Are Abney Park close to alienating a large chunk of their fanbase?

robert-abneypark-smoking-lrge
Captain Robert from Abney Park

I said this in the Music for Steampunk s Facebook page and I’ll say it again; One thing I love about this culture is that you can join a thousand FB pages and still discover new ones with exciting things happening every day. Most recently, the exciting thing to happen was a clash between Robert Brown – the lead singer of Abney Park who are a recognised steampunk band with typically post apocalyptic stylings – and what seems like the rest of the page membership as he was laid into from various angles.

In order to get a broader view of what went on in order to decide who is right and who is wrong, we need to see about how it started. Actually it was all very innocent. A newcomer to steampunk asked a question about steampunk music. From what I can make out, Steven Davis raised the point that steampunk music as such isn’t a genre. There’s some weight to that because there’s so many different styles of music available under the term “steampunk” that it should be classed as an umbrella term and not an actual style of music, right?

Not according to Robert Brown. He’s the Lead Singer of Abney Park (who are a recognised steampunk band) and he stepped in to say that steampunk is a music style and not a description of a variation of the genre. In a long first post of many, he said that steampunk is a music genera (before you all go onto Google, I did it already; it’s a pluralisation of genus). He goes on to explain that while there are a couple of exceptions to the rule all steampunk bands play to a common theme and I think with that part I understand where the misunderstanding comes from.

I think Robert is saying that steampunk music is a genre with variations of style such as country from Steam Powered Giraffe (SPG) and Hip Hop from Professor Elemental while the argument is approaching it from a different angle; that SPG play country with steampunk elements and Professor Elemental plays Hip Hop with steampunk elements. Therefore Robert says there is steampunk music and Steven says there’s music with steampunk.

Who you believe in this is entirely up to you, but sadly the debate escalated into an argument as Robert began to – at first – attack other artists in a passive aggressive manner before he called into question a post that respectfully disagreed with him.

Arguably the place where Robert fell upon his sword was with this post:steampunk_music_argument_robert_brown_abney_park_1

 

It comes across as extremely elitist and that’s exactly what he was called. Not to mention the fact that he insulted many British steampunks by saying that our beloved BB Blackdog isn’t steampunk. As time went on it got worse and turned into a slanging match of who is best. The most arrogant of all the posts made was this one:steampunk_music_argument_robert_brown_abney_park_2

 

It comes across that Abney Park – or at least their leader – has an idea on what steampunk music is and should sound like. That’s ok in itself until that opinion starts getting pushed onto other people. It’s what we call at the Journal the Falksen Effect. Falling into the unfortunate trap of trying to tell people what is and isn’t steampunk is known as “Doing a Falksen” which alludes to the American author GD Falksen who has tried to convince people that he’s not just a steampunk supremo but his partner also tends to promote him unfairly such as butchering the steampunk lists on goodreads to get him to the top, creating endless memes that list him with great steampunk authors while missing out Jeter, Blaylock and Powers – the founders of the modern steampunk literary movement – and banning people from the Steampunk Facebook page that she stole because they disagree with her view on steampunk. It’s led to a lengthy project by Steampunk Journal to counteract the effects of doing this and it’s made Falksen become widely disliked in the community.

What Robert is doing is extremely narrow minded and selfish as it blocks out hundreds, if not thousands, of other artists and bands that consider themselves as steampunk but may change their mind because the big band at the top have said it’s not. That’s not right and doesn’t fit into the steampunk way of being inclusive and all-welcoming. It could be that as with any successful artist, Abney Park band members have been surrounded by “yes” people. People who only ever agree with them and let them think and say what they want. It can have a profound effect on the mind but can lead to turning fans away.

I’ve emailed Abney Park for a comment on what happened in the name of fairness because it could just be a case of getting wires crossed and if tempers flare up things can be said that aren’t meant. Sadly, Robert has been banned from the Music for Steampunks page now. I will update this page when I get a reply from the band.

65 thoughts on “Are Abney Park close to alienating a large chunk of their fanbase?

