"After nearly 40 years of being connected artistically, I only met George Romero two years ago!" - In Conversation with Claudio Simonetti of Goblin
In the worlds of music and film the name Claudio Simonetti may not be immediately recognisable but when you mention the words Goblin, Dario Argento or Dawn Of The Dead, a light bulb will turn on in your mind. Claudio Simonetti was part of the 1970's Italian collective named Goblin who worked closely with directors Argento and Romero on their more well known films when they were at the height of their creative powers. TDF spoke with Claudio through the power of Skype about his work back in the 70's but more importantly what turns his creative cogs today, in 2018.
You've been creating for nearly 50 years at this point in 2018. How did you get your start?
I was born in Brazil and I lived there till I was 11 and I played piano since I was 8. My real passion was the 60's era of music like The Beatles. At the end of the 60's I grew up with King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer and they were also an influence. In 1974 I met Massio who we formed Goblin, who were originally called Oliver. We went to London in 1974 with our demos, where we lived for a year and returned to Italy and started to record our debut record. Our producer introduced us to director Argento who was looking for a band to score his new movie which was Deep Red. So he came to the studio and loved us and that's where it began!
Most famous directors have a muse of some kind. Martin Scorsese has Leo DiCaprio and you worked with Argento a lot. Do you feel you had the most creative free reign with him?
Deep Red was a great success, in 8 months we sold 1 million copies of that record, so we went back and recorded Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead but then we split with Goblin and I did my solo composing. Mostly it was just me but he did go off and use other composers from time to time. It's a lot of work composing, more than you think.
You've also worked with George Romero on Dawn Of The Dead. How was that collaboration?
We never actually met George initially. Dario brought the film to Italy in 1978 and he decided to distribute the film there. He cut the film down by 15-20 minutes for this market, it was at first traditional music as a score and he said he didn't like the music, we all thought it was boring at first! I met Romero for the first time about two years ago, we talked a lot about the music and he said he loved it. He said he wanted a vintage sound originally but he liked what we had done.
Some composers work to a rough cut and others compose to a script while the film is being shot. How do you work?
Normally we write the music when the film is finished. I rarely write the music before as I don't have a feel for the film. Suspiria was slightly before the film was shot and Dario used it on set with the actors but after the film was finished we didn't like the music so we used new music.
Now that you're touring the music of Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead. Do you get more enjoyment playing live or are you more of a studio artist?
The studio is a different beast, it's a creative space, but the live environment is where you get an immediate response from the audience, with studio work you get that response months or years later.
Suspiria is being remade in 2018, how do you feel about that?
I know nothing about the new film, they bought the rights to the theme, Thom Yorke from Radiohead is doing the new music but he has decided not to use it. I like Radiohead but I am as clueless as anybody else.
After nearly 50 years of helping scare horror audiences with your music, are you yourself a fan of horror music?
Oh I have been a fan for many years, from the early Hammer Horror days. I went to see Bird With The Crystal Plumage when I was 18 years old and I never expected to work with Director Argento almost 5 years later.
Claudio is bringing his music to the UK in August where he will be performing Suspiria and Goblin's Greatest Hits in full. Dates and tickets can be found here.