For many Holy F*ck are like the attractive new boy or girl one of your friends got to know in a club and have been raving about fancying ever since. When you finally have the privilege of meeting this apparently incomparably attractive person they find that the object of their friend’s affection has a very distracting mole upon their left cheek or smells pungently of Doritos’ Heat Wave nachos. They realise they should see past this actually inconsequential superficial blemish and acquaint themselves with the person’s winning personality, but life is short so they don’t. So it is that many people can’t be bothered exploring further than Holy Fuck’s choice of band name, in the process missing out on one of the most exhilarating acts around. Face it kid, your friends nearly always have better taste than you do.
For Graham Walsh, knobtwiddler of the Toronto four-piece (along with fellow knobtwiddler Brian Borcherdt, bassist Matt McQuaid, and similarly named drummer Matt Schulz), a warts-and-all ethos is central to the band’s success. Defiantly lo-fi, the band members’ time pressures mean little or no practise in between live dates. In what you see on stage, he insists, there’s a lot of room for error. “There is an aesthetic to hi-fi production I don’t think it would lend itself well to our music. I’m a fan of those old jazz recordings where you can hear people walking around the room, the snare drum distorted a bit. I like that bit of added character.”
The band’s thirst for a distinguishable personality has lead them to adopt a unique approach and not use modern electronic music making methods. “There’s not many bands doing what we want to do the way we want to do it,” Walsh insists. The focus on a tangible live performance is bolstered by a real-life rhythm section, but do the mountains of cables, pedals and keyboards run the risk of isolating an audience? “Yeah sometimes people won’t know what you’re doing up there. But to be honest, sometimes I don’t even know what I’m doing up there. As much as it looks complicated and mindboggling, I think hopefully it looks more engaging to an audience than somebody on a laptop or behind DJ decks playing, we just wanted to bring the live element all the time.”
Debut album, the Holy Fuck LP, is a triumph of instrumental electronic music; multi-faceted and technically masterful, it is nevertheless an inclusive experience, as dancey and catchy as you could hope from a band so obsessed with sonics and textures. It is with some surprise that recent sessions of the album’s songs have included vocals, however distorted, over them. Walsh explains the band’s liberalism in pushing forward, “I don’t want to get stuck like some bands doing the same thing on every album. So for the next record I really want it to be so different. You know I’m not going to start singing ballads or anything, we’ll still have our aesthetic. But adding vocals is a direction we could possibly go in”.
Holy Fuck are happy to be coming back to Ireland once again, after a triumphant festival appearance at Oxegen. “Once it’s hot and sweaty… and loud, in my opinion, that’s all that matters. You’ve got to add something extra special to your visual performance”. If you catch a Holy Fuck live show this year you’ll undoubtedly be the one expounding the virtues of your new crush to your friends. Warts and all.
Catch Holy Fuck in The Academy on October 20th.