  1. I think the most egregious aspect of his response was the fact that he personally messaged people who were kindly disagreeing with him, with crass messages full of threats of blacklisting in the scene, insults, etc. After acting like a bully, he turned to his own page to garner sympathy from his followers as if he were the victim (and of course he turned into a “here, listen to more AP”). Bullying and then playing victim has become a huge problem lately, and because of his perceived “stature” in the scene, nobody stood up to his aggressive behaviour. He has yet to apologise for *any* of his outbursts, which are by now well known in the scene. There is no room in this community for divisiveness, elitism, discrimination, or close-mindedness. And even less room when the perpetrators feign innocence and openly lie about the circumstances. Cheers on a well written article.

    1. brown has also refused to stop using racist slurs like “g*psy” and believes that “only women slut shame each other, men love promiscuous women! you cant blame men for women taking dangerous sexual risks!”. he’s a creep and a misogynist who uses the “i have daughters and my mom is a feminist!” get-out-jail-free-card. barf. god help his daughters. here are some edifying screenshots: http://friskycthulhu.tumblr.com/post/132246139535/captain-roberts-lead-singer-of-abney-park-has

      the steampunk blogs and magazines really need to dig in and do some more journalism (like this article, thank you!) on this guy, he’s a disaster and i think he may be dangerous to young female fans.

      1. Thats because its not a Racial Slur, its a musical style. Gypsy Jazz, and Gypsy punk are well know musical styles and we’ve had member performed in the band that come from that background.

        We’ve also had several Romany members of the band, including Tracy Nemeth who wrote the song Gypsy Girl the day her daughter was born. I’ll take there word on it over strangers online.

      1. Are you saying you didn’t go onto your page(s) and cry wolf over being “trolled” by all the “negative people” in the world, then offered your CD for free to your fans? Because you did do that.

  2. “Genera” refers to organisms and not to music styles. The “Captain” has a vocabulary level slightly below Donald Trump.

    1. Sitting down and actually trying to read lyrics for any of the AP songs Brown wrote himself is like reading something that’s been back and forth through Google Translate a dozen times. I assume it’s because he’s desperately trying to sound well-read and -traveled. It’s a shame, because I think he’d make much better art if he’d just be authentic.

      1. Just a note…it is my understanding that the captain is dyslexic, that may have something to do with the “google translate” feeling. It probably takes a lot of proof reading to straighten out some of the way things are written.
        Of course, it’s also possible that my understanding is wrong, it’s based on a statement that he made on facebook.

      2. not terribly inclined to believe his piteous claims of “dyslexia”, personally. robert brown has proven over and over that he’s happy to lie to gain sympathy and attention, and co-opting a disability is exactly the sort of thing he would do to excuse himself from criticism. sorry if hes actually afflicted, but thats what you get for crying wolf.

        glad the community is finally catching on to his nonsense, everyone in seattle is utterly sick of him. ever wonder why Abney Park never books shows in their hometown, an ostensibly geeky mecca filled with tons of steamfans? yeah.

    2. It must be because he has his head up his backside and its a little dark up there to see the truth and remember that all bands, artists and performers start out small. It’s the support of our fans and fellow performers that put us where we end up. Frankly, I’ve never heard of him and the fact he’s insulted some of my hugely talented friends and their bands means that I hope I never do again.

      1. @ Amber Darlene-there is a huge difference between “dyslexic” and “drunk”.

        Captain Robert is usually the latter of the two

      2. Wow. The amount of class that I’m seeing is incredible here.
        You folks sure have opened my eyes, and seeing as how tomorrow is payday, I’m going to buy my wife and myself the Abney Park library from their website.
        And Cap? Make that the first two rounds are on my at DC

    3. Actually, I have sever dyslexia that I’ve worked my whole life to overcome. Dyslexia is a condition in which you never see the same word spelled the same way twice, so its very difficult to remember how they are correctly spelled, if you’ve never seen them correctly spelled.

      “Genera” and “Genre” to a dyslexic are very similar.

      It’s a handicap, and admit, but I do my best.

      You should consider being a little more tolerant of other peoples handicaps.

  3. I was an old school fan of AP back in their goth days before I found out what a creep Robert is. The thing about Brown’s claim is Abney Park performed exactly the same songs before and after their wholesale conversion from goth band to “steampunk” around 2006 (or 07?). The only thing that changed during that initial black-to-brown switch was the palette of their clothing and, of course, their lineup, as Robert continually alienated every band member into quitting but his poor wife. No one in the band had even heard the word “steampunk” until a new backup singer told them about it and designed new costumes and instrument paintjobs for everyone. Ask old bandmembers Nathaniel Johnstone (guitar, violin) and Jean Paul [last name?] (bass). Sgt Kato made a post about this on FB a couple years ago as well.

    There was no established “steampunk sound” then (Vernian Process didn’t sound anything like Doctor Steel in 2005), and there isn’t one now. This is pretty typical Robert Brown grandstanding, though. This is why Abney Park’s lineup changes more or less yearly and why the band has so many “problems” with vendors, partners, venues, etc.

    1. As the founder of Vernian Process, I’d like to add a little insight here.

      I started my project without any intentions of starting a new genre, or tying to fit into an existing one. I just wanted to make music, the way I wanted to make it. After spending about half a decade DJing, I wanted to start learning to write music. So I did. The concept of VP dates all the way back to 1997, when I was an admin on the only existing Steampunk mailing list. A thread was started, where someone asked what “Steampunk Music” would sound like. And there were a lot of great responses citing acts from the 1960’s to the present day (at that time). And that inspired me to come up with my own hypothetical project. The name Vernian Process came about about 6 or 7 years before I ever actually recorded a note in 2003.

      I did intend my project to be an homage/tribute to the great Jules Verne, and his contemporaries like HG Wells, Jack London, and Rudyard Kipling. But I never once claimed to start anything, but my own project.

      I spent years doing my solo thing, trying to get better at my craft with each release. And about two years after I started releasing material, I came upon bands like Dr. Steel, Abney Park (who at the time did not have any Steampunk leanings), The Unextraordinary Gentleman, and The Clockwork Dolls. It was clear that other folks were starting to envision their own takes on Steampunk. And that was awesome!

      I have always encouraged more and more artists to take up their instruments, voices, laptops, etc. and express themselves. I am so glad that this scene has grown so much in the past ten years. I’m honored to have been able to help spearhead this style.

      A certain Pirate Captain like to claim that I am jealous of his fortunes. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. He claims that I have wasted ten years, because I have only released three albums in that time (to his 15). What he doesn’t realize is that VP, is only one of many projects I am involved in. Not to mention a very active 17 year long DJ career. I don’t need to sell a million albums, and play all over the planet to feel satisfied with my art. Besides this isn’t a competition.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear that Robert is talking shit about you now, but it isn’t surprising. My understanding is that he was super jealous of your work in the beginning, and probably still is. Probably because he’s completely incapable of creating original work, only riffing on themes borrowed from other artists.

      2. Not exactly,

        I was saying stop picking fights, and slandering people, when you should be making music.

        My comment was “I have no idea what you think you gain from publically picking fights with me, but I sure as hell know what you loose. You’ve released, what, 1.5 albums in the last ten years, and I released 15 in the same amount of time? Why on earth to you continue to destroy all your opportunities by fighting”

        You reply was “Seriously you fucking prick, go die in a firw”

      3. Oh Robert, you sure have a great way of editing out anything that makes you look bad. I love how you manage to take the opening line of the conversation, and cut out the oh…. 5 or 6 posts between it that led me to tell you to go DIAF. Because you were being a colossal asshole to a bunch of people in that group. If you weren’t, than why did like a dozen people all speak up about it? You can’t weasel your way out of this one dude.

        BTW – All of your shitty comments were screencapped. I am requesting those from everyone right now, since you asked for it.

    2. Alienated old band members? That’s why they all appear onstage with me throughout the year, and come to all my parties, and birthdays? 90% of them are still good friends, with only a couple that just drifted off to other parts of the world. Some even return to Abney Park after years, like our current guitar player.

