The members of Holy Fuck just love music, all music.
During a recent drive from Cleveland to Milwaukee, the Toronto-based quartet was blasting Slayer in their van so loudly that Brian Borcherdt didn't hear his cell phone ring at the appointed interview time. Once reached, he said they'd probably switch to Hall & Oates after a round of bloodthirsty metal.
"Not anything goes," Borcherdt insisted about their listening choices. "We're picky about everything, but we love music."
Holy Fuck also love performing all types of music. That helps explain why Borcherdt, predominantly a guitar player along with cohort Graham Walsh (bassist Matt "Punchy" McQuaid and drummer Matt Schulz round out the current lineup), started playing trippy, electronic-based space jams with keyboards and effects under the moniker Holy Fuck.
"We wanted to try something that pushed us in a creative direction, be more experimental for ourselves," Borcherdt said.
Formed in 2004, the collective started under the assumption that it would be fun to mess around with beats and various noise. The end result also happened to be something they could dance to, further evidenced on their third and current long-player, Latin.
Borcherdt agreed Holy Fuck's sound, with its relative lack of vocals, could be classified as electronic music.
"But I think our approach to it musically is very different," he added.
That's mainly because they use live instruments, both on stage and in the studio, everything from effects pedals to mixers to old Casio keyboards.
"In terms of the spirit of making music, I get dismayed at the idea that you can only contribute musically to a certain style if you have the right kind of equipment," Borcherdt said. "I don't believe that. I don't think you have to learn how to program a laptop to make [electronic] music. It made sense to us to make use of what we already had."
Of course, it's to travel with only a laptop.
"Right now we're in a van," said Borcherdt said as they passed through Chicago. "It's not a huge van. There's five of us in it, we have all our equipment and all the shirts we're selling, personal goods and even a little lighting rig. We're really pressed for space. We can barely fit in a case of water."
And Holy Fuck haven't ruled out the possibility they won't ever use pre-programmed material in their shows or on their records.
"We just haven't hit that moment yet," Borcherdt said. "Plus we don't really know how. But we're having too much fun doing it this way."
Their shows have become less improvisational over time. Early in the history of Holy Fuck, band members noticed the tones and even the tempos of their compositions could change based on the temperament of their gear.
"We were finding things weren't reliable in such a way that we could replicate or really write songs in the traditional sense," Borcherdt said.
Only after touring a while and getting comfortable with their instruments have they started finding a groove they can stick with.
"We more or less try to recreate our music as best as we can every night, with the idea that we can always take it in a new direction," Borcherdt said.
That spontaneous energy still dictates how Holy Fuck write their music.
"We really want to take advantage of the idea that something can go in any direction and the four of us will contribute to it as opposed to someone bringing an idea and orchestrating how he wants everyone to play on it," Borcherdt said.
Unfortunately, all of that often pales to the group's name, an epithet that's meant to be funny.
"When we started, we weren't thinking we'd become a band that toured and put out records," Borcherdt said. "We just wanted to get the attention of our friends and have it be self-deprecating and sarcastic."
Borcherdt admitted it can be awkward telling customs agents their name. But he doesn't think it's fair to be judged solely by it.
"I think that's unfortunate because the band exists outside the confines of the name," he said. "But the spirit is still there – we're not taking ourselves too seriously."
"Latin America" from Latin: