When we premiered American Wrestlers' "Kelly" a few months ago, FADER's Patrick McDermott curiously noted the anonymity behind the soft-focus indie rock project. Well, we know who's behind it all now: Scottish singer/songwriter Gary McClure, who was previously in Working For A Nuclear Free City and is gearing up for the release of American Wrestlers' self-titled debut, out April 7 via Fat Possum. FADER asked McClure a few questions about his project and its debut, which you can stream in full below, too (nifty!).
Why the decision to initially guard your identity? Fear of assassination. When I first mailed these songs to journalists it didn't occur to me to include much biographical information. I never felt like I had a personal story interesting enough to be worth tagging on the end of the music. "Here's the album of year. Yours truly, some bozo" summed it up pretty well I thought. The label liked the mystery and thought other people would be into it too. Everyone likes a good story, I guess.
These songs have a homespun charm to them, were they recorded and written off-the-cuff or toiled over? Every detail was totally calculated. I get very particular about each and every word and note because it's going to be like that forever. You can't take it back once it's on the vinyl. It's a different story when it comes to recording because I don't have much idea what I'm doing. I can only keep so much control over that process before I just give in to the accidentals. The 'homespun' quality is down to my lack of skill as a producer and the limited equipment. I was actually trying my hardest to keep it out of the LoFi zone.
One thing I thought of while listening to this album was early-2000s Barsuk (in a good way). What did you listen to as formative influences as a musician? Actually, nothing much from that era. I was listening to a lot of Elvis and The Church whilst deeply wanting to write songs like Pearl Jam, Catherine Wheel and Oasis. Though whenever anyone attempts to create and album they should invariably look to The Fall.
Any life experiences that play into your lyrics? Of course. What Paul tells us about Peter tells us more about Paul than about Peter. The songs are about everyone with myself included. "There's No One Crying Over Me Either" is about our shouting into this black hole we just created and the only response being someone else shouting the same thing back. "Holy" is about a new rift slashing through your life that suddenly makes you superhuman. "I Can Do No Wrong" is about becoming the leader of the free world. The songs are not about what I wrote above. They might be lyrics about the last album I wrote—They're probably about futility and death.
What do you think about the state of "indie rock" as a concept in 2015? Was it ever more than a concept? Since around about the mid 90's the majors have exclusively peddled children's music. Everyone is independent of that now aren't they? But , you know, It doesn't matter how you sell it. The song remains the same. There is one big difference. It used to be the mainstream acts who were the fakes. Now the indie bands are the ones who are faking it. Technological advances have given everyone the power to have the appearance of being an artist or a musician. Scratch the surface of 98% of bands and you wont find much. Just like it's always been.
Have your parents listened to your music? What do they think? I don't think they've heard this album yet. Although I get the feeling my Dad would rather listen to Bob Dylan. I don't blame him. You might like it though. It's the Album of the Year.