modern steampunk notables thomas dolby

Friday, November 9, 2007

Modern Steampunk Notables: Thomas Dolby

Mr. Dolby on stage in concert

Back when the earth was young, before the internet, CDs, ipods, and their ilk, I recall listening to my “walkman” to a young Brit who was of a different cut than his synthe-pop contemporaries. Mr. Thomas Dolby had (and has) an intriguing sound, but it was when I first saw his video (back when MTV actually played videos), that I had my first glimpse of a strange and amazing world I have now come to associate with Steampunk.

“Lab Photo”, back in the 80’s

Instead of modern and sleek electronic equipment, he had retro-looking scanners, and extensive use of wood and old rusty knobs/handles on his music equipment. I purchased his first album, “The Golden Age of Science”, and it has been a mainstay of my listening library (from cassette to CD to Ipod). Not a big fan of “She blinded me with science”, I did regard the rest of the album outstanding, musically and lyrically.

(Well worn) cover art of the “Golden Age of Science”

I did a bit of searching, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only is he still active in the music realm, but he’s on tour (well, in England and currently in Ireland – apparently missed his US visit…) and blogging about the experience (on his website). I’ve listed a few of his links in case you wish to learn more about this Steampunk pioneer.

(a series of interviews about his earlier work)

(a fairly audio-philic techie review of his equipment, including modding tips)



Thanks, Dr. Fabre!

I also did an interview with Thomas before his Christmas Eve Eve show, posted here:

Dr. Rafael Fabre

Tyvm sir!


I have a friend who is a friend of Mr. Dolby. Reportedly, he is a very cool gentleman…and I bet he would be pleased to be deemed a steampunk pioneer.

Jill Obermaier

ok–so Im a rockabilly and late 70s-80s new wave and punk fan. Last summer we saw Devo at summerfest and happened to catch Katzenjammer when they opened for Devo. LOVED Katzenjammer and made a steampunk connection. Looked up more steampunk and found White Ghost Shivers and The Loneliest Monk and really loved them too. As I was listening to The Loneliest Monk–I realized that good ole Thomas Dolby from back in the 8os way ahead of his time and was indeed a Steampunk musician. Typed in TD and steampunk and found that I certainly was not the first to make this connection. All this music appeals to me–born and bread on american folk, jazz, country and American and European pop, rock, new wave and punk. Love the fusion.
-Jill O