Doctor Steel (full name, Phineas Waldolf Steel), is a self-published American musician located in Southern California, prominent in the Steampunk, Goth, and Rivethead scenes. He has performed on rare occasions with a "backup band", claiming that a fictitious robot band had malfunctioned. Shows have incorporated puppetry, multimedia and performances by female members ("Nurses" and "Scouts") of his street team, The Army of Toy Soldiers. Steel has begun breaking into the mainstream media, having made a brief appearance on the Tonight Show, been interviewed by Suicide Girls as well as numerous genre magazines and podcasts and been the subject of an article in Wired Magazine regarding allegations that Dr. Horrible had copied his style. Steel has frequently been cited as an archetypal example of Steampunk music.
Steel's music is eclectic in genre, often combining the noise and distortion of industrial with aspects of European folk, classical, and even jazz, as well as hip-hop and opera. Many songs feature samples from vintage public service announcements and educational films, such as Duck and Cover. Rue Morgue Magazine described the sound as "Industrial Hip-Hop Opera". Steel cites, as some of his musical influences, Igor Stravinsky, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Queen, Mike Patton, Nine Inch Nails, Danny Elfman, Beck, and John Zorn.
On stage, and in all public performances and interviews, Steel maintains the fictitious persona of a mad scientist bent on conquering the world and becoming the future World Emperor. The fictitious Dr. Steel was a former toymaker who, in a fit of rage over being fired for creating drastic designs such as babies with buzzsaws for hands, burned down the factory he worked at and was committed to a psychiatric institution. The back-story relates that Steel escaped the sanitarium and retreated to a deserted island laboratory, where he became bent on world conquest in order to create a "Utopian Playland" where his toy designs could be enjoyed. As a mad scientist, Steel is obsessed with conspiracy theories, giant robots, baking cupcakes and "mind control cookies", and experimenting with hamsters.
In appearance, Steel draws on the mad scientist archetype, dressing in a white PVC lab coat (with comically large black buttons), black PVC gloves, black boots, shaved head, sinister goatee, and antique welder's goggles. When not in his "mad scientist" costume, Steel typically dresses in a very aristocratic neo-Victorian steampunk style, while still retaining his goggles. He has never been seen without the goggles.