Steam Powered Giraffe (SPG) is a musical project formed in San Diego in 2008 that is popular in the steampunk subculture. The act combines the visual of robot pantomime with sketches, pop culture references, improvised comedic dialogue, and original music.According to the band's fictional backstory, 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.Besides their musical endeavors, the band publishes a Web Comic and has produced a card game based on characters in their backstory.The robots are:
The Spine (David Michael Bennett) is a futuristic dieselpunk robot with a titanium alloy spinal column and convincing human mannerisms. His skin is smooth silver, and he wears a black fedora and red tie. He plays guitar primarily, but also plays bass, mandolin, and keys.
Rabbit (Bunny Bennett) is a copper clockwork robot, who wears a black coachman's hat with steampunk-style goggles on it and a black vest with red accents. He plays the melodica and accordion.
Hatchworth (former human member Sam Luke) is a brass automaton, who sports a black army jacket with red accents, knee-high boots, a bowler hat, and his signature ginger mustache. He had been kept in storage for many years due to a leaking and dangerous power core, but was recently repaired and put to use as the Walter Manor's butler. He possesses the ability to produce a "hatch's worth" of sandwiches from nowhere. He plays the bass and drums.
The Jon (Jon Sprague) was an art deco-style brass robot powered by soda (primarily Crystal Pepsi), who wore a tall black top hat and red suspenders. He played the mandolin, bass, guitar, drums, occasional keys, and the electric watermelon. The Jon left the group in September 2012. Unlike Upgrade's departure, The Jon's character still exists within the canon lore of the band's universe.
Upgrade (Erin Burke) was the only female robot in the group. She, too, was fired from the band in 2011.
The human band members are:
Mr. Reed, the "One Man Band", was at first the only human member of the band. In the group, he does back-up vocals and plays banjo, bass, guitar, keys, and drums. As a character, he's also the robot's mechanic and turns them all on before shows. He wears red goggles and a full body jumpsuit embroidered with the SPG logo and typically sports a purple tank top underneath. Due to his friendly nature he has become a fan favorite.
Steve Negrete is the sound engineer for the band. He wears a bandanna and sports a sleeveless version of the humans' jumpsuits. He is overly attached to a small stuffed version of himself given to him by a fan, and rarely goes to shows without it.
Matt Smith (no, not thatMatt Smith) is the new drummer, whose first performance with the band was the Yulemas concert.
Human Back-ups - Sometimes things don't go as planned and someone can't make it to the gig. These are the people SPG routinely calls on to help them out:
Jesus Gonzales is the man they call when Mr. Reed is unavailable. Jesus can play guitar real good and sing harmonies.
Mike Buxbaum the Drummer Man filled in for mysterious new drummer Matt at Youmacon and blew away the crowd. It has been stated that he'll be called upon if Matt can't perform again.
SPG provides examples of:
Art Evolution: ...well, make-up evolution. All the bots started off with much more simplistic designs. Rabbit's has changed the most, and he is even began to oxidize!
Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: They're a steampunk band, what do you expect? (Well, The Spine's more dieselpunk...) They were voted "Best Costume - Group" in the 2013 Steampunk Gazette Reader's Choice Awards.
Epic Rocking: "Captain Albert Alexander," "Rex Marksley," and "Airheart"
Don't forget "Clockwork Vaudeville," "Electricity Is In My Soul," "Steamboat Shenanigans," "Honeybee," "Scary World," "The Suspender Man," and, of course, "Automatonic Electronic Harmonics." Guess these guys just have a lot to sing about.
The Spine: Hi. I'm The Spine, and I was built with a titanium alloy spine. The Jon: A-heh! Ah... and? The Spine: And what? The Jon: Is that it? The Spine: Yeah. The Jon: Well, there's gotta be more. The Spine: No. That's my, uh, backstory.
Ret Gone: All references to Upgrade have been removed from the band's promotional material since her departure.
Word Of God has it that The Jon will not receive the same fate.
Robot Names: The Spine, Hatchworth (A name describing their function; The Spine, arguably, since it describes his skeletal structure), Rabbit (reference to robotic glitches), The Jon (References to pop culture/actual human names), Upgrade (Slightly mutated terms related to math/machinery/electronics).