I’ve achieved both of my dreams in one

TNA wrestler Joe Hendry has spoken to NME about his wrestling theme song ‘I Believe In Joe Hendry’ entering the UK Singles download and sales charts.

Last month, the Scottish athlete started a social campaign to get his upbeat theme song to the top spot on the UK Official Singles chart with the hope of “giving Taylor Swift a break from being Number One.”

His grassroots campaign saw his song go viral online with wrestling fans creating memes, leading to ‘I Believe In Joe Hendry’ to top the iTunes charts – beating competition Swift, Hozier, Sabrina Carpenter, Beyoncé and more. The song also debuted at Number Four on the UK Singles Download chart – the highest accomplishment for any wrestling song ever.

“The last four weeks have been a whirlwind, but it’s been a lot of fun,” he told NME. “Just the positivity that I’ve received from both the wrestling and the music fan base has been such a blessing.”

Hendry spoke to NME about the making of ‘I Believe In Joe Hendry’, his musical past and being able to combine his love for music and wrestling.

The former Digital Media Champion revealed that he was in a band Lost in Audio for 10 years, touring with the likes of The Fratellis and The Subways, before giving up his musical dreams for professional wrestling. During our interview however, he wasn’t keen to disclose the name of the band so that fans wouldn’t “find the cheesy demos” from his past life.

Hendry cited The Beatles and Weezer as huge musical influences that sparked his curiosity in music-making. He remembered being 10-years-old at his uncle’s New Year’s party and finding “a little cupboard that had lots of musical equipment, cassettes and vinyl”.

“I wandered into this room and I was just taken aback by all the album artwork,” he explained. “I put in the cassette that he had of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles and, to me, it was just so catchy that I wanted to play it over and over and over again and deconstruct why it was so catchy.”

This led to him using his dad’s computer, containing music program GarageBand, to try and deconstruct songs from his “favourite” record , Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’.

“GarageBand allowed people like myself with no experience to experiment with music and that’s how I learned songwriting,” he told NME. “To me, Weezer is the most underrated band critically that has ever walked the face of the earth in my view. I think they’re super underrated. And ‘The Blue Album; to me became like an education in songwriting.”

He added: “That style of songwriting laid everything out for me in terms of structure and – using GarageBand and ‘The Blue Album’ — I could deconstruct how songs were put together to help make my own.”

Nowadays, Hendry is inspired by the works of Butch Vig (the producer behind Nirvana‘s ‘Nevermind‘ and drummer of Garbage) and Chris Lord-Alge. He said he uses the latter’s custom plugins on every piece of music he has made as they are perfect for “when you’re looking for that big rock pop sound”.

The Edinburgh wrestler then applied what he had learned about songwriting every week on TNA Wrestling, where he is portrayed as the self-proclaimed “wrestling musician”.

“Professional wrestling is all about doing something unique,” he said. “And, to make yourself unique in professional wrestling, you need to lean on the skills that you have outside of wrestling.

“For me, it started with me just using the skills that I had which was creating these comedy songs in professional wrestling. Then, it kind of evolved into making fun of my opponents and using music to further the story in a way that I feel hasn’t really been done in professional wrestling.”

He added: “I felt very excited by the ability to use music in a way that hadn’t been used before in professional wrestling. To be honest with you, it’s so crazy that, in life, you have to let go of the thing that you want to get the thing that you want. I completely moved on from music and entered professional wrestling, then here I am with a wrestling song in the Top 40. I’ve achieved both of my dreams in one – it’s almost unthinkable.”

There are a few wrestlers who also have a musical career such as Chris Jericho (lead singer of Fozzy), Swerve Strickland and even Hendry’s on-screen nemesis AJ Francis. NME asked Hendry what is the link between wrestling and music that is so interesting.

He mentioned the fact that Lars Frederiksen from Rancid is a member of the TNA roster, chauffeuring the former Knockout tag champions, Dani Luna and Jody Threat.

“We’ve got someone who is at the very top of his genre backstage who has this immense passion for wrestling, so me and him have really connected on a mutual respect for both professional wrestling and music,” Hendry said. “I think it’s the same emotions, it’s the same pursuit. I feel the same rebellious spirit in being a professional wrestler that I imagine Lars would feel as being a punk rock artist. It’s that shared rebellion.”

There have been other wrestlers whose theme songs or original songs have reached the UK Singles sales chart, including John Cena – who was the first wrestler to go platinum with an album. Hendry told NME that the best wrestling theme songs are “all about fan engagement”.

“And if you look at who is really hot in the business right now, it’s people with theme songs that the fans can get involved with,” he continued. “I think that’s why my song is doing well because I constructed it with the fans in mind. I reverse-engineered something with audience interaction in mind. It is all about audience interaction.”

While talking about the process of making ‘I Believe In Joe Hendry’, the 36-year-old said he “wanted a song that would give energy to the crowd before I walk out”, aiming for “a pop song to get the audience amped up before it changes BPM into a Queen-inspired rock song at the end”.

He explained: “It was all about the emotions I wanted the audience to feel as I went through it. Sometimes, the simple way is the best way and I think in songwriting, that’s always the case. In the song, I have audio of the clap twice and – in the chorus of the song – I say, ‘Wave your hands,’ so it’s a bit like the Macarena or something to that effect. To be honest, I spent about two weeks full-time writing it and I knew it was good but I didn’t ever foresee this.”

When asked if he is working on any new music, Hendry revealed that TNA management told him: “All this stuff’s amazing. It’s awesome. It’s fantastic – but is the one song a novelty?”

He added that he loves that “management always challenges” him and now they’ve challenged him “to chart again”.

Teasing more new music to come, he added: “The goal is to put out perhaps another single – chart again if we can. I would love to do an album and then start doing live shows because, like I said, I was a musician for a long time.

“I’ve worked with amazing musicians and I think we could do a really fun live show that would combine the entertainment of music and wrestling.”

He said that he thinks he “found his sound” on ‘I Believe in Joe Hendry’ and that was “very proud of it”.

“I know it’s all good fun,” he ended. “I think now it’s just about proving that I can do it again and it’s not a fluke and a one-hit wonder.”

‘I Believe In Joe Hendry’ is out now and you can watch Joe Hendry on TNA Wrestling weekly.


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