Holy Fuck, otherwise known as â€œTorontoâ€™s evil super group,â€ was formed three years ago by Graham Walsh and Brian Borcherdt. The band sought to mimic electronic-sounding music with non-electronic instrumentation. Today, the majority of songs are written live while on tour, providing Holy Fuck with â€œa live frenetic energy.â€ What started off as a collaboration and experimentation amongst friends has turned into a must-see live act.
This past April, Holy Fuck released a new single titled â€œLovely Allen.â€ Previous collaborations include Robbie Kuster (Patrick Watson), Hadji Bakara (Wolf Parade), Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene), Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) and Beans. Holy Fuck has also shared the stage with Isaiah Ikey Owens (Mars Volta), Buck65, Super Furry Animals, The Go! Team, and now are getting ready to take on Europe this summer with M.I.A. NME has already called Holy Fuck number three of the top five New Acts at the Glastonbury Festival, 2007.
â€œExperimental is probably an overused term for music or any form of creativity. Hopefully everyone out there making some form of music or expression is experimenting in their own way.â€
Format: Who is Holy Fuck?
Borcherdt: I don’t know…a mythical beast?
Format: Your name is controversial by some people’s standards. Have you received backlash from any community organizations? How did you come up with the name?
Borcherdt: Holy Fuck is just a popular expression, one that people use everyday. There’s no wacky story behind choosing it as a band name. We just thought it was catchy and kind of funny. It gets us into some trouble…I guess, unfortunately.
Format: You’ve been through some band member transitions: Kevin Lynn, Mike Bigelow and Loel Campbell are no longer with the band. What happened there?
Borcherdt: The band started as a fun collaborative project. We didn’t have a set band line-up so much as we had an open invite to a handful of our friends who we had known for ages, people we had played music with before. So they brought what they could to the band, played with us as much as their schedules would allow. They all have other commitments outside of this band that were important to maintain: other bands, etc.
â€œModern technology has done no harm to music or art or communication etc. It’s just an extension of where we’re at these days as a culture.â€
Format: Your MySpace page lists you as experimental. It’s a broad description. How would you describe experimental?
Borcherdt: Really? I was hoping we had changed our MySpace description. Experimental is probably an overused term for music or any form of creativity. Hopefully everyone out there making some form of music or expression is experimenting in their own way. For us it’s just an easy way to describe that. Even though our music is somewhat dance oriented, it isn’t typical to the genre; I guess in the same way we hopefully aren’t typical to any genre. We come from a guitar rock background. So for us, making this music, we’re experimenting with something new.
Format: Brian, you’ve been a solo artist and member of quite a few bands (Burnt Black, Trephines, Hot Carl Loves the Ladies, By Divine Right, Junior Blue). How does Holy Fuck differ from these other bands? Do you plan to go back to your solo artist path?
Borcherdt: A lot of these bands mentioned were just bedroom experiments and collaborations. Like I said, I started with guitar. So I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make good guitar-based music. But in the end I felt I always fell short of that mark. Holy Fuck felt conceptually more akin to what I was excited about. It’s hard to be bold and make a strong expression just hammering out the same riffs and chords every night. Therefore, when I pick up a guitar these days it just feels like I have nothing to prove and it’s just a part of who I am. I’m nervous about showing that to other people these days, so I’m laying low.
Format: You mimic modern electronic music without using modern technology (laptops, programmed backtracks). Do you feel that modern technology has hurt or helped music today?
Borcherdt: Modern technology has done no harm to music or art or communication, etc. It’s just an extension of where we’re at these days as a culture. With Holy Fuck we avoid hi-tech programming and sequencing because it’s so much fun to smash around on stage with cheapo kid’s stuff and battery operated gear. Because our gear is so limited in its sonic capacity we feel genuinely challenged trying to make it exciting. So it’s a fun, creative process. And hopefully it leads to results that will be less ‘dated’ in terms of what it sounds like. It will, at the very least, sound different than what most musicians are making these days in a hi-tech world.
Format: Will you ever utilize a laptop in your music creation?
Borcherdt: Yes, we record onto computers and hard drives, as opposed to recording onto old reel-to-reel tape machines or old DAT recorders. We just don’t want computers to be an instrument used for its sonic texture or as a song-writing device.
Format: Who or what inspires your music?
Borcherdt: I guess everything. I’m always thinking about music: in my head, as I walk, or work or whatever. I don’t know if all these inspirations will get recorded. But the spirit that we all share in this band gets committed right back into the music. So who we are, how we feel, etc. all contribute to Holy Fuck in one way or another.
Format: â€œSuper Inuit,â€ â€œLovely Allen,â€ â€œRoyal Gregoryâ€– how do you name your tracks?
Borcherdt: Really lazily. Songs just get dubbed at some point, usually by some nickname assigned to the keyboard that makes the beat, the backbone of the song itself. When we pack the van we inevitably make up nicknames for every piece of gear, just to communicate as a group and make things fun. Our recent van even had a nickname. We’ll miss you ‘Pancakes.’
â€œWhen we pack the van we inevitably make up nicknames for every piece of gear, just to communicate as a group and make things fun. Our recent van even had a nickname. We’ll miss you ‘Pancakes’.â€
Format: You will be touring across Europe this summer. What is the buzz out there and how does it compare to your home country, Canada?
Borcherdt: Hmmm…the buzz seems pretty strong overseas. Then again, the UK has always had a reputation for being a fickle audience, one that will love you one day and scorn you the next. So maybe our backlash is coming. I think both Canada and the US got to witness our awkward baby years, got to see us fumble around on stage half-drunk and totally confused. The rest of the world missed out on those embarrassing ‘baby photo’ experiences. So in a way we’re a better band over there. We came prepared.
Format: You’ve been called Dark Disco Droogs [Format: are the caps necessary?]and multi-layered psychedelic mayhem. Do you feel that these descriptions are accurate?
Borcherdt: Any description that involves the word Droogs is accurate.
Format: You’ve been around since 2004. Who was Holy Fuck then and who has Holy Fuck become now?
Borcherdt: We set out from the beginning to be an evolution in progress. So in that way we haven’t changed. But while the mission-statement is the same the line-up of the band and the music we create as a unit has changed a lot– I think for the better. We’ve played so many shows, night after night, that it would be impossible not to change. We have actual songs now, and set lists.
More Info: http://www.holyfuckmusic.com/