Claudio Simonetti (left) with Italian director Dario Argento
Composer, producer and keyboard player Claudio Simonetti is bringing his band to Dublin to perform live the classics of horror movie scores by seminal Italian progressive rock band Goblin, featuring a set list that includes pieces from the soundtracks of Suspiria, Tenebre, Dawn of the Dead, Creepers, Demons and more..
Brazilian-born Claudio started out his career in Italy in 1971 with the band Il Ritratto di Dorian Gray, which was heavily influenced by prog rock and the like of Genesis, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, Yes, ELP, and Deep Purple.
His career took a turn in 1975 when Italian director Dario Argento contacted him and asked his band to perform the soundtrack for his new film Profondo Rosso (1975). Goblin were born and went on to produce a number of albums including one of the true great horror soundtracks when they composed the score for Argento’s classic film Suspiria in 1977.
Goblin split up in 1978 but Claudio has successfully continued to collaborate with Argento on many of his films. He has also composed the scores for a number of other films working with some great directors along the way and performing his scores live with the Simonetti Horror Project.
Irish fans now have the opportunity to catch horror rock maestro Simonetti performing a selection from his nightmarish soundtracks from a host of horror films when he plays in The Button Factory on Wednesday, 14th August.
Steven Galvin caught up with the former Goblin legend to find out more about the man who dreams of screams.
How did your relationship with Dario Argento first come about?
At the time I was in the band Oliver. We meet Dario the first time in 1974 while we were recording the album Cherry Five and we also met with Daria Nicolodi (Italian actress and screenwriter, who created the basic script for Suspiria). Our producer, Carlo Bixio, was also a publisher of the soundtracks of the films of Argento, who was looking for a rock band for his film Profondo Rosso at the time.
At that time Dario Argento was a very famous director and we were very honoured, and a little scared, to have been choosen to realise the soundtrack for his film. Dario asked us to compose the main music for the film and so Goblin was born. After the huge success of Profondo Rosso we started our career composing soundtracks.
Can you talk us through the collaboration process of working with Argento on a film score?
Normally I start to write the music after watching the film with the director telling me, more or less, what kind of music he wants. I’m always inspired by the scenes of the movie. But with Dario it is different. I have a great relationship with Dario. After a first meeting, with some suggestions, he lets me free to decide what music to put in his films.
Your 1975 Goblin debut score for Profondo Rosso was a massive success, blending jazz, prog rock, and heavy metal in a way that immediately announced your distinctive style. Selling over 3 million copies was testament to the music’s ability to stand alone from the film. Did its success surprise you?
In fact, this success has surprised us a lot and still continues to amaze me. When we recorded the soundtrack it was a period pop groups were very fashionable so I was surprised we were able to have success playing music that wasn’t so commercial for the time. Also I am surprised by the fact that our music continues to have such a big audience worldwide, today more than ever.
You scored Suspiria in 1977 with Goblin; a truly mesmerising score that really twists the terror of the film into the viewer’s mind. Is it your most satisfying moment? Also it’s known as a highly experimental score – what was the thinking behind this at the time?
I think Suspiria was one of the most innovative works we’ve ever done, we used a very innovative sound, which is still very modern, especially by considering the time in which it was made . It’s definitely the best soundtrack and the most famous film we did.
Through the ‘80s you worked steadily composing for Italian genre films working with a who’s who of great directors.
I was very lucky to have worked with directors as Dario Argento, Ruggero Deodato, Lamberto Bava, Lucio Fulci, George Romero – with each of them I have lived different and incredible experiences!
You have continued to work with Argento throughout your career – what are the rewards of such a long-standing collaboration.
Now I have a relationship with Argento plus a long friendship. We started in 1975 with Goblin with Profondo Rosso and Suspiria and then our relationship continued into my solo career – Phenomena, Opera, The Card Player, The Third Mother, Jenifer, Pelts, and Dracula 3D, released last November, which was my fourteenth film with him.
You’re bringing the Simonetti Horror Project to Dublin; what can people expect?
Simonetti Horror Project was one of my very successful albums released in 1991. I recorded the great scores of Argento’s films with new arrangements. The band is formed by me on keyboards, Titta Tani at the drums and Bruno Previtali at the guitar (who are also in my other two bands New Goblin and Daemonia). In the concert we will present excerpts from many horror films, not only Argento but also tracks like ‘Halloween’ (Carpenter), ‘Tubular Bells’ (Oldfield), and even Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue’, which I think is one of the scariest pieces of music history – which is what the public expects from me … at least … well, I hope so.
Tickets for Wednesday’s event at The Button Factory €24:50 from Tickets.ie + http://simonettihorrorproject.