For the past three-and-a-half decades, Goblin, the Pink Floyd of Italian horror, have contributed lysergic synth-rock scores to some of the genre’s greatest films. Unfortunately the group’s revolving door policy meant keyboardist Maurizio Guarani was present for literally none of them. Not Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso (“I joined Goblin after they recorded it.”) or Suspiria (“I split from Goblin during Suspiria.”); George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead (“I can’t say much about Romero.”), even Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters (“Maybe we went for lunch sometime…”). Still, interesting chap though…
LWLies: Does it upset you that Goblin are known for their soundtracks rather than their songs?
Guarani: Not really because thanks to the soundtracks we became more famous, but playing them is a bit more limiting in terms of creativity. Sometimes if you have understood well what the movie is trying to relate, just a few signals are enough to make a good soundtrack. You have to boost the emotion that the director wants to convey. If you have the right director, it’s very simple. You do not need to do much, just a bass note or a melody to connect with people.
LWLies: Most groups have lightshows, Goblin have clips of ladies being funeralised, how important are movies to your show?
Guarani: When you identify a sound with an image it is something more than the music itself; it can bring back an emotion, a sensation, a common thing between people and that’s important in identifying something. People like that. But I have to say more than 60 per cent of the concert is not related to movies and it’s difficult writing those songs, because non-movie-related sound always needs to be more articulated, more complicated, more extravagant.
LWLies: What can you tell us about Suspiria?
Guarani: Normally you have some footage to see or maybe the movie is already edited. In this case we started working on the music before the movie was shot. We met Dario Argento, and he explained to us what the movie was about and asked us to do a sort of demo of things before shooting the movie. Maybe he was a little bit inspired by our music, I don’t know, but that soundtrack is one of a kind, it’s very different from anything else.
LWLies: What is it that makes it so unique?
Guarani: If you go to analyse it there’s no elements you can say, 'Okay, this is good, this is bad.' It’s very simple. You could not change one thing because otherwise it’s no longer the same. I don’t know how to explain it – if you move one molecule it changes totally, that’s the kind of soundtrack it is.
LWLies: What was Argento like to work with?
Guarani: I know Dario very well. He has a different approach to lots of people. He has a very precise idea of what he needs, of course, but he likes to work in more of an emotional way instead of a scientific/technical way so you immediately understand when you are doing something that he likes because you see him totally transformed and getting submerged in the music. It’s different working with Dario compared to other, let’s say, more standard directors, he’s very communicative.
LWLies: You’ve worked on lots of, shall we say, 'more standard' Italian films. Is it hard to write good music for a bad film?
MG: Let’s say that in my opinion I need to like what I do. I never say, 'Okay, this is bad. I’m doing this work just because I am getting paid, blah blah blah.' I think that no matter how bad something is, you can always find something that you like about it. I’ve played with some singers who are not my kind of music, but if you try to put yourself in their mood, you can find something that you like in anything. I make it my mission to find the positive aspect in everything.
LWLies: How would you describe Goblin’s mood?
Guarani: That’s difficult. Of course, I would say a mix of things. Since we all came from different experiences initially, each of us tried to put themselves into the music, so we would often fight. Somebody would want more rock, somebody more upbeat, more classical, somebody would want to do more odd timings and difficult stuff. At the end the only way to survive, to not split, was to take a little bit from each of us, so it’s a combination of different musicians. This is what makes music creative. None of us can make Goblin music without other Goblins.