      Not sure were you got your information, since I don’t think I know you.

      As for goth versus steampunk sounds: We’ve written 15 albums since the goth switch, but stayed loyal to our Gothic sound on a few songs each album, as we still have a very many gothic fans, and I still love that style of music. Last album was almost entirely Goth, since a lot of old fans complained they missed the old sound…thus proving the sound had indeed changed. :/

  4. “Genera” may be the plural of “genus,” but if you’re using a plural you don’t use the indefinite article “a.” It would be “a genus,” not “a genera,” just like it would be “a radius” not “a radii.” He probably just can’t spell “genre,” or else he’s using the special steampunk spelling of “genre” that he built in his garage.

  5. Captain Robert is self-admittedly dyslexic and therefore doesn’t always use the correct spelling of words (and I think his autocorrect also often makes a hash of things). I’m fairly sure he meant “genre” when he typed “genera”.

    1. I wondered that too but I’m (99%) sure I saw him use genre as well in a later post. 🙂

      1. I can attest to Robert’s dyslexia. It’s gotten better over time – he works very hard at it – but, especially if he’s typing fast, there will be mistakes.

      2. This wasn’t a dig at anyone and their ability/disability. I checked “genera” because I didn’t know what it meant. I’d seen the word “genre” being used so concluded it was on purpose. I highlighted it so no one tried to pick him up on it as it wasn’t meant as a personal attack.

    2. yeah the real problem is when autocorrect kicks on, I can’t tell whats the correct spelling.

      The problem with sever dyslexia is that since you’ve never seen the word spelled the same way twice, you don’t recognize the correct spelling.

  6. To Be Fair…BB Blackdog are ‘Hawkwind’ with attached goggles & off the rail steampunk clothes, I always thought they were opitunist bandwaggon jumpers- an old school prog rock looking for a quick buck audience

  7. I could be wrong, but I think Robert’s main point, which got lost in the donnybrook that followed, was that he believes steampunk music consists of some sort of anachronism. Mixing something from the past with something from the present and coming up with something new. If you just dress up in steampunk attire, and play straight rock and roll, you’re just a rock and roll band playing dress-up.

    1. I have to clarify that he was not kicked from the MFS group for disagreeing with anyone. He was kicked for his incredibly rude, and continuously haughty posts to various members of the community, including the founder. Whenever anyone would try to debate with him, he would lower himself to petty insults, and egomaniacal comments. Such as “These bands aren’t Steampunk, because I have never heard of them”. As if he is the arbiter of what is and isn’t something. It was really sad, honestly. You would think someone with that much going on would have bette rthings to do than to belittle newcomer musicians and fans,

      1. thats not true. Show the conversation, josh. You kicked me off because the original poster said, “Wow, you are so nice!” when I gave her a free album….and it made your “go die in a firw!” make you look like a prick.

      2. Stop trying to twist the truth. You are such a sociopath. You have this really, really annoying habit of deleting your comments once you realize how incredibly bad they make you look. In fact, half of the comments you made on the initial thread are now magically gone.

        Fortunately several of our members have screencapped them, and I am now awaiting the links from them. Don’t worry man, your lies will be revealed soon enough. And nothing you can say will help you get out of this. BTW – The damage is already done So many people despise you as a person. They all came out and shared their stories of all the shitty things you have done to them. From fans of yours back in the mp3.com days, to people you pissed off on staff at the various venues you have played at. Your reputation precedes you and it’s only a matter of time before all of your fans see you for the lousy, piece of shit you are.

      3. If that isn’t what you said? Then what did you say right here?

        Stop lying. It just makes you look even worse.

  8. Not sure what everyone was expecting from a middle aged man who uses black Halloween costume hairspray to fill in his bald spot.

  9. First of all, I wasn’t emailed by you for a comment. I wasn’t contacted by anybody regarding this article, or discussion, and only just now discovered this article. But I am happy to address the misunderstanding.

