When Italian horror director Dario Argento couldn’t nab Pink Floyd to score his eerie 1975 film “Profondo Rosso” (called “Deep Red” in the U.S.), he turned to the little-known Italian prog rock group Goblin, whose sprawling, cackling sonic landscapes only made the flick more creepy. The soundtrack would go on to sell more than a million copies, cementing Goblin’s status as horror-score masters.
Nearly 40 years later, the band is in the middle of its first U.S. tour, which stops at the 9:30 Club on Friday.
Goblin combines traditional rock instrumentation, synthesizers and dissonant classical melodies to create demented tension that matches the seriously scary scenes in the films the band has scored. After “Profondo Rosso,” Goblin worked with Argento on 1977’s “Suspiria,” 1982’s “Tenebre” and 1985’s “Phenomena.” In 1978, the band teamed up with George Romero for zombie classic “Dawn of the Dead.”
The current tour, which began in Atlanta in October, came about after the band was booked to play the “Suspiria” score live at the Housecore Horror Film Festival in Austin, Texas, around Halloween. When an agent suggested a full U.S. tour, the band was eager to hit the road.
“Of course we couldn’t say no,” says Maurizio Guarini, Goblin’s keyboard player. “It’s what we were waiting for — for years and years and years.”
Goblin has a rotating membership, but four-fifths of the group’s 1975 lineup reunited for the U.S. tour: Guarini, Fabio Pignatelli on bass, Agostino Marangolo on drums and Massimo Morante on guitar. (Aidan Zammit joins the group on additional keyboards.)
Although the members are in their 50s and 60s, Guarini, 58, insists the band’s performances are of the same caliber as they were 40 years ago.
“We feel exactly like before,” he says. “Age is just a convention.”
One thing that is new: Goblin created a multidimensional experience for the tour. While half the show is a “pure rock concert” featuring Goblin’s non-soundtrack work, Guarini says the other half focuses on its horror scores, which are augmented by a large screen showing film footage “so people can match images with the music.”
Adding more visual interest to the performance are the long limbs of Morante’s daughter, a classically trained dancer who swirls around the rockers during three songs.
“Expect a lot of emotion and energy,” Guarini says of the tour. “And I hope fun and being scared by some music.”
Look! The Horrors! Director Dario Argento’s “Suspiria,” a dreamlike tale about a ballet academy run by witches, is part of the Goblin concert experience. While the band plays music from the film, fans will see such horrors as a glass pane slicing a ballet dancer’s face. Yikes!
9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; Fri., 6 p.m., $25; 202-265-0930. (U Street)