Interview: Brian of Void Assault Records

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 10:46 AM (PST)
It is always wonderful in the underground when you converse with people who so obviously care and put heart and soul into what they are doing, even if what they are doing is making insane, anti-social sexy racket from Hell. As I write this I am listening to an old Sonic Youth Sonic Nurse CD and the song “Pattern Recognition” about drowning in corporate identity branding. Faced with the glut of fake news/propaganda some people are digesting now as the new fast food for thought, I thought it would be awesome to publish as one of our final interviews of 2016 a chat with Brian McClelland (He Whose Ox Is Gored, etc.) about his label endeavor Void Assault Records.

The small West Coast label is an example that critical thinking, edgy art, resistance culture and just good rock n’ roll are never going to go away as long as there are people who actually pay attention to the history of the scene, think about the future and also tend to watering their own gardens  and making something unique and freshly voiced, instead of just going with the grain.

Read more BELOW.

How did Void Assault Records start? It feels very DIY.

Void Assault Records is myself (Brian McClelland), Travis Sturgill-Trahan, and Lisa Mungo. We’ve all been working on different elements of a label for a while, and decided to team up to help some of our friends get their records out. Travis and I are usually have an ear to the ground looking for new bands and releases, and Lisa has been working the PR side. I’ve been slowly releasing things for years under different names, but this has been a good way to get everyone together under one roof, with a more solid game plan.

How is Void an extension of what you do in bands? Obviously Fucked & Bound is the sort of recent big push. How was it playing the Dillinger after party show recently?

The Dillinger show was great! Being DEP’s last tour, it was packed to the brim here in Seattle, so it was nice to capture some of that runoff. Fucked & Bound played the small room and by the end of the set it felt like a show of its’ own. That was also great, as it was the release for the repress of their Live at Black Lodge 7”. We couldn’t believe we sold out of the first run so quickly. There’s also a full length in the works there, so the band is hitting the ground running.

Yeah, Void Assault is about supporting bands we believe in and putting out creative sound. It sort of came about as an extension of different things we were doing for our own bands. Lisa and I had been doing artwork for a number of releases and booking different shows and tours, and Travis has been running a DIY mecca here in Seattle called Grumbledome while releasing tapes for various noise acts. People had been asking us for help with contacts or even just help submitting records to manufacturers, so we decided to get the collective going to help out.

What are your goals for the label. Any specific main focus for release formats? Like how Burger mainly does tapes, for example?

I think we’re all just really into helping expose the wealth of talent and creativity going on in Seattle right now. There’s a lot going on, the city is changing very rapidly, and through all of that chaos, the creative output has never been more potent. We’ve put out vinyl, lathecuts, and tapes so far. I always love finding new ideas for packaging and physical. It’s really about making something as cool as possible for the artist and listener.

Have you gotten any criticism for the F&B band name? Do you feel a need to contextualize?

Yeah, there’s been some criticism, but we’re not super concerned. A lot of times people forget to ask themselves why they’re offended and if certain assumptions are valid. A friend recently said they were concerned about the name because it ‘brings to mind human trafficking”, which has absolutely nothing to do with the message, and is a fairly literal interpretation. Are we into human trafficking? Do we show signs of being involved in those activities or somehow seem to support those illicit trades? We live in a very liberal environment up here, and to a certain degree, even if they’re trying to defend what they believe is right, people can still pick fights unnecessarily. I almost don’t blame people though, there’s a lot of uncertainty going around lately. To us, it’s just punk shit.

Is there a plan for specific genres to be the focus or do you think the label could feature a range of styles? You seem as a player to have a wide range of influences.

We’re pretty open to genre, but its’ always got to be quality. Luckily, there’s no shortage of talent up here.

What is new w Ox and Great Goddamn? Thanks again for GG being on our Halloween comp two years back. That was super cool.

Yes! That comp was super fun. He Whose Ox is Gored is working on a new 7” with a single produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana, High on Fire) and remixes by Seattle’s own avant-electro wizards Newaxeyes as part of Converse’ Rubber Tracks series. That’ll be out on Void Assault in the spring. HWOIG and Dust Moth (These Arms are Snakes, Narrows) will also be hitting the road in February for a west coast run. 
The Great Goddamn is finishing up production on a new EP entitled Wicked Growlers Vol. 1. Fucked & Bound’s debut full-length SUFFRAGE, will also be out in the spring with tour dates to follow. Plenty going on.

Are you finding more delays for vinyl now that it is hip again as a format and bigger companies are flooding factories with orders?

Yes, but to their credit, most plants are working towards expanding to accommodate new orders, which is cool. I’m glad business is booming. There are always people telling you it’s hard to press or sell records, but this shows that people actually are excited about physical formats again. As far as getting records on time, you just have to order your vinyl before you start press cycle, which isn’t that hard.

Do you feel your acts have a sort of regionalism to their sounds?

Yes, definitely. Most of our friends and bands have a sort of northwestern creative weirdo vibe to them. It’s easy to hole up and make a record by yourself in months of grey weather, or go out and find some fringe artist collective hosting events up here. We’re lucky to have that. He Whose Ox is Gored, The Great Goddamn, and Fucked & Bound all have different elements of the Pacific Northwest through shades of Cascadian black metal, sludged-out basement rock, or divey-ass street metal. Some parts of Seattle make for a dirgier, aggro tone. Some facilitate a more delicate and vulnerable sound. The current regional sound is one of the things that we’re looking most forward to sharing with people.

Lastly, how bad did 2016 suck ass? Like, wtf? I am like looking for silver linings in my horoscope all the time and appealing to any sort of higher power at this point.

Yeah. It’s been a rough one, but it’s ok. I’ll light my candles in a daze, cause I’ve found God.

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