American Wrestlers say ‘Hello, Dear’ to nationwide tour


Courtesy Evan Cuttler

American Wrestlers started its nationwide tour Nov. 30 for its album Goodbye Terrible Youth and is set to play Dec. 11 at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., with Chicago bands VARSITY and Laverne. 

By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Gary McClure, lead singer and guitarist of St. Louis indie band American Wrestlers, said he actually had a great upbringing—despite the title of the band’s newest album, Goodbye Terrible Youth. The record, which released Nov. 4 and includes scratchy yet upbeat tracks such as “Hello, Dear,” is not as introspective as one might think; McClure even said the record should not be viewed as having too many layers. Instead, McClure describes the band’s sophomore record as an indie power pop and “sarcastic” album that carries gripping and lyrical content.

American Wrestlers features McClure’s wife Bridgette Imperial on the keyboard, bassist Ian Reitz and drummer Josh Van Hoorebeke. The group embarked on tour Nov. 30 and are set to play at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., Dec. 11.

The Chronicle spoke with McClure about the second album, its meaning and what it is like hearing his own songs. 

THE CHRONICLE: What is new about Goodbye Terrible Youth?

GARY McCLURE: The first one was supposed to be demos, actually. I was convinced no one would put it out and no one would ever hear it. I made that on a Tascam. I put it on a bunch of blogs, and then eight labels got in touch within the next week, and one of those was Fat Possum. It was wild and totally unexpected. They put it out as it is, so this time around, we had time to construct it a bit more. Also, I wanted songs to be a bit more direct and work a bit better in a live context.

Although you are Scottish, the band name is “American.” How was it picked?

Have you ever tried to pick a band name? It is the worst experience. I feel degraded doing it. It almost feels like you are trying to name your gang or your kid. Years and years ago a friend of mine came up with this name American Wrestlers, and he thought it was a stupid idea for a band name. I thought about that, and I thought it was already something people recognize and that’s good. It is something you can easily remember. There is a nice aesthetic to the lettering, so that’s really it.

How did you decide on the title Goodbye Terrible Youth for the album?

I had a great upbringing, actually. Obviously, I wasn’t rich or anything, but I had good parents and all that. The record sounds [like] a lot of the music I got into was when I was really young. If there are any youthful references it is that one, a musical one. But a lot of it was sarcastic to say “goodbye” to [childhood] because a lot of people put a real downer on the young. They are made out to be responsible for a lot of things and then they are made totally irresponsible for [other things], so it is a sarcastic thing.

What song of yours do you like to play or listen to the most?

I don’t listen to anything I write ever. I know when it is done. When you are creative, you are trying to emotionally affect someone or get some connection, so you can’t really do that to yourself, can you? You can’t write something and then read it back and go, “Wow, I really felt good.” It is like trying to tickle yourself or trying to smell yourself. You can do it a bit but you can’t really do this whole thing yourself. I think that’s why. I never bother to listen to it—not because I think it is s–t or anything but because it does not work for me.