THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING
Cardiff Bogiez, October 2012
According to Wikipedia "Steampunk" is...and
I quote..."a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features
steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized
Western civilization during the 19th century. The stories are often
set in an alternate history of the 19th century's British Victorian
era in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained
In truth, not something I'm normally interested in.
However, having reviewed (and liked) the second release of TMTWNBBFN
- "Cannot be Killed by Conventional Weapons" - I thought
it my duty to attend the gig of Britain's foremost Steampunk band
when they played Cardiff.
Formed in 2008, by Andrew O'Neill and Andy Heintz, the band describe
themselves as "Crusty punk meets cockney sing-songs meets grindcore
in the 1880s." Their debut album, "Now That's What I Call
Steampunk! Volume 1" was released on 2010. However, in January
2012, they were given three working days to change the title or face
legal action by EMI over trademark infringement due to the similarity
of the title to the label's shit compilation series "Now That's
What I Call Music". To date they have released two singles -
Sewer and Free Spirit - on wax cylinders (I kid you not) being the
first such UK releases in this format since 1922!
On entering the venue I'm struck by the fact that a large proportion
of the assembled throng had come dressed appropriately, looking like
they just stepped out of a twisted Jules Verne novel. Wearing all
manner of ancient garments, there was a plethora of waistcoats, jackets,
cravats, capes, pith helmets and obligatory goggles. Certainly different,
but rather in character for both the look of the band and the upcoming
I think its fair to say that, professional though the
band may be, they are aware of the comedic side of their act. Indeed
lead singer Andrew O'Neill is a stand up comedian of some note and
shortly to appear on "Never Mind the Buzzcocks". The mood
of the evening was set by the support act being west country comedian
Will Hodgson, coming apparently from the "People Republic of
When THWWNBBFN take the stage it is instantly apparent
from where the fans take their dress sense. Drummer Jez Miller looks
like a young, rustic, Bob Marley dressed in a waistcoat and top hat,
whilst Andrew O'Neill resembles a rather emaciated, tattooed, Ross
Noble. Singer Andy Heinz can only be described as a cross between
Caractacus Potts and Jimmy Edwards, whilst remaining member Marc Burrows
reminds me of David Walliams in quasi militaristic uniform. Some look!
And then quicker than you could say rickets, scurvy
and syphilis, the band transported us to a time when Victoria sat
on the throne, the Thames was full of human effluent, the Whigs and
Tories vied for political supremacy and the prominent medical diagnosis
of the day was that all ailments were a direct result of masturbation.
Musically they cover many genres, but primarily punk
and metal. The fact that they may have alternative careers does not
detract from the fact they are more than competent musicians, with
members having seen service in other bands such as Creaming Jesus
and Lords of the New Church.
As for subject matter, as you'd expect, it very much
revolves around the great and good of an era when Britannia truly
ruled the waves, as well as the dark underbelly of 19th century Victorian
So you have their tribute to the civil engineering genius of Isambard
Kingdom Brunel ("He built me bridge and he built it well. He
was Isambard Kingdom Brunel"). Followed by "Victoria's Secret",
the metal homage to Queen Victoria's love for the deceased Prince
Consort, ("Albert is back, but Albert has changed, Albert is
hungry for commoners brains. Zombie Albert").
From the unlikely mash up of a Chas & Dave intro of "Margate
Fhtgagn" suddenly metamorphosising into a song that a Norwegian
black metal band would kill for (literally), to the almost Oi! influenced
political observations of "Doing it for the Whigs". They
delve liberally into their latest release, but do not forget to include
the highlights of their debut, including "Boilerplate Daniel"
However for me the two outstanding numbers are the "The Peoples
Common Sense Medical Advisor" and "Mutiny in the Common
Soldiery". The former is based on a book of the era by R V Pierce
MD that counseled Victorian gentleman that self pollution, or onanism,
was the source of all their ills. Funnily, I too had noticed that
my own eyesight had been failing of late, but had put it down to old
age. I think I will lay off the five knuckle shuffle for a while!
The latter song showcases their more serious side and allows the dexterity
of Andy Heinz to come to the fore, featuring as it does a musical
saw. The number relates the age old story, seen through all generations,
where the working class are dispatched to the front line, whilst the
wealthy and powerful remain a safe distance from the action. Rather
touchingly it relates the feelings of a Tommy that "I have more
in common with the bugger on my bayonet, that the Toff whose telling
me to stick it in his guts". Truly wise words.
So there you have it. Certainly a unique band, both in look and musical
content. However undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable nights I've
had of late, a sentiment shared by the goodly crowd in attendance.
Not only that, having had a long conversations with both Andy and
Jez, I can vouch for the fact they are top blokes to boot. So I thoroughly
recommend you dig out your top hat and goggles and take a trip back
in time with The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.