Exclusive: Track by track: Holy Fuck - Congrats

Track by track: Holy Fuck - Congrats

The noisy Toronto bunch deconstruct their barmy and brilliant return.

In the best possible way, Holy Fuck’s first album in six years is a clusterfuck. Bludgeoning you round the head, ‘Congrats’ is a record that takes no prisoners whatsoever. Thundering into life with the grimy ‘Chimes Broken’, it’s a non-stop assault of beautiful noise right through to ‘Caught Up”s breathless exit. If you hear a more punishing entrance than ‘House Of Glass’ in 2016, then commiserations - you’ve been hit by a truck. 

Below, we catch up with the Toronto terrors to talk all things ‘Congrats’, as they take us through the record track by track. Strap yourself in - ‘Congrats’ breaks speed limits from the off.

Read DIY’s review of ‘Congrats’ here.

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Chimes Broken

Started as a random noise loop Graham made from a drum machine through some random effects and compression chain. It’s always interesting creating rhythms out of pulsing noise. It was further arranged when Brian and Graham jammed together, and then later taken to the band in our rehearsal space to really hone in on. The creation of this song was mostly an exercise in creating energy, and an ebb and flow. The version that made the record is the 2nd version of this recording. We first recorded it and began arranging it as a full band in a converted coach house in Toronto, but then went back to the proper studio and laid down a more spirited take of this one. Live, this one is really fun and intense to play. Some of the droney sounds on this track are actually Brian playing a lap-steel guitar with a butter knife.

Tom Tom

Started as a crazy verse/chorus pattern Brian made on his 4 track tape recorder with a drum machine and voice. The low bass note was created by lining a mixer back into itself and then tuned with the EQ to the key of the song. Amazing the amount of low end you can capture on an old cassette multi-track. As we kept arranging this song, we found that not much else was really needed to flesh out that cassette recording. Our songs can get pretty dense, of course, but with this one we tried to revolve everything else around that four-track cassette pattern.

Shivering

Brian came to the band with an arpeggiated chord progression and melody. We tried a few different versions of it, but settled on this one, with its more minimal bass and drum pattern. Brian’s wife Anna sang an eerie Swedish folk song over top of it. We got our friend Edwin Huizinga to play the violins and Jeremy Strachan to play the horns.

X’ed Eyes

Started as random loops Graham made from his OP1 synth…then further arranged by the band in the rehearsal space. Sometimes it can be difficult to blend real acoustic drums on top of drum machine loops. The drum machine loop on this one is pretty dense, but, for some reason, the two definitely came together nicely. To further sew those elements together we ran the drum machine and bass guitar together through the same four track that ‘Tom Tom’ was recorded on. This song was really difficult to play live, but we kept trying, and now it’s become one of our favourites.

Neon Dad

We pondered not putting this song on the album. But when we were sequencing the album and sharing with our close friends they really liked it and convinced us to put it on after all. The song came to be when we were jamming in Sydney, Australia. The jam space didn’t have power converters for our North American gear… so, we were forced to use whatever was battery powered. Graham could only use one synth, and Brian could only play guitar. Sometimes forced restrictions breed interesting results, and this song is a prime example of that. Brian took the basics of this song and formed his vocal melody lines and arranged a chorus for it. This version was recorded in Banff Alberta with our friend Loel on drums. Our friend Carmen Elle from the fantastic band Diana sings on this one with Brian.

House Of Glass

Written during one of our rehearsal space jam sessions. We rented a garage in the back of an alley one winter. It had a plug-in fake fireplace for heat. It was a great creative space though, and this song was one that came out of that. Brian started messing around with an old Roland Drumatix 606 drum machine while others were out getting coffee or something… and the seed for this song was born. All the big ‘explosions’ are created from mixer feedback filling in the gaps between the drum machine beats. Big sounds from small means.

Sabbatics

Started out as a A/B drum pattern that Graham came up with. He and Brian jamming in his dank basement resulted in hours of random material to sift through. Something stuck out about this one so they brought it to the band to further flesh out into a song. Matt Schulz’s drums really brought vibe to this track, and Brian processing the bass guitar through a pretty insane side-chaining effect really makes this track woozy.

Shimmering

We’re fans of short records. Therefore we opted to complete the record with an interlude rather than adding another track (which we do have but saved for bonuses or b-sides). This one, as the title suggests, is a revisiting of the song ‘Shivering’. Brian recorded this to tape in his basement and then used the room itself as an echo chamber, allowing the monitor speakers to feedback while moving the mic. By placing the mic on the concrete floor the room produced a low f sharp, the key of the song. This song segues into a live jam we recorded on a cellphone while sound checking in 2013/14… maybe in Australia or China? That phone recording could be a great ‘seed of a song’ if we could remember how we played it.

Acidic

Sometimes, when you take a toy keyboard preset rhythm and accompaniment and force it to into an abstract chord progression you get something far beyond what it was ever intended to be. A lot of our earlier songs were made this way. So this is sort of a throw back. The beat itself is a “country and western” preset on an old Yamaha toy keyboard. This was another late contender. But we liked it for its fun energy. A spark near the end of the record.

Caught Up

This song came from the same rehearsal room in Sydney, Australia. We almost didn’t bother rehearsing when we realised we didn’t have the power converters we needed for our gear. We’re glad we did though as it was productive day. Graham brought up the loop idea, a mean and aggressive throb that still remained open to interpretation.

Punchy started playing a janky, Bo Diddley kind of bass line, that rubbed a little with the key of the loop, and Brian played a disjointed bendy stab on the guitar to sew the tonal differences between the bass and loop. As we continued to work on the song we corrected those issues but kept the bendy guitar part and everything else as it was.

The song was dubbed ‘Crapture’ on the demos - I guess a piss take on ‘The Rapture’, as it started out kind of dance punk-y. That title stuck until we had to put the album out. We liked the idea of the ‘rapture’ in it’s literal or biblical sense. We looked for other meanings and found the expression ‘Caught Up’, as in, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

We’re not religious in the least but sometimes a random title can have deeper meaning afterwards. It fit for us with the intensity of the song, the mayhem and the chaos followed by a peaceful meditative outro, that almost lifts the listener… and finishes the record.

Holy Fuck’s new album ‘Congrats’ is out now via Innovative Leisure.