And You Are...? Playing the Name Game with And I Am
(First published in Planet Magazine, 26sep1995)
And I Am is a band that's hard to pigeonhole. Their music would
probably fit in well on stations like KZON, if you like to
categorize by radio playlists, but they don't sound much like any
other specific artist. However it's described, their music has
earned them a loyal following, as well as the support of LA-based
manager Tim Duffy of Evil Empire Management. Duffy, who has
worked with the Rolling Stones, Metallica, David Bowie, and most
recently Pearl Jam (at least, until they cancelled their tour to
protest against TicketMasterspeaking of Evil Empires),
considers And I Am his best prospect, and is currently shopping
around the band's demos.
Even harder to figure out than And I Am's music is their name:
"And I Am"...am what? To find out, I spoke with Peter Forbes,
the band's frontman and songwriter. Forbes is serious about his
music, but fortunately he has a sense of humor about his band's
name, which he says originated with a former member, since
replaced (though, oddly enough, not for coming up with the name
And I Am).
Deuceofclubs: Okay, fill in the blank: And I Am _____.
Peter Forbes: And I Am...green with envy.Green Eggs and Ham. And
I Am...Samiam. I do not like...And I Am!
See? It's kind of a silly name.
You Am Ihave you heard of that band?
No, but the letters UMI are painted on the roof of a
house down by Fiesta Mall! They've been up there for years, and I
wish I knew why. Once I went over and knocked on the door and
asked about it, but the occupants were renters and didn't even
know it was there. The head geek at the company where I worked
used to make the password, "IMI,UBU." See? I am I, you be you.
You know that band UB40? I met these old guys in a retro
band who called themselves WE B 50.
And I Amyou've kind of got a reggae tie-in thereyou
know, "I & I."
I'm not in love with the name, okay? It hasn't been
registered or trademarked or anything, so
So maybe there's still hope that someone, somewhere, might
There's been every other variation: Yes I Am, Samiam
But those names make sense. "Samiam" is from Dr. Suess; "Yes
I Am" is from that beer commercial, I guess.
For that matter, Yes I Am is Melissa Etheridge's coming-out-of-the-closet album.
I think you should steal David Spade's tag line from SNL:
"And You Are...?" But And I AmI don't know. It's like you're
joining the name in progress, like in medias res in literature.
"And I Am"...am what?
We used to be called More Islands. Can you believe we
actually played out under that name? We were being confused as a
reggae band, however, so we dropped it. Again, that was a name
that was misunderstood. Even we didn't understand it.
Do you understand this one?
No, not really.
It almost sounds belligerent. It's hard to tell what it is.
You might be a rap group: "And I AmDAMMIT!" Or you could put
some umlauts over the vowels and be a metal band. Actually, the
name makes me think of Neal Diamond's "I Am I Said." Remember
(Sings) "And no one heard at all, not even...the chair!"
Someone once called that the worst stretch for a rhyme in
pop music history.
Neil Diamond didn't write that song, did he?
I think he did. He also wrote "Red, Red Wine."
(Sings the UB40 version) "Red, red wine, you make me feel so
fine"hey, if we were still called More Islands, we could do
One of my all-time favorite inept reviews was about you
guys. According to the reviewer, your music "blends mind-pop and
the sterile synthonics of posh English etherics. Curiously, the
lead vocal colorization is order Gabriel; resulting in an
acceptable new voice to pop stardom."
That makes no sense!
That's what's great about it! You do get comparedperhaps
unfairlywith Peter Gabriel, but probably more from a lack of
something else with which to compare you.
The element of keyboards in our band, maybe that's the one
thing that makes it different from Tempe guitar bands. It's
happening in some of the industrial musicNine Inch Nails is
doing keyboard-oriented music. Maybe that's the dilemma about our
sound, that we do have that element.
Maybe the dilemma is the name.
I dunno; maybe we should change it.
Have you considered the name Wagner? What do you think of
I can't say I've spent any time with Wagner.