    Second of all, taking comments out of context is a really fun way to make people look bad, and you seem to be enjoying yourself at it. My comments, that look sever above, were replying actually very mildly to directly insulting over the top comments, which I see you left out. So, yes, out of context they look very extreme, but in context I was the mild guy trying to calm things down. I was finally banned from the forum when the original poster said, “Robert, you are so nice!” while I was giving her a free copy of one of our albums, while at the same time Josh Pfiffer from Vernian Process said to me “You son of a bitch, go die in a fire!” (Yes, i have a screen capture of this, if anyone wants to see if, PM me.)

    As far as the actual content of what we were discussing goes, I do believe there was a misunderstanding. “Sound” “Song” and “Band” are three separate things. You can have a great band, with a great sound, but that sound might be a bad example of the genre. You simply are saying “That band is not a TYPICAL example of the genre”. Sorry if the word “bad” got misconstrued.

    Saying a band is a bad example of the Steampunk Sound is not saying the band is a bad band. Abney Park is a terrible example of the steampunk sound, as we don’t use the sound consistently. If some one used Abney Park as an example, they might get really confused by hearing one of our non-vintage sounding songs. BB Black Dog, though an awesome band, falls into the same category as Abney Park: they also do not consistently work in vintage sounds, and therefore are a-typically sounding steampunk band.

    There are many bands that are more consistently vintage in their sound, and therefore better examples then ourselves, or BB Blackdog.

    (I hope you have the decency to let me very reasonable comment stay as a response to this very obvious attempt to smear me. )

    1. Note: I’m taking screen captures of all my polite civil replies to the immature insults here.

      This way, when you delete my comments, and say You did it because “Robert was super rude, but we won’t let you see how!” I can show the world how you guys are obviously trying to throw mud at me that will never stick.

      1. I am not denying you left several polite comments, but those were only to people who were stroking your ego. Anyone who disagreed with your comments, got a severe verbal lashing from you.

    2. This isn’t a smear campaign. It’s a story based on what was there. I emailed info@abneypark.com before I posted this but news isn’t news if it’s old. I’m happy to be fair about it. I won’t delete any comments, I’m not that kind of person.
      While some people were angry and aggressive, that’s what people on the Internet are like. You’re a person of status and so should be conducting yourself in a manner befitting that status. The screenshots were actually written by you. I didn’t make anything up. I couldn’t put anyone else’s posts on because they’re not the subject matter so would need their permission to use it.
      This whole thing is about you trying to push onto everyone what is and isn’t steampunk. BB Blackdog say they’re steampunk so they are. It’s not for you to say otherwise. You can’t come in and tell everyone what’s what as that’s not fair.

      1. I’m curious Mr. deMaris, are you a licensed attorney? Inquiring minds would like to know.

      2. No, I’m British:
        esquire
        ɪˈskwʌɪə,ɛ-/Submit
        noun
        1.
        BRITISH
        a polite title appended to a man’s name when no other title is used, typically in the address of a letter or other documents.
        “J. C. Pearson Esquire”
        2.
        historical
        a young nobleman who, in training for knighthood, acted as an attendant to a knight.

    3. Dude, give it up. You aren’t fooling anyone. You send me the most disrespectful PM, insinuating that my success or failure as an artist depends on you. Here let me just show everyone.

      You come across as if you think you are the god of Steampunk Music here. Your condescending PM to me was the last straw. This was after you personally insulted at least six members of our group. Don’t worry though, we’re getting those screen caps together too. You aren’t going to damage control your way out of this, this time.

      1. Ballsy to show what I actually said.

        Yeah, you’ve been an ass for a decade, all while I tried to help you out. And yes, I said this to you, because you were doing it again. Still are, too.

  10. Robert, if you really, really want me to go there. I will ask all of the people that have come out about your abuse to come here and share their stories. But I really don’t think that would look good for you. Just give it up, accept that you fucked up, apologize for it. And then move on with your life.

