How a young rock band created one of horror's most famous soundtracks
Dario Argento’s Suspiria has more unforgettable elements in its opening scenes than most movies manage in a decade’s worth of sequels. Even ignoring the bisected ballerina, the psychedelic colour will sear itself into your eyes forever. And its soundtrack – by the legendary Italian rock band Goblin – is one of the most famous in all of horror, rivalled only by John Carpenter’s Halloween score.
“The funny thing is that I met John Carpenter for the first time last year in Los Angeles,” says Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti, laughing. “He said to me: ‘Oh, I know you very well – because I stole all your music!’” You might unwittingly already know Simonetti too. It’s his voice on the Suspiria soundtrack, providing the ‘witch whispers’ that turn it into a terrifying lullaby.
When asked how a just-starting-out rock band wound up scoring films for Dario Argento, Simonetti says: “We were lucky.” When they were still called ‘Oliver’ – a name later changed to ‘Cherry Five’ by their label without any consultation – they shared a producer with Argento’s movie. Argento wasn’t satisfied with the orchestral score for his 1975 film Profondo Rosso and wanted a band instead. “He arrived in the studio and listened to our music. He said: ‘I like these guys. They can record the score.’ We were very young, and Dario was very famous, but we said we’d try...”
Soon after, the band spent a sleepless night in a small studio in Rome finishing a demo of the movie’s main theme; the entire soundtrack was recorded in just two weeks. It was different with Argento’s next film, Suspiria. “We had more than three months in the studio experimenting with music,” says Simonetti. “After the success of Profondo Rosso, the producers gave us all the time that we needed. Even now, if you listen to the soundtrack, it’s very modern. It’s like something you could write now.”
So what should Melbourne expect when Goblin arrive to play the Suspiria soundtrack alongside the movie? “I don’t know, because it’s the first time for me!” he says. In 2009, his band Daemonia played the Profondo Rosso score live in the same Turin square featured in the movie. “It was amazing. Thousands of people, sitting in the square, watching the film. It was an incredible experience. Now, with Suspiria, it will be something new. We’ve never done it before – especially as Goblin, and in Australia! We don’t know people there. We don’t know what will happen.”
He adds: “But I think it will be very nice.”
Goblin perform Suspiria live for Melbourne Music Week on Nov 23.
A second show has been added at 10.30pm