As his tour van barrels westward across the Nebraska plains Gary McClure remembers when American Wrestlers, the indie rock band consisting of himself, his wife Bridgette Imperial, Ian Reitz and Josh Van Hoorebeke, didn’t even have a vehicle to call their own. “What the fuck are we supposed to do with ya then?” Gary recalls executives at Fat Possum Records remarking when he informed them that not only is he short transportation but he’s also short most of the members of a full band.
Just a few short years ago Gary was nothing more than a low-fi cassette tape and a handful of envelopes. Resorting to sending a demo cassette out to local blogs and radio stations he was shocked to eventually hear back from Fat Possum looking to sign him. “Before I was so used to not being able to go anywhere with my music. Trying and failing so many times you get a feeling of, ‘fuck it, nobody is ever going to hear it”.
It was a struggle right from the start – a transplant from the UK, he describes his hometown as Manchester as a grey, competitive and cynical place. “I kinda got taken away from my first musical love – playing guitar,” Gary said, “me and Phil, my mate, we’d write a song in a day and if we didn’t finish it we’d throw it away. I think recently he found about 2000 unused tracks. But eventually, we completely exhausted the whole writing process thing. I always wanted to play guitar but I ended up getting sidetracked because this guy Phil was the only guy around who I knew that knew how to make any music. So I kinda got taken away from my first musical love. But all of a sudden I was transported to a new musical place and Phil wasn’t around to run anything by anymore and it was almost like quantum leap: all of a sudden I was on my own. All of a sudden I was allowed to make music I wanted to make. It was a strange sense of freedom when before I felt I didn’t have that freedom. All of a sudden I didn’t worry about what my peers would think or anything like that.”
That ‘quantum leap’ was a move from Manchester to St. Louis after meeting his wife, Bridgette at a show in Chicago. “She was a fan and we just kind of hit it off.” Gary said, “Chicago is really the first city I ever really fell in love with – Bridgette was a big part of that as well.”
Fast forward to 2017 and Gary finds himself in the back of his label-provided tour van with Bridgette touring their new record Goodbye Terrible Youth. “I honestly don’t even listen to the record anymore,” Gary says when asked about its sound, “I can’t. It’s impossible for me to listen to the songs from an outsider’s perspective anymore so I find it a little difficult to enjoy objectively. It’s hard to listen back to it and hear it same way that other people hear it.
People have told me that it sounds new, but I just think that it sounds just like a bunch of old stuff you know I just think it sounds like a bunch of old music. As far as something like I wanted to hear, I guess, yeah..”
As conflicted as Gary sounds about his past achievements and the new LP he talks about the future fondly. The new life ahead for Gary and American Wrestlers offers a blank canvas that Gary is excited to paint upon. “I was so used to not being able to go anywhere with music. All of a sudden this woman comes along and you fall in love and there’s possibility – it’s a great feeling”.
American Wrestlers LP Goodbye Terrible Youth is available via Fat Possum Records
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Jan 10 Nashville, TN – The High Watt
Jan 11 Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn
Jan 12 New Orleans, LA – Hi-Ho Lounge
Jan 13 Houston, TX – The Raven Tower
Jan 14 Austin, TX – Sidewinder
Jan 15 Dallas, TX – Three Links
Jan 18 Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar
Jan 19 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
Jan 20 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater
Jan 21 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
Jan 24 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
Jan 25 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
Jan 27 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
Jan 28 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
Jan 30 Kansas City, MO – The recordBar
Mar 24 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge