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Holy smokes 

Live-instrumental, electronica outfit Holy Fuck breaks convention, to critics’ praise and fans’ adoration.

Holy Fuck are an unorthodox band. There's the name, the lack of lyrics, the improvised studio sessions and the revolving-door rhythm section (which has included members from stylistically divergent groups like Blue Rodeo and Wintersleep). And somehow, the band, playing Saturday at the Marquee, even found themselves touring as underground rapper Beans's backing band.

Though it seems an odd fit, Holy Fuck mastermind Brian Borcherdt was thrilled by the opportunity. "The eight-year-old in me was really excited," he says. "The first style of music that I ever got excited about was rap and breakdancing. I was a shitty little breakdancer." As kids, Borcherdt and his brother would visit their grandparents in Delaware, where Friday nights they would listen to a hip-hop radio show broadcasting out of Philadelphia. "We'd stay up late with our cassettes armed and ready in the ghetto blaster," he says. Hip-hop was still mostly an underground movement at the time, and despite the Borcherdt brothers' fervour for the genre, back home in Nova Scotia, other kids in school didn't share that passion. "All the kids in school would tease us and make fun of us, but we were like, Just you wait.'"

Bortcherdt had aspirations to make rap records, but as he got older, he began to find the entire rap game a bit daunting---"I didn't think I was cool enough for it"---and began to move towards the more rock-oriented sound that would characterize his earliest musical projects. After a stint in By Divine Right, Borcherdt took up the Holy Fuck moniker and began playing shows on his own. He was soon joined by Graham Walsh, who would become the only other consistent member of the band. "It's a bit of a blessing and a hindrance at the same time," says Borcherdt of Holy Fuck's ever-changing rhythm section. "We get into that situation simply because the people we've been lucky to work with are in other bands." Borcherdt says that if Holy Fuck demanded its players be exclusive to the band, he never would have had the opportunity to play with so many talented people. "These people are all really exciting to work with and every time we play with them they bring something new to it.

"I really don't see how people could be satisfied doing one single thing," he says. "It's kind of like, You can only play one board game.' Man, I got stuck with Boggle for the rest of my life? I want to play Scrabble!" Holy Fuck spent three years on the road, establishing themselves, then promoting their self-released, self-titled debut. Early in 2007 they released a new EP---Borcherdt describes it as a demo intended to attract label support. It did, and this fall, the group put out its sophmore effort, LP, on Young Turks. "That's really exciting," says Borcherdt. "It's the first thing I've ever done that has been supported outside of my own means."

The record consists of greatest hits from studio, radio and live recordings from the past year. "We still didn't sit down and make an album proper," where the band goes into a studio and comes out with a record a week later. "We still haven't had that opportunity and I'd like to," says Borcherdt. The band worked with different musicians and producers, including Mr. Final Fantasy, Owen Pallett. After he wowed them with an onstage collaboration, the band invited him to cut their song "Lovely Allen" in a studio. The resulting track sounds like the most premeditated thing the band has ever done. Not so, says Borcherdt. Pallet works incredibly quickly and the whole thing was done in a day. "It gives the illusion because it has more of a pop style or melody," he says. Though they've come to it in a rather haphazard fashion, Holy Fuck are now well respected in Canada and abroad, fitting "somewhere in line between weird German experimental music and breakdancing." The new record recently hit number one on CBC Radio 3. So, would an eight-year old Borcherdt be happy? "All I need is to fly the Millennium Falcon and I'm done."

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