  11. Here are the screencaps we could retrieve that were relevant to the topic.

    BTW – We also caught you insinuating a band named “AUTOMATON” stole their name from a song you wrote, and not you know… the ancient word for a mechanical creation.

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/eoy4v8n5wml7wsl/AADCKn9lLvQijyWhd7hODPrna?dl=0

    That’s a lot to sift through, and it isn’t all in order. But I’m pretty sure anyone can agree that the “self proclaimed” king of Steampunk, shouldn’t be talking to people like this.

    1. actually, our guitar player says the singer of that band came to him after an Abney Park show and told him they named themselves after that. I got it from our guitar player.

      …and you don’t “Steal” a name. Its perfectly legal to have any name you want, unless its trademarked…which obviously our song isn’t. Its totally fine for him to use the same name, as I’ve said every time I talked about this. Even if they did get it fro our song, or didn’t. It completely fine either way.

      seriously.

  12. I like Abney Park, I like SPG. I loathe the “steampunk” scene. It’s full of the most elitist, self-absorbed jerks I have ever had the displeasure to encounter. It is anything but inclusive and all-welcoming.

    I have personally met Captain Robert twice and he was a gentleman on both occasions, even when he rode through a major snowstorm to get to the venue.

    Perhaps there is a bit of jealousy (though I am glad to see that the other band I enjoy are staying out of this fiasco).

    1. I’m agreeing with you: much of the scene does look like they are turning to jerks. hopefully not most, but it has been a messy month, thanks to this crew.

      Still, manny bands and events remain awesome and friendly. We’ve always been, and I can recommend quite a lot of good events if you ever want to try again.

  13. What I’m seeing is overwhelming support for Captain Robert and his crew.
    Every interaction I’ve had with Robert and Abney Park has been fun and genial, even at 3 in the morning after they’ve been on stage for several hours.
    So no, they’re not alienating their fan base.
    First round of rum’s on me next DragonCon, Cap

    1. Firstly, let me point out that I am not a musician. However, I have worked in the creative industries for over 30 years,

      AND – Having witnessed the posts unfolding from Robert Brown as the night wore on I was left utterly disgusted and astonished by what was one of the most arrogant and aggressive, disparaging and disrespectful ego fueled rants I have yet witnessed online (And that from the founder of the Edinburgh International Internet Festival 1999 – 2008).

      What followed was in my mind even worse – Private threatening messages to those who challenged his position, editing and deletion of offensive posts to show him in best light, posting in other threads first as victim and then to rally others to attack those who disagree with his version of events. What was displayed was nothing less the classic, textbook abusive actions of a bully!

      The full evidence is there in the screen-shots and the various threads this topic has now featured across. That being said – Each should investigate the material before making their minds up.

      I have.
      And – While this may be considered by some as an overreaction – In recent times I have also seen first hand the devastating, life destroying results of what allowing a bully’s behaviour to go unchallenged can lead to. With this in mind and based on what I personally witnessed as the original events unfolded and have since witnessed or have become aware of:- I wish no further part of Robert Smith or Abney Park. I will no longer play their music via my programmes and events and I am removing all link relating to them from the Steampunk Almanac. – Atticus Oldman

      1. Oh man, don’t remove Robert “Smith”. The Cure didn’t do anything wrong here. 😉

      2. Note Tae Robert Smith!
        Sorry Bob – Wrong Bob – Steam Bob can kiss m’bobby but you Bob still have me entranced with adventures in the forest!

      3. Please present actual examples. For weeks its been REPORTED I was a jerk…but the worst screen capture presented said, “the bands you are listing are not steampunk bands.”

        Okay, if THEY think they make steampunk music, and I can see why that’d hurt their feelings, but since they literally just said they didn’t believe there was such a thing as steampunk music, it seemed a safe comment to make. If they want to say “THERE IS STEAMPUNK BANDS, BUT NOT STEAMPUNK MUSIC!” thats fine, but don’t jump down my neck about the minute difference.

        For 15 years I’ve been answering the question “what is steampunk music” 5 times a day to everyone from grocers to MTV. So, yes, I’ve got a reply already in my head. If these bands don’t agree, thats totally cool, but don’t get mad at me for doing what I’ve been paid to do for 15 years.

