Holy Fuck discusses new un-Latin album, Latin
“The purpose of the band isn’t necessarily to only use wacko kookoo and hilarious instruments,” says Graham Walsh of Toronto’s mech-electro darlings Holy Fuck.
He assures us, though, their trademark 35mm film synchronizer and various “old junkie drum machines, keyboards and toys” appear on the new album, Latin, out May 11.
“You might want to paint a picture of Holy Fuck dumpster diving and rooting through shit, but we have standards,” he insists, though they still dig for gems in old guitar shops, or use “whatever’s lying around.”
On first listen to their follow-up to 2007’s Polaris prize nominated LP, it’s clear a few formal instruments were lying around – horns, guitar, acoustic piano. Despite the horns, don’t expect an indie band version of deep house; Latin keeps with Holy Fuck’s reputation for loop-splice dance tracks, this time with wider range, from the squelchy, cowbell rocker SHT MTN to the funky jam Red Lights.
Walsh also produced the album (he’s a sound engineer, his last project being Julie Fader’s Outside In), and says Latin may sound more uplifting because they’ve been experimenting with more melody and tone, straying from previous “rhythmic and bludgeoning” outputs.
It was recorded in a barn near Caistor Centre, Ont., an hour-plus outside of Toronto, and perhaps nature found its way onto the album in the form of more organic instruments, but Walsh insists this was not on purpose.
“We used guitar and piano because they sound great and they worked in the song. We’re not going to limit ourselves to any particular choice in music. Like colours on a canvas, you throw something up and it doesn’t work, you just paint over it.”
OK, we can play the cliche game just as well, which leads us to the obvious question: Is Holy Fuck painting a picture of Latin America?
“I guess that’s for the listener to decide… The wonderful thing is it’s all in the ears of the beholder,” he continues in all honesty. “It’s all personal so I can’t take any offense if it reminds people of something … with instrumental music we can’t tell a story with words, so we’re using melody and dynamics and layers.”
So, if the track Latin America reminds you of a dart-through-alleys escape from the slums of Sao Paulo, that’s fine with them.
Instrumental bands (with film score and car advertisement revenue in mind) like to keep everything vague – including album themes.
“We wanted to call it something that didn’t have too much imagery attached to it, something general… (Latin) was a term that came up a lot between the band. Some of the old drum machines, the Latin beat is always the coolest one. Latin wasn’t overtly picturesque, but it had some meaning to us as a band. It puts it in a time and place for us.”
If you really need your imagery fed to you, Walsh will reluctantly (and sarcastically) offer it.
“Well, there’s dancers. You should have seen all them in the studio they were dancing and we mic’d them up … You can’t really hear them; you could see them,” he says of Latin’s recording process in the barn. “… well, you can’t hear it, right? Dancing is so visual, but ya, sure.”
- Marsha Casselman
HF are touring Europe and the US in May. They play Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on July 9th with Metric and Passion Pit.