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Backing Steam: The Independence of Sunday Driver, and Other Great Things
Created by ApprenticeLiesel on 4/9/2012 2:25:06 PM

Liesel Hindmann returns with a GIANT SIZED edition of Backing Steam, complete with interview from the UK's Sunday Driver!


Hello and welcome to this month’s edition of Backing Steam! As a quick update from last month’s story about The Chronicles of Professor Elemental, the project was ultimately successful. The Professor and the Holomedia team raised £7,226 (about $11,470), which is almost 50% more than their original goal. Congratulations to them and I cannot wait to see the final result!

This month has been a smorgasbord of fundraising goodness. Usually, I pick out one or two projects to focus on, but this month, there were SIX projects that crossed my path that I felt needed at least a mention.

Our main focus for this month though is a mutiny. Well, an album named The Mutiny, to be exact. British Steampunk staple Sunday Driver has a new album coming out on April 14. Inspired by the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, The Mutiny is the band’s second full length album and was funded by the Arts Council of England. However, the Arts Council cannot fund everything, which is why the band has set up a PledgeMusic project to help fund promotions and touring for the album as well as future collaborations. At my current moment of writing, the project is up to 81% with less than two weeks to go. Rewards for this project include downloads of the album, signed CDs, entrance to the launch party on April 20 and hand-knit mittens made by harp and clarinet player Kat Arney. Wanting to know more about project, I spoke to guitarist Joel Clayton and vocalist Chandy Nath about the nature of crowdfunding, what backers can expect from the project and the inspiration behind the album.

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Liesel Hindmann: Sunday Driver is using Pledge Music to help fund promotions and touring for The Mutiny as well as future projects. What made you guys decide to use crowdfunding for these projects?

Joel Clayton: I'm really into crowdsourcing. I spend a lot of surfing time flying about on Kickstarter and Pledgemusic, and I think some of the stories behind projects are fascinating. It allows creators to tap into markets that exist outside of what the mainstream is telling everyone the should like. At the end of the day it's a very simple concept - you sell your product (usually before you make it), and you show the people buying your product what you are doing with the proceeds of the product, how you are developing it  - it's like membership into the organization the supporter is funding. This gives backers a window into the creative process, and I think there's real value in that for some people. We used Kickstarter to fund our first music video. The results of that were so successful, I wanted to follow it up with another project, but I like variety, so I thought I'd try out Pledgemusic.

LH: What can backers expect if the project succeeds?

JC: They can expect to see us in towns (maybe countries) we've not been to before, a raft of collaborative recordings with other singers, bands and spoken word artists released as downloads and EPs, and more music videos made in the UK this time with the band actually starring! There will generally be an increase in our activity internationally as we'll be paying for press with it, and when you get press you get gigs and new friends and exciting things happen!

LH: What would you say to anyone who might be unsure about backing the project?

JC: We're not asking for charity, we're selling products. I think people still misunderstand the nature of crowdsourcing. It's not about us sitting on the internet with a cap saying "gisa ya money!" At a basic level we're simply selling products, but on a deeper level, we're offering the opportunity to become involved with the bands development and personality.

LH: One of the incentives that has since been claimed is for a signed copy of the 1857 book that inspired The Mutiny. Can you talk a little more about that source of inspiration?

Chandy Nath: For me, the original inspiration for the whole album was the so-called “Indian Mutiny” of 1857 - an uprising against the British which started amongst Indian soldiers (sepoys) employed by the British East India Company. It’s actually no longer spoken about as a “mutiny” but as the first war of independence, which is what it was!

Christopher Hibbert’s book “The Great Mutiny: India 1857” is absolutely packed with detail. It is full of little gems of inspiration which gave me ideas for themes and lyrics for the album. For example “Carousel” was inspired by his description of “the chupatty movement” which marked the first signs of unrest. This is a really bizarre story – basically the sepoys used mysterious combinations of chapattis (Indian bread) and lotus flowers to communicate with each other.

Lotus flowers, leaves of brinjal and bits of goats flesh were being passed from hand to hand within the sepoy regiments… an ominous slogan ‘sub lal hogea hai’ (everything has become red’ was being whispered everywhere’

The phrase “Sub lal hogea hai” crops up in various places in the album and we’ve used the lotus flower as a symbol of freedom in the artwork.

For me the entire inspiration for the album – lyrics, artwork, themes, everything – landed on me in the space of 2 days wandering around Delhi in December 2010 with this book in hand, exploring dodgy backstreets and digging out places he mentions in the book.  I had a few scrapes – got chased by rabid dogs behind a deserted church, and nearly had the book plus my wallet nicked a few times – but I think the combination of being there “in the flesh” and reading the book allowed me to really get into the skin of the 1857 war and experience it from both sides.

