It’s not out of the realm of ordinary that professional wrestlers delve into projects outside of wrestling, with music and movies being near the top of the list.
The latest wrestlers to follow their musical interests are Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin, TNA’s Motor City Machine Guns, and ex-TNA star Petey Williams.
Shelley, Sabin and Williams, along with friends Adam Tatro and Chris Plumb, are known as The High Crusade and, on September 7, released their debut CD, It’s Not What You Think.
The band members recently conducted a Q & A session with SLAM! Wrestling and tackled such topics as balancing wrestling and music, Dixie Carter’s feelings on the subject, groupies and following in the footsteps of past wrestlers-turned-musicians.
How, where and when did the band get started? Who are the members and what does each do?
Adam Tatro: I play drums, Chris Sabin is on the bass, Petey Williams and Chris Plumb play guitar and Alex Shelley is on vocals. We were playing Rock Band one day and realized we all play those instruments for real. Chris Plumb joined the band a little later to complete the band’s line up.
Alex Shelley: We’re all friends, and we all love similar music. Plus, Adam had a studio.
Chris Plumb: Adam asked me if I wanted to join because they wanted another guitarist and thought it would be fun. And it was!
How did you come up with the name The High Crusade?
Chris Plumb: It’s a book about an alien ship that lands on Earth during the Crusades and a group of knights storm the ship and fly out into space. We all thought that sounded badass and it ended up sticking.
Alex Shelley: The Double 00 needed a name for the fliers and the band name generator was constantly malfunctioning. Dirt, Dirt was the runner-up. I won’t tell you the third place winner.
What is each of your backgrounds in music?
Petey Williams: I’ve played guitar for the past 17 years. Never took any formal lessons, I just liked playing songs by my favorite bands. I played bass guitar in some of my previous bands.
Alex Shelley: I played in bands in high school. I forgot everything about music from then, I might add. I used to be able to play guitar when I was a kid, I swear. I’m not the guy who bangs the tambourine from The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Adam Tatro: I’ve been playing drums since I was 12 years old and played in many bands throughout the years. Chris Plumb and I have been playing in a band called Idol and the Whip for a few years now.
Chris Sabin: Played guitar on and off since I was 13.
Chris Plumb: I always liked listening to music as a kid, but never had much of an interest in playing an instrument. After my parents got divorced when I was about 12, I immediately had this strong urge to want to play guitar. It ended up being a great emotional output and came at the perfect time in my life. My dad bought me my first guitar, a Japanese Fender Strat, and my mom paid for lessons (I had to commit to doing six months of lessons first to ensure that I wouldn’t mess around with my guitar for a week and then never touch it again). I’ve been playing ever since, in and out of a few bands here and there, but mostly just for fun.
Which has better groupies — wrestling or rock music?
Chris Sabin: Either way, you’ll probably end up with an STD. Not cool.
Alex Shelley: I’m not picky. Anyone who knows the majority of The Stooges self-titled album is alright with me. Most wrestling fans are dudes, if you were implying which art form has better looking fans, I guess. We all love our girlfriends/wives.
Chris Plumb: I wouldn’t know about wrestling, but I met my now-fiancée at a show our other band, Idol and the Whip, played a few years ago — so definitely rock music in my book.
How difficult is it to find time to rehearse and perform given your schedules, especially with Petey an indy guy and Tatro and Plumb not being wrestlers?
Alex Shelley: It’s not that bad, really. Once you learn the songs, you learn ’em, but good. If anything, we’re just kind of lazy at times, but then practice for nine hours a day a few times a week. It comes in waves, you know?
Chris Sabin: Practice has been pretty smooth for the most part. Everyone is enthusiastic and enjoying themselves. As far as shows go, we’ve only had the chance to play live two times at the Double 00 in Detroit but we would like to play more. Live shows tend to clash with wrestling more.
Chris Plumb: Not that hard really — we’ll go three weeks without practicing sometimes because the wrestler dudes are traveling, but once we get together, it’s like no time has passed and we pick things up very quickly.
