Goblin's not afraid to up the scary factor
It’s approaching that time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of horror, and the atmospheric music that—if you’re lucky—makes fright flicks scary as hell. Who among us hasn’t reached for the Halloween soundtrack to gloom up the mood before the trick-or-treaters arrive, the familiar piano melody from that 1978 blockbuster never failing to up the spooky quotient.
John Carpenter certainly struck a responsive chord with the Halloween theme, ingrained as it is in the minds of horror fans everywhere. But you can also give a ton of credit for its success to Goblin, the Italian band known for scoring numerous Dario Argento giallo films. When you listen to the title track of Goblin’s soundtrack to Argento’s Profondo Rosso (Deep Red), there’s a striking resemblance between it and the music Carpenter made to accompany Michael Myers’s mayhem.
When the Straight hooks up with Goblin keyboardist Maurizio Guarini on the phone from New Jersey—where his band is en route to Boston after a sold-out gig in Manhattan—he confirms the similarity between the two.
“John Carpenter admitted that he—not ripped it off—but was ‘highly inspired’ by the dominating music in Profondo Rosso,” says Guarini, who moved from Italy to Toronto in 1999. “And of course if you listen to Halloween, he cannot hide this inspiration.”
Whether Carpenter used artistic licence to abscond with other key elements of Argento’s influential ’75 masterwork is a question for another time; the subject at hand is the first-ever North American tour for Goblin. According to Guarini—who is joined in the current lineup by founding members Claudio Simonetti (keyboards) and Massimo Morante (guitar), plus a younger, hired-gun rhythm section—the group’s set list focuses on tracks from such highly regarded Argento shockers as Suspiria (’77), Tenebrae (’82), and Phenomena (’85), as well as the previously mentioned Deep Red. It also includes music Goblin recorded for zombie maestro George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and the band’s 1976 prog-rock album, Roller.
Considering how so much of Goblin’s repertoire is certified nightmare-making material, you’ve gotta wonder if Guarini—who released his first solo album, Creatures From a Drawer, last January—has ever scared himself with his compositions.
“That’s what I try always to do,” he relates. “For example, if you are a magician, after you know the trick, you don’t see anymore the magic. For us it’s not an easy process, because we already know the movie before the music is made, and yet we have to try and scare ourselves by pretending to be an audience that doesn’t know what’s going to happen.”
Guarini was only 20 when he joined Goblin in ’75, and a year later was fully absorbed in helping conjure the frightening vibe of Argento’s terror classic Suspiria, utilizing the band’s shiver-inducing blend of keyboard-based prog, jazz, and hard-rock stylings. Although the group hasn’t worked with the horror legend since 2000, for the Max von Sydow–starring Non Ho Sonno (Sleepless), Guarini remains hopeful for further collaboration.
“Anything could happen,” he relates. “There’s no forecast for now, so it’s a big question mark. But there’s always chances for everything.”