shea M gauer
Holy Fuck “Royal Gregory”
Holy Fuck come from Canada where they played their first shows above a Mexican restaurant.
What is Holy Fuck’s favorite country record?
Graham Walsh: Oh, man, you gotta ask Punchy! That’s a nickname. Long story. He’s the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet, so don’t get the wrong impression. I don’t know if it’s a favorite record per se, but old Willie Nelson—Waylon and Willie’s Pancho and Lefty is pretty sweet. I’ve been listening to Junior Brown stuff lately. I’m totally not doing this justice. They’ll all be mad at me—‘Why didn’t you say George Jones?’
Are your tours characterized by a quest for exotic new cuisines?
For us, we really like good food. Last tour we were on took us to South Austin, and we did fly to Mexico, too, and that was great—we were tacoin’ out after that! If you’re gonna pick things to obsess about in life, food would be up there.
How many keyboards have you broken so far?
Not that many, surprisingly. We try and be as careful as possible. Any gear on tour will get destroyed unless you treat it like an egg. I’m traveling around with a cheap plastic synth thing, and I gotta put a case on it.
That costs more than the synth?
Pretty much. The best breaking of a keyboard story—we were in the middle of a show and it started to go wonky, and Brian unceremoniously smashed it to bits on the stage to much crowd-cheering and egging on.
Do you still let people bring you instruments to play?
Not really, that was sort of a hairbrained scheme Brian came out with that never quite panned out. The sets were a lot looser than they are now. We’re trying to be a real thing.
As opposed to an unreal thing?
Yeah, and I’m sabotaging it—saying bad shit in this interview!
What specific trash piles do you find instruments in?
So it’s more the spirit of the trash?
One thing people gravitate toward is that instrument Brian plays—the 35mm film projector. I think those are all now destined for the trash—obsolete technology not used in film editing any more. However, Brian used to work in film editing and he did film work with that machine—he used it and realized the potential of it as a sound-making advice. A quote/unquote ‘instrument.’ I think anything we use is found and used not unlike any band who finds instruments. I hate for people to think we’re a gimmicky band that plays goofy weird things. We’re just trying to make bad-ass music out of instruments and things that sound cool.
Why is your favorite sound silence?
My favorite sound is silence because there sometimes isn’t enough of it.
So it has value because of scarcity?
In music I find the biggest lesson—and people will find it ironic coming from the guy in Holy Fuck—but to me in any style of music when I’m writing or playing or listening—the most important thing for musicians is not when to play. It’s when not to play. I’m a big fan of restraint—playing as little as possible. Making what you play really special and important. The idea of restraining yourself and silence—it’s like when you watch a movie and suddenly you’re piqued for some reason because there’s no score. The silence now becomes the point in the movie when they try to bring something out, as opposed to making a big exciting… score, you know?
What’s something that overwhelms you?
Sometimes I think the city—it’s sensory overload. As far as music—Merzbow is one guy who’s full on noise, and you have to listen to it in a certain mindset.
What’s your Merzbow mindset?
Driving in rush hour traffic when I’m late trying to get somewhere. Crank it up—it really helps!
What was your first time and your last time in a mosh pit?
The first time was my first concert. Pantera with Sepultura and Biohazard, and that was my first time in a mosh pit. It was very brief! I got pushed out as soon as I got in. And the last time—generally, now it’s been so long I can’t remember. I’m no longer a mosh participant. I don’t see too many. Maybe I’m at the wrong shows? Are they still full-on? Is it still happening? I don’t know.
Do yor parents wear your t-shirts?
No, they don’t wear my t-shirts. But my dad says, ‘You might wanna consider a cleaner name.’
Did he suggest anything?
Not really. I told my dad we’d change it to Holy Fun, but that’s not gonna happen. Nowadays, we got nominated for a Juno award—sort of a Canadian Grammy, which is really cool—and that’s the one thing that got my family realizing, ‘Oh, cool, they actually are something.’ I find it interesting in this day and age that the name isn’t hindering us in ways one might think it would. I find it fascinating and interesting. There wasn’t a purpose for the name—there was no reason. It was just a funny thing! Now it’s interesting to see who doesn’t like it and who does, and people are letting it slide! It’s been a neat sociological experiment.
What do you think of Neil Young’s Trans—overrated or underrated?
Anything Neil Young does is underrated—we’re all big fans of his stuff! It’s not my favorite album but I bought it on vinyl, and I like listening to it. It’s all vocoder. We had sort of a dream of getting Neil Young to come up and jam with us on vocoder—we were fantasizing how he’d love to do it because he doesn’t get very many chances to play vocoder because everyone thinks that album sucks. Like, ‘Finally, a chance to get the vocoder out again!’ To me it’s a farfetched dream—but it’d be awesome.
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