  14. Doctor Steel is a whiny bitch who tried to get mainstream attention by claiming Joss Whedon ripped off his gimmick when he created Doctor Horrible

  15. Please all stop. This childish schoolyard dirt kicking is making us all look trite. There’s a bigger world out there with some seriously evil crap going down and we’ll never get a handle on it fighting among ourselves. Ole’ Ben Frank was so on the coin when he reminded us that united we can stand unstoppable but divided we surely will fall to the apocalypse.

  16. As. The person who posted the original question on Facebook I found all of the answers helpful. I respect Robert Brown and his opinions because he knows things that many of today’s musicians don’t. We live in an age were anybody can become a star because true musicianship has been tossed out the window. These days all a person has to do is get themselves some pre recorded music and a sound effects board and some dance moves and WA-la, a star is born. Anybody can sing if you put enough sound effects on their voice. Robert Brown studied music including music theory in depth. So I checked out the different bands that were suggested in response to my question and made a list of the bands I liked. I eliminated anything hip hop, dance or rap crap because I’m so sick of hearing that junk I could scream. So now I have my list and can start adding albums to my library. My first Steampunk purchase was Abney Park. I think that some people just don’t understand what Steampunk is and is not. This past weekend I attended a Steampunk Festival in Medina New York. There were a few people there who obviously didn’t quite get what Steampunk is. I saw a couple dressed as space creatures, saw another guy painted like a zebra, another who was dressed in an Edwardian costume and another who donned an 18th century costume. In addition to that, the band that played on the main stage wasn’t even Steampunk. In fact, the band members didn’t even know there was such a thing as Steampunk prior to playing at the festival. But fun was had by all and we all got along, even those who missed the mark when putting together their costumes.

    1. Hi Teresa, the main risk is suggesting that just because someone is dressed in 18th century clothing, they’re not steampunk. What if their character is an 19th century steampunk time traveller? Dressing to blend in? Who are you or I to say what steampunk is or isn’t? We arent; no-one is. The main area of contention with this is not with Roberts knowledge or skill. I don’t listen to Abney Park, but I would never write a defamatory article just on those grounds. The main issue is that one person listed a few bands – some of them British – and Robert said they weren’t steampunk because they didn’t use certain instruments or make a certain noise. Who is Robert to say what steampunk music is? He has the same power as you or I to tell someone what their personal steampunk experience is: None. That’s not bad against him, it just levels the field and means everyone gets a chance to explore and experience steampunk as they wish without people screeching that it’s not steampunk.
      We need to stop this insistence of trying to tell people what is and isn’t steampunk so that everyone can enjoy it.
      I don’t think there will be a need to worry about someone saying star wars is steampunk or anything because the natural enjoyment of the 19th century aesthetic brings us all together. 🙂

  17. I have some issues here matey which I think we could reach a conclusion.

    Abney Park, a successful steampunk-genre band, has the main guy saying what is and what is not steampunk.
    Lets be reasonable. Abney Park, A SUCCESSFUL STEAMPUNK BAND is saying what is and what is not steampunk.
    Given their position, I think that his say on what is and is not authentic steampunk should be acknowledged just because he has a lot of expertise in these things as it is. Of course there has not been a research done on any of these things, so his (professional) opinion is equal to anyone else’s opinion; end of debate.

    What I hate is your attitude towards the main issue though. You are very cruel for what you have to say. In a way I believe you have used poor evidence to construct your own strawman of a sort.

