They told me there wasn’t any metal in this town. Coming from a place where I could easily get my fix of touring and local metal, hard core and hard rock bands, I was shocked at the news.
“You’ll have to go to Farmington for that,” they’d say. Or, “Sorry, kid, there’s only bluegrass and jam bands in Durango.”
Regardless, I searched far and wide and went on a bit of a wild goose chase. A baristo at Steaming Bean said to talk to so-and-so at Olde Tymers Cafe, and then so-and-so sent me to the music store to talk to what’s-his-name, but what’s-his-name doesn’t play metal anymore. So it goes.
I was exhausted and just about defeated. But my quest came to an end; I found the metal. Or rather, the metal found me. Skull Theory, a five-piece band based here in Durango, contacted me to proclaim some good news: They’re leaving town at the end of October, heading to tour Europe.
Kind of funny that once I find the metal, they say they’re leaving.
“We’re ready to get on a plane,” said an excited Kyle Dalton, guitarist for Skull Theory. “The goal was just to tour and get our music out there, then this opportunity just kind of came up and it was a little too good to pass up.”
Skull Theory left for Europe last week. Although frivolous details, like places to sleep, hadn’t quite been worked out, the band’s collective excitement for the European tour trumped all doubts.
“We’ll have to let our guards down eventually for someone to let us in,” said bassist Scotty DeForest, joining in the contagious laughter. “Maybe it’s a crazy fan and we’ll never emerge from that house.”
Although the band skipped across the pond for an “experience of a lifetime,” the brutal reality of being a metal band in Durango, a black sheep in a sea of white wool, will welcome them home. Although members of Skull Theory claimed bands don’t have to own their own venue to play in Durango, being able to set up their own shows doesn’t hurt.
“It’s hard, but we get paid here in town,” DeForest said. “We’ve had to make a name for ourselves. Now people who book us let us book there because we bring such a big crowd.”
Places like Moe’s and Pongas have offered refuge to metal and hard rock bands, but avoiding the “metal bar” label causes shows to be more like special occasions. Places like Animas City Theatre are even more hesitant to book metal shows, according to Skull Theory.
“... But you walk in there with a laptop and a dub step machine, you’re good,” said vocalist Clint Lewis.
The shortage of metal fans in Durango isn’t necessarily the problem. Dalton contends there are plenty, but the scene dies off when the music loses its home. If there are no venues to see shows and concerts, the support retreats into the shadows.
“It’s rough. That’s why we started doing The Manfort thing, to have local talent mixed in with touring talent and give them somewhere to go,” Dalton said, referring to DeForest’s house, which serves as a sanctuary for touring bands passing through who need a stage to play, faces to melt and a hot meal in the morning.
“It’s hard creating awareness because lots of places in town don’t want to back us, they don’t want to be associated with it,” Dalton continued. “They think, ‘Oh if we associate ourselves with this metal band, then people aren’t going to like us anymore and are going to think we’re devil worshippers or something.’”
I agree with Skull Theory when they say the best time and place to hear any band is live. That’s where the raw energy, the reason I love metal in the first place, is created.
But until there are more places in Durango to see local and touring metal live, I’ll listen to albums and demos online. In fact, Skull Theory has released demos of songs available for anyone to listen to on its website, wwww.skulltheory.com.