OK. First things first. Calgary horror-rockers Forbidden Dimension were never technically dead. While their output since the turn of the century has been somewhat scattered, they have continued cranking out tunes intended to make you shiver and quake in your boots.
With five prior releases under their belts, Forbidden Dimension have a snazzy new record out now via Calgary label Saved By Vinyl. Forbidden Dimension band leader Jackson Phibes recently took the time to chat with The MusicNerd Chronicles about what exactly the band has been up to
Since the turn of the century, output from the band has been scattered. Why is that?
Phibes: Forbidden Dimension had a way more constant output during the 90s mainly due to the 3 album deal we were hooked up with from Cargo. We were expected to crank out an album every 2 years. It was also quite cheap back then to go in and do some demo work with a friend of ours who had a recording studio, and as a result of that, we always had a stockpile of extra material recorded that we could release whenever there was an offer for a single or a compilation contribution.
After Cargo Canada went tits-up in 1997-1998, that line-up of the band went its separate ways and I ended up “going solo” (which is how Forbidden Dimension started out to begin with!) while also concentrating on my illustration career and my young kids. Around then, I ended up with a band called The English Teeth (more of a 70s boogie rock-type combo). The Teeth did a lot of gigging and ended up recording a lot of the soundtrack music for the first FUBAR movie. The whole time this was happening, I was still writing and home-recording a lot of material in the Forbidden Dimension style, occasionally putting together some shows (usually around Halloween) using my friends from the Teeth, which is still the basis for the Forbidden Dimension line-up these days.
Do you hope to become a little more prolific in terms of the frequency of your releases or is the pace of the band these days a good one?
Phibes: The band has always been like an art project I do for fun, so I like to make sure that anything we put out in this day and age has had a good gestation period. I’m in no rush! The last album (Cool Sound Outta Hell) was started in 2006, released in 2007, the current one is three to four years later. It’s good to take your time and make sure that the tunes are solid, and that there is very little in the way of throw-away material. I like to take my time, and listen to suggestions regarding the approach and arrangements to songs from my band mates.
At the time I heard your first record in 1993, you guys had (and still have) a very unique sound. Where did your interest in “horror-rock” come from?
Phibes: I’m a life-long horror geek. As a kid, I was a big horror fan in the early 70s (mostly thanks to the comics and monster mags that proliferated at the time). When I got a bit older, I became aware of Alice Cooper, KISS, BÖC and some of the cooler punk bands, and the imagery kinda seemed to go hand-in-hand. I do listen to all kinds of music (old jazz, weird soundtracks, early rock n’ roll, 60’s garage, soul, 70s/80s heavy metal, weird old German stuff, surf, old country, etc.), and I like to mash it up so it’s not so easy to tell what I’m ripping off!
Horror-wise, I’m influenced by old horror pulps (like stuff in Weird Tales, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Davis Grubb et al), crime fiction (Fredric Brown, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Richard S. Prather, etc.) and supernatural folklore (Can-con!) as well as old movies (Coffin Joe, Val Lewton, Kwaidan), TV shows (Thriller, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Night Gallery, Night Stalker) and comics (EC, House of Mystery, Creepy, Eerie, Charles Burns, Richard Sala, Shigeru Mizuki, Hideshi Hino). I try to tell a story or describe a scenario that maybe hasn’t been done to death!
You must certainly be one of the elder bands of the Calgary music scene at this point. What keeps you going?
Phibes: I think we may be the longest lived in the punk scene at this point with 23 years behind us! I do it for fun and have absolutely no aspirations of a career or anything. I just enjoy making good songs that I would wanna hear, and it’s a total bonus if somebody else is willing to help get them unleashed on an unsuspecting listening audience…