The idea of the underground spans across all sorts of subcultures. From music to politics to sports, there’s an underground for so many things. And every once in a while undergrounds converge in creative and wonderful ways.
Such is the case for Golden Era Apparel, the creation of a hardworking hardcore veteran and Muay Thai instructor, William Seemann.
William’s focus for Golden Era is combining the best aesthetic aspects of hardcore and punk with Muay Thai culture. The clothing line is creatively remarkable in a few ways: the designs are stark and striking, the hardcore punk allusions are well-placed, and the cultural cross-pollination is executed perfectly.
I sat down with William to talk the apparel line, the connections between hardcore and combat sports, his influences, and the difference between kickboxing and Muay Thai.
How did the idea for Golden Era come to fruition?
As my interest in Muay Thai grew I became tired of the same rehashed ideas I was seeing with fight apparel brands. I wanted to create something that was rooted in fight culture while also incorporating the imagery and ethos that punk and hardcore embody.
Music has always been a big part of my life. It’s provided me with a place of solitude, comfort, and solace throughout the various phases of my life. I’ve always found that integrating aspects from one personal interest into another is a great way of making something your own; while keeping things fresh and preventing burnout.
How long have been listening to punk and hardcore? How did you get into the scene itself?
Like so many people before me, my introduction to punk was through skateboarding and watching skate videos. Fun fact, my very first punk CD was Nitro Record’s Go Ahead Punk... Make My Day compilation. I still have the CD and it still holds a place in my heart to this very day.
As I immersed myself in the music and discovered new subgenres, my tastes eventually led me to hardcore. The energy and intensity of the music and accompanying subculture instantly resonated with me. The idea that something can sound so sonically raw while conveying a meaningful and/or uplifting message has always been a captivating paradox.
When did you start training Muay Thai? What gym do you call home?
I’ve been training for six and a half years now; I began my training in Champaign, Illinois. Currently, I train and teach out of Round Five based out of San Leandro, California.
Have you competed? If so, what is the experience like?
Yes, I’ve fought a handful of times here in the states. I’ve always found the hardest part of fighting is not the fight itself, but the preparation. Anyone can just step into a ring and fight, but to do it properly takes an immense amount of sacrifice and preparation.
Self Defense Family has a beautiful video for the song “The Supremacy of Pure Artistic Feeling” which showcases a fighter named Mary Brulatour. I think she summarizes it best in the video: “The hardest part is how drained you can feel in preparation for a fight... You have to use up all your life bars to make it through training, so it's hard to have anything left over for your friends, family, lovers, customer service job.”
The fight itself is the “easy” part, it’s a culmination of all your hard work. The reward is the knowledge you gain about yourself, win or lose.
What similarities do you see between the Muay Thai scene and the hardcore punk scene?
Punk, hardcore, and Muay Thai share a lot of similar ideologies. For example, the same sacrifice and discipline you must have in preparation of a fight are exhibited in aspects of movements; such as straight edge.
People often find solace in a specific counterculture because they are looking for a sense of a sense of community and people they can relate to. The foundation of hardcore punk and Muay Thai is no different. Both communities are comprised of very tight knit, passionate people who are devoting their life to something that makes them feel alive.
They are also synonymous in that they provide people like myself with a vehicle to embrace and validate the discomfort present in our daily lives. The sadness, anger and frustration conveyed throughout the music is an expression of normal, healthy feelings.
Similarly, the desire to step into the ring and fight doesn’t mean I’m an inherently violent person, I’m simply looking to grow through competition and intentional suffering.
It looks like the punk influence spans a variety of bands in the Golden Era Merch line. Looks like everything from Trapped Under Ice to Descendents to Minor Threat. How do you develop the designs, and what crossover ideas to you have coming up?
The design process is challenging. It would be very easy for me to take an notably identifiable band logo or album cover and add in a vague fight reference. While those designs might sell, I think that approach is simple and doesn’t require any artistic merit.
I’ll usually be training or driving and an idea just pops in my head. I’ll sit on it for a while and sketch out a couple variations. I pull ideas from songs or bands that have personally resonated with me.
Having a deep understanding of band and their catalog definitely helps when coming up with a final design. Right now, I have a few new designs in the works that I’m very excited about. We are in the final stages of a Fight Club themed tee that should be out just in time for the Holidays.
You’ve started sponsoring fighters, which makes a lot of sense. Any chance you’ll start adding bands to your sponsored roster?
Absolutely! I’m very open to sponsoring bands. My goal with this brand is not only to provide a platform for fighters, but to give back to the punk and hardcore community as well. So, if you think your band would be a good fit for our roster definitely get in contact with us!
Help us all out and explain the difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing.
The common misconception is that Muay Thai and Kickboxing are the same sport; however, this isn’t true. Although the striking fundamentals may look very similar to the uneducated viewer, the sports themselves are very different.
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and it’s rooted in respect, culture, and tradition. Kickboxing is far less centralized and, generally speaking, is not bound to one specific culture or area of the world. The rulesets, and thus the difference in technique, make the sports very unique in their own right.
For example, in addition to the punches, knees, and kicks that is utilized in kickboxing, Muay Thai allows elbows, clinch, and sweeps. These added elements make for a more contrasted fight stylistically. So, anyone who tells you Muay Thai and Kickboxing are the same sport definitely doesn’t know what they are talking about [laughs].
Favorite Thai fighter or kickboxer?
Man, this is a tough one. Favorite Muay Thai fighter would have to be Damien Trainor. His got a very smooth, dynamic style and a wealth of knowledge. My favorite Kickboxer would have to be Ramon Dekkers. Between his rivalry with Coban and his super explosive style he truly deserves the recognition he’s received.
Favorite hardcore or punk band?
This is an even tougher one [laughs]. As far as punk bands go, I’d have to say I Am the Avalanche ranks up there pretty heavily with me. I’m a huge fan of just about anything Vinnie Caruana has ever put out.
If I had to pick a hardcore band it’d be Verse. Aggression still stands the test of time and it’s a perfect record front to back.
Hit up the Golden Era Apparel online store to check out their designs.
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