Caught up in the ever-changing background of their present North American, and eventual European tour, the leaders of the experimental rock outfit Holy Fuck, Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh, recently shared some of their elusive time to talk with Consequence of Sound about pawn shops, Twilight, and the creepiness of Canadian game shows. Oh yeah, and Betty White.
There’s a lot of chatter, so we’ll jump right in…
First off, do you guys ever get tired of music journalists asking about your band-name and censorship?
Brian Borcherdt: (Laughs) Yes. Yes.
Graham Walsh: Naturally.
I know you guys use a lot of different kinds of gadgets and such to make music, so I was curious if youve been to any pawnshops or garage sales recently and found any new, cool stuff?
Borcherdt: Well no, not really. This tour, weve gotten in the van every morning and driven to the gig and then get back in the van at the end of the night and do it again. We barely even sleep. But yeah, there are a couple spots where we like to try to get out of the van and find things, but so far we havent had any luck. (Laughs) Theres a good spot in Brighton. When we get there, hopefully there will be some time for us to go investigate and dig around.
A little anecdote, one time we went to this little pawnshop in Brighton well, I shouldnt say little, its a pretty big place that had all these weird, little used things, and I found a keyboard that had some cool beats on it, and then a year later we came back, walked out of the same shop with some more keyboards, and the record store across the street was playing our record, and the song that we ended up using that original keyboard on was playing. It was like almost a year later to the day. So, it was a nice little moment to re-affirm to ourselves that Yes, theres worth behind these stupid, little, twenty-dollar battery-operated things. (Laughs) Its like See, it works.
Besides keyboards, have you found any other stuff at the Brighton pawnshop thats worth mentioning?
Borcherdt: Oh yeah, we got
Walsh: a xylophone. The Sex Pistols on vinyl.
Borcherdt: Yeah, maybe even an old bobble-head or something.
Nice. Whats the name of the place; well give them a tiny plug in the interview?
Walsh: (Laughs) Snoopers Paradise.
I know you guys use the moviola to make various sounds in your songs, so I was wondering if there was a certain movies film or reel that youd like to use maybe Big Trouble, Little China or Jonas Brothers 3-D or something?
Borcherdt: Oh yeah, thatd be cool. Umm, probably something with a bunch of crunches and punches.
Walsh: Maybe like an old Bruce Lee movie.
Borcherdt: Yeah, thatd be great. Im almost running out. We need more tape. Magnetic tape.
Besides this interview, whats the worst interview experience you two have ever had?
Borcherdt: (Laughs) Well, we had a girl from a magazine in Belgium come to interview us, while we were in Belgium a couple of years ago, and the first thing she said was, I dont know anything about your band, but would it be cool for me to interview you? That wasnt even the worst part. Thats just whatever. Our egos can get past that. But, she concluded the interview by wanting to do a photo of us doing like a four-man, human pyramid. I mean its not like were not into horsing around. (Laughs) It just seemed kind of demanding, you know. After having kind of a miserable interview, we didnt really feel like climbing on each others backs and giving like a big Hooray! It was a bit silly.
Thats kind of disappointing. I was going to ask you guys to do something like that too, but now its kind of awkward.
Borcherdt: (Laughs) Well, well do a two-man pyramid here. Its just the two of us for now, so it might be kind of awkward.
I would really appreciate it. (a beat)
In preparation for this interview, I watched an interview you did back in 2008 with an elderly man named John.
Borcherdt: That was one of the better interviews.
How was that experience? It caught me off-guard when I first clicked on the interview’s video, so
Borcherdt: One of the things we felt after the interview was over was that we were struck by his candor. He was a true gentleman, but also, it was the only other time weve ever done an interview with someone who had his demeanor and stuff. He was really professional. You could tell he took his job very seriously, but it was really fun. Hes a great guy. But there was something in his delivery that felt really classy and maybe thats something thats lost in our modern-blog kind of world. It seemed like he had a little bit of history and a sense of charisma like he could host a roast. (Laughs) Like he could do some of those old kinds of jokes and stuff.
Speaking of old people. The great Betty White has had sort of a career resurgence as of late, with her recent hosting duties on Saturday Night Live. Why do you think this has been?
Borcherdt: Well, maybe its sort of what I was touching on now of that idea, you know, that everything seems to be really fleeting and ADD in our generation
(Laughs) This interview.
Borcherdt: …And weve lost a lot of this sense of something being classic. I think its kind of refreshing when you realize, Yeah, Betty Whites funny as hell.
I dont know theres just something about it. What do you think? I cant really tell.
Im not sure. Like youve said, weve sort of lost
Borcherdt: Like when you have those moments, where you just realize that theres something in the old broadcasting world and the old days of television and the old days of radio and journalism thats lost and missing. Maybe we lost it. Its maybe not necessarily a bad thing, but its good when you can be refreshed and reminded of that.
