There’s a certain chunk of the population that are molded and fostered from a young age by horror movies. Where some watch the work of John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento and George Romero and are disturbed, disgusted, and generally turned off by the blood, terror, and occasional flash of boobs, the rest of us have formed a kinship with these Masters of Horror. Within the confines of the abandoned cabin in the woods, quiet suburban neighborhood, Gothic European surroundings, or seemingly end of the world we find allegories on our own lives, metaphors for the human condition, visual beauty in the menace of terror, and of course boobs.
And within that community of horror lovers there’s a smaller percentage that go on to do something creative with that horror love. Some make horror of their own, in the form of making their own films. Or some write their own tales in the form of short stories and novels. Maybe even some go into special effects like their heroes Tom Savini, Rick Baker, and Stan Winston. And some even go into music.
Enter Gary Dimes.
Dimes grew up on horror films. He also grew up on music. His love for both came together in All of Them Witches, a synth-heavy music project where Dimes plays the role of composer for the imagined horror film. He establishes early on that he’s a fan of John Carpenter, but his love for other genres besides the horror score makes his music quite unique. His debut as All of Them Witches was 2016s excellent The Coven. And now he’s releasing Hunters Moon(available 3/9 via Burning Witches Records.) I got the chance to ask Gary a few questions about his music, growing up, influences, and All of Them Witches. Grab some coffee and enjoy.
J. Hubner: So where did you grow up?
Gary Dimes: I grew up in the Medway Towns in South East England. Still live in the dive today. It’s under an hour’s train journey to London, so good for catching gigs.
J. Hubner: What was your childhood like? Were you outside running around or inside reading comic books? Or both?
Gary Dimes: Bit of both, I was really into my comics, I used to walk four miles to the nearest comic shop with my friend once a month to spend all our pocket money. And not getting the bus meant you had that extra bit of cash to buy more. That and hanging around the nearby woods, building camps and setting fires.
J. Hubner: Given the music of All of Them Witches, as well as your label name(Burning Witches Records), I can only assume horror films play a big role in your formative years. Are you a big horror fan? What was the first movie you remember that truly scared the hell of out of you?
Gary Dimes: Yeah I’m a huge horror/thriller fan, have been since way back. Can’t remember the first movie, but one that really scared the crap out of me was “House”, I must’ve been about seven or eight at the time. The Vietnam soldier was really scary to me as a kid, watching it back recently It’s more funny than scary.
J. Hubner: Has music always played a big role in your life?
Gary Dimes: Yeah massively, I’ve always been in to a lot of different styles of music, but Nirvana changed my world. In Utero is incredible! Love the more abrasive and natural sound it has to their previous albums. After that I was all about the alternative grunge scene. Big into Smashing Pumpkins, Jesus Lizard, Pixies, Breeders, Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth. Wasn’t until a little later that I started getting into electronic music.
J. Hubner: Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money? Do you still listen to that album today?
Gary Dimes: First album was Madonna True Blue, still get a regular spin at the Coven. The record still somehow sounds pretty good, even though I used to play it to death on a cheap old hifi system. The first soundtrack I bought was the Labyrinth, 1986 was a pretty good start to my vinyl collection!
J. Hubner: Are you a horror fiction fan? Stephen King? Clive Barker? HP Lovecraft? Ray Bradbury?
Gary Dimes: Big Stephen King fan. The Shining is my all time favourite book/film. Also a fan of the sequel Doctor Sleep. I love James Herbert. Shrine is another favourite, this story to me was totally different to what I was used to. Where Stephen King concentrated on characterization and how they dealt with terrible and impossibly situations both physically and ethereal – James Herbert took his characters and put them through hell with all the blood and guts he could find.
J. Hubner: So when did you first really get into music? What artist influenced you to want to make music?
Gary Dimes: Probably about the age of 14/15 when I discovered Nirvana. I was a little bit late to the party on that one though. I formed a post-rock band in 2005 which I was in for 15 years. Played some pretty cool gigs. Dunk! Festival in Belgium was one of many highlight, and ArcTanGent with Fuck Buttons was a bit special. But recording an EP in Abbey Road Studio 2 was the fondest memory.
J. Hubner: What was the first instrument you learned to play?
Gary Dimes: Probably a Yamaha keyboard I was bought one Christmas. Remember being chuffed to bits because I learnt to play “Heart and Soul” from Big. I taught myself to play the guitar at 17, and started a band the year after. My band were a bit more experimental when we started, so I could just whack delay and distortion on and play a load of noise.
J. Hubner: Let’s talk about All of Them Witches. How long have you been making music as AoTW?
Gary Dimes: I’ve been making music as All of Them Witches for nearly 2 years now, I started around July 2016. I left my band 2 years previously, and wanted to do something more soundtrack based.
J. Hubner: Were horror soundtracks a prime influence on the sound you were going for? Who are some of your favorite horror score artists?
Gary Dimes: Yeah, both The Coven and Hunters Moon are heavily influenced by horror. I did start writing a sci-fi style album, but i’m not sure if that’ll ever see the light of day. My favourite horror score artists are : The obvious ones are John Carpenter and Alan Howarth,the best directors/composers of the 70’s and 80’s. There’s a lot of modern synth artist i’m really digging like Wojciech Golczewski, he knocks it out of the park with everything he touches. Favourite recent soundtrack is Sinoia Caves’ Beyond the Black Rainbow. It’s just prefect!
J. Hubner: Are the AoTW albums all you? What’s your gear set up like? Is it a mix of hardware and soft synths?
Gary Dimes: Yes all me. I started off with soft synths, until I could afford to start building up my arsenal of analogue. I’ve recently picked up a Korg monologue and Volca Keys, been working on a lot of sequence stuff recently with them. Also an old Casio keyboard i picked up form a second hand store. I put it through a delay pedal to get a nice poly synth sound. Just a very basic setup at the moment, but something to build on.
J. Hubner: Your first record came out in 2016. That was ‘The Coven’. Your newest record, which is being released on March 9th, is called ‘Hunters Moon’. Can you tell me a little bit about how that record came together?
Gary Dimes: Hunters Moon was written over the past year. I wanted to get ahead of myself as I had my first child on the way, and heard they take up a lot of time. I ended up with 2 albums worth of material, and painstakingly stripped it apart and ended up with the 11 songs that make up the album. Some of the tracks that were on the chopping block may resurface at some point.
J. Hubner: What’s your writing process like in All of Them Witches? Do you go in with concepts in mind, or is it more of just a song by song thing?
Gary Dimes: It varies, sometimes I have a clear vision/concept in mind before I start, but most of the time it’s just playing about, finding a decent sound and building from there. I like to try and tie all the songs together, so there’s a running theme through the album. Although Hunters Moon is more of a mix bag than The Coven, I think I achieved that.
J. Hubner: Do you see any major differences from ‘The Coven’ to ‘Hunters Moon’ style-wise or approach-wise?
Gary Dimes: I think it’s been a natural progression. On The Coven my influences are laid bare, I think I’ve developed my sound a lot more on Hunters Moon. Hopefully people will be into it as much as my first album. I have been blown away by the response to my music and the Burning Witches Records label I started with Darren Page of BurningTapes.
J. Hubner: Do you ever take All of Them Witches out for live shows?
Gary Dimes: No, not yet at the moment. I don’t really have enough equipment to do so. I’m trying to strip things down for future releases and go as analogue as possible.
J. Hubner: What does the rest of 2018 look like for All of Them Witches?
Gary Dimes: I’ve started working on a new album, been listening to a lot of Krautrock and Post Punk, so that may have a few influences. Also going to have a split cassette release out towards the end of the year. There’s also a download extra remix album with Hunters Moon. I’ve got a bunch of my favourite artists onboard Xander Harris, Timothy Fife,Thomas Ragsdale, Ian Alex Mac and BurningTapes. Also have DIE HEXEN on a vocal duties on an alternative version of Copper Bones. I’m over the Hunters Moon they’ve all contributed to my release.