Image Courtesy XPN
Any self-respecting Pittsburgher has seen George Romero's zombie horror classic Dawn of the Dead. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll learn that part of the sountrack was performed by an Italian progressive rock band called Goblin, who finally, decades later, are receiving their proper acclaim.
After moving to England in the early 70s and finding their attempt to land a record deal come to naught, Goblin settled back in Italy, where in 1975 they composed nearly the entire soundtrack for Dario Argento's Profondo Rosso (Deep Red). The music fit the film perfectly, and marked the start of a long-term relationship between the filmmaker and Goblin.
In 1978, Argento was asked to oversee the international release of Romero's Dawn of the Dead. He again turned to Goblin, who composed the soundtrack for what became Zombi. (For reasons that are unclear [at least to us], the US release mixes Goblin with stock music.) Their sinister sound - clanging bells, discordant synths, demonic whispers - influenced a generation of horror film scores; it is literally the stuff of nightmares.
The 80s saw continued lineup changes for the band, as well as the release of a few non-soundtrack albums. It wasn't until 2013 that Goblin finally embarked on their first tour of the United States. Such was the turnout and interest that a second leg of dates was added, including Friday's show in Pittsburgh. Moreover, the original rhythm section of Fabio Pignatelli (bass) and Agostino Marangolo (drums) has just re-joined Massimo Morante (guitar) and Maurizio Guarini (keyboards) for this second leg, thus meaning 4/5 of the original 1975 lineup is intact.
Opening for Goblin are Pittsburgh's "state-of-the art synth/prog/post-rock band" Zombi. These guys played VIA in 2011, but it has been years since they went on a proper tour.
We were fortunate enough to have Goblin's keyboardist Maurizio answer some questions for us prior to their show at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead Friday.
PMR: Its been well over 30 years since the creation of some of your most iconic work - namely the soundtracks for the Dario Argento films Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) and Suspiria, and, of course, Zombi (Dawn of the Dead) - yet, arguably, your popularity is at an all-time high. Can you point to any single factor to explain the renewed interest in Goblin?
Goblin: I think internet and social media played an important role in the past 10 years or so. Younger generations had the possibility to check what happened in the seventies regarding the music, and our popularity increased quickly. Even people of our age started listening again to our music, maybe affer a decade, and they must have liked it, looking at how popular we are becoming year after year.
PMR: Your tour, which started back in October, had such high turnout that it quickly expanded to include more than a dozen new dates. Is it surreal to experience such popularity in a country you've never toured before?Goblin: We were expecting to be popular in US and in North America, but not as much, frankly. Surprising the age span, we have enthusiastic fans from 20 year old to sixties, and most of them during our concerts where singing our themes from the seventies, even for less known album like
Roller, that we recorded in 1976. Just incredible.
PMR: Most people who have heard of Goblin are familiar with your work for film, but the band has put out more than a few studio albums as well. Do you embrace the "progressive rock" label that's usually affixed to your music? What bands were major influences when you were first starting up?
PMR: What does it mean to have Fabio and Agostino back with the band?Goblin: Well, the original rhythm section means our "real" sound. Very important. Key. Even if our shows in October made lots of fans happy, with a rhythm section more rock-oriented, people that will come to our December shows will have the opportunity to hear the "real" sound of Goblin, the dark one, the "Goblin" one.
PMR: Zombi, who are from Pittsburgh, will accompany you on tour. They also cite you as a defining influence. What does it say about your music that it was able to inspire a band half the world away?
PMR: What we can expect from Goblin after the tour wraps up? Is there a new album in the works? More touring?Goblin: Couple of weeks of relaxing after a very busy and intense period, then immediately start a new album. With this new old line up is top priority, and we will start in the beginning of 2014. [Perhaps] more touring? Of course, this is just the beginning!!
PMR: Lastly, I know you have a packed touring schedule, but please tell us you are going to make time while in Pittsburgh for a pilgrimage to Monroeville Mall, to see where Dawn of the Dead was filmed!
Goblin: We already planned this, of course!!
Tickets for the concert, which starts at 8pm, cost $28, or $65 for VIP seating. (VIP includes access to the last 30 minutes of soundcheck, a pre-show meet and greet with the band, and a commemorative poster.) And because we love you, our readers, we have a pair of tickets to giveaway for the show. Simply email your name to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put "goblin" in the subject line. Good luck!
-- B. Conway