It’s Monday and Mondays suck, so let’s grind it out with an interview and song premiere from Holy Grinder entitled “Play God.”
If you read this column, you should know who Holy Grinder is by now. The Ottawa, Ontario quintet has been grinding out noisy goodness since 2016 with Eradicate All Scum. Since then they’ve done splits with the likes of Sete Star Sept, Domesticated, Reeking Cross, Insufferable, Capsize, and the mighty Agathocles. So, if you’ve been out of the loop, it’s time you got in it.
Today we have “Play God” from the band’s upcoming album Chain of Revenge. There’s no prep for this track. Once you hit play Holy Grinder are already knocking your teeth out with a bicycle chain. Thundering drums, noise, a double bass guitar attack, and duel vocals make this song almost sensory overload. It’s chaos captured perfectly for a full twenty-two seconds.
Speaking of capturing things, I decided to send over a few questions to founder and bassist Ei Cee (pronounced “A.C.”) on the band’s current creative state, thoughts on their name, what their future holds, and as a bonus, a brief snippet of a conversation we had about the upcoming film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Monday Grind: Firstly, I appreciate that you gave me the absolute shortest song on the record to premiere. Thank you, sincerely, sarcastic as that may sound, it’s not. But the briefness of the genres of grind and noisegrind are their essence, full-stop. That in mind, let’s talk creativity. Holy Grinder’s albums are usually very short. Like, under 15 minutes and always fitting onto a 7-inch. Is there ever a confinement or expectation you feel when writing grind/noisegrind? More specifically, are there ever ideas you want to expand on, or do the time stamps usually feel adequate?
Ei Cee: The thing I love about writing this kind of music is the lack of confinement. For Holy Grinder we do have a particular way of writing music but there is always an openness to it, it comes very easily and when it doesn't that's when we know not to push it. I feel that way with most projects I'm in when it comes to writing music.
MG: The band’s sound has gotten more chaotic and looser with this record. The elements of noise still run rampant throughout and the heaviness has been drastically expanded on with the addition of a second bass player and new vocalist. Does this move the band closer to the vision you and the group always had for it?
E: It’s funny you say that because the initial vision of the band was two bass players and a front person. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way in the beginning but I'm glad we finally made it to this point and organically too.
MG: You told me recently that the Holy Grinder name is something you’re committed to. But more out of obligation than desire to keep the name. So, what would you change it to if you had the choice, and what spurred the original naming of the band?
E: I honestly have no idea what we would rather call the band if we had that option. The band was actually named by our ex-ex drummer before we wrote any music or anything like that. Honestly, at the time the band was going to be unfortunately named Chinese Room by someone who was technically but not really in the band and they were incredibly pushy about the name and other things like that. When our drummer at the time threw out the name Holy Grinder it seemed so much better than having to explain why a band of mostly white people were called Chinese Room.
MG: What was your original draw to the grind/noise genres?
-My first introduction to grind was the Japanese band SWARRRM back in 2008. I remember finding them on MySpace and it literally changed my entire perception of music. For noise it was Merzbow this time through YouTube, which further changed my perception of music and what music could be AKA whatever the fuck you want it to. The biggest draw of these two things was the lack of rules when it comes to making the actual music. Naturally marrying the two genres was the most logical step and Holy Grinder was eventually born.
MG: Politics in grindcore and punk genres are their foundations, lyrically. Grind still has a lot of politics in its blood, and Holy Grinder has some very political views, especially concerning gender identity and rights. Do you think that the genre could be doing something more though?
E: I think it's important to give back to communities and marginalized people if you're going to be presenting your project or yourself as political. This is something we've done in the past with releases and through our bandcamp with varying results, but it's something we plan on continuing to do when we have the opportunity to.
MG: The new record Chain of Revenge is short, clocking in around five minutes. So far, all of your records have been pretty brief, with Cult of Extermination being the longest. Are there plans for a proper full-length or would you call anything you’ve released/have coming out the proper full-length?
E: I mean for us to do a "proper" full length we would need to write like 60 songs and who the hell has time for that. I would like to keep all of our full lengths under 20 minutes and I think that's something everyone in the band can agree on. Being able to fit a full length on a 7" is also incredibly cost-effective.
MG: You did a track with grind monster Takafumi Matsubara (Gridlink, Retortion Terror, Mortalized) last year on your Domesticated split. How was it working with him?
E: It was incredible to work with someone who is as inspiring and is all intents and purposes as legendary as Takafumi. The process was incredibly simple, we just sent him a track to write some guitar for, he sent it back to me and I named it after one of his cats. It will forever be the only Holy Grinder song with guitar in it.
MG: Do any other art forms inspire you or your music? Specific artists or styles of art?
E: For Chain of Revenge the artwork definitely set a kind of vibe for the music. It was the first piece of the puzzle when it came to this record, which was created by Jordan Lorea (Christwound) who is an incredible artist from the USA.
MG: What does the future hold for Holy Grinder? Noiser? Heavier? Both? More political?
E: We are in the process of writing LP 3 which we have huge plans for recording-wise. Which will be all of the above.
Bonus Godzilla Section. Because.
MG: Quick thoughts on Godzilla 2014, go.
E: I thought it was terrible like any other US adaptation of Godzilla so far. Also, the marketing was deceptive because they obviously thought the Kick Ass dude couldn’t make it as the lead, so they made it seem like Brian Cranston was the main character.
MG: I hated Godzilla 2014 so hard it made me like ’98. Because it had emotions, monsters and colors. So, knowing that King of the Monsters is due out at the end of next month, what’s your expectation for the film? Some that were jaded by the first are actually optimistic about this installment. Thoughts?
E: I think it’s going to be an improvement on 2014 but my expectations are shot. Also, I’m worried it’s just going to be a bridge into Godzilla vs. King Kong, which I’m 99% sure no one on earth gives a fuck about seeing.
MG: Yeah, that’s probably going to happen, just like a Mega Man movie (Christ on a crotch rocket). And even Japan couldn’t get that mash-up right despite it being one of the most fight-heavy installments. My question now with Burgerzilla after this installment is: where to from here? Like, Jet Jaguar or bust. But I’m guessing it will be Mechagodzilla.
E: Mechagodzilla for sure, honestly, I’d rather see that movie than anything else. Or maybe they’ll just stop, that would be nice too. I’d really like to see a Shin Godzilla sequel but that’s probably not going to happen unfortunately.