Electronica band making a name for themselves 

It started as a joke, but don’t overlook the music


Who: Holy Fuck

Where: Garfinkel's

When: Sept. 25

What's in a name? A lot of controversy if you ask electronica band Holy Fuck.

The Toronto-based foursome has worked tirelessly since about 2004 to carve out a place for itself in the collective subconscious of North American audiences with a uniquely austere live show, devoid of performance enhancers like sequencers or laptops.

Unfortunately for them, it isn't their music alone that's helped make them a big name - the name itself has helped make the band a Canadian political sensation for all the wrong reasons.

Last year the Harper government cut almost $50 million in funding for arts programs across the country. Among those cuts was PromArt, a $4.7 million program administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs that assisted Canadian artists touring abroad.

Among the reasons for the cut was a thinly-veiled reference to Holy Fuck - the Harper government objected to giving money to a "rock band" that uses a swear word as part of its name.

Though the move undoubtedly hurt artists hoping to tour abroad, Holy Fuck can't deny the press it gave them - and a wider platform on which to promote their unique sound that stresses electronic performances as authentic as can be achieved.

The band will bring its sound to Garfinkel's alongside GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Reached for an interview while in transit, band co-founder Graham Walsh said he's asked about the name by every reporter he comes across - and he must have expected that, given its invocation of the strongest expletive available.

Controversial though it is, Walsh said it helps display the band's "unique jackass brand of sense of humour" and that it came about when its members weren't that serious about what they were doing.

"We were all playing in other groups and things like that that we took serious," Walsh says. "Holy Fuck sort of came together for fun to have a laugh and experiment, we thought it would be funny."

There's a simple reason behind the band's name. It first came up at an early show in 2004, when the band's other founder, Brian Borcherdt, simply wanted to see what it would look like on the marquee at Sneaky Dee's, a concert venue on College Street in Toronto.

"We thought it would be funny just to see the listing on the weekly, the monthly flyer and see the name Holy Fuck there as one of the band names," he says. "That was sort of Brian's funny joke."

What's happened since then has been anything but a joke. What started as a casual experiment has turned into a full-time gig for a foursome that has played at major festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

They've now toured with Buck 65, recorded with members of Broken Social Scene and had their music used in a slew of places including the hit television show "Breaking Bad," the trailer for the video game Midnight Club: Los Angeles and even a Dodge Chrysler Jeep commercial.

The band has done this with the scantest of electronic equipment. A typical show will see them bring synthesizers, drums and toy phaser guns.

But why spurn other enhancing equipment like computers and sequencers?

"I think we just find it a lot more fun for ourselves, more intuitive for ourselves," Walsh says. "I find in Holy Fuck, at least when we're performing live, as far as the way I create goes, I would rather just have a table full of guitar pedals and noise generators and things like that.

"You can tweak it all really easily in real time, you can do that with laptops and stuff like that. I think the way we work, it's better for us using these old organic tools that we use and I also think (it gives) us a distinct sound too."

Few other electronic acts work with as organic a sound as Holy Fuck. British progressive house outfit Way Out West springs to mind, the group behind club hits such as "Mindcircus" and  "Intensify" that uses synthesizers and drums instead of spinning records.

A similar act can be found with Holy Fuck, a group whose pure sound is sure to provoke and enchant listeners Sept. 25.




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