop, Stax clas­sics, The Doors, ear­ly 70s Stones, Cap­tain Beef­heart and loads more. I also play Michael Nyman’s sound­track to The Draughtman’s Con­tract a lot but reserve that for spe­cial occa­sions as it’s like a fine wine or a good cig­ar that must be savoured. I would like to think that peo­ple feel that way about my music.

JP: You men­tioned writ­ing short sto­ries at nine, and your bio of Marc Bolan. Why did you choose music as an out­let for sto­ry­telling, instead of pur­su­ing a career as a nov­el­ist?

PR: I don’t make a dis­tinc­tion between writ­ing songs and writ­ing fic­tion. Both involve the cre­ation of char­ac­ters and an envi­ron­ment using words to con­vey what one sees in one’s mind. I’m very for­tu­nate in being able to tell a sto­ry in verse with suit­able musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment and also in prose form, whether fic­tion or non-fic­tion. I pride myself on bring­ing his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters to life whether they are Jack The Ripper’s vic­tims (‘The Crimes Of Jack The Rip­per”), noto­ri­ous ser­ial killers (“In The Minds Of Mur­der­ers”) or eccen­tric eso­teric fig­ures (“The Dark His­tory Of The Occult”). But mak­ing a liv­ing as a nov­el­ist is pre­car­i­ous at best and can be soul destroy­ing if you spend a year writ­ing it only to receive count­less rejec­tion slips. Where­as songs can be writ­ten and record­ed com­par­a­tively quick­ly and you don’t have to have the approval or back­ing of a record com­pany to release them. I have only writ­ten one nov­el ‘on spec’? – ?with no com­mit­ment from a pub­lisher–The Magi­cian of Grimm, but I did that as an exer­cise, to see if I could sus­tain a sto­ry for the length of a nov­el. It was my appren­tice­ship and it took me many months of hard con­tin­u­ous work. My non-fic­tion books have all been com­mis­sioned by pub­lish­ers though some of the sub­jects were my idea and oth­ers I accept­ed because the sub­ject inter­ested me and they don’t involve months of work with no guar­an­tee of pub­li­ca­tion. I can now write a book in six weeks and I have a con­tract guar­an­tee­ing pub­li­ca­tion. But if a pub­lisher offered to pub­lish my nov­els or short sto­ries I’d start writ­ing one tomor­row.

Stay tuned for the sec­ond install­ment of the Paul Roland inter­view by Vern­ian Process’ Joshua Pfeif­fer.  Mean­while, if you’d like to know more about Mr. Roland, check out these url sun­dries:

To sam­ple some of Mr. Roland’s Steam­punk songs, he has made some free down­loads avail­able for our read­ers here:  http://paulroland.wordpress.com/downloads/

You can also find more info about Mr. Roland at the fol­low­ing venues:

Wikipedia

Offi­cial web­site

Online discog­ra­phy (with sam­ples)

MySpace

Face­book

Twit­ter: @paulrolandmusic

Posted in 2.0 exclusive material, Giveaway, Guest Post, Interviews, Music, performance art 1 Comment

Hugo Nominee for Best Related Work

Oh my Cogs! It was announced last night that The Steam­punk Bible is a Hugo nom­i­nee for Best Relat­ed Work.  In his col­umn for Amazon.com’s Omnivo­ra­cious, Jeff writes about the announce­ment, includ­ing a list of all the nom­i­nees and reac­tions from S. J. and one of the Camp­bell award final­ists Karen Lord. He will have more cov­er­age of the Hugo nom­i­na­tions dur­ing the week.

Mean­while, the next few weeks will see our intre­pid authors en route.  First, S. J. will be head­ing to sun­ny Day­tona Beach, FL for the first Flori­da Steam­punk Exhi­bi­tion April 13 – 15. Can find more info about sched­ule and the Exhib­it here.

Jeff, along with Hugo award-win­ning edi­tor Ann Van­der­Meer, will be guests at the Vic­to­ria Steam Expo­si­tion III, April 20 – 22.

 

Posted in Excursions, Fun times, Steampunk Bible Coverage Comments Off on Hugo Nominee for Best Related Work

UPDATED: Presence at the Florida Steampunk Exhibition

UPDATEDThe Sched­ule of Events for The Flori­da Steam­punk Exhi­bi­tion held in Day­tona Beach, Flori­da April 13 – 15 has been released.

As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, S. J. will be there cov­er­ing Florida’s first ever Steam­punk con­ven­tion for Beyond Vic­to­ri­ana. While she’ll be gonzo-ing around the hotel, get­ting the scoop on Steam in the Sun­shine State, she will also be dis­cussing The Steam­punk Bible and read­ing her short sto­ry “Dr. Lambshead’s Dark Room” from Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Thack­ery T. Lambshead’s Cab­i­net of Curiosi­ties on Sat­ur­day, April 14th from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

She’ll also be par­tic­i­pat­ing along­side authors O.M. Grey and oth­ers in the Lit­er­ary Round­table on Sat­ur­day from 2:30 – 3:30 pm. 

