If you ever want to gather Toronto’s Holy Fuck into a cozy label office before noon to chat, and they’re just coming down from post-tour jet lag, be prepared for much more than idle chatter about their music. When we met to talk about their bangingly optimistic new album, Latin, hilarity ensued, likening them, in my mind, to a warm, Kids in the Hall-styled, experimental music-creating beast.  (And without a doubt, I mean “beast” in the most flattering way). If you’ve seen Holy Fuck perform, you know the kind of off-the-charts, raw energy they cook up, capturing everyone in the room.  Listen, and be warned.

How did your first single “Latin America” happen to be released on Chatroulette of all things?
Graham Walsh: That wasn’t reeeally our idea. [laughs] But, we figured what better way to let people know about this song than to put it on a website where a bunch of guys have their dinks out? I didn’t even know what it was. I’d only heard about it before this. I don’t very many people actually heard the song there, but it definitely got people talking. I didn’t see any dinks, but I did go and hear the song on there and heard that some dinks appeared later. As far as technology goes, it’s something amazing that’s changed the way we communicate and it’s created this primal thing at the same time. What’s humanity do with it? Gets naked.

How did the ideas that went into this album start to evolve?
Graham: It started when LP first came out.  That’s when the four of us really started playing together. [Drummer Matt Schulz and bassist Matt McQuaid are now permanent members of the band]. It was a logical step. We played together all the time, and toured a lot, and started working on the new songs.  It added a great focus to the record. We all recorded this one at the same studio, instead of at different places at different times like we did LP, so it’s the first Holy Fuck record with a common thread and continuity running through it.


Was there a theme you had in mind while writing it?
Matt Schulz: I don’t think we set out to make a concept record.  We recorded them all and got them where they wanted, then afterwards, we put the pieces together and made the album that way.

Your songs on this are all pretty concise.  They all fall under around 5 minutes.  How do you know when a song’s finished or when it needs more of something?
Graham: Yeah, they’re all about that length for some reason!  [laughs] I don’t know! It’s more about that sound’s happening too many times or that doesn’t happen enough, so you add or cut depending on what’s needed. It’s pretty much logic, really.  It just happened by chance that they’re all 3 and a half or 4 minutes.

When do titles take hold, seeing that they’re mostly instrumental songs?
Graham: When we write a song, usually the title is something that comes after you hear the song.  Or sometimes it’s a jackass word we first use to associate with a certain song, but maybe we’ll change it around.  It it maybe a studio we were in or a piece of equipment we used for a certain sound, or some stupid inside joke that Brian [Borcherdt] came up with earlier [laughs].  It could come from anywhere really.

At the 2008 Primavera Festival in Spain, you had had hundreds of fans unexpectedly jump onto the stage and almost take over the end of your set.  Did anything that crazy happen to you during SXSW this year?
Graham: I think that whole thing was just crazy, we played 9 gigs in 3 days.  But Primavera will be hard to top.  At first when we heard we were going to play that at 4:30 in the morning, we were like, ‘what the hell?’

But it’s Spain, and you know what late-nighters they are.
Graham: We basically got in that morning and had an interview before so were playing without any sleep, but it was amazing, and that will probably be one of the top 2 or 3 gigs of our lives.  I had a $1500 video camera on stage with me to ‘keep it safe’ and that got stolen.

Matt: Someone even stole one of my drumsticks out of my hand…

Rather than using the typical laptops, were you and Brian always into using less traditional instruments to make your songs, not to mention having guys like Matt and Matt playing drums and bass?
Graham: Laptops can make most of the same kinds of sounds, but when playing live, it’s more of a tactile thing and more fun to play weird objects, toys and old equipment we found randomly, or discovered on sites like ebay.


It makes for more of a visual, all-out show.
Graham: Exactly!

At this moment, Brian walks into the room and joins in. Graham jokes, ‘just give him one question.  He has to work for his label paycheck.’  He laughs, saying that I should ask him about the band name. ‘I would never!,’ I insist, sneeringly calling it lazy journalism.  He continues on that thread, despite the fact that I wouldn’t have asked him That Question.

Brian: You don’t know how many times people have asked about that!  It’s easy to see it coming now, sometimes we start to answer that question even before someone asks.  They usually do in foreign countries… [laughs]  I wonder what happens with other bands? What about Insane Clown Posse?  So you’re clowns, and you’re a duo, but you call yourselves a posse.  How many guys does it take to constitute a posse? Wouldn’t that be more than two, like, several? And how insane are you? Or do you just like wearing the makeup? [laughs]

Okay, let’s go for one more real question.

The LP record seems more angsty and this one has an almost euphoric feeling.  Do you agree?
Brian: I think melody always alleviates the angst a bit. We started as a percussive band, and at first, it was all about how the beats as they sounded through different amplifiers, but as you start to bring in more melody, it becomes more musical naturally, I guess.–Madeline Virbasius/photos by Scott Irvine

Holy Fuck website