Petey Williams: Our music is extremely important to us. All of the members in the band have demanding schedules, inside and outside of wrestling. We make it a point to set aside a few hours each week to get together and go over our old material and come up with new ideas too. Sabin and Shelley usually know their TNA schedules well in advance. I’m going to start working on a wrestling project for MTV2 in the near future. Despite all of our busy lifestyles, we will always make time for our music and the fans that support us.
Who are your musical influences?
Alex Shelley: Mando Diao. The Hellacopters. Idol and The Whip. I’m sure all the really obvious ones will be mentioned by someone else in the band anyway.
Chris Sabin: Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, 311, Sublime, MC5, The Stooges
Chris Plumb: When I was a kid, my dad played me a lot of great music from bands like The Who and The Kinks, to early Green Day and Nirvana. As I got into my teenage years, I found Metallica and got really into a lot of different kinds of metal. I like really aggressive music, but still appreciate music that is catchy, memorable, but still heavy, which is why I love Torche so damn much. They’re probably my biggest influence right now — it’s a little more obvious with IATW, but I try to sneak little heavy riffs into THC songs here and there when I can get away with it.
Petey Williams: Mine are Pearl Jam and Nirvana. I’m a big fan of the Seattle grunge era. It’s the reason I started playing guitar in the first place.
Adam Tatro: All our musical influences are alike enough to not clash with songwriting, but different enough so that everyone can add something interesting to the writing process.
How aware are you guys of names from the past who were in wrestling and music — Ricki Starr, Sweet Daddy Siki, Farmer Boy Townsend, guys like that?
Alex Shelley: Not very.
Chris Sabin: Well, I haven’t heard any of their music, but I would love to give it a shot.
Chris Plumb: I’ve heard Randy Savage’s album on YouTube. It was hilarious.
What has TNA’s attitude been to you guys doing this side project, since WWE fired Mickie James and Maria Kanellis when they got more serious about their music careers?
Alex Shelley: TNA encourages us to be creative and have outside projects, actually. Furthermore, I’m not concerned with the employment of people I don’t know who don’t work for the same company I do.
Chris Sabin: TNA has been totally cool about us doing this on the side. It doesn’t take away from our wrestling obligations
Chris Plumb: I always thought that “TNA” meant something else…
Considering that Dixie Carter’s background is in promoting musical acts, have you consulted with her at all?
Alex Shelley: We’ve spoken to her about it in passing, albeit briefly. She’s obviously a busy lady, but she’s always willing to talk to us, which is comforting and pretty awesome.
Chris Plumb: I’ve never met Dixie Carter, but I heard that Dixie Normous is a really nice person.
How far do you want to take music, and is your future in wrestling or music?
Alex Shelley: As far as it takes us, and both. I want to wrestle the first match of a TNA house show at an arena in Dallas then have to hurry across town to open for The Black Keys at the House of Blues. It’ll be great.
Chris Sabin: Music along with wrestling are two things that I have enjoyed and has inspired me. I love both, and love participating in both. I’m along for the ride, wherever the path may lead.
Chris Plumb: For me, my future will always be music. Probably not as a full-time career, but as something I’ll always be seriously involved in on the side. My fiancée and I are planning on starting a family and to be a full-time musician means you have to tour a lot. Touring is fun, but I wouldn’t want to be the kind of husband/dad that is never there.
Petey Williams: Why can’t we do both? I know that I would really enjoy a future in music. I just don’t want to be typecast as “a bunch of wrestlers trying to do music.” I was playing guitar and performing in a band long before I was a wrestler. I believe that if you handed somebody our new CD that they would love it — regardless if we are wrestlers or not.
Adam Tatro: We do this band mostly for ourselves. It is a fun and creative release and we are happy that other people can enjoy it, too. If we keep having as much fun as we are with this band then we will be doing this for a long time and taking it wherever it leads us.