Do you think that actors and actresses, during the black-and-white era, were better actors than they are now? Ive been in a few arguments with people about this.
Borcherdt: I dont think so, but I like old movies a lot. Its fun. Theres some peppiness to it. Its almost like Broadway or stage acting a bit.
Walsh: There are more caricatures.
Borcherdt: Yeah, caricatures. (Laughs) Those are funny.
The Twilight trilogy is putting together quite the indie all-star ensemble of artists for its soundtracks. Are you offended that you werent asked to collaborate on these?
Borcherdt: I dont know. Im not really familiar with it. To me, the world of the Twilight kind of world and everything, I really only know as being something that 15-year-old girls care about. And, I just know theres a guy with his shirt off.
Borcherdt: Theres just some guy with his shirt off, and he walks around. I dont know. That sounds great. I like that.
You guys should create a song called the “Shirt Off Song” and try to submit it to them. Just keep contacting them and be like We have this great song, guys Vampires.
And we digress. Anyways, what are some bands/albums that you guys have on-rotation, while youve been touring as of late?
Borcherdt: It definitely varies. Weve never been really hip to whats out right now. When we get a chance, well dig through some record shops and try to get some of those things that are on our wish lists, like records that are really old records.
You know, theres not a lot of keeping up to date on things. When we go home, well catch up with some friends, and theyll ask us about all these bands, and honestly, we usually dont know anything about them. Ive only bought a few records since weve been on tour. I havent listened to them yet.
Really, which ones?
Borcherdt: Camp Lo, Sonic Youth
Oh cool, which Sonic Youth album?
Borcherdt: Yeah, I love that record.
Do you guys find it hard staying connected to world news, pop-culture, and whatever else is sort of going on, when out on tour?
Borcherdt: Yeah, I do. I find it hard to just even keep in touch with family and friends. Sometimes, there are those moments where you get the chance to yourself, and its fun to just catch up on emails. Then, there are those other times when you just want to go to a park and get some sun. You know, see some green or something.
Walsh: Its a weird netherworld, like a different dimension, when youre out on tour. Its just like the six of us (well four, and then our crew friends are with us) in this little bubble that we live in. You can research and go online and find out everything you want, but I dont know. Its weird.
Are you happy with the experience of having to live this constantly on-the-go, bubble lifestyle when out on tour? Sort of like an ever-changing background.
Borcherdt: I have to get better at it. I felt I was good at it for a while because I was getting loaded and kind of partying and everything, but you start to realize that this isnt just a trip or a vacation or like a fun thing that I do for a summer of my life. Yeah, it sort of is my life, but Im trying to make that step in being able to get things done on the road and catching up with stuff.
And I dont know, Im finding it hard. Im trying to figure out a way to be a normal person. Like, maybe Ill learn some languages on books on tape or something. (Laughs) I dont know.
May I suggest Mandarin?
Borcherdt: Yeah, sure.
Since you are on the road so much, do you ever think about maybe writing a blog about eating healthy when out on tour? I can only imagine how tiresome a Red Bull and cigarette diet can get after awhile.
Borcherdt: We dont even eat that.
Borcherdt: Yeah, we try, but (Laughs) nicotine and infused Red Bulls.
Hey, thats a whole new genre of drink right there. Patent.
Borcherdt: Yeah man, when is that going to happen?
I dont know, but I think we should start writing some letters.
Walsh: (Laughs) Yeah.
You guys recently played two shows in Los Angeles. And since LA is the capital of the entertainment industry, especially for game shows, I was curious if you could tell us about a few Canadian game shows that we in the states may not know about.
Borcherdt: Definition. That was a huge one.
Walsh: Remember, Bumper Stumpers?
Borcherdt: No, I dont remember that.
Walsh: They would show like vanity license plates that they made-up and youd have to guess. Theyd be like, This license plate belongs to an old, retired doctor and youd have to guess what it was.
Borcherdt: (Laughs) What? That sounds weird.
Walsh: Then there was this kid one.
Borcherdt: Was it Funhouse?
Borcherdt: Oh no, Just Like Mom.
Walsh: Yeah, that one was really creepy. Theres like this dude who talks to little kids. Its really weird.
Borcherdt: Yeah, we had creepy game shows.
Walsh: Then there was that one with the kids and the race cars, where they had to answer the questions, and they always clapped with their hands above their heads.
Borcherdt: (Laughs) Oh, man. I didnt have cable. I was always a wild kid living in the woods. We only got like one channel, so I got to see Definition.
Walsh: I lived in the suburbs, so I only watched television, all the time.
(Laughs) That sounds about right.