I love fast hardcore executed with a purpose. When I heard Fucked & Bound for the first time, I was instantly drawn to the ferocious urgency of their sound. So, of course, I wanted to know more about the members and what other bands they are/were in. After a minute on Discogs, I discovered that Fucked & Bound shared members with a group called He Whose Ox Is Gored, who play a beautiful mix of crushing heavy riffs with wonderful atmospheric melody.
I became acquainted with a couple of the members of both bands, and found guitarist Brian McClelland to be quite the musical equipment guy. So, I approached him about being a part of the Gear Nerd series. Hope you enjoy it! Keep an eye out and an ear open as Fucked & Bound are currently in the process of recording their second LP!
Please introduce yourself and give us your band history.
Hey, how’s it going? This is Brian McClelland. I play guitar in He Whose Ox is Gored and Fucked & Bound. I also played drums in The Great Goddamn here in Seattle as well.
I've seen video of Fucked & Bound and He Whose Ox Is Gored as well as pictures of some of your gear on Instagram. What does your usual live set up consist of? Does it differ between both bands?
It depends on the project. The rig for He Whose Ox is Gored changes pretty frequently, and varies for what material we’re playing and whether we’re in the studio or on tour. The He Whose Ox is Gored rig consistently has some pieces, but some tools are always on rotation. If you’ve seen us live, you might know that we’re big fans of Mesa Boogie, and we’ve been using the Mark V exclusively on guitar for a while now. A few tours ago, they hooked us up with an artist deal, and we added the M9 Carbine for bass as well, which was a total game changer. Live, I’ll carry two EV loaded Mesa halfback 4x12”s, one for either side of the stage. There’s almost always a TC Electronic Nova Delay and Eventide Space in the FX loop to keep the spatial elements nice and clean.
In front of the amp distortion, there’s a TC Polytune and MXR Smartgate for utility, then a variety of stoney pitch shifters and shoegazey reverbs to fatten everything up. I’m a big fan of harmonies and huge octave down riff sounds, so I’m always rotating through pitch stuff. Our main tuning has always been C Standard, but half of our last record featured a baritone guitar setup for G Standard, which can been tricky to maintain, so I’ve been using a Digitech Ricochet to emulate the lower tuning without having to carry a finicky specialty guitar on the road.
Fucked a& Bound has a slightly more straightforward setup, but without the synth, there’s still some space to fill. The main rig there is a ’93 Mesa Dual Rectifier paired with a ’78 Peavey Standard. The idea is to combine tube and solid state to compliment each other and fatten the harmonic range. The sound there is a half Napalm Death/half Black Flag kind of thing. In big rooms, I’ll use the same Mesa 4x12’s, but I’ve also been using a 2x12’ and 1x15” combination for smaller settings. That’s a good way to get the two separate tones without blowing everyone out. The pedals are pretty simple live; the board is a tuner, Boss Super Shifter, a certain distortion pedal, a Boss Tera Echo for spatial pads and whatnot, and a TC Electronic Mimiq for a nice full stereo spread.
Guitars change quite a bit, too, but there are a couple decent ones in there [laughs]. There’s a Parker PM10 that I found a while back that is on every Ox and Fucked & Bound recording. It just sets up and intonates super well, so it’s great for studio. I also use a 2012 ESP Eclipse II and a MIM Fender Jazzmaster in the studio as well. Then there are a few modded Jaguars and stuff that I use for live. All of the live stuff takes a pretty good beating, so not everything goes on the road [laughs].
How about when it comes to recording? Do you mimic your live setup or do you experiment a little more when it comes to putting songs down to tape...or digitally?
For studio, I’ll experiment quite a bit with tone. On the last Ox record, we used a HiWatt and an Ampeg V4 the most, but the Mark V has been fantastic for most everything lately. I’ll usually layer weird sounding distortions and reverbs to try and add different tonal characteristics on record. We used to layer tons of guitars in the studio, but we’ve actually taken to using the TC Mimiq and tracking separate stereo rigs for recording lately.
The Fucked and Bound studio process is similar, but the goal is usually to get the grossest tone possible, so I’ll really focus in on more fucked up sounding harmonics. There are “good” guitar sounds, but we’ll also run some straight trash right up the middle in the mix. Sometimes it’s like, a Metal Zone into a solid state amp with the EQ dialed totally wrong, just to get that really abrasive sound. I like a lot of old DOD and Digitech stuff for those gross layers. I think we’re going to be tracking some Peavey and Crate practice amps on the next record just to get that real garbage tone.
Has anyone in particular had an influence on your gear/setup choices?
Totally. I think there are a number of tricks that I’ve learned from King Buzzo (Melvins, Fantômas), actually. That 2x12” + 1x15” thing was one of his things, I think. Robert Smith (The Cure) was probably the guy that got me most into the atmospheric sound. Aaron Turner (Sumac, Isis) has always had a great sound and approach, whether it’s playing by himself or with a group. I love the way that Justin Beck (Glassjaw) has combined aggressive guitar with more effected melodic textures. Steve Brooks (Torche, Floor) got me into playing more melodic low tuned style material, for sure.
Any pieces of gear that you'll only use at home? Anything you really enjoy but doesn't get used very often?
Totally. There’s a Mesa Dual Caliber DC-5 that I play all the time at home and in the studio. It’s one of my all-time favorite amps, but it’s 50watts, so it just doesn’t quite get there for either band live. I keep an MIJ Jaguar in standard tuning for practice as well. Then there’s that Fender Jaguar Baritone Special that stays home. It’s fantastic, but it has a truss rod issue and doesn’t like to travel [laughs].
Do you have any home recording gear?
Yep, I've been slowly building a little studio to work on other projects at home. Right now, it’s just a Scarlett 212 into Ableton on an iMac, with Alesis Monitors and an old 80’s Magnavox boombox for A/B'ing mixes. I also bounce different tracks band and forth to cassette on a Marantz PMD420. It’s a great little tape deck that has a bunch of ins and outs and little things like tape limiters to get a real analog touch.
Any cool history behind any piece(s) of gear that you own?
Yeah! I just rebuilt a guitar that I use mainly for live in Fucked & Bound called the Murderjag, or Tracy the Goon as it has been nicknamed by the band [laughs]. Ox used to share a space in Seattle with this phenomenal synth based post-rock band called Sleepy Eyes of Death. Their guitarist Cassidy played this Fender Blacktop Jaguar for years that was just perfect. He played it in that band and another and eventually smashed it at a show. I tried to see if he’d let go of the remaining body, but he was going to get it back up and running at some point. He hit me up recently to see if I was still interested in it, and I happened to have a Warmoth neck from another build that was perfect, so I stuck them together. They’re still one of my favorite bands, so that was pretty special to put it back together and give it a new life.
Do you have any favorite pieces of gear?
Definitely. I really love that ’93 Dual Rec and that ESP Eclipse, those are probably two of the best pieces I’ve been able to work with. There’s also a Fender Blacktop Jazz Bass that I got recently that’s getting a ton of play. It’s a J-bass body and neck but it has two P pickups for a huge sound. Our other Jazz bass has been used by both bands for a while and has taken quite a beating, so I’m having a lot of fun setting this one up and getting it in the mix.
I know that the last Fucked & Bound tour fell through. Any chance of us getting to see you here on the East Coast anytime soon?
Yes! We’ll definitely be out there this year. We just did a West Coast run and the East Coast will be up next, probably in the summer. We’re talking with a couple booking agencies and stuff right now, so it’s just a matter of finding the right way to get out there. Can’t wait!
Thank you for your time, Brian! I really appreciate you being a part of this series!
Thanks so much for having me! Let the good tone guide the way.