Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

I'm not terribly young. I've seen music styles come and go. I remember when Swing was popular back in the 90's and I loved it. I haven't yet checked out the recommended bands that I've found here, but I do recognize a few and like them.

However, back in the late 70's early 80's I was Punk Rock which morphed into New Wave here in America. There is a musician that I have been following almost religiously since then: Gary Numan. You may know him as the guy that did Cars, but he has steadily worked since then. During the 90's he had a slow period, one that his most of fans despised. It actually loved it because it was a fusion of synth pop and the 30's-40's era. On several albums he assumed a character that we may recognize as being Dieselpunk. Check out this song, "1930's Rust"


Numan is definitely an acquired taste and one I have developed over decades, but if you give him an honest listen, I think you might agree that that period of his work could be classified as Dieselpunk. Check out the sidelinks at youtube if you like it or are curious, esp. those tracks from "I Assassin". I love this stuff!

Numan himself was an expert stunt/exhibition pilot of WWII planes until he got married and his wife made him quit after loosing too many pilot friends to the unfriendly skies. He also made a round the world trip, solo, in a Cessna, first to do so. Many of his tunes are inspired by flying such as "My Centurion" (about the wreck he had on his world flight). He's quite an interesting person. And GREAT in concert!

BTW He is still putting out music. His latest style is Industrial Goth or something like that, he has NEVER been easy to pin down. 

So, I'm asking, is the genre restricted to Swing? Or, do you think that the example that I Iinked to could be considered Dieselpunk, as well?

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Replies to This Discussion

The dieselpunk aesthetic is bound only by the pop culture of the 1920s - 1945 and what we can do with that culture's outlook today.

So, anything inspired by what was happening in those years counts as dieselpunk.  Swing didn't hit the scene until the late '30s.  Before that, you had ragtime, blues, big band, and jazz tapping everyone's feet.  After the war, you had the roots of rock and roll taking hold.

You also have music inspired by the era, but not necessarily in the style of the era.  For example, the band Wolfgang Parker merges the old swing style with punk rock instruments and attitude.  Then there's the rock opera stylings of Doctor Steel.  His live act was inspired by the look and feel of a 1930s pulp scientist, but his music and lyrics blend a wide swath of genres together from industrial and rap, to accordion-driven ballads.

With this being said, as long as the artist brings the feeling of the diesel era into their work, it counts as dieselpunk to me.

Thanx, Tome :) That made sense.

IMO, dieselpunk music can be many things

It can be punk meets swing music

It can be covers of recent pop, rock or even heavy metal, done in a boogie woogie style

It can be electroswing, a style that mixes house music with swing music

It can be drum & bass, techno or house remixes of old tunes

It can be avant-garde heavy metal mixed with cappellas and some nostalgic twists

But the core ideas are basically a form of music that would mix the contemporary variety of sounds of today with the sounds, themes or instruments of yesterday, or at least of a yesterday that never was

BTW, that gary is a real treat. Thanks for sharing!

Well said both Tome and Hayen.

Yes, thank you gentlemen :)

Hayden, those were great examples, thanks for taking the time.

Let me join the discussion.

Recently, I've got the feeling that martial\dark-folk\post-industrial music focused on 30s-50s, military and esoteric themes has the dieselpunk touch.

Komissar, I almost thought you were joking, but I know how convoluted genres can get. When I read your post all I could think of was Laibach, for some reason. They have a very Soviet Era militaristic Deiselpunk feel. Another odd acquired taste of mine. :) They've been around awhile.


I want to add that my grown kids think of the Laibach vid as being Nazi. IT IS NOT IN MY MIND, NAZI! I grew up in the Cold War era and see it as very Soviet propaganda style and if my memory serves me correctly the band comes from a former Soviet State. Just want to clear that up- I'm not into the NeoNazi thing.

I understand where you're coming from but I can see how they can be taken by your grown kids. To be honest, not knowing anything about the band, when I saw the video I immediately got a neo-Nazi feel from it. So it does come across that way.

I had to research to band, since I wasn't familiar with them. This is what I got from Wiki:

Laibach has frequently been accused of both far left and far right political stances due to their use of uniforms and totalitarian-style aesthetics. They were also accused of being members of the neo-nationalism movement, which reincarnates modern ideas of nationalism. When confronted with such accusations, Laibach are quoted as replying with the ambiguous response "We are fascists as much as Hitler was a painter".[9]

The members of Laibach are notorious for rarely stepping out of character. Some releases feature artwork by the Communist and early Dada artist/satirist, John Heartfield. Laibach concerts have sometimes aesthetically appeared as political rallies. When interviewed, they answer in wry manifestos, showing a paradoxical lust for, and condemnation of, authority.[9]

Richard Wolfson wrote of the group:

Laibach's method is extremely simple, effective and horribly open to misinterpretation. First of all, they absorb the mannerisms of the enemy, adopting all the seductive trappings and symbols of state power, and then they exaggerate everything to the edge of parody... Next they turn their focus to highly charged issues — the West's fear of immigrants from Eastern Europe, the power games of the EU, the analogies between Western democracy and totalitarianism.[

I didn't want to offend anyone, that's why I added the caveat. I can see why some would see it as Nazi. Coming from my perspective, as someone who actually grew up with "duck and cover" exercises and radiation fallout shelters everywhere, they remind me of the Cold War. I guess, it's a matter of perspective.

We saw a 2004 dvd concert tour and I can verify that they are deliberately ambiguous to the point of being smarta**es. They invite you to make of them as you will. In several interviews, you can make out the smirk. Interestingly, they make a point of seeming very Christian, though I don't know if that is just show, either. It was very interesting to watch especially since they were touring the US during an election year and incorporated that into the dvd.

tela, Laibach definitely can and must be mentioned, but my idea was to discuss more dark-folk\is bands, at least some of their songs. I'll do my best to pick up some pieces by cult bands like Death In June, Sol Invictus, and especially rather recent act called Darkwood. Acoustic guitars with "militarish" drums and some industrial and war noises gives the "militaristic dieselpunk feel", a good expresiion you introduced in your comment 'bout Laibach.


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