After a lengthy hiatus Toronto’s Holy Fuck returned this year to fill the void they left in the music scene. Even though many of the members are involved in a lot of popular music these days (Graham Walsh has worked on everything good that’s come out in the past few years eg: Etiquette, METZ, Wintersleep, and so on), nothing out there quite hit the Holy Fuck note we’ve been missing. No other popular band in Canada (or elsewhere) makes this sort of relentlessly good music. The music of Holy Fuck is all encompassing, it is an assault on your ears in the best way possible. It’s weird and eclectic, and it is for the music nerd as much as it is for the club kid.
Holy Fuck (Brian Borcherdt, Graham Walsh, Matt McQuaid, and Matt Schulz) returned earlier this year with a truly wonderful album, Congrats, and a slew of creative and impressive videos. They were even featured on the soundtrack of an episode of , Mr. Robot. Holy Fuck has a bunch of shows coming up including: December 16 – Hamilton, ON @ The Casbah. December 17 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace. January 20 – Calgary, AB @ Big Winter Classic. January 21 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s.
We caught up with Brian to learn about what this last year has been like for Holy Fuck.
Q – Congratulations on your album, Congrats. What’s the last year been like with putting out the new album and performing it?
Performing the record has been great… honestly we’re playing our best shows. We evolved a lot as a band and that comes through on stage.
Q – How do you guys manage your creative energy between Holy Fuck and all of the other music work you’re involved with?
I’d like to say it’s easy. But it does get harder as we progress with each thing we’re doing. The creative part is where I’d say it’s still easy. But everything takes a full commitment. I understand now why most people do one thing to the best of their ability rather than portion it out in to multiple projects. But so goes… I think that’s the only way we stay sane.
Q – You guys have great videos. The videos you’ve put out in the last year are incredible, I especially like Tom Tom. How involved are you guys in writing treatments / proposals / working with directors and producers? Is it important to you to have creatively interesting videos?
Thanks, glad you like them. It depends on the video. For Tom Tom I was on board from the start. I wasn’t sure initially if I’d direct it or just be involved on the writing end. I teamed up with Michael LeBlanc (who I co-directed the Red Lights video with). As we delved further into it I felt he should direct it as it was going to be a tough one, above my limited capacity as an amateur. So we co-wrote it. In the end I decided against flying to Romania to shoot it with him as it would’ve added more expenses to the already strained budget. But he’s great. I’d love to do more creative projects with him. Xed Eyes was made by Chad VanGaalen and Neon Dad was made by Scott Cudmore. With artists like that it’s best to give them room and see what it is they do. It depends on the song, the video and the director just how involved we as a band will be on that creative side.
Also, I’d say that, at least for me, I have visual references as I work on the songs in the writing stage. It’s part of the fun and keeps me focused on the finish line. However by the time the album is done I’ve had to distance myself and move on a bit… I’m exhausted. I’d like to save energy for those other steps next time. So when the album is done I can switch gears to work on album artwork and videos. But at least for this last record I was burned out a bit and wanted to move on to the next album.
Q – Halifax – New York – Toronto – which of these cities is the most conducive to being a working musician?Hmmmm… I can only speak for my experiences but I’d say they all have their strengths. It largely depends on what you have personally to work with in those cities. They can all be impossible if you are stuck in a one room apartment. Smaller towns like Halifax, at least for me when I lived there, allowed for easy creativity and collaborating with friends because there is space to breath and you can make noise. A Friday night could be spent making music as opposed to going out to a bar. But that is also it’s drawback. It gets insular and kind of cliquish. If you aren’t careful about it you end up throwing sound around an echo chamber. Toronto breaks free of that… even though the city has tried to squash out the spaces where people can make music, somehow they still do it. Like Whos in Whoville who still sing on Christmas morning. The Grinch keeps trying to take music away and yet it flourishes. Part of why it works is that their are plenty off ears to listen, no toes to step on, everyone gets to do their own thing without worrying about what everyone else is doing. The music is diverse and healthy somehow. New York I wouldn’t even know. I used to play shows there all the time and they were a blast. It seems to be changing but it’s still a great city for gigs of course, it’s just more widely sprawled out with less of a central hub. Maybe a result of the whole world trying to move there in the last ten years. But me, I just live in the woods two hours north of NYC. I know there are musicians everywhere out here but I haven’t met anybody yet… I like it though.
Q – In the time that’s passed since your last album would you say the state of experimental / fringe / ‘weird’ music is any different? Is there any more infrastructure / support in place now than there was before?
No, but then again I’ve always had a tendency to complain. You know, I’m older now, so I can officially be labeled a curmudgeon. But I’ve always been like this. It’s hard to see things getting better for experimental/ fringe/ weird music… on one hand we could try to play into the hands of that scene. I wouldn’t know where to begin though. The four of us come from a DIY background… our defaults are more punk or indie or something and the intelligentsia that can surround experimental music is a bit ridiculous. But on the other hand here we are in an age of the internet, where everything is highly curate-able and yet we still need to vie for the affection of radio, and blogs and the pitchforks of the world. It’s that time of the year where everyone assembles their top ten lists and more than ever it all looks the same. Here we are able to listen to anything, and we still have to compete with the major pop players. Fuck that. We play our own music, it is weird, and it’s also fun. I don’t want to be measured against mainstream music, music written on click tracks with sample replaced drums and auto-tuned vocals. So where do bands like us go? It was actually better six years ago… these echo chambers weren’t as reinforced and we could exist in the margins and still have exposure. It seems that people’s ears and eyes were a little more open then. See what I mean? I’m becoming a curmudgeon. But seriously…grrrrrrr.
“It’s that time of the year where everyone assembles their top ten lists and more than ever it all looks the same. Here we are able to listen to anything, and we still have to compete with the major pop players. Fuck that.”
Q – What inspires you, musically speaking, these days?
Well, like I said a moment ago we can literally listen to anything. And for the most part I do. I also love my record collection, so depending on my mood I can bounce from one era to another… I’m really into music recorded very simply. I like room sounds, field recordings. I like music without heavy kick drums where it feels the floor has fallen out and everything just floats in the ether.
Q – I’m looking forward to seeing you guys in Hamilton this friday! Do you guys have any connections to the music scene here?
Always. Graham is from Burlington and did sound in Hamilton for ages. So he couldn’t extricate himself from Hamilton if he tried. I’m curious to see how many faces I’ll recognize just as recent arrivers from Toronto- the ones who fled the Grinch.
Q – What can we look forward to from Holy Fuck in 2017?
We want to record another record. Maybe you’ll hear it in 2018? We’ll be touring a bunch, and reissuing our first album on vinyl.