DAVE GAMMON: It is a thrill to welcome my guest at this time Mr. Maurizio Guarini. Horror fans will perhaps be most familiar with your iconic contributions to various musical scores in terror cinema such as, Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and City of The Living Dead among many others. Throughout your storied career as a composer what single film has been the most challenging to score for?
MAURIZIO GUARINI: First of all thanks for having me! Going back I’d have to say the answer would be Suspiria, just for the way in which we did it. In this case, it wasn’t how it normally what happens with movies and soundtracks. We did the soundtrack before the scenes, and Argento was inspired by the music while he was shooting. So that was the sort of magic that was happening.
DG: I often say that music can either make or break a film. I’m sure you’d have to agree. Do you consider yourself a fan of horror and what was the last horror film that you’ve seen?
MG: The last film I’ve seen….oh my god….was weeks ago. I don’t remember. I have a short memory (combined laughs). I’d have to ask my wife. Cinzia?!
DG: Do you watch a lot of horror or dabble at all in the genre?
MG: Yeah, I’ve watched many horror films. To tell you the truth, before joining Goblin, which was back in 1975, I liked Horror but it was not my favorite genre. I was more into Science Fiction and things like that. But after being involved in some intense soundtracks I got to be exposed to allot of Horror. Right now, I’ve been working on a score for one episode of a horror anthology named The Profane Exhibit. It’s going to be released at the end of this year I think.
DG: Your name is most arguably synonymous with the legendary Italian progressive rock band Goblin. What’s new in the realm of Goblin would you care to comment on rumours or speculation on a forthcoming tour?
MG: Okay, let’s do that. Allow me to can recap a little…after years and years of silence I would say from the mid-eighties to 2000 to 2004, original founding Goblin member and guitar player Massimo Morante had attempted to put the band back together and we actually did a reunion around that time, and named the project Back to the Goblin. After releasing an album, we talked about playing live again around 2009. Then we had some arguments, so in 2010 we put together a new line-up which is now the current one, still surviving after all these years. With this particular line-up we plan on touring the world and have had much success with various European shows. Additionally, we’ve been to Japan twice, Australia and many other countries. We’re happy with touring! Our main activity and passion is playing live for fans.
There are a lot of things going on right now, especially in the coming months of 2013. In July, we’re going to Australia and New Zealand to perform Suspiria Live, the complete soundtrack from the movie. We’ve already performed it live last year and it brought great success and positive reception. So yeah, the rumours are true! We are considering a U.S. tour in the fall.
MG: Actually on Halloween night I think we’ll be playing in the UK, London. But before that we have a very important show at the House Core Horror Film Fest in Texas on October 25th and October 26th, performing Suspira Live and that I can tell you for sure, is not a rumour.
DG: It sounds very exciting. A lot of irons in the fire right now, sounds great.
MG: Yes, and to tell you the truth, like I mentioned before, the thing we enjoy most is playing live. There is an exchange of emotion with the audience that gives us a lot of strength. It’s very important to us to play live, often.
DG: Let’s talk about your premiere solo endeavor Creatures From A Drawer. The album has been described as an infusion of Jazz Rock, Progressive Rock and ambient evolution. What listener demographic will Creatures appeal to most and what demographic do you hope it will reach out to most?
MG: Okay, let’s say the album just as the title suggests, it encompasses many compositions that I’ve done over the years. Much of it was inspired from pieces I composed twenty years ago.
A lot of it I rearranged and played with. During my life as a musician I’ve went through several genres as many other musicians do. I was once a session man playing with various other bands. So I have a lot of diversity in me not to be just categorized in one particular genre, like Horror.
Actually, I started with Rock in the early seventies, and then I switched to Jazz Rock and then Fusion, then a little bit of everything mixed in with electronics. Following with what happens in music and what’s popular you get into change and of course exploring different tastes. I found myself with the oldest tunes and how each differs from each other. Then I would ask myself if I should put something that I choose (that are all the same genre) or not? Again, I looked at how I would conceive each sound from the beginning. That’s why you find different styles in the music. I hope that the common thread is from me first, and the influences of Goblin and things come secondary. I didn’t want to stick to one genre; I want to be happy with myself while paying proper respect to the composition.
DG: I’d like to briefly go over some of the song titles on the album and get your comments on each. Perhaps what inspired each track, or what the song is about beginning with the first song of Dialogue.
MG: Dialogue is about communication with an alien creature which may be something inhuman. It’s more genetically like two different messages from entities that possibly don’t understand each other. They find a common language in order to talk to one another. It’s simplified by melody, and then another melody, and at the end join together with something new. It’s very mysterious and calm.
DG: Interesting….Gentle Robbery.
MG: Oh, Gentle Robbery…the title comes from the fact I had used some parts from one of the Goblin songs which were most famous performed and some of the phrases and parts are the same, but reversed in time signature. I used it in Profondo Rosso (aka) Deep Red. I used this approach to create a totally different and original song. That’s where the ‘robbery’ comes from, a joke of sorts, saying I borrowed the idea and reversed something somewhere. ‘Gentle’ is because I had created it gently, without malice. It may sound similar to Goblin fans, but the untrained ear will not know. On top of that it is about a story of someone who is lost in time. It’s a tricky and trivial way to listen and to try and understand but it suits me.
DG: Solar Channel.