In addi­tion to her read­ing and pan­el, she’s real­ly look­ing for­ward to see­ing Abney Park, attend­ing Ms. Grey’s High Tea, and pan­el-hop­ping and talk­ing steam on the shores of her home­s­tate. 

It should be a blast, and tick­ets are still on sale. Details from their Press Release are below:

ANNOUNCING FLORIDA’S FIRST STEAMPUNK CONVENTION

The first of a three – part con­ven­tion series is sched­uled at Day­tona Beach

The Flori­da Steam­punk Soci­ety will spon­sor and host Florida’s first all-­Steam­punk con­ven­tion April 1315, 2012 in Day­tona Beach.

Steam­punk is a sub-­?genre of sci­ence fic­tion based on a Vic­to­ri­an vision of a future run by steam pow­er and clock­work, where fan­tas­ti­cal machines inspired by the likes of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are com­mon­place. The lit­er­a­ture has inspired an entire sub­cul­ture and fash­ion, as well as an emerg­ing musi­cal scene.

Flori­da Steam­punk Exhi­bi­tion East will be a gath­er­ing of world-­?class and internationally-­?recognized artists, includ­ing the quin­tes­sen­tial Steam­punk band, Abney Park, the rau­cous and infec­tious sing-­?along stylings of the Bawdy Boys, and the unbri­dled ener­gy of the one-­?of-­?a-­?kind per­for­mance artist, Perego LIVE!

Aside from per­for­mances, exhi­bi­tion atten­dees will be invit­ed to shop at the Merchant’s Grand Bizarre for Steam­punk crafts, gear and more, attend break­out work­shops on DIY gear, hear keynote speak­ers and authors, and enjoy the musi­cians, magi­cians, and mis­chief mak­ers who will be wan­der­ing the hall­ways.

Oth­er high­lights include demon­stra­tions by Air­ship Isabel­la, read­ings at the High Tea host­ed by highly-­?acclaimed author O.M. Grey, the time-­?traveling Steam­punk musi­cal mus­ings by Flori­da band, The Cog is Dead, and per­for­mances by Cup­cake Bur­lesque.

Tick­et and hotel infor­ma­tion can be found at the exhibition’s Eventbrite web­site or
con­tact the Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Dayli­na Miller, by the email or cell num­ber list­ed above.

Posted in Excursions, Fun times, Groups 1 Comment

February Miscellany

It’s Hugo nom­i­na­tion time, and for our read­ers who par­tic­i­pate in that award process, we urge you to please take a moment to con­sid­er The Steam­punk Bible for Best Relat­ed Work.  Jeff dis­cuss­es why here.

Some­how, I missed that we were includ­ed in  CNN’s gift list, and we were pleased to see we made Pop­mat­ters best non-fic­tion list of 2011.

The link to the HGTV pro­gram Sell­ing New York, in which we get a brief cam­era cut shout-out in Dr. Grymm’s lab­o­ra­to­ry (thank you, Joey!), is now avail­able. The video fea­tures a brief inter­view with anoth­er SPB con­trib­u­tor Ayleen-the Peace­mak­er, and through­out you can see lumi­nar­ies like Emper­or Jus­tin­ian Stanis­laus of the Red Fork Empire, gen­tle­man and schol­ar Daniel Holz­man-Tweed, and mem­bers of The Wan­der­ing Legion of the Thomas Tew. Dr. Grymm was the mas­ter­mind behind help­ing CORE real­tors pro­mote the apart­ment by intro­duc­ing them to Steam­punk, and coor­di­nat­ing the wide­ly pub­li­cized first Steam­punk Open House.  The Chelsea apart­ment, which is list­ed at $1.75 mil­lion is still avail­able.

Dr. Grymm writes of his involve­ment with the CORE real­tors, crit­ics of Steam­punk design, and the Chelsea apart­ment as a whole here.

Sell­ing NY — Steam­punk Apart­ment from Joe Mar­soc­ci on Vimeo.

And final­ly we were thrilled to learn that Steam­punk is alive and well in our own neck of the woods. The Flori­da Steam­punk Exhi­bi­tion began sell­ing tick­ets ear­li­er this month for its East event in Day­tona Beach, FL on April 13 through 15. Guests include a star-stud­ded line-up with Abney Park, Pro­fes­sor Ele­men­tal, O. M. Grey, and many oth­ers. You can find tick­ets and event list­ings here.

Posted in Excursions, Fun times, Groups, Steampunk Bible Coverage Comments Off on February Miscellany