There have been quite a few changes for Toronto, ON’s Holy Grinder since our last interview a year ago. Following several member shifts, the noisegrind band now features a revamped line-up, including two bassists and new vocalist Ashley, which brings a newfound energy to Holy Grinder. The result is a more dynamic and intense approach to their raw, visceral sound, as well as an even more chaotic live performance.
In the spirit of change, Holy Grinder decided to remake one of their first songs from their debut record, Eradicate All Scum. Dubbed “Flesh Prison II,” the track has been re-recorded with the new line-up at Topon Das’ (Fuck the Facts) Apartment 2 studio in Ottawa, ON, and is the first taste of their upcoming release, which will follow up 2018’s Cult of Extermination.
“Flesh Prison II” is available to stream for the first time right here on Svbterranean, and members Ei TC and Ashley also took the time to discuss Holy Grinder’s new outlook. They also talk about the impact of the new members on the band and their sound, as well as the shift to more personal lyrical themes, among other topics. Check out Holy Grinder’s “Flesh Prison II” and our interview with Ei and Ashley after the break.
A lot has changed for Holy Grinder this past year! What’s been going on, particularly with the changes in the band’s line-up?
Ashley: I joined officially in March of last year. I’d played with HG a few times and eventually just informed the band that I’d be joining officially – I don’t think I really gave anyone a choice in the matter. From there we began our crusade against falses and wimps.
Ei: On top of being kidnapped by Ashley, we kicked out two drummers in the process for various reasons and absorbed Jon and Damien of Toxocariasis into the band, which has been great so far.
It’s super unique for a band to have two bassists. How did that come about?
Ashley: It’s cult and extreme. We like things that are cult and extreme.
Ei: The original idea for HG was to have two bass players. Unfortunately, Richard couldn’t count so good so we made him the noise person. I knew Jon from playing shows with his old band and a different project we’re in together where he plays bass so the idea came to me around then.
What kind of impact have the new members had on Holy Grinder, in terms of sound, lyrical themes, live setting, etc.?
Ei: The band dynamic is completely different from when we first started as a three-piece. First adding Ashley on vocals gave me an opportunity to focus more on playing and also improved the overall vocal and lyrical quality of the band tenfold. I literally just bark into the mic, there are lyrics but I couldn’t be bothered to remember or memorize them. Ashley actually writes and says words which is cool. Having the second bassist gives me an opportunity to do a lot of stupid shit on stage now like tear cymbals into pieces and throw people around, which is fun. Damien is an absolute monster on drums so I don’t have to worry about some jackass behind me with dreadlocks playing the same fills for an entire set or being asked how to play the songs five minutes before we go on stage. Damien is an angel sent from heaven. The live show has become very unpredictable and chaotic and honestly it couldn’t be better. Also there is about 100% more biting.
Ashley: Prettier hair. More madness. Ei acts out a lot more and Jon and Damien seem to appreciate the chaos.
How would you describe Holy Grinder in 2019?
Ashley: Militant. Unforgiving.
Ei & Ashley: Dumb bitch juice.
“Flesh Prison II” is the first taste of your forthcoming new record, and the track is a remake of one of the band’s old songs. Why did you decide to redo it?
Ashley: It’s a good one to play. Maybe I’m a bit vain in the fact that I’d like to rerecord a lot of the old songs that we play live.
Ei: “Flesh Prison” was one of the first songs we wrote back in 2016 and in my opinion really summed up what we were all about musically. I wanted to re-do it with the new lineup and I feel the same way I did three years ago.
This track still experiments with noise and different sounds. Is that an important component of Holy Grinder’s sound that you wanted to maintain?
Ashley: Well, we have to give Richard something to do.
Ei: Noise will always be integral to Holy Grinder and it will only intensify as we move forward. I feel that the new record showcases this more than previous ones. Also yeah, Richard needs something to do other than eat seeds and have sex with strange men.
What types of lyrical themes are present on “Flesh Prison II” and on the new material in general?
Ashley: It’s a weird topic to be transparent about, but the two of us have each dealt with eating disorders for over half our lives. “Flesh Prison” is about gender dysphoria, which I can’t relate to and I wouldn’t want to diminish the integrity of Ei’s writing by performing those words as my own. So “Flesh Prison II” is about the cycle of purging, restricting and exercising. This is a common theme in many of our songs. Other times I’ll base lyrics off of something I’m reading. When all else fails, drawing from my animosity towards my now estranged community that is the London, Ontario arts scene and all its incestuous, rug-sweeping, terminally local glory always proves fruitful. Shit, maybe that was a bit specific.
How do you feel the upcoming release compares to the band’s previous material?
Ei: It’s the best thing we’ve ever recorded, easily. Everything is ramped up to 11 and the entire thing is like six minutes long. It also feels very much like a natural progression from Cult of Extermination, maybe that has to do with working with Apartment 2 again in Ottawa, but they really know how to capture the essence of this project.
Ashley: Scree scree.
What have been some of Holy Grinder’s influences/inspirations over the past year?
Ei: Like I said before we’ve gone through some lineup changes. One was pretty nasty, one was just kind of annoying. I think both of those situations greatly influenced our resolve to do this band and write these songs. We’ve only come out of it stronger. I’d also like to give a shoutout to the OG cum junkie Bob “Robert” Petrie from Alberta or something. I hope you are well and I hope you saw some of the money I spent on your CD at the gas station.
Ashley: I’m deeply inspired by the inherent eroticism of the sea.
In our last interview about a year ago, you mentioned a lack of support for queer/trans issues in the metal community. Has this changed at all since then?
Ei: Maybe a little? I can remember a couple times last year some of the bigger promoters asking me my pronouns, which was nice. That’s a step in the right direction because I’ve been in situations where the promoter has straight up deadnamed me in front of a group of people. I think a lot of people in the music scene itself try to avoid coming into contact with people like myself because they’re afraid to fuck up pronouns and stuff like that, which isn’t really a solution. I’ve gotten to a point where I’m just tired of having to correct people or rely on them to get this kind of stuff right, especially people who are well aware. I hope we will eventually reach a place where these issues don’t exist anymore.
What’s coming up next for Holy Grinder?
Ei: Writing our next full-length is the big one. We have huge plans recording wise with this, which we’ve already told basically everyone in Ontario about. We’ll also be playing with WAKE April 5th at The Bovine and I’m pretty sure we’re returning to the East Coast of Canada this summer. Maybe the US this year.
Ashley: More enemies, probably.
Ei: Yeah, probably a lot more enemies.
Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Ei: I’d like to ask that Chris Spano unblock me from Instagram. I promise not to send anymore pictures of apes to him, which I personally didn’t think was such a big deal but apparently it was. I mean sending someone pictures of apes is pretty harmless in my opinion, I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but here we are. Also I would like to remind everyone that my birthday is coming up soon and if you come to my party you MUST bring a present. If you don’t I’ll throw your cheap ass down my frozen driveway.
3/2 @ COALITION – Toronto, ON w/ SICK OF SHIT
4/5 @ THE BOVINE – Toronto, ON w/ WAKE
6/7 @ TAIL OF THE JUNCTION – Toronto, ON *Record Release show