Thinking of Nashville's Lambchop probably doesn't bring up images of of spandex leotards, bodyslams and chokeholds. Kurt Wagner and his band are masters of the slight, gentle moments — emphasizing the melancholy and joy in small things. The sweet orchestrations of its song "Gone Tomorrow," from their 11th album, the upcoming Mr. M, could seem out of place in its video's world of professional wrestling, but Wagner's lyrics are universal.
Wagner told us in an email about his experience making the video and how he came to the wrestling concept.
"There is a real Nashville grit to this video. On scouting the location and meeting up with its star Jocephus, I hadn't stepped out of the car for more than a minute when I was approached by a man who wanted my hat and showed me his knife. From my point of view, in a good video, the song does not have to relate to what the video 'is' or 'is about.' That's up to the maker of the video.
Director Zack Spiger's video for "Gone Tomorrow" is a small document about the Stadium Inn — a hotel-slash-wrestling arena in Nashville. As Jocephus Brody (who wears an amazing shirt with his own face on it at the beginning of the video) and Wolfie D clash in the ring, Spiger shows the crowd's reaction to every every slam into the mat. Spiger avoids the easy trap of viewing wrestling as a joke and instead gives an intimate portrait of two wrestlers and the community that cheers them on. There's no ironic detachment or gross spectacle about the video. These are just men — extremely muscular men — doing what they love to do in front of fans.
We asked Spiger about filming at the Stadium Inn:
I was in Nashville about a year ago working on a music video with a friend of mine, Stone Jack Jones. One night he took me to the Stadium Inn to see a guy wrestle that sometimes played accordion with the band. The venue was really something else. They had permanently set up a ring in the old conference room of the hotel. The wrestling was spectacular and hilarious. I got so excited about the whole ordeal that I decided to film bits and pieces of the match. The material ended up not making it into the video, but a few months later the idea came up about doing a video for the upcoming Lambchop album. I showed Kurt and the record label the 16mm stuff that I had shot and pitched a very vague idea that would feature Jocephus, the local wrestling hero and this strange hotel where the matches take place every week.
I approached the project more like a documentary and began to immerse myself in wrestling culture. During the month before the shoot I went to the Stadium Inn for every match, hung out in the locker rooms, and watched all wrestling matches that Jocephus would recommend. When it came time to shoot, we just shot the real match and the audience. Then we went back the next day and shot the band playing on a little "stage" inside the locker room. I knew that Kurt didn't want anything narrative, but something enigmatic and cinematic, so I tried my best to keep things real loose. In the end I think the video really captures the ambiance in that part of Nashville and the infamous Stadium Inn. And I'd highly recommend it anyone in Nashville on a Friday night. It's good fun for the whole family.
Lambchop's Mr. M will be out on February 21st from Merge Records. You can listen to the whole album today as part of our First Listen series.