Live Like You’ll Die: Interview with Gary McClure of American Wrestlers
Written By Kyle Nutter
Photographs by Rick Perez
Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn is a fun venue. Inside Gary McClure popped up next to me seconds after I sent a text about a meeting spot. I must have been standing awkwardly. We went around the corner and in small flickering shadows talked of the contradictions in life.
Gary had his elbows on the table and his head in his hands.
Action is a result of motivation. There is a reason for everything that is said, done, and thought. The reason isn’t always known. Gary plays music well. Doing what he does seems irrational to himself, but it’s an undeniable compulsion. From the beginning, he’s waited against obstacles. When Gary was young, his uncle told him he’d buy a guitar for him. So Gary waited and waited for the guitar. And when he got the guitar, he started playing and hasn’t stopped.
“It drove me fucking nuts,” Gary said, “But it never was a question of whether it was the sensible thing to do.”
He cares about leaving a legacy and thinks it’s a waste of time. We talked about the merits of leaving a legacy. One should adopt the policy of hedonism. Nothing matters in a black hole death. Appease your immediate desires in the event that living is the only time you have to experience pleasure. He described a scene of a potential life unfamiliar to his own, and it confused me. It felt wistful. There was security in finances, social relationships, and expectations.
“It doesn’t matter after you die, so just enjoy yourself,” Gary said.
The entire time I spoke with Gary, I couldn’t quite believe him. He told me that he’s making himself miserable and he knows that it’s a waste of time to live like he’s leaving a legacy. I know miserable people. Situational events pushed them into scenarios of misery. Someone doesn’t just fall into touring and producing music. In order to have a morsel of success, perpetual effort and talent is required. American Wrestlers is a great band, and others recognize that. I find it hard to believe someone would put so much work into something that actually makes them miserable. Gary’s current situation isn’t surrounded by pillows. Deep down though, he likes it nonetheless. And if you saw the show American Wrestlers put on, you’d think the same.
Only a handful of legacies enjoy repetition beyond a few generations. Some argue that the oldest legacies are fictions. Unarguable, legacy begins with death, and with every death a legacy starts. The duration and longevity depends on how much of a difference is made in the world. That’s why Gandhi’s legacy is much stronger than the local hero of a 1,000 member community. The possibility of enjoying any legacy left is questioned, because no one knows exactly what happens after leaving life. Here Gary’s futile-leaning perspective wins. I always plan for the worst, and the worst would be to watch a recording of your life over and over. Make it interesting. Even if the snuffing is permanent, that last second would be filled with confidence.
American Wrestlers exist out of an irrational impulse to play music or an attempt to make a connection. There resides two parts in every person: an expressible part and an inexpressible part. The inexpressible part is the source of why each of us feels like an individual. It differentiates us because it can’t connect with anything and is always misunderstood because language is a flawed human concept. Only art can connect with the inexpressible within us. When art affects someone, an understanding has been made with that misunderstood part. It’s ironic that the only true connection is done through an inexpressible channel. Gary bridges the gap between audiences and the stage. A fan of American Wrestlers is now the touring drummer. Either explanation is legacy worthy.