Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Old Man Winter rages on here in Horror-Hoot land and during this frosty downtime we want to keep all you Monster Kids having bad dreams about us - so we roll out even more cool-as-hell reviews, commentary and interviews with our favorite Horror-ish Rocksters..

Today we speak with the and only Jackson Phibes from Calgary's legendary The Forbidden Dimension! Jackson Phibes is a name that deserves its own peg atop the Horror-Rock Totem Pole of Royalty - next to the likes of Roky Erickson, Alice Cooper, The Misfits etc. A master guitar slinger, genius wordsmith and extremely gifted artist, Jackson (aka Tom Bagley) has spent decades sharing his twisted obsessions with all things creepy-crawly. 

The band's brand spankin' new, bombastic and completely over-the-top super-slab, "The Golden Age of Lasers" further proves that while the rest of the horror herd is doing their best pretending to be The Misfits, Phibes and gang are steadily keeping it real for the Monster Kids! Chock full of accomplished monster Rock guitar and fiendishly clever themes, "Lasers" blasts through your skull like a death ray from Neptune. This Dimension remains Forbidden in 2012!

HH: What is the current Forbidden Dimension line-up and how long has this version been intact?

Jackson Phibes: 
Currently, it's myself plus H.P. Lovesauce (Craig) on bass, and P.T. Bonham (Mark) on skins. 

FD line-ups are pretty much a shaggy dog story, but this one has been intact (off n' on) since 2000, albeit often in the guise of a different band, The English Teeth (we worked on the FUBAR soundtrack, our claim to quasi-fame). And we had a different drummer for a couple of years (Hyde Maintenance) around the time leading up to and the recording of A Cool Sound Outta Hell (2005-2006).

HH: Over the years FD has remained pretty true to their original sound while the sonic impact of each successive record has increased. What can fans expect from the new slab The Golden Age of Lasers?

Jackson Phibes: This was the second time we worked with Casey Lewis twiddling the knobs, and Mark was much more open to some of his ideas involving drum sounds than Hyde was on the last album, so there is definitely a ballsier drum sound. Personally, I had no problem with the more fractured, garagy sound of "Cool Sound", but this one does perhaps kick a modicum more ass.

We also did things like adding lower piano notes to some of the bass guitar passages, so it almost gets a kind of "KISS Destroyer" feel going at certain spots. You can't really pick it out, but there's a weird warm, thunder-y tone happening, particularly in a few songs where the bass is carrying the melody of the riff.

HH: Do you produce your own music or are you associated with greedy suits who want to "own your very soul"?

Jackson Phibes: (When I first read this I thought you said "greedy sluts": I wish!) We always have called the shots, although we like to work with somebody (like Casey) who can help us out with things like background harmonies and off-the-wall ideas for keyboard and percussion over-dubs, etc., stuff that makes the recording sound more like a real record!

HH: Until very recently, FD has not been available via the popular digital/internet resources of the day - and even now we're limited to random access (Cool Sound now on iTunes, Coffinful of Crows on CD Baby).
Do you plan on opening up the download library for the children of the internet age?

Jackson Phibes: Indeed. I would like to get the Cargo albums out for download (Cargo itself long ago went tits-up). Right now you can get 'em from the blogs, but it would be nice to have it all a bit more legit and properly available.

HH: You have worn a familiar face-paint over the years. Is there anything behind this other than a "look"? Did the look evolve or have you kept it the same since the beginning. The kids need to know.

Jackson Phibes: We didn't wear it when we first started out (late 80s), but I kinda wanted to get a bit more of a little-kids-in-ghoul-make-up-posing-for-Famous-Monsters feel. That eventually evolved into a more glammy direction in my own appearance, the dribbling blood became more of a black and white graphic with little spirals n' stuff. Quite often, we'll do shows without any make-up at all these days, as I'm starting to look creepy and eerie enough as I get older. It's fun though, esp. when we do shows nowhere near Halloween and you get the hosers in the bathroom that have never seen us before wondering what the hell is goin' on. Mark always puts the bag on his head though. Just for the sheer terror that it inspires.

HH: Your (fantastic) artwork is pretty recognizable for people that pay attention to certain art culture circles. Aside from the obvious FD record covers etc. where would we find your work (other band's records, pubs etc.)?

