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Legendary Italian Proggers Return To Inspire New Nightmares
If you love concept albums, progressive rock and horror movies, then the new self-titled album from Goblin Rebirth is a must have for your collection. The latest incarnation of the iconic Italian band Goblin, who are known for their frequent collaborations with horror maestro Dario Argento, have delivered a nightmarishly beautiful experience into the macabre with the dirge-like melodies, dark progressions and eerie storytelling for their latest installment. I had the extreme honor of speaking with the band’s guitarist Giacomo Anselmi to learn more about the wisdom, history and influences behind what inspired such a spectacular album, available now on Relapse Records.
Can you tell me a bit about the recording of the album?
We started a couple of years ago and we took a long time to [put] the songs together because every member of the band took time to compose the songs. It was the first time for me because I wrote the song “Requiem for X” with Fabio Pignatelli, the bass player, and the other members started to compose like two years ago. Then after a year of working out ideas we started to put the things together. We recorded separately and I did guitars in the studio with Fabio Pignatelli; we have the record out with Relapse Records now.
When it first became available for streaming, I was so excited when I heard “Requiem for X.” I really enjoyed that creepy lullaby kind of sound it had…
Yes! That was my idea. That came directly from me because I really love the music from Goblin and that kind of mood and atmosphere. I love the creepy feeling it gives you while listening to it.
What are some of your other personal favorites on the new album?
I really enjoyed my guitar playing on “Book of Skulls.” I love playing all the songs, really. Because I love this very much and I’m very into much into Rebirth. But I think [“Book of Skulls”] is a very big composition and a lot of hard work that went into that song in particular.
What are some of your favorite Dario Argento films?
The first Dario Argento film I ever saw was Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) and then I saw Suspiria – my favorites are the first movies that he did. I’m very much into horror movies and I’m very fond of his earlier work. I was also really into Inferno. I liked it very much because I love the soundtrack by Keith Emerson. I really like that style of piano playing.
How did you wind up getting involved with Goblin?
I found the guys because I was playing in a tribute band, the music of Yes, the band obviously; and we started to play together with Fabio and Danilo Cherni, who’s one of the keyboard players, and we played together the music of Yes for roughly three years. Then I started to talk with Fabio about Goblin because Fabio and the drummer Agostino Marangolo, they were not playing the music of Goblin at this period but [original Goblin members] Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante and Maurizio Guarini were together in a band. So the idea was to make another band and so we started ‘Goblin Rebirth’ together with Aidan Zammit and with me, Fabio and Danilo.
Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind the new album?
When we put the songs together, it was an idea from me, Aidan and Danilo and we started to think about concepts because we were looking at the titles of the songs and we started to think, ‘Why don’t we make a story out of it?’ When we write songs it’s like doing soundtracks because that’s the mindset…the whole story of Goblin Rebirth really because it focuses on the death and the birth of Goblin. So the songs are all together in the order where they tell the story and you could read the booklet inside the CD or the record and see what it’s about.
What were your biggest inspirations growing up as a kid?
As a kid I started with bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and then I listened to a lot of heavy metal. Bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, obviously. And then Goblin was definitely a part of it. I also listened to a lot of prog music like King Crimson, Yes and then Genesis as well.
How old were you when you first started playing the guitar?
I think I was 6 or 7 when I first really picked up the guitar and I played left handed (because I am left handed) and then I turn it to the right because I saw the pieces of previous performances of Jimi Hendrix playing and I thought would that be difficult – to play a Fender Stratocaster the left-handed way, you know? So I turned it (laughs) and then I did some classical music when I was about 10, and then I started in the States at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood when I was 20.
What have you been listening to lately?
Lately I’m very much into djent metal and math metal like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, the band Intervals from Canada, old compositions from King Crimson and even the modern albums of King Crimson. But I’m very much into like the old progressive and the new math metal because I think math metal and the new djent metal is kind of like a new evolution of the old progressive music.
What motivates you in the studio as far as the creative process goes?
A lot of ideas came together with Fabio because the way I compose my ideas, it’s not really by myself. I always need another musician to talk with and so it is really a collaboration between me and the other guys, and in this case Fabio [in particular]. And he did a lot of the mixing too.
How do you feel horror culture has influenced modern music?
I think that horror music and horror theme songs are pretty close to heavy rock and metal music in similar ways…so I think it’s logical to think that horror music has had a good impact on music in general. Because heavy music is more influential than some people may think. Heavy sounds are something I can hear even sometimes in some of the modern pop music.
How would you describe the chemistry between the band mates?
We’re pretty much like ‘the classic band.’ The new members have a lot of respect for the old members. I think that Fabio and Agostino are good leaders so we can pretty much say that the band has no real leaders, we are all one. Because Fabio and Agostino, they’re very kind with us so we can do a good job when we’re on stage and there’s great atmosphere between us. I think that it’s very relaxing when we do shows all over the place.
Are we going to have the pleasure of seeing you guys on tour here in the States?
Well, this is one of our priorities because Relapse made it really an amazing job for us so we can’t wait to come to the U.S. – we’re just waiting for the album to be released and we plan as soon as possible [to tour] the U.S. I also think that we can do something in Japan.
How would you compare the old material of Goblin to the new material of Goblin Rebirth?
I think that the old material is very much Italian progressive that clearly sounds like it’s from an earlier time, and I think every one of us knows the old compositions by Goblin. I think Goblin Rebirth improves that with new sounds from more updated keyboards. And I think the writing and creative approach are a little more modern I think, but not too much – it’s still akin to the old material, you know? Because we can hear the similarities of the original Goblin in the compositions so the fans would be proud about it, I think. I think they’d be satisfied with the new compositions. Especially if you like the old stuff and you like stuff that’s more modern and up to date. It’s a great combination of both.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
It’s just a wonderful, highly emotional feeling for me playing the riff of “Deep Red.” It’s kind of scary in a way (laughs) and emotional at the same time, because you know, playing that riff is like playing the story of us all. It’s like, playing that song, when it happens it’s like the first time I’ve seen the film and first time I heard the song, it’s just a huge rush. I’m so grateful to be a part of Goblin Rebirth, I’m just so grateful.
Follow on Twitter @GoblinRebirth
Photography by Emanuela Fiaoni