Reading Steve Earles’ awesome review of the John Carpenter film score retrospective has sent me on a musical journey this weekend, dealing primiarily with horror music soundtracks. I started out with some Carpenter scores, then listened to and watched some live Goblin – mostly the awesome Austinato live blu-ray that features Steve Moore as a guest performer – and am currently listening to some Zombi.
It reminded me that I did a show preview for the band’s one and only appearance here in Hamilton way back in 2005 for VIEW Magazine, which prompted me to want to go back and read it. However, when I searched the VIEW site for the piece it is no longer in their archives. With that in mind, I decided to dig back into my own archives and here is my interview with Zombi drummer extrodinaire A.E. Paterra.
Monday, April 5
The Underground, 41 Catharine St N, Hamilton
Although they have recently relocated from their native Pittsburgh PA to the more urban surroundings of Chicago, the synthesizer-based prog rock duo known as Zombi owe a lot to their Steel City upbringings.
Taking their name from the Italian version of Dawn of The Dead, the classic zombie horror film directed by Pittsburgh native George A. Romero (which was also filmed in and around the greater metropolitan area along with its predecessor Night Of the Living Dead), the duo of Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra came together originally due to their love of the Italian progressive rock band Goblin, who made a name for themselves in the seventies scoring the movies of underground horror directors such as Romero, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.
“Steve and I knew each other from playing in other bands,” explains Paterra over the phone from a truck stop in rural Pennsylvania. “We knew that we liked a lot of the same music – progressive rock – weshared a great affinity for all the Goblin work and so we got together. We originally started playing as a sax and drums duo, just playing freakout stuff and then Steve bought a synthesizer and started writing with that. And he just bought more and more stuff and it grew.”
“I think right now we have six analog synthesizers in total, but we only have four of them with us on tour. We play everything that you hear live. Everything on the Cosmos record that has drums on it, we play live.”
Cosmos is the band’s debut release for the Relapse/Release label, the Philadelphia based company known for both its extremely aggressive releases (Suffocation, Mastodon, Cephalic Carnage) as well as its more experimental fringe releases on the offshoot Release imprint, which has issued titles from outfits as varied as the Japanese power electronics of Merzbow and Masonna to the world music of Trial of the Bow and the ambient drone of Vidna Obmana and Lull. As Paterra explains it, it was pure chance that landedthem with the company.
“It was strange how it came about. A friend of ours lives in Philadelphia and became friends with (Relapse owner) Matt Jacobson. He told Matt a little bit about us and we sent a demo in to them as a last ditch effort. We had already sent out a lot of packages, maybe 70 or 80 to any label we could think of and the first people that heard it at Relapse liked it. Then they came out to see us play a few shows in the Philadelphia area and we worked it out after that.
Luck has remained at the band’s side, but it is their great musicianship that has impressed other bands and kept them busy touring with some unlikely touring partners, including Providence screamcore outfit Daughters, whose album is shorter than most of the songs on Cosmos, and New York argh-punk outfit Panthers, who fell in love with their music when a soundman played their CD at an Ottawa show they played earlier this year.
“We played a show with Daughters in Pittsburgh and they really liked us and we liked them a lot. We became instant friends with us and they took us out with them for three weeks.
“It was strange, it was a little intimidating for us because we didn’t know what the audience would think but it went over very well. I think it was a nice change for the audience, as we’d be on the bill with four or five hardcore bands and then we’d come up
there and offer something different. It was such a good time with them, they were such good guys.
“We’ve been lucky that all these great bands like Daughters and Panthers have liked us and taken us on tour even though our music doesn’t seem to really match them but their audiences have appreciated what we do. People are tired of hearing the same thing over and over again, so I think that has helped us.”
Upon Cosmos’ release last summer, the band made an open offer in the local Pittsburgh arts weekly to their hometown hero, George A.Romero, offering up their services to the noted horror film director. They wanted to let him know they’d be more than willing to record some songs for any of his future films. Which begs the question – any word back from Romero’s camp? Any enticing movie soundtrack work on the horizon?
“Nothing happened at all,” laughs Paterra. “It’s funny, because Steve’s mom got a CD to Romero’s wife, as she was looking after one of their family in the hospital, and we know George Romero’s nephew so we tried to work on that angle too but nothing ever came of it. I think that if it was still independent productions he was working with (like the first three
movies) we’d have a chance but with the major Hollywood production it’s more out of his control.
Look for a new 12” single by the band to be released on the NY based Verison City imprint this summer, followed by a rather intriguing sounding collaborative CD between the duo and Relapse grindcore fanatics Agoraphobic Nosebleed later this fall.