Jackson Phibes: Thanks! I do lots of covers for weekly/monthly local papers and I have a weekly cartoony-illustration I do for a FFWD column called Video Vulture, where a fellow named John Tebbutt will write about various famous/obscure movies in different genres (some horror and sci-fi, lotsa Asian obscurities, action, comedy, etc.). I also do CD covers for local bands, although not as many as in the old days when there also seemed to be a lot more 7" singles being released all the time. I've done things for Chixdiggit!, Huevos Rancheros, Man or Astroman?, Cripple Creek Fairies, the Von Zippers, etc. I'm uploading stuff all the time on my Flickr page:

HH: It has been discussed between Dr. Gangrene and myself for a while to bring Forbidden Dimension down to play The Horror Hootenanny in Nashville. What are your thoughts on coming down for this and what is your perception of the TN/US Biblebelt in general?

Jackson Phibes: I'd love to come down there. Any excuse to see some place different than here at a nice time of year! As for the TN/US Bible Belt, I'm married to an American Jew, and since they control the media, I just believe whatever she tells me about it.

HH: Do you travel outside of Calgary with any frequency these days?

Jackson Phibes: Not a whole lot with FD this year., but this will most likely change in the spring when the new album's been out for a while. We might start getting more invites. However, I play in another band called the Agnostic/Phibes Rhythm & Blood Conspiracy, and we always seem to be playing at weird folky/blues festivals out in cow pastures throughout the summer months.

HH: What are thoughts on the ever-widening "Horror Rock" scene and are there any acts that you especially like or we should know about?

Jackson Phibes: I do tend to avoid bands that are in the horror-rock genre, as many of them seem to be super derivative, although I'm always interested hearing things that my facebook fiends are involved in. For new stuff, I tend to listen to stuff like Heavy Trash, Dex Rowebber, SCOTS, and quasi-metal stuff like Ghost and Witchcraft. Also, I really like this English instro band called the Space Agency. Most of the time though, listen to old stuff in various genres like old metal, 50s-60s jazz, rockabilly, Dave Allan and the Arrows, Link Wray, garage rock, soundtracks, etc. The usual junk! 

HH: It's obvious that you are fan of the golden ages of horror, what are some of you absolute favorites and what are your thoughts on modern horror trends?  

Jackson Phibes: I'll always return to different periods and sub-genres (Universal, Hammer, 50s B-movies, Mexican, Val Lewton, Coffin Joe, 70s drive-in, Euro-trash, Bigfoot docs, spaghetti westerns, noir) depending on my mood/time of year/etc. I always say the same movies whenever I'm asked to give a list of classics: "Curse of the Demon", "Night of the Hunter", "Spiderbaby", "Mad Love", "Carnival of Souls", "Dementia","Island of Lost Souls", "Mad Monster Party?".

I've also added a lot of the classic TV shows to the list, as I tend to watch them over and over again more these days more so than full movies (shorter attention span). I also really enjoy the sub-sub-genre of poverty-stricken hicks trying to make horror movies in the middle of nowhere (American Movie, Demon Lover Diary, Mule Skinner Blues)...

HH: Lugosi, Chris Lee or John Carradine?  

Jackson Phibes: Louis Jourdan! Max Schreck! All of the above! All are fun for different reasons. Carradine is probably the least "great" in the role, but he had a nasty sense of humour which lurks beneath the surface, like a crotchety uncle forced to dress up like Santa. Plus, he was in "Las Vampiras", probably the finest Drac-in-a-cage-overseeing-vampire-chicks-in-green-dance-tights-fighting-Mil-Mascaras movie EVER.

Lugosi IS Dracula (at least he said so), but that doesn't mean his movie is the best (it would've been the best Drac ever if he was in the Spanish version). Lee was very interested in Dracula, always putting across a good, forceful performance, but was always upset with the exploitative material of the movies (which now seem like quaint family fare) and you can tell, he was suffering with those red contact lenses.

HH: If they made Forbidden Dimension: The Movie, who would play you (and the rest of the guys)?

Jackson Phibes: It would have to be be done with puppets or an all-Asian schoolgirl cast.

Thank you Mr. Phibes!. Tennessee awaits The Forbidden Dimension invasion! Be sure to pick up anything you can find by the band - and let them know you want to see them rocking The Horror Hootenanny soon! - Jeano

1 comment:

  1. Got the new album for Xmas. "Where's My Wolves" is my favorite track, but "Oculus Cursus" is movin' up the charts with a bullet.

    "The heads top spikes right on down the line" - awesome!