Wavves' Nathan Williams had long been obsessed with wrestling, but despite two decades of fandom, he'd never seen anything like Underground Empire – the brutal, L.A.-based promotion that prides itself on pushing pro wrestling to the brink.
"I have wrestling parties at my house every Monday and Thursday for Raw and SmackDown; we'll barbecue and watch. I've been a fan for 20 years now – but the UEW event, it was crazy," he says. "They had a baseball bat with duct tape wrapped around it, and thumbtacks stuck in there, and they were hitting each other in the head with it. They were telling you seconds before, 'Get the fuck out of the way, because someone's about to be tossed through all of the chairs you were just sitting in.' And then when you'd set your chair back up again, there'd be a bloody handprint on it."
Williams wasn't just watching Underground Empire Wrestling as a slightly shocked fan – he was also filming the video for "Way Too Much," a single off Wavves' upcoming V album (due October 2). The clip was shot last month, at UEW's Hysteria event, where wrestlers Max X and JD Horror faced off in a brutal "deathmatch" for the Heavyweight Championship, and as such, all Williams had to do was sit back and take it all in…oh, and try not to get hurt.
"The video was directed by Jack Wagner, and we had this long, convoluted concept that he wanted to do, but I didn't really want to do a funny video. I wanted to do something that I could enjoy and not act in," Williams says. "And I like that the protagonist doesn't win; it's David and Goliath, but the real version – he gets the living shit kicked out of him.
"Max X, the guy in the video, his shit was fucked up after the match. I watched them peel the tacks out of his skull; there must have been 20 of them, and they're pulling them out with pliers as he screamed," Williams continues. "It was kind of cool, because it was like the ECW stuff from when I was a kid; it was pretty vulgar and dark, and you can tell those guys and girls were putting their bodies on the line. There's a brotherhood there. It reminded me of guys like Terry Funk and the Dudley Boyz and Rob Van Dam. I wanted to be RVD when I was younger, I thought he was a cool dude; he was a stoner and a karate expert."
And in that regard, "Way Too Much" was a way for Williams to celebrate the men and women who risk life and limb in the ring – not in the hopes of a big payday or WWE contract, but because they simply love wrestling.
"After he was done, Max seriously looked euphoric," Williams says. "He said he got knocked out in the middle of the match, and they had to improvise, had to give him time to wake up so they could throw him through more barbed wire. You have to love what you're doing if you're going to put your body through that."
Though he's currently on tour, Williams says he never misses a WWE show – but he's yet to try and use his status to secure ringside seats or VIP access for an event. Of course, that could change.
"I always forget that I guess I'm mildly popular – but I haven't gotten any sort of special privileges from WWE," he laughs. "But, who knows? When Machine Gun Kelly was on Raw, he got Powerbombed by Kevin Owens. He's my favourite wrestler – him and the New Day – so something like that would be crazy."