In 1996, SDSU English Department alumni Michael Buchmiller, aka Professor B. Miller, created the robotic sound of the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, an electro-experimental duo pairing him with a singing robot he calls SPO-20, who speaks with a robotic British accent, but doesn't sing with one. Over 20 years later, he was still using old Windows XP programs to synthesize SPO-20’s vocals.
The diode duo has been known to cover material from acts like Andy Kaufman, Talking Heads, Kraftwerk, They Might Be Giants, Blues Brothers, the Cure, Devo, and Spinal Tap, as well as performing original conceptual sci-fi and horror inspired works like "I Stole Your Daddy's Time Machine," "What Is the Most Expensive Way To Feed A Zebra," "Wolfman Rides a Unicycle," and "Haunted Rental Car."
"Our debut album was taught as a multimedia work of fiction to 250 students at San Diego State University, along with works by Kurt Vonnegut, Rene Magritte, Robert Louis Stevenson, and [cartoonist] Dan Clowes," says Miller. "We played for more than 10,000 people on Halloween for Heaven and Hell at the Del Mar Fairgrounds." A self-titled four-disc set was released in 2008, they were nominated Best Electronic at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards, and an album called Experiments with Auto-Croon came out in 2014.
Early 2016 saw them appearing on a vinyl-only local band compilation from Blindspot Records, Sounds From the Stratosphere, also featuring Manual Scan, Super Buffet, Blaise Guld, and Pony Death Ride.
Miller announced more new works in summer 2018. "The robot and I are heading into the studio next month to start recording a series of themed EPs. Probably 20 or so. The first wave will likely come out at the end of the year. I've got names for all of them, lyrics for most of them, and album art done for the first two EPs." The first release appeared in November 2018, the Stop by the Supermarket EP.
A new video appeared in early 2020 for their track "Abraham Lincoln," from their album Conjure the Paranormal. Another new single debuted that summer for "Sea Anemones (aka Shark Wigs)," with a video featuring a series of flashing color layers from imaginative concert posters. It's from a new 12-inch EP called Lost at Sea, which comes in a laser-etched vinyl edition limited to 42 copies with the cover artwork etched into the disc, with liner notes by John K. Peck (McSweeney's).
A financial-themed album appeared in 2021, Balance a Checkbook, released on the October 29 anniversary of the Black Tuesday stock market crash of 1929. Number six in a series of 20 themed albums, it came on clear, laser-etched 12-inch vinyl and a stack of band currency in 10 and 20 denominations, along with two virtual SPO coins.
Guests include Marie Haddad singing on "The Invisible Hand" which said to be inspired by heist soundtracks. Liner notes by Rusty Blazenhoff who has worked with Paul Reubens aka Pee-wee Herman, Children’s Fairyland, Burning Man, Boing Boing, Allee Willis, Dangerous Minds, and Archie McPhee. Track titles include "My Legal Signature," "The Poorest Billionaire," "Itemized Tax Deductions," and "Armored Car." Number seven in the album series was a metal record called Face Their Fears, number eight was planned to be a ska record, Have an Existential Crisis, and number nine was announced to be an album of original ice cream truck music called A La Mode.
The band was nominated for a San Diego Music Award, and their songs have been featured locally on 91X, ALT94/9, Rock 105.3, KCR, and KSDT. They've been played on WFMU in New York, even in England on BBC Radio in London, where the revered British music magazine NME once profiled the band in an article called "Singing Parrots, Robotic Frontmen And Creepy Clowns – The Strangest Novelty Bands You've Never Heard."