Holy Fuck Band Interview

“Why not?” — Brian Borcherdt

It’s hard not to be envious of the electronic act Holy Fuck. The quartet from Toronto has found a lovely niche making the music they love — and then having more fun than their fans when performing it live.

Such is a sight rarely seen in the realm of electronic live music, but then again, Holy Fuck is a rarity. Everything about the band, from its irreverent name to its non-electronic electronica, goes against the traditional grain. The band even announced the release of their latest full-length, Latin through the sometimes fun — but mostly perverted — social-shock-website, Chatroulette.

Latin, the band’s third album, follows in the footsteps of the band’s previous albums, receiving much critical acclaim. This time, though, Holy Fuck finally accompanied its release with a title. After releasing two basically self-titled albums, the band just named Latin simply for the sake of naming it, says keyboardist and effects guru Brian Borcherdt.

“We wanted something with a little less of a weird idea or connotation. It kind of backfired because now everyone wants to know why Latin, and it’s like, why not?” he says.

“Why not?” pretty much sums up the mentality of Holy Fuck. Things like strips of a film negatives — which somehow shouldn’t be making noise — are seen being contorted and twisted during live sets, producing strangled warps which make their way into a driving bass and drum-backed dance beats. The band approaches the stage with what appears to be a loose setup that would make Jerry Garcia proud. Still, though, the band limits itself in some ways.

“The only constraints we put on ourselves are safeguards to allow us to do a focused set and not just a train that is getting completely derailed,” explains Graham Walsh, also on keyboards and effects. “So, we make a set list every night, and we do have songs that we do, and certain structures within those songs, but we do it try and keep it loose as fun as we can to make it interesting.”

It’s apparent that Holy Fuck approaches music with the mentality that the band members will have fun. Their song titles are often tongue-in-cheek, which is fitting for an instrumental band whose only recorded vocals are yelps of joy and wailing, energetic screams. The name itself is “just a funny, fun expression”, describes Borcherdt, joking that the phrases “Holy Fuck”, “Holy F***”, and “Holy F” now live by the rules of spam filters.

“Why not?”

Free-spirited as Holy Fuck is, a more stable line-up with bassist Matt “Punchy” McQuaid and drummer Matt Schulz has allowed Holy Fuck to dial into their fun factor to a greater degree than on earlier albums. Latin is a gyrating mish-mash of buildups designed to get everyone off their feet.

“Since the four of us have been playing together, it has been easier to focus in on parts that we thought the audience really likes, try and do that again, but keep it loose,” drummer Matt Schulz says. “That is how we start building a set, where we can be dynamic and interesting for the audience. Since it has been the four of us, I think it has been quite a bit better, and the band has been progressing faster.”

The progress is apparent throughout the band’s catalog. Whereas the first self-titled debut meandered a bit around and focused on the more improvisational aspects of the band, Latin zeroes in and quickly starts firing on all cylinders. Not everything put onto record makes it onto the stage though, as the band enjoys being able to replicate sounds live without using backing tracks.

“[In the studio] We have to capture that song we are working on, but lets us also have some fun. Sometimes those little fun things turn into songs,” Borcherdt says. “You go up on stage; you might not be able to do it the same way. It’s almost out of respect for the song; let’s just keep that a moment in time… it’s on the record, [but] we aren’t doing that tonight.”

Despite the differences between the band’s recordings and its live shows, Holy Fuck pull out all the stops on stage, inciting a sweaty, gyrating, aural orgy. Watching people have fun has never been more fun.

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