Interview with He Whose Ox Is Gored guitarist, Brian McClelland.
Written by: David Locklear
On first listen, He Whose Ox Is Gored sounds like a twelve car pile up of sound. There is sludge, punk, blues, doom, death, and possibly even new wave with a hint of EDM? But when you give this band a deliberate listen and peel away all of the layers of sound and fury they put into your mind, you realize that it all signifies so much. They are not only giving you a great performance of distinct musical influences, but are taking you into the void of unexplored metal-maybe into a place of “...sounds never heard before, off the map, where the wild things grow,” as Morphine vocalist, Mark Sandman, once wrote.
He Whose Ox Is Gored guitarist and co-founder, Brian McClelland, talked with Heavy-Vinyl.com from the road about the band, influences and their hardcore alter-ego band.
Heavy-Vinyl.com: How did He Whose Ox Is Gored form?
Brian McClelland: Lisa Mungo [vocals and synth] and I started the band in 2009 in Seattle. We’d both moved to the city recently and met trying to put different projects together. I had tracked some basement tracks and she was putting together some bedroom demos of her own. We worked the same job and she responded to an ad I put up on Craigslist looking for band mates. Mike (Sparks, bass) and John (O’Connell, drums) worked with us through different lineups and signed on full time in 2012.
Heavy-Vinyl: What types of music informs the HWOIG sound?
BM: Synthwave, post-metal, vapordoom, shoegaze, noiserock, and sludge metal. We dig a lot of soundtrack/soundscapes. I’m always obsessed with synth stuff or anything weird and electronic, but in the van, there’s more Pantera than Bjork.
Heavy-Vinyl: What sorts of art, literature or film influences HWOIG?
BM: I just cracked into the new Twin Peaks, that’s been pretty incredible. I’m working my way through Infinite Jest right now. There’s always a copy of Super Natural Strategies in the van. Stranger Things was great. I watch Dune every single damn day.
Heavy-Vinyl: How many gigs do you think the band plays in a year?
BM: We usually try to do a couple month long tours in a year, but that’s all dependent on what we’re touring on. We try to have a reason to shred. We only try to play in Seattle a couple times a year at this point. We’ll be taking most of the rest of the year off to write a new album, except for a couple fest dates.
Heavy-Vinyl: Who are the biggest bands you’ve toured or played with?
BM: Graves at Sea, Conan, Mutoid Man, Intronaut, Helms Alee, Weedeater, Torche, Samothrace. Noothgrush. This tour that we just got back from had some killer fests and things with friends.
Heavy-Vinyl: What do you feel sets HWOIG sound apart from other bands in the genre?
BM: I don’t know. We live in a warehouse venue, so we see tons of bands. That’s a good way to keep things interesting. There’s always a willingness to experiment and try things we haven’t done before. I think everyone in the band are phenomenal musicians and have their own unique tastes-that’s fun. It’s really cool to be able to work with people that have such diverse skillsets as players. Lisa is our secret weapon.
Heavy-Vinyl: What prompted you all to decide it was time to release your music on vinyl?
BM: We’d been working on it for a while, but hadn’t been able to put our own records out yet. Our friends in InAeona had wanted to put out a split, so we started there in 2010. Cafe Vita Records here in Seattle issued our Nightshade EP in 2012. We met Paul from Bleeding Light Records and released both our Rumors 7” in 2014 and full-length, The Camel, The Lion, The Child in 2015. Seattle’s Fainting Room Collective put out the Vulse//Static 7” in 2016 as part of their Triple Six 7” Series. This year we partnered with our friends at Chain Letter and Converse Rubber Tracks to press a brand new track and a couple of remixes as our Paralyzer 7”.
Heavy-Vinyl: What long term goals do the band have? i.e., European tours, adding instruments, taking a hiatus, etc.
We’re working on writing a new album currently, assembling demos and whatnot. That’ll take up the rest of the year most likely. Once that’s finalized, we’ll find a home for it and start looking at tour dates and press cycle. Europe is next on the list. I’d love to do Japan in the next couple years. We also have a hardcore band called Fucked & Bound that will be issuing an album, so there might be a tour there. I’ve also signed on with our tour mates in Samothrace for the time being, so we’ll be making some plans going forward. We like to stay busy.
Heavy-Vinyl: What do you hope fans of your music will take away from the music?
BM: I hope that people dig it, for real. We work hard, we think about the music constantly. If it’s a riff or a sound, or a beat, or the way the album looks, or what kind of shirt we print on, we’re trying to make something cool for our friends. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to push forward and keep things interesting, hopefully we’re making some art somewhere in there.