Toronto, ON’s Holy Grinder have been keeping busy over the past year or so, releasing splits with the likes of Capsized, Insufferable and Sete Star Sept, as well as their debut album, Eradicate All Scum. Now, the trio (featuring members of Mad Trapper, War Balm, and the Blind Surgeons Operation) are offering up their sophomore record, pleasantly dubbed Cult of Extermination. The album (out tomorrow, March 2) was masterfully recorded with Fuck the Facts’ Topon Das at his Apartment 2 studio and sees the noise-grinders taking their raw sound to new levels of crushing intensity.
In this recent interview with Svbterranean, bassist/vocalist Ei Cee discusses Cult of Extermination and what it was like working with Das. They also talk about the origins of Holy Grinder and the band’s ever-evolving sound, as well as identifying the band as queer and the lack of support for trans issues in metal and hardcore communities. Check it out!
Can you give me a bit of the band’s background? How did Holy Grinder come to be?
While I was filming the “Know Fear” music video with Mad Trapper, Taylor’s other band Teleovore was actually practicing in the room beside us. I really liked what they were doing so that’s how we met actually, which is strange because normally I wouldn’t bother talking to someone I don’t already know hahaha. During this time I really wanted to start a project inspired by bands like Water Torture, Reeking Cross and Sete Star Sept. I was very into starting something without guitar basically, that also had a big noise influence. Taylor mentioned he played drums and we ended up writing most of our first record in the first practice we had together. Richard was originally going to play second bass but ended up hitting pieces of junk and steel with guitar pedals hooked up to it instead.
Holy Grinder has been pretty busy over the past year, with a slew of splits and steady string of shows. And you’re keeping the momentum going with your new full-length, Cult of Extermination. How are you feeling about how the record turned out?
We are all very happy with how the new record turned out! Going with Topon Das was an incredible experience and his knowledge of the genre definitely helped when it came to capturing the sound we wanted for the record. We wrote most of it last year so we’ve had lots of time to tweak and test the waters with the material in a live setting.
As mentioned, the new record follows several releases. How does Cult of Extermination compare to your previous material?
It definitely follows the same format of our debut release Eradicate All Scum, but I feel that we succeeded in upping the intensity of the last record in every possible way. For our splits we normally try to do something different, whether it be using live tracks or something completely experimental. For our split with Insufferable we ended up using a keyboard hooked up to an hm2 and all of the drum tracks were written by holding up pieces of paper with different drum techniques on them (blast beats, dbeat, etc. etc.) and Taylor would play whatever we held up. I think we will continue experimenting with strange ways to write music for future releases.
What was it like recording with Fuck the Facts’ Topon Das?
I have been wanting to record at Apartment 2 for a very long time and I’m glad it finally happened. Topon is one of the nicest dudes ever and we had a fantastic time, he was very accommodating. When it came to getting mixes back he was also very good with contributing his own ideas, which was greatly appreciated. Even when it came to recording the harsh noise portions of the record he had many fantastic ideas and pedals he let us use. I couldn’t recommend Apartment 2 more honestly, it’s like the Canadian version of God City.
Holy Grinder combines noise and grind, and while it’s very raw and visceral, it’s also quite focused and thoughtful in terms of song structure. How do you describe the band’s style?
The original concept of Holy Grinder was to do something more along the lines of noisecore, which is very improv heavy and loose, but also at times surgical in execution. We ended up moving away from that pretty quickly after the first release and started incorporating elements of death metal, black/war metal and even noise rock and doom in some cases. The end result is a more focused sound than when we started funny enough. I think that it’s very important to experiment with different sounds and styles and it’s something I always do in my projects. It definitely prevents things from getting boring. I’m personally looking forward to Holy Grinder’s RNB phase.
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Much of our first record was influenced by political events and the strong presence of white supremacy, hence the title, Eradicate All Scum. When we started HG it was a very politically-charged project (it still is) and as we continued to grow as a band and found our groove, the lyrical themes of the band evolved as well. The songs on the new record are lyrically bleak and nihilistic. When I think of the first record now I can’t help but apply its meaning to the human race as a whole and not only one sect of it. Musically we all listen to different things but we have many common favorites; Revenge, Full of Hell, and a big one is Carly Rae Jepsen which is usually blasted in the car on the way to shows.
Holy Grinder features members of Mad Trapper, War Balm, and The Blind Surgeons Operation. In what ways does this band differ from your previous projects as a creative outlet?
I can’t speak too much for War Balm as I ever only heard them once, but I would say Holy Grinder picks up where many of these now defunct projects left off. While TBSO will always have a special place in my heart, it was a very confused grindcore band and lacked focus. I know this because I wrote mainly everything in that band and my interests jumped around so often hahaha. I only played bass in Mad Trapper and wasn’t really able to contribute any of my own ideas so I can’t speak much about the creative process, or it’s better if I don’t. The music in Holy Grinder is written and agreed upon by all three members, it has always been this way and always will be.
Along with tags like grindcore, noise, powerviolence, etc., you also use the term queer. Why is it important to you to identify the band as such?
I emphasize it because there is such a massive lacking in queer grindcore/heavy bands, I want people to know that they exist and we aren’t afraid to identify as such. I know that this has caused some in the scene to not include us in certain things, I know there are people who avoid booking us for this reason also. We have been DIY from the start and we have done just fine without the help of those people. We don’t want them either. If you’re reading this and your ears are burning, it’s probably because it’s about you.
Do you feel trans issues lack support in metal/hardcore communities?
Absolutely. There are so many fests put on each year that are 100% white and male and the funny thing is, the people organizing these fests are the same people who pretend to give a shit about feminism and trans rights. They don’t, they just want 100 likes on a Facebook status to get them through the week. This shit never changes and that’s why it’s so important for people in marginalized communities to stick together and form their own fests and shows. Get Better Fest comes to mind, Sheer Queer Fest and in Toronto, Not Dead Yet always features a wide variety of people and not just white dudes with daddy issues. If you want to support marginalized groups, start supporting them.
Is there a specific theme behind Cult of Extermination? What’s the meaning behind the title?
I came up with the title when everyone was terrified that NK and USA were going to start nuking each other. There were more people wishing for it than anything else, which I thought was not only sad but a pretty clear view on where society is at this point in time. People legitimately want to die, and I can’t really criticize that. That really set the tone for this record.
Who created the cover art? How does it tie in with the music and/or themes?
The artwork was done by Jagatsuri from Indonesia. I came across his artwork through Uncle Ray from Windsor, he drew their album cover and I thought it was fantastic. We had a vague idea of what we wanted the artwork to look like and he went with it. We were all very happy with the end result!
What’s coming up next for Holy Grinder?
Our record is out March 2nd and on the same day we will be playing in Toronto at The Smiling Buddha with Escuela and many other fantastic bands from Ontario. We are doing a few more dates in March to support the record and then we’ll be taking a break until the summer where we will embark on another tour for the record. Maybe out east again. We would like to hit the States this year, but that is growing more and more difficult as the time passes.
Cult of Extermination is being released independently on March 2. Listen to the track “Bile Overdose” from the record below and check out more from Holy Grinder on Bandcamp.
Upcoming Holy Grinder shows:
3/2 @ SMILING BUDDHA / Toronto, ON w/ ESCUELA
3/3 @ FLATHOUSE / Pickering, ON w/ ESCUELA
3/9 @ Ask a punk / London, ON
3/16 @ WAREHOUSE / St. Catharines, ON
3/23 @ CAFE DEKCUF / Ottawa, ON
3/31 @ BARFLY / Montreal, QC