Boy, I can. But I'd vote for "And You Are...?" As if I should
get a vote. What other names did you consider?
One was Nutritious Furniture.
Yikes! No wonder you picked And I Am. A name I always
thought would be great was Sucking Chest Wound. Then some band
actually used it. Now I'm thinking Blunt Force Trauma is the way
to go; that way, whenever the papers talk about the OJ murders
you're getting free publicity.
One of my favorite local band names is Anus the Menace. I
always enjoyed that one.
Remember that band called The Very Idea of Fucking Hitler?
And Mighty Sphincter? And Jodie Foster's Army? And of course The
Meat Puppets. Maybe we haven't had too many great bands in
Phoenix, but we've had lots of great band names.
And what you're saying is, And I Am isn't one of them.
It just bothers me. I don't even like to say it. When Notaro
asked me the name of your band, I lied and said I couldn't
remember. Maybe you should make an anagram out of it. An anagram
for And I Am. Hey, that sounded like Lenny Bruce: "Another
martini for Mother Cabrini!"
An anagram for And I Am. An And I Am-agram! I don't know, the band has a dark, minor
element to it. Dark pop. But we're not like The Cure or
something. Our band sounds dark but then "Make Me Talk" is in C
major. So that's why it's difficult to describe us. I don't want
to say rock; that's just too general a term.
"Dark pop"I like that. That could be your name. You could
be the King of Dark Pop. In fact, I think you might be darker
than the King of Pop, who isn't so dark any more. Listen, are you
sure you don't want to be called Blunt Force Trauma? I could let
you have the name real cheap. Or how about Blunt Force Drama?
That way, the abbreviation would be BFD. I'm just thinking here.
Anyway, what's next for you?
We're getting ready to release a CD. There's a lot of
variety on it. One song is extremely dark, almost soundtrack-like
in feel. Then there's a track called "Make Me Talk," which is a
real poppy, straight ahead tune. It's diverse.
You write most of the material, right?
Yeah. I write at home with a Mac, sequencing stuff. It's a
good way to get ideas out. I can present a tape with everything
intact, with some sort of arrangement.
You've had some strange opening gigs.
Yeah. We've opened for Foghat, Leon Russell, Peter Frampton,
That's a weird name. Butyou call yourself Ozric Tentacles,
people know they're dealing with a certain type of band, see? You
call yourself Sucking Chest Wound, you know what you're getting.
I hope I'm not insulting you....
Nah. I knew you'd probably have fun with the name.
Nothing personal. It's my job.
You know, back in grade school we used to bring tape
recorders into restaurants and have these stupid dialogues for
hours on end. For what reason? Same reason we named the band And
I Am. There was no reason!
Your first show was at the Mason Jar, right?
I think Franco is deeply misunderstood. I think underneath
all the gold chains and the clogs and the little hats he wears
and the 75-cent Kamikazees, there's a good guy who wants to come
out. Franco was confused by our name, too. "And I Am? And I
WHAT?" In fact, instead of And I Am, the Jar's ad said "N. I. M."
That could work! Nine Inch Nails is NIN; you could be N. I.
M. Aunty Em! Aunty Em!
I yam what I yam!
OK, do I have the rest of your lineup right? Brett Neils,
keyboards; Matt Niskern, guitar; Tony Robinson, bass; Joe Morris,
drums. Didn't you used to have a different drummer?
We got rid of our first drummer.
So you have your own Pete Best, then? Do you know that after
he got dumped by the Beatles, Pete Best came out with an album of
his own stuff and called it Best of the Beatles?
Better keep an eye on your ex-drummer; he might come out
with an album someday.
And I Am...Not With That Band Any More!
What happened with the other drummer?
Well...just one of those things.
Another good band namewe should be selling these! You
gotta have those up, happenin'-type names, filthy names, like Pap
Smear. They're all like that: Green Jello, Green Day, Pearl Jam.
Yuck. That's really filthy.
See? You're feeling better now about the name And I Am,
© Deuce of Clubs