Dragon*Con Countdown: Time-Travelling Float Riders
by Mark Rossmore
The Extraordinary Contraptions return. All new album. Same ol' steampunk insanity.

Extraordinary Contraptions
Official Site: Click Here


The Time Traveler's Constant



From the land where every street name begins with "Peach" comes this slightly mad and raucous quartet. They'll be taking their rock 'n' roll waltzes and alt-history alt-rock to their hometown Atlanta's own Dragon*Con, and unleashing a new collection of melodic steampunk songs.

Who's who? (S) is Sephora Bostwick. (A) is Aelus Kristoff von Stadberg. (T) is Teodore Birchard. (D) is Dimitri von Stadberg

SP-M: It's been a rambunctious year for the Contraptions. Your fresh new album--The Time Traveler's Constant--is in the can, successfully Kickstarted by your fans. Speak to us about the album and the ideas that went into it!

(D):  Thanks, fans!  This album is more story-driven and has more elements from our backstory.  While we included more home-made sounds and creations and spoken word objects in this album, it is our most musically ambitious album to date.  The art, the music, the backstory--IT'S MADE OF WIN!

(A): It's a return to some stories about people in our scene who have become integral to our characters, like Captain Thorngauge.

(S): It always helps to have a villain if you're setting yourselves up to be the sort-of-good-guys.  So here's to Thorngauge for giving us one.

(D): To Thorngauge, for being vanquished!

(S): He'll be back.

(D): Then I'll be Beethoveen....

SP-M: You've also got a new pounder of skins...er, drummer, aboard, Teodore Birchard. How has your new crewmember's arrival altered your overall sound?

(A): More fun and more hairy.

(D): Yes, we have increased our facial hair by 100 percent.

(S): At least until Dimitri is shaved for charity at Dragon*Con.  And more hats.

(D): Yes, more hats.  Different hats.

(S): And shoes, he plays with the drums with shoes.  That's a major difference.

(D): Yes, come see me have my mustache shaved with a straight razor at Dragon*Con.

SP-M: What are you most excited about for this year's Dragon*Con?

(D): We all agree that we are excited about the numerous guests performing with us at both of our shows.  At our mainstage show Thursday night we will be joined by Frenchy and the Punk, members of The Aeronauts, members from The Julia Dream, and members of Hellblinki.

(T): And maybe more surprises.

(D): Yes, and then our Sunday acoustic concourse show at 4 O'Clock will see us with members of This Way to the Egress, and Nathaniel Johnstone, formerly of Abney Park.

SP-M: While steampunk is now far more pronounced in the public consciousness than in years past, the Contraptions were around before that was the case. What first inspired you to take on the vintage feel and aesthetic? 

(D): The look and aesthetic followed the musical theme and our naming.  It took our audiences to point out to us that, "Hey, you guys like Steampunk."  "We do?  Oh, I guess we do!"

(A): And we're dorks.

(S): Yeah.

(D): Once we realized we could have the costumes, the props, the backstory, the music videos, we ran with it and now I get to wear top hats and tail coats.  And it's wonderful.

(S): Except when we're sweating, then it's less wonderful.

(D): I'm getting my Victorian swimming costume for that.

SP-M: A few years back, I attended the first-ever "Steampunk Music 101" panel and sing-a-long at Dragon*Con, hosted by you guys. In it you spoke of steampunk music's predecessors, including 19th century musical theatre, airship-obsessed Victorian sing-a-longs, and side shows. How do you incorporate those sounds and ideas into your own work?

(D): There is a strong influence of musical theater. 

(S): We're epic!

(D): We're epic and we tell epic stories.  Folk songs and waltzes of the time influence our songs from the new CD, The Time Traveler's Constant.  It's heard  in "Hinderscipe's Lament" and "Prelude to the Nocturnis."

(T): "Paste" as well.  These have good audience response and the audience enjoy being part of the show.

(S): We assembled a whole choir of people for the recordings, because we needed that fun, circus-y atmosphere.

SP-M: With so many artists approaching it from so many angles, do you think the actual sound of steampunk music can ever be properly defined? 

(D and S):  We hope not!

(D): What we love so much about Steampunk is that there is room to grow, room to branch and share.

(S): It thrives on imagination.

(T): Defining it would lead to confining it.

(D): There's no one to tell you, "No" or "That's not right."

(T): The adventurousness of the scene is more important than the specific application.

(A): I'm attaching light wire to wood with duct tape as we're doing this interview.

(T): With live voltage.

SP-M: In spite of its variety, the steampunk music world has a real sense of community about it. Who are some of your favorite artists, both to listen to and to be on a bill with?

(D):  All the artists we named earlier that are playing with us at Dragon*Con, of course.

(T): We've had the great honor of playing shows with amazing acts this year like The Peculiar Pretzelmen, Megan Jean and the KFB, and Ford Theater Reunion.

(D): Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands, Unwoman.

(T): I'm listening to my Kickstarter downloads of The Fires I Started on a loop.

(D): The Gin Rebellion, our friends from here in Atlanta.

(S): We're hoping that Amanda Palmer notices us.

(D): Call us Amanda!

(S): Who else should call us?

(D): The Beatles.  We have a time machine.

(S): Rush!

SP-M: So, beyond the new album's release at Dragon*Con, what are the Contraptions' diabolical schemes for the future?

(T): Global domination through floats

(D): Yes, we are debuting at Dragon*Con our submarine float, The Nocturnis.  We have our two shows, Thursday and Sunday. We're sitting on numerous panels concerning Steampunk and music.

(S): There will be jam sessions

(T): Clandestine video shoots which won't be happening; but, you should definitely join us.

(D): Post-Dragon*Con we will reveal our new website, the release of the video for "Prelude to the Nocturnis," we'll shoot a video for "Lovely Lies" at Old West Fest outside of Cincinnati.  And in October we will be at Tsubasacon in Huntington, West Virginia, and we have a local gig lined up at Atlantic Station

(T): To invade a new audience

(S): We're planning to take the new year by storm

(A): We're only riding in the middle of lightning

(T): If you want to see us in your city, visit our website at theextraordinarycontraptions.com and let us know.

Follow the Contraptions at: http://www.extraordinarycontraptions.com . They will be performing Thursday Aug. 30th at 11:30pm in the Hyatt, preceded by The Aeronauts and Valentine Wolfe. Their acoustic set is on Sunday at 4:00pm on the Hyatt concourse stage, featuring a ton of speical guests. 

Author Bio: Mark Rossmore
Mark Rossmore has released three atmospheric albums of steampunk-inspired music as Escape the Clouds. A multimedia artist who enjoys telling dramatic stories, he has self-produced three acclaimed music videos and is a published author of steampunk short fiction, aviation articles, and music-related non-fiction. Learn more about his music, videos, and writing at: http://www.EscapeTheClouds.com .

It means something different to everyone. To see how the artists themselves define it...
London, UK