Horror Comes Home 



Planet S Magazine Oct 2013


Halloween has always been a time of ritual, whether you’re a Satanic thrill-killer with a sick manifesto, an ancient Roman celebrating the dead, a Celt at harvest time or just a kid stuffing your face with candy.

  Saskatoon’s New Jacobin Club [NJC] has been a harbinger of Halloween for more than a decade, playing their perverse brand of theatrical horror rock for Halloween shows all over western Canada. Along the way, leader Xerxes Praetorious Horde says that NJC has picked up some spooktacular Halloween rituals of their own.

  “First, we navigate the Bermuda triangle of western Canada. For the past few years it’s been Regina / Edmonton / Calgary. We usually leave a crate of important gear or merchandise behind at the first or second show; someone will need specific contents of our first aid kit that are long gone; we’ll patch a flat tire and/or run out of gas 20 kilometres outside of a city in Alberta; an audience member [will be] tossed from the club during one of the performances. Finally, we’ll arrive back home with a light blanket of snow on the ground and curse the winter for always arriving sooner than we expected.”

  Throughout all that, their hometown fans have been feeling the pain as well — because the NJC haven’t played a Saskatoon Halloween in seven years. That’s finally changing this year, as they prepare to horrify Amigos, with special guests Lavagoat and a new band — the seven-piece Celtic-metal-folk act (complete with bagpipes, oboe, and accordion) Wenches & Rogues.

  It all sounds awesome, but I still had to ask: why spend our hard-earnedHalloween candy with NJC?

  “Why come to this show Halloween night?” The Horde roars. “Because the band that dishes it out year-round is gonna do it in Saskatoon at Amigos on   Halloween! We’re performing the Great Apocalypse Sideshow with Mistress Nagini and Firecrotch Jones!  [It’s] a Lovecraftian take on the Rosemary’s Baby tale that will take our protagonist and audience through the ritual initiation into the Order of the Mark and culminate in the birth of the Squid Lord! Swords, pyro, fire breathing, tricks with power tools and a very messy surprise. This is all done to a set that is mostly material from our next full-length album!”

  Umm, holy crap. Okay — I’m convinced.

  Blowing up Halloween and calling Cthulu isn’t all that NJC has on the go right now. They’ve also been asked to appear on a tribute album for one of their horror-rock heroes, Calgary’s Forbidden Dimension, performing the track “Lucifer’s Brain.”

  Forbidden Dimension is celebrating 25 years on the scene, and NJC will be on the album, but also sharing the stage with the band in Edmonton just before Halloween.

  “I first saw Forbidden Dimension around 1994 or 1995 at an outdoor festival,” says The Horde. “I was told so many times, ‘Man, you’ll love these guys, can’t believe you’re not a fan already.’ I was in awe of not just their well-crafted theme and total package, but of the true quality of the songwriting. I think there are many bands that hide behind their gimmick — NJC has been accused of it, every theatrical group gets accused of it sooner or later. Forbidden Dimension didn’t need to hide behind the horror gimmick.

  “What made them important is the fact that they wrote songs that stuck, and that’s the true influence of this group upon the NJC.  I do consider them among our stylistic influences, but the real lesson learned was that the music sells the gimmick — and if you’re doing it the other way around, you’re doing it wrong.”

  The Halloween show and the Forbidden Dimension record are two great signs that NJC is back in the saddle again. They’ve got a renewed sense of purpose, and a new record in the works that has a whole new blend of narrative ideas: they’re going from slaying the rich to raising an army to fight a thousand-year war for The World’s End. The aforementioned Birth of the Squid Lord on the 31st will be the start of that. Yeah — take a minute to   wrap your head around that.

  “It’s exciting because of where the band is right now on musical and personal levels,” says The Horde. “The commitment level of the group has never really been where it’s at now, and it’s going to show not just on the album but in our live show as well.

  “It’s taken a long time to recover from the grueling experiences of what we did with the enormous 2009-2011 ensemble and the ambitious audio [and] video release that we were supporting.”

  Since it’s Halloween, I thought I’d ask The Horde what — if anything — scares a creature as fearsome as himself?

  “How many people fall for the hilarious bullshit dished out by all those satirical news websites. It scares me that so many people are so quick to jump to conclusions. It scares me that we’re living in the information age and yet it’s that easy to manipulate people’s beliefs with misinformation.”

  Feels like the end of the world is nigh. All hail the Squid Lord and his mighty army.