I Am Man, I Am Monster Set to Play Final Show at Andy's Bar
Tonight at Andy’s bar, progressive metal band and DAM Awards winner I am Man, I am Monster will wreak havoc on the stage one last time. The tempest of a lineup is a haven for fans of metal with performances from other Denton metal bands including Dieselbeast, silvertonguedevil, and Wrought of Obsidian.
Denton's metal scene in Denton has long been comprised of some of the most talented, versatile, and dynamic bands to grace the stage. To further illustrate this point, I am Man, I am Monster’s vocalist Travis Barton graciously offered a candid account about the trials, tribulations, and memories of their best shows and the familial bonds this band has formed over eight years.
The current line up includes Travis Barton (vocals), Megan Lackey (vocals, bass), Rusty Jordan (guitar, vocals), Reilly Hoff (vocals, guitar) and finally Al MF Bagley (drums). Barton details that he, Lackey, Jordan, and Hoff had been playing together for three years prior, but had difficulties with finding a consistent and dedicated drummer.
Barton then offered a witty and slightly sarcastic account of how they acquired Bagley as their permanent drummer after he auditioned.
“We took a shot with Al, a known drummer in the area at the time, and he has yet to let us down. He put the machine together in a way that the other hadn’t, and one day, he may actually be able to join the band,” Barton said.
With the final formation of the band completed, the band members started throwing in suggestions for names to match their new found sound they discovered. The band unanimously agreed on Lackey’s suggestion of 'I am Man, I am Monster.' This title partially hails from what Barton described as a hodgepodge of two comic books titles, The Fantastic Four’s This Man… This Monster!( Fantastic Four #51) and the Hulk’s graphic novel collection subtitled as Man or Monster. Barton also described an existential meaning attached to their band name that artists may find relatable.
“Opening up the dichotomy of us as musicians writing, practicing and on the stage. What people see of us on the streets, at our jobs, and within our family environments: Which is the man and which is the monster?” he said.
When asked why did the band choose metal as their genre of music to play Barton gave a resounding response.
“My question, to you dear friend, is WHY NOT!” he exclaimed. “Metal was a common ground that we could take all of our influences and turn them into our own sound. We are family, and we have created art, and it runs like a machine.”
When IAM, IAM performed their first show, the reception was overwhelmingly positive. All of the current members are established members of the community who’ve worked in the Denton bar and service industry scenes. Not to mention they had gained a solid reputation within the metal community playing previously as Kill for the Kingdom. Once they began booking shows, the eventual goal for the band was to in Barton’s words "make life from our art" by making music their primary vocation, instead of working secondary jobs to make ends meet.
In terms of songwriting, Barton described the process as painstaking. He further elaborated on how they meticulously write and rewrite songs. Songs are started off with a riff and then further expanded to the point that they’re either making a ‘head banging metal face’ or laughing at how ridiculously metal the song has evolved into. Barton also offered insight into his role as a front man and some of the content they’ve written about in their music.
"Personally, I put the vocals down after the song has been “written.” I don’t want to make me the center stage of the tone and sound but want to move with the song itself,” he stated. “As far as the content goes, it has ranged from one of our favorite cartoon stars Brock Samson to my struggle with alcohol dependence, from my feeling about a friend who is a compulsive liar to my opinion on this, most likely, never ending war in the Middle East.”
I Am Man, I Am Monster released their album back in August of 2016. In comparing the original EP to the LP, Barton concedes that they breathed in new life to older songs they’d written. In summary, the band brought forth more technicality to their song writing and presentation.
Upon prompting Barton about their touring tenures, he explained that due to their obligations to school, work and family the band stuck pretty close to the lower part of the US. IAM, IAM has traveled and performed in four states: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi. Some of the more nail biting moments on the road include having to pull over due to the van sputtering to a halt on the drive from OK to LA, threats of being towed, and in one instance, a band member walking off into the night during an after party with no phone to contact them.
The most precarious moment for the band members came when they arrived in Lubbock on Mother’s Day and discovering a tornado had touched down in Denton, prompting all of them to call their families to ensure they were safe.
“We haven’t done as much touring as a lot of bands, but every moment on the road is a bit harrowing. You are following your passion, while leaving your life at home, hounds or thousands of miles away. We were lucky that, as a band, we are a family, and we could be there for each other, but we all still left family behind,” Barton added.
For every unpredictable and haphazard moment spent performing at local and abroad in other states, the bands experiences have also been fraught with chaotically exciting memories. Barton described at length many times during their performances where the crowds screamed for an encore at places they never played, to making a life-long friends, to being invited to tour with bands. And finally, sitting in van being drenched in sweat, sleep deprived and yet staying awake through joking around.
“I have distinct memorable moments from every show… Every moment is a memory and the memories in this style of life are none to be forgotten. Harrowing or not, they a memorable. The times we had and the people we met along the way, are priceless. I will carry them to my grave,” Barton concluded.
Unfortunately, for the last five years there has been at least one band member who offered the ultimatum of quitting the band if they couldn’t continue to progress. In spite of each individual pouring their heart and soul into the art they’ve created, the lack of progression and continued use of personal energy not only caused the well-being of the band to suffer, but their own families respectively as well.
“I think it just came to a point that we cannot a whole, be IAM, IAM anymore. There was no real dispute, no real anger, just acceptance. This chapter is ending, and we are all opening a new one,” he said.
However, with side projects to dedicate themselves to, degrees completed, growing families, careers and recovering from self destructive tendencies there is a chance you may still spot a familiar face still ingrained deeply within the Denton art scene.
“With the talent of my band family, you will hear us on some local station, see us on stage or just wondering around town with our loved ones, talking and spreading the love of art. Music, visual, performance, anything! We just love art and sharing it with others,” Barton added.
As a whole, Barton would like to believe that IAM, IAM has helped made an impact on the Denton music scene. He describes how there was a metal revolution in Denton during the early 2000s followed by a drastic decline in local artists. However, despite the disbanding of I am Man, I am Monster he believes the metal scene in Denton will continue flourish.
“With the current lineup of metal acts in town, there is nothing but the ability of evolution. Besides IAM, IAM, there is slug, death, metal core, progressive, and epic metal bands, to name a few, that have a huge fan base in town,” he said.” “I am so happy to see the metal scene coming back up and making its footprint on our already diverse city of Denton.”
On behalf of the members of I am Man, I am Monster, Barton had a message he wanted to convey not only to the fans, but to the fellow metal bands they performed alongside with over the years:
“To the Fans: Thank you, Thank you so much! We would not have come this far without you. Your faces in the crowd, not matter the size, has pushed us to be ever better."
"To the Bands: Thank you for marching with us as brothers. Keep it up, spread the joyous word of metal to the masses, and never give up. This chapter for us is closed, but we will continue to fight the good fight, and you have our backs on every step of your own journey.”
Finally, Barton concluded with a message to his own family. The family he formed during his tenure as front man and vocalist for I am Man, I am Monster: “This band has been the most memorable thing in my life. I love Megan, Rusty, Reilly, and Al. I love our families, Megan, Casey, Casey, Taylor and Lynsey. I love and miss all of the great people we have met upon the way. Thank you to everyone who has been there for us on this long road. Most of all, I will miss the continual band family outings, AKA tours, but I know that, no matter the time or distance, we will never truly be apart.”
The show will begin at Andy’s Bar starting at 10 p.m. Cover is $8. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.
Photos by Robert Cespedes courtesy of IAM,IAM
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados