three years ago out from the womb of the thriving Toronto music scene,
Holy Fuck was the holy union of Borcherdt, who played in By Devine
Right (a band whose former members included Broken Social Scene's
Leslie Feist and Brendan Canning), and Walsh, who was a member of
the band Flux.
through mutual friends," Walsh said. "Brian's a singer
songwriter, and I started playing with him on guitar. Then we started
doing this weirdo experimental thing. Our first show was Pop Montreal,
a festival. Brian's solo band got booked there, so we also booked
a Holy Fuck set on a random stage. We didn't know what we were doing,
and then lo and behold, a popular MC named Beans was at the show."
Beans, a founding
member of New York alt hip-hop group Antipop Consortium and the
self-proclaimed "Ornette Coleman of this rap shit" was
blown away by Holy Fuck's unconventional approach toward electronic
dance music. He asked the duo to be his touring backing band. Their
first gig with Beans was at Coachella three years ago (on a tour
that also brought them to Sokol Underground July 21, 2005). The
momentum has been building ever since.
The act often
is described as a low-fi improvisational electronic dance band.
But their just-released full length, LP, on Beggars Banquet,
sounds honed and calculated, anything but ad-libbed. Tracks like
the bombastic dance splurge "Royal Gregory" and tripped-out
bass-rolling "Milkshake" are strobe-light club fodder
that LCD Soundsystem or fellow Canadians Junior Boys would be proud
to call their own.
But if there's
a difference between Holy Fuck and your typical pre-programmed headphone-wearing
DJ dance factory, it's in the staging, which is where the improv
comes in. You're never going to find the duo sharing the stage with
a glowing Macbook. Walsh knows just how disappointing computerized
electronic music can be for an audience.
one particular show at this 750-capacity venue," Walsh said.
"It was a guy on stage with a laptop and a bar stool holding
a cigarette. All 750 people were staring forward at him while he
sat there. He could have been checking his e-mail."
So forget the
laptops. Instead, Holy Fuck bassist Matt McQuaid and new drummer
Matt Schulz back Walsh and Borcherdt while they play instruments
both conventional and unconventional -- including a 35 mm film sequencer
and toy keyboards -- creating a style of music usually achieved
only with computers.
show is more impactful and more engaging for the audience,"
Walsh said. "We don't replicate the album, hence the whole
improvisation thing. We're like any typical rock band. The music
has that organic feeling and tone. We have as little canned music
as possible, which gives us room and space to play. I don't want
to be bound by a backing track that would force us to play the same
music with the same effects every night."
Published in The Omaha Reader March 6, 2008.
Copyright © 2008 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
was a guy on stage with a laptop and a bar stool holding a
cigarette. All 750 people were staring forward at him while
he sat there. He could have been checking his e-mail."