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Interview: horror prog legend Claudio Simonetti of Goblin

The regular Dario Argento collaborator talks to us ahead of his live soundtrack gig at FrightFest

Interview: horror prog legend Claudio Simonetti of Goblin

Photo: Alex Woodward at Crimson Glow Photography

The Italian giallo films have a particular hold over horror fans. Their garish use of gore, overtly sexualised themes, bold use of colour and fantastic scores make them a unique cinematic experience. Dario Argento and Goblin were a perfect match, the director's innate grasp on visuals soundtracked by their sonic terror. Goblin had an uncanny knack for emphasising and enhancing the strange and unusual on screen, their music creating a creeping unease within the viewer.

Argento had just finished Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red) in 1974 and was looking for a rock band to compose the score. He originally considered Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Deep Purple but Goblin's producer suggested he try an Italian act first. After hearing Goblin in their studio he realised their otherworldly take on prog rock was the perfect fit.

Since 2009 Claudio Simonetti, one of the founding members of Goblin, has been playing live alongside screenings of the films he helped score. They didn't just work in Italian cinema – the band also wrote the score for George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which they will be performing live in association with Film4's FrightFest. 'We are positioned below the screen and play the music exactly where it would appear in the original movie. Sometimes we change something on the night but I prefer the original soundtrack,' explains Simonetti. However there's another treat in store as each performance will feature a Q&A session with Claudio and on their second night they will be scoring an Italian horror classic. 'Suspiria is our most requested film and we have been touring it for a while though Italy, Europe, American and now London,' explains Simonetti. Suspiria's tale of a witch's coven operating out of a ballet school is Argento's most startling work and the soundtrack is equally stunning.

Unfortunately in recent years relationships in Goblin have soured with several versions of the band touring with various original members. 'I have my Claudio Simonetti's Goblin featuring members of my previous band Daemonia, we've been playing together since 1999. I think this is the best way – with the original members it's impossible to play together. Even the Beatles divorced,' laughs Simonetti.

These London shows will also be a homecoming of sorts for Simonetti: 'I know London very well, in 1974 I lived there for a year with Goblin before we started working on film. We started to write demos in London and when we came back to Italy we found the record label which led to working with Dario.'

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin perform live scores alongside screenings of Dawn Of The Dead (Mon 18 Aug) and Suspiria (Tue 19 Aug), Union Chapel, London.


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