It will be hard to part with the book with all my scribbles in it!

LH: Part of your funding if the target is reached will be going to a UK charity called Barnado's. What made the band decide to share the funds with that particular charity?

JC: We wanted to donate to a charity close to our hearts.  it seems to me helping kids in trouble can never be a bad use of money, especially during a recession.

LH: Besides the release of The Mutiny and the results of the PledgeMusic campaign, what can we expect from Sunday Driver in the near future?

JC: That's a bit tough as the near future is all about the album launch (20 April Hoxton Hall London!) and the pledge campaign! But we'll also be doing lots of fun gigs - we have a load of cool shows booked up already for the summer, we're supporting Abney Park in the UK in August and playing a big free Olympic-torch-run-about event in Cambridge on July 8. We'll be writing a load of new songs this year and leaking them out at shows! Mainly, I will be plotting and scheming. We're already talking about some very exciting plans for the fall and 2013... but I can't tell you anything yet as I'm superstitious...

LH: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

JC: Please come and buy things from our pledge site! We have so much to do once the goal is met! http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/sundaydriver-mutiny

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PledgeMusic doesn’t take money from the backer until the project is successfully funded, but take note that this project takes the funds in British Pounds. The PledgeMusic campaign for The Mutiny ends on April 21.

And now, for the other excellent projects that crossed my path this month!

 - Japanese Steampunk rock band Strange Artifact are currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to help print and promote their first full-length album The Antikythera Mechanism. Rewards include downloads, physical CDs, steampunk accessories made by the band and dinner with the band at Steampunk World’s Fair. They have currently raised a little over half of their $1,500 goal, and the project ends on April 30.  (EDITOR'S NOTE - Miss Hindemann mentions this in her review of their album, LINKED HERE.)

 - Also on IndieGoGo is H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E.’s latest album, The Folks Below. Their first album since 2009’s Mass Exodus, The Folks Below is an album with songs inspired by items found by the band, such as old notes and forgotten dolls. Funding from this project will go to paying for studio time and production of the album. Rewards include CDs, shoutouts online and in the liner notes and a care package from vocalist Holly Brewer. They reached their $7,000 in a little less than a week and any extra funds will be used to help pay guest musicians and upgrading their technology. The project ends on May 18.

 - An ongoing fundraiser that doesn’t have any rewards except knowing you’ve kept an awesome Steampunk space alive is Emmett Davenport’s GoFundMe to keep Davenport and Winkleperry going! For those who don’t know, Davenport and Winkleperry is a Steampunk themed cafe and bar in Pittsboro, NC. It’s a lovely little shop and, as The Extraordinary Contraptions and I can testify to from the last tour, it has quite a nice stage to play and a great floor to sleep on! This is an ongoing thing with a $10,000 goal, an immediate payment and no deadline.

 - On the webseries front, we have Day 304 Productions trying to fund the first season of Dirigible Days on Kickstarter. Dirigible Days is a steampunk sci-fi/action/comedy that follows the crew of the S.S. Beatrix and is set in “an alternate reality nearly 1,000 years after a catastrophe transformed the surface of Earth and raised floating skylands, launching a new age of exploration and colonization.” Season One will be five episodes long and the first part of a planned trilogy of seasons. Rewards include access to the blooper reel, a download of the theme song by Vernian Process and thank you credit at the end of each episode. They have reached their $2,700 goal, and any extra funding will help improve the general quality of the show. The project ends on April 21, and you can watch the teaser here.

 - Also on Kickstarter is the children’s book series Wollstonecraft. Written by Steampunk author Jordan Stratford, it follows young, fictionalized versions of Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley in a steampowered Regency era London as they open a detective agency and solve crimes. Stratford describes the first book as a “pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems and catch a jewel thief.” He even says his nine-year-old daughter and her friends are a big inspiration behind Wollstonecraft. Between this and Her Majesty’s Explorer, I’m glad to see that there are more and more Steampunk books being made for children! The original goal was $4000 to help cover the costs of one book, but it currently stands at nearly $12,000 with enough funds for a second and third! Hurrah! Since the project closes on April 30, there’s enough time to donate to receive rewards that include e-book copies of the first and second books, t-shirts and a thank you in the back of the book!

That’s it for this month! I sincerely hope that there’s a project in there that you feel is worth giving to! I’ll be back next month with more projects, and as always, may your steampower always have backup!

 

Liesel Hindmann is the Steampunk Chronicle’s Backing Steam columnist and correspondent. She is the Apprentice of Internal Machinations and Operations for The Extraordinary Contraptions and considers herself a lover of media from multiple dimensions. You can follow her on Twitter as well as her blog: The Diary of a Dimension Hopper.

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