    Abney Park, let alone Robert Brown, is no proprietor to the steampunk genre. Any band, who fits the criteria, may be called a steampunk band. Say a new steampunk band made a wonderful song. possibly the best one! And in Robert Brown’s opinion, he does not think this band fits all of his criteria to be called steampunk. Would that change the radio’s opinion about the new wonderful song? NO. Robert Brown’s opinion is not can not be stronger than the power and persuasion of good music. If those thousands of excluded bands drop in sales or fans, it is not Abney Park’s fault. Its their own damned fault for making crappy non-authentic steampunk music and trying to sell it off as “the real deal”.
    People can be fans of Abney Park and any other (non authentic) steampunk band AT THE SAME TIME. I listen to classical, metal, and jpop. They all have cultures that are so different but my ears are able to find some merit in them. I listen to them because they sound good, not because Beethoven, Satan, or Emperor Hirohito came to me in my dream and said “all other music genre sucks”. If Abney Park says that other steampunk bands are not the real deal and that they suck too much to be steampunk, how is that going to stop your ears from loving that non authentic steampunk music? ITS NOT.

    I see your concern with Abney Park. They are a successful and well known steampunk band. The best thing to do is have Abney Park raise awareness of the steampunk genre and support other steampunk bands. But you know what he does instead? He excludes other steampunk bands. Its as if he is cutting of branches off this bush, but in truth the bush is not getting any smaller. People are always going to find BB Black Dog and like it for what it is/isnt. People are always going to find abney park and like it for what it is/isnt. The bands are all equal, and no matter what a man says, his words sound no more persuasive or heartfelt than soulful and passionate music; music triumphs, and not mere opinions and words.

    If you are wondering, yes, I am a loyal fan to Abney Park and I see no issue with Robert Brown. He established his values and he is not going to change them for you. He is not a sellout and for that he has my admiration and respect.

    1. Let me break this down and deal with each part:
      Yes Abney Park are a successful steampunk band. They weren’t always, but have been for a long time and will always have my respect for the success they have achieved. However, given their position as an influential force in the global community, they need to set an example and going on social media and saying what does and what doesn’t constitute a steampunk band is not only insensitive to those fans of the band who recognise them as a steampunk band, but also has the possibility of preventing newcomers to steampunk as recognising bands such as BB Blackdog as a steampunk band “Because Robert said they weren’t.” So if BB Blackdog then lose fans or album sales based on that, then yes, Abney Park are responsible and to blame.
      I didn’t use poor evidence, I was there at the time reading the comments as they were posted. I wasn’t cruel, I was realistic.
      The rest of your post I agree with:
      People can be fans of more than one band. This would unlikely affect existing fans but could upset them. What responsible band member does that to a fan?
      Those are the fan base he’s at risk from losing. GD Falksen tried to tell people what was and wasn’t steampunk and he’s been ridiculed for years. Do you want that for Abney Park? Of course not, no-one does.
      I agree that Abney Park could raise awareness of the Steampunk genre and support other bands. He didn’t do that, he belittled them, called them “rockers who wear steampunk clothes” – which is an insult – and tried to push recognised bands out of the genre. Could that be to narrow the market and monopolise more? Probably not, but to some it looks like that and in a position that Robert is in, you have to be careful.
      My job is to call people out when they’ve done something irresponsible and that’s what I did.
      It doesn’t lessen my respect for them as successful musicians, but sometimes people get too big and they have to be reminded of where they are and how they got there.
      The fact that he got banned from that page could give an indication of how insulting and cruel HE was being.
      So yeah, on the whole I agree with you and I think in some respects you’ve agreed with me. There are some differences, but if we all thought the same way, it wouldn’t be any fun 😉

    2. Having just read through it again, I actually stand up for him at the start. The bit I disliked was when he tried to say that people who don’t play in the same style as him or use instruments the same as AP are essentially not steampunk bands. Who says? Him? It’s not his decision. It’s not mine, it’s not yours. If a band comes along and says they’re steampunk, then they’re steampunk. If steampunks don’t like their music, they won’t listen. My experience of this wonderful community of goons is that we don’t suffer fools easily. The ones jumping on a gravy train will disappear and the respectable ones taking it seriously such as AP, SPG, Professor Elemental and BB Blackdog. But given their position I think what they say on what is and what is not steampunk should be acknowledged, but not acted on. Newcomers to steampunk won’t know that and when they first come to the scene, they’re vulnerable and need protecting until they find their own steampunk:)

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