Holy Fuck: Dance Agitation


Holy Fuck, as founder Brian Borcherdt likes to say, is all about "chaos." The noise/dance outfit's mission statement involves "no songwriting" and no practicing, and if someone can't make a gig, they'd rather recruit a new band member than cancel a show. The four core members come from rock backgrounds–Borcherdt was in party rockers By Divine Right, Kevin Lynn in the dubby King Cobb Steelie–but they consciously stay away from guitars and avoid anything that resembles pop. They also vehemently reject laptops and samplers, instead creating their dirty, droney dance rock with kids' toys, odd keyboards, and a 35mm film synchronizer.

On the band's self-titled disc, released last year, the bleeps, blips, fuzz, and heavy, ass-shaking drums sound cohesive but really, they're not. Actually, Holy Fuck is always seconds away from self-destructing. "There are moments when I listen back to the record where I think, 'Why aren't we changing right here?'" says Borcherdt. "We were all in the studio looking at each other, wondering 'What do we do now?'"

Despite all the bedlam, the band always ends their jams safely. How do they pull it off? Trust. Borcherdt and his bandmates–fellow keyboardist Graham Welsh, drummer Glenn Milchem, and bassist Kevin Lynn–have been playing together long enough to know that, whatever happens during a song, they'll always be in sync at the end. If there's a lack of certainty–which occasionally happens when someone new fills in–the band is always at risk of crashing and burning. "If we have someone playing with us who's too much of a pain in the ass, we're not going to want to work with him again," says Borcherdt. "It would fuck up the set."

As Holy Fuck acquires more and more fans across North America–including leftfield rapper Beans, who hired them as his backing band on a recent tour–they feel pressure to reign in the mayhem. Borcherdt says they've managed to cut down some of their six-minute jams to three and they're not as keen to play a gig without their regular line-up anymore. But although forces are compelling them to rework the band's mission statement, Holy Fuck is not ready to start practicing just yet.

"You wonder if people really understand that you are chaos rolling into town," says Borcherdt. "Not everybody likes chaos. As the expectations for the band keep growing, you don't want to let people down, but you don't want to compromise your vision. I think we've done a pretty good job at playing a lot, getting tight, but still doing what we set out to do."