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The Return of Goblin

The Italian prog rock band, who architected the soundtrack of Dario Argento's films is back with a run of live shows and a new album.

The soundtracks of Italian horror films of the 1970s' are epic examples of filthy, psychedelic, synthy, lucid prog rock. Teamed with gratuitous nudity, bad dubbing, excessive violence and lurid fake blood, it’s a recipe for a golden age of cult cinema. One band synonymous with this type of music is Goblin.
Originally a prog rock band, they were drafted in to score the soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso after friction between the director and the original composer. The entire soundtrack, including the now much loved title theme was close to being re-written. This led to a long and successful working relationship, which effectively saw Goblin become Argento’s ‘house band’. They are also responsible for the acclaimed soundtrack of Suspiria, which was recorded before Argento had made the film. In an experimental move, he wrote the film after listening to the soundtrack, letting Goblin’s eerie and atmospheric aural atmosphere guide the story. The band also produced the European soundtrack for George A. Romero’s Dawn of The Dead and scores for later Argento films.
Over the years, the band’s line up has changed numerous times, but after a long absence they have begun playing together again and are working on a new album. In a move that will excite both horror and serious music fans alike, they will make a very rare live appearance at the Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, and at London’s Scala at the end of July.
Dazed Digital caught up with keyboardist Maurizio Guarini to see where he and the other Goblins have been lurking.

Dazed Digital: Goblin has just begun playing live again after a 32 years absence – why now?
Maurizio Guarini: It just happened. After spending more than one year gigging together in the mid seventies, each of us started playing live with other bands/singers as session men. It happened that some of us played together live over the years, but not the whole band and not as Goblin. Since, we just didn't have a chance to put the band together until now.

DD: Do you still enjoy it?
Maurizio Guarini: Definitely. Playing live and transmitting vibes to the audience is the best thing for a musician. And getting together again after so many years has been an incredible experience. We feel like we've always played together. Time can't erase it.

DD: Do you prefer playing the film scores you recorded or your own progressive rock stuff?
Maurizio Guarini: I wouldn't prefer one over the other. It's a totally different approach. A soundtrack is working on something already existing, and with the music you need to amplify something that is already existing in the footage. Composing and playing something from scratch requires more work, in a way. The freedom to do whatever you want has a counterbalance in more work on deciding, planning, trying to keep the listener always "awake", things that in a movie are already there.

DD: What can people expect at your UK shows?
Maurizio Guarini: We will play a mix of old and more recent scores, old prog albums from the seventies, and something from our recent album. Depending on the event's theme and venue's layout we have the option to add background visual components to our shows.

DD: You recorded the soundtrack for Suspiria before the film had even been made, did you find this restrictive or more beneficial to your collective creative process? Do you prefer composing for films that are already made?
Maurizio Guarini: Is the same difference between composing a score or a piece without footage. If the film has been made and cut, of course you can precisely decide how and where put the music. Is more restrictive of course, but not necessarily less creative. Total freedom doesn't mean more creativity. Actually limitations sometimes can make you more creative.

DD: What it was like to write and record with Fabio Frizzi?
Maurizio Guarini: Fabio is a friend, and some of us played/performed in several scores with him. We always tried to help Fabio's work with our unique sound.

DD: If you could compose for any film, which would it be?
Maurizio Guarini: Existing film? Impossible to say: I should see it without knowing the music - once I know the movie with the music, the score becomes part of the movie in my imagination. Non existing film? Any.

DD: Has any recently released film had a soundtrack that you enjoyed or that impressed you?
Maurizio Guarini: Very recently nothing in particular. I noticed some good orchestra arrangers recently.

DD: What are your thoughts on Justice’s ‘Phantom’, which essentially is a remix of Tenebrae?
Maurizio Guarini: They did a good job.

DD: Rumours are rife that Suspiria is to be remade. If you were asked to reimagine the soundtrack, would you?
Maurizio Guarini: Why not?

DD: How does the band embrace advances in music technology? Have you found that it has affected your sound?
Maurizio Guarini: Of course it did. First of all, it has affected the production method, allowing us to collaborate in a song being thousand of miles away - good thing in a way, although it limits exchanging creative feedback (or to argue/discuss) right away which is an important "human" component that can contribute in making the music more interesting. In terms of sound things are totally different of course. In the seventies we had literally to "invent" sounds and effects in some way. Now everything is available to everybody. Digital recording and editing allows anybody to make a technically perfect product. Is this good? I don't know.

DD: How has the band’s dynamic changed now that you are composing and playing without Claudio Simonetti?
Maurizio Guarini: Goblin went through several line-up changes, and every time the sound changed slightly based on the musicians. If you look at the history, excluding Roller, the only album with 2 keyboard players, Claudio and Maurizio alternated on the keyboards. Since Goblin music is always a result of collaboration, every musician is important to reach the final result.

Goblin at Supersonic Festival July 26 at The Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA. Goblin Q&A hosted by Electric Sheep Magazine 6.15-7.15pm. Live gig 11pm. Tickets available here.
Also playing at The Scala, London on July 27, 7.30pm. Tickets available here.