A Triumph for I Am Dragon

One of Madison’s homegrown rock bands, I Am Dragon, is on the rise; and as they recently released their latest EP, Triumphs, Doubt, and Everything Between, I thought it appropriate for them to be the subject of my first post on RockOnWisconsin. Plus? If Lords of the Trident can deem them worthy, so can I!

hair-flying fun with I Am Dragon! Photo courtesy of Ferris.B Photography

Hair-flying fun with I Am Dragon! Photo by Ferris.B Photography

I Am Dragon keeps it real with their DIY attitude; from their handmade CD packaging (which have a handwritten number on each copy – mine is 63/100), to their individual shout-outs from the stage to their supportive fans, they know how to keep an audience. Their garage-rock sound and attitude make you want to have a beer with them after headbanging to their set.

This mighty band has proved time and time again they’re a force to be reckoned with – with their driving sound that ranges from alternative rock, punk, to verging on hard rock, as well as their thought-provoking lyrics that will stick in your brain and make you sing along. “Working through tough situations while making the most out of them has been one of the major underlying tones for a lot of our lyrical content,” said lead singer and guitarist, Jon Stover.

The stand-out track of the EP is the first track, Spell It Out – it will pull you in and keep you on the ride of the next 5 songs.  With lyrics giving way to the album’s title and highlights of each instrument, this self-reflection track is both easy to relate to and will make you dance.

Stover headlines the EP with a voice that will capture you with its ability to shout without breaking your ears, and sing high notes you didn’t know he could – case-in-point: The Midwest’s Most Wanted. Aka my favorite track. Stover shows off his surprising range in the verses, and then gets gritty in the chorus. With political lyrics, you’ll want to shake your fist in solidarity to this song. As Stover puts it, “Through music, we’re trying to put a happier spin on tough issues we face in our world today, because that’s the best way we can try and deal with them.” There’s a slight pause near the end the song, and just when you think it’s over, Dustin Skelley picks it up again with a sweet bass line and the song kicks into gear for a rock-out ending.

Speaking of Skelley, he sings on track four, Lose Control. It’s got a punk rock feel to it, and contains possibly one of my favorite lines of the EP (because it makes me giggle): “…don’t know why we’re hustlin’ kittens”. He claimed at the release show to be nervous because it was his first time singing it in front of an audience, but he nailed it.

One of the unique elements of I Am Dragon is that there’s a large presence of keys, played by Luke Crary. He adds a melodic component that you don’t always hear with such a rockin’ band, and creates a supplemental balance within it, locking in their staple sound. Often putting the keyboard on an organ setting, Crary punches out interesting riffs that make the songs even more catchy and memorable.

Luke Crary killin' it on keys with Jon Stover, Dustin Skelley and Andy Christoffersen in the back photo by Ferris.B Photography

Luke Crary killin’ it on keys! Photo by Ferris.B Photography

We can’t forget the driving beat of drummer, Andy Christoffersen.  His variations in rhythm and style are truly impressive. What’s also impressive? His beard. He shows it off by bringing a small fan to each show, and his blowing beard and long hair makes him look like a model of rock!

I Am Dragon should win a “best hair” award, by the way. Maybe I should suggest that to the people who run the MAMAs. 🙂

With a second successful Kickstarter campaign and EP under their belts, one may wonder what’s in store for the band. “Our main goal has always been to have fun with the group,” says Stover, “That’s our bottom line. We also try and write music that other people will like and at the same time will be enjoyable to play for us. As far as more concrete goals, our aim is to keep putting out quality albums and to continue refining our sound. Would I like to go on world tour? Of course. But for now we’re content getting our name out regionally and building on our songwriting.”

Warning: the songs from Triumphs, Doubt, and Everything Between WILL get stuck in your head. But that’s definitely not a bad thing. In fact, you probably won’t want them to leave.

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