MG: Solar Channel was originally a soundtrack for a video game. I rearranged and changed some of the themes though. Solar Channel is something you would imagine within a landscape. If you can imagine alien weeping creatures, they get together to see landscapes and travel around them. It’s just something to feed my imagination, and the listeners. Solar Channel is alien life, planets basically. People often visualize and make their own soundtracks so this one may not be an exact translation of the title but anything can be given to it. I think I was going to call it Wastelands but after I arranged it it became so solar that in my opinion it was best to change the title to Solar Channel.
DG: Aniens Comma 21.
MG: Aniens comes from Anien, it’s a river in Rome, Italy. I mentioned the river because I thought of the music when I was driving by the river. Comma 21 is an attempt to try and find the time signature, because it’s a complicated song. It’s a bit Jazz if you want to call it Jazz. Aniens are just imaginary creatures that live behind this amazing river.
DG: So Dark.
MG: So Dark was a light improvisation that I did for a concert at Club Soda in Montreal years ago (thanks to my friend, event producer David Daniloff) with my trio here in Canada called Orco Muto. That was an introduction to the next song, Black Dog. I liked the recording and how it plays with words. If you remove the R and K, then you have ‘So Da’. It’s just simple play with words.
DG: Black Dog.
MG: Black Dog, a long story for this song is covered within the booklet of the album. I composed that tune here at home while my dog was barking at another black dog seen passing across the street, and every day that this dog passes my dog it relentlessly barks. It’s the only dog my dog will bark at. So that’s why I called it Black Dog. I asked my wife Cinzia to add some lyrics to round out the song. She took her inspiration by the title. It talks about the distant star Sirius, and how it was born. It’s maybe a science fiction type story about the birth of this star. This is how Black Dog became this strange beast of a song.
DG: One of my favorites on the album, Beside the Cathedral.
MG: Thanks for the compliment. There is no match or connection with the title in the song. In the middle there is a church organ. But the most important part of the song in my opinion is not the beginning and the end. That’s why I decided the cathedral is the best part and what happens before and after. The center is the focus and I think in this song it is further from what Horror music fans expect from me. It is a little jazzier, a little more ambient. But I like it. It’s one of my favorites.
DG: Looking Around.
MG: Imagine this song as the beginning of a flower pollinating. It feels a little bit like avant-garde with electronic sounds mixed in. On top of this field, with the flowers moving gracefully, there is a wasp looking around for food. It’s kind of surreal and esoteric and it is what it is, simply looking around for food. Originally, it was sort of jazzy but at the end I used allot of electronics.
DG: Magic Tunnel.
MG: Magic Tunnel is a play with time and tempo. It’s hypnotic, but not one of my favorites. Maybe for someone else it will be. It’s just playing with sequences and harps, guitars and effects. It goes through a tunnel and has strange time changes mixed with lots of effects.
DG: Last but not least…Lost My Camera.
MG: The title came to me one day when I wanted to take a picture and couldn’t find my camera anywhere. It plays with monophonic melodies. They are all together like a puzzle, very distinct. It’s a little bit like classic Gentle Giant in its construction musically. I like it there’s allot of positive energy inside it. It’s nothing really more than that in it’s simplicity.
DG: That’s a good segue into our next question. I’m curious what kind of music you personally enjoy at home, and what would we find in your CD player right now.
MG: Throughout my life I’ve changed my tastes many times. The ones that inspired me more throughout my life are Weather Report and especially Joe Zawinul who unfortunately died a few years ago. It’s fusion of a wide variety of tastes that bring a great deal of emotion to me. What I search for in music is raw emotion. That’s what music should be. No matter what kind of music you like, it changes from person to person, but what is important is to try to get out the emotion, goose bumps, and excitement, whatever. If I have music on in the background at home, and doesn’t mean anything, then I don’t like it. If you were to look in my CD player you would also find Genesis, Gentle Giant, or Weather Report. I’m very attached to music from the ‘70’s, progressive rock or not.
DG: There was more soul in music back then, definitely.
MG: Yeah, and dozens of people were so creative, we’ve never really seen such a period as that time ever since. From magic, or combination of events in that period was much creativity in music and movies. I’m very tied to that kind of progress in rock music including everything from Emerson Lake and Palmer to Genesis, so you can find any of those in my collection.
DG: The official record release party for Creature From A Drawer is being held on June 5th in Toronto’s legendary Lula Lounge. What can loyal Goblin fans and curious first timers anticipate from this show?
MG: I don’t know…that will be a surprise to me to (combined laughs). I’ve just put together a band of acclaimed local Toronto musicians to play these songs live. Originally it was just going to be listening to the album but fans kept insisting I play live. I hope the audience has fun. We will play some Goblin too. I realize sometimes it is not the easiest thing to listen to a complete album with unknown songs but it’s nice to hear something you have already heard. I’ll be playing with musicians Great Bob Scott and Chris Gartner from Look People and who have been in many other projects. These are the guys that I also play with in my band Orco Muto. My wife Cinzia will join in on a couple of songs to sing the lyrics. So I hope we have fun!
DG: I wanted to thank you for taking the time in joining me for this interview. It’s been very enlightening, a thrill and delight. Just as an afterthought, those who may be unable to attend the release party how may they acquire their very own copy of Creatures From A Drawer?
MG: There’s no store or distribution yet but there is an online store where you can buy CFAD and Goblin albums as well. The web address is www.backtothefudda.com, or you can visit www.creaturesfromadrawer.com There is a link to the shop directly online. For people living in Toronto if you go to your major and independent music stores they will have it. If they don’t ask them to order it.
Interview: Maurizio Guarini