Photo by Emanuela Fiaoni
Interview with guitarist Giacomo Anselmi, keyboardist Aidan Zammit and bassist Fabio Pignatelli | By Morgan Y. Evans
Goblin Rebirth are the literal rebirth of famed Italian horror band Goblin, who play super sophisticated prog rock and are known for collaborating with the famed director Dario Argento. The band’s self-titled Relapse Records release—which dropped over the summer—is a nonstop thrill ride of weird sounds and obscure moods. This is a great record to revisit for the Halloween season. Guitarist Giacomo Anselmi, keyboardist Aidan Zammit, and bassist Fabio Pignatelli fill us in on the rest.
How was this awesome project reborn?
GA: Goblin Rebirth is a project born to play Goblin music of every period, especially music composed and arranged by Pignatelli and [drummer Agostino] Marangolo. Great soundtracks. And to make some new songs together.
AZ: Goblin Reborn was put together after the Back To The Goblin formation split up a few years ago. The idea was to play the “rarer” Goblin soundtracks live, but it also turned into an original project with new compositions.
How fun was it crafting the spooky ass intro for the track “Requiem for X”?
FP: Giacomo wrote the arpeggio and melody, and I built the introduction on that. I really enjoyed working on it. I doubled the bass an octave below using a sample I had made from [1975 Argento film] “Profondo Rosso” with an Akai S900. I also played most of the keys using virtual Mellotron, Minimoog, Prophet, and church organ samples. There were three different versions until I reached the final one. I still wasn’t satisfied. In the end, Aidan added an organ melody line and played the final Moog solo to replace the temporary track I had played.
“Dark Bolero” is like listening to “Eleanor Rigby” while having a bad acid trip. How do you compose these songs?
FP: This is a piece that I composed and mostly played alone, apart from some colors from Aidan’s keyboards, the guitars, the drums, and the cello. It was born when I was trying a cello sound. The first things I wrote were the cellos, the choirs, and the timpani, and the atmosphere immediately inspired me to give it the temporary name of “Dark Bolero.” With these instruments, I wrote the song till the bass came in, and kept on going till the end, step by step. Once we had a structure, I started thinking about sounds and we added the guitars and bouzouki. [Keyboardist] Danilo [Cherni] then suggested replacing the timpani with real percussion, and we did.
GA: Some of us, like Zammit and Pignatelli, compose and arrange alone. Then, we put our ideas on the song. We always listen to all the material before going ahead. Cherni is similar, and a very hard worker. I work more with inputs and melodies, then I share my ideas with Pignatelli. I like writing with him.
AZ: Each composition starts with an individual member. Some change considerably as the musicians do their magic on them. Every member of the band influences the final song, whether it’s for the composing, arranging, or sound design.
Goblin Rebirth sounds like a film score. Are you influenced by specific cinematic composers?
AZ: I love Ennio Morricone, John Williams, James Horner, Howard Shore, Thomas Newman, Bernard Herrman… Honestly, there are so many greats to learn from. We are currently open for applications from epic film producers.
FP: When I compose, I don’t think of anyone in particular, but I am probably influenced by everything I ever listened to. I am a self-taught musician and I learned everything through listening. I agree that this work would be perfect for a film. Let’s hope that some director listens to it and takes it into consideration!
“Evil In the Machine” has Iron Maiden-esque bass when it starts, then goes all Mr. Roboto from Hell. Are you worried about technology? Will magic rise again after the cyber crash? Or will it be like “Mad Max” post-apocalyptic barbarism?
AZ: I’m a sci-fi fan and have always been fascinated by the “technology taking over” theme. Frankly though, I think that history shows us that humans should be worrying about themselves. There might well be a cyber crash one day, with both outcomes you have mentioned. It’s more likely, though, that a few humans will use technology to lull people into a false sense of security and well being, causing widespread apathy and indifference. It’s already happening, really.