Now based in Missouri, the Scotsman behind American Wrestlers has been on one hell of a journey. Born and raised in Glasgow, he then found his way to Manchester, where he recorded some demos under a different name and posted the songs online. It was then that his now-wife first got in touch, and after becoming enraptured with one another, he moved across the Atlantic to get married.
“I like to write real songs that survive all on their own,” he explains of the sound. “One human and one instrument. Just the human even.” Melodic and hazy, its ramshackle surface hides an attention to detail that leaves the ‘lo-fi’ tag dead in the water.
“The lo-fi thing was all unintentional,” he confirms. “This was me trying my hardest to keep all the different sounds and layers under control. Make the reverbs and chorus sound nice and get just the right amount of overdrive from the multi-track’s inputs, while at the same time trying to make sure I kept the natural sounds and feels of the real sources the music was coming from.”
Armed with little more than a TASCAM 8-track and “the cheapest pawn shop instruments [he] could afford,” the upcoming self-titled debut took shape in remote and rural America, and that comforting step away from the hustle and bustle is felt throughout.
First single sees ‘I Can Do No Wrong’ sees shimmery guitar-work draw upon that feeling of a Midwestern summer’s stifling heat. Driven along by a crackling beat, it’s a stripped back approach to garage-rock that focuses on melody and avoids the all-too-common desire to drench everything in layer-upon-layer of fuzz.
“The warbling in the chorus is me shaking the whole cassette after taking off the front of the tape tray,” he explains of his process. There’s a similar free-spiritedness throughout the record – on ‘There’s No One Crying Over Me Either’, the four-note piano refrain was a happy accident: “I was walking past a piano in a friends house and hit four notes at random, stopped and played them again a few times, then sang a melody, and it eventually became this song.”
“The last time I had a TASCAM 8-track I was fourteen,” he continues on the subject of the record’s playful and timeless nature. “The TASCAM was fitting because I was kinda trying to write the album I had always wanted to write since I first started playing music.” For the character behind American Wrestlers, then, it’s a lifelong ambition finally realised – for all us lucky enough to hear the fruits of his labour, it’s a wonderfully timeless record, and one that’s destined to inspire another generation of youngsters to pick up their own 8-track.