They collaborated creatively through multiple decades, creating cinematic magic on the screen that still resonates with horror fans today. As far as one-two punches go when it comes to directors and composers, Lucio Fulci and Fabio Frizzi pack a huge wallop, and in the years since Fulci's passing in 1996, Frizzi has kept the spirit of Fulci's movies alive through his music, including recent live performances of his scores, two of which will take place on October 29th and the 30th at the New York City's Music Hall of Williamsburg. Ahead of the anticipated shows, I had the honor of catching up with Frizzi for our latest Q&A to talk about the joys of performing live, collaborating with Fulci, The Beyond Composer's Cut, and more.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Fabio. Fans of your work have been able to see you perform live in recent years with your seven-piece band. What inspired you to play your horror scores in front of a live audience, and how did these recent live show opportunities come about?
Fabio Frizzi: It's a story that comes from many years of collaboration with a director and friend, Lucio Fulci. Lucio unfortunately passed, but I realized that his work continued to have a huge following of passionate people, and the artistic inheritance involves me directly. The idea of a tribute to Lucio Fulci became central to me, and today gives me great satisfaction, and pretty much the The Beyond Composer's Cut project is a spin-off of the first one.
What music did you listen to in your formative years that influenced and inspired you?
Fabio Frizzi: I often say, to simplify ironically but even not too much, that my atavistic references are Johann Sebastian Bach and The Beatles. This underlines how I have always been fascinated by all the good music, any kind or era referenced. And among the many composers I loved and was influenced by, there are also many who worked for Italian cinema, such as Rota, Morricone, Trovaioli, etc.
You’ve composed the music for so many memorable Lucio Fulci films in your career. When did you first meet Fulci and how did your creative collaborations begin?
Fabio Frizzi: It was 1975, I was 24 and I had a composing trio with two other musicians. The group name was Bixio - Frizzi - Tempera. Our publisher sent us to the screening of a western movie that was being completed, Four of the Apocalypse. We were sitting in the last row, Lucio in the first, along with the producers. As template music was one brilliant song, “Knockin' on Heaven's Door,” sung by Bob Dylan. In the end the presentations, Lucio tells us he would like us to write some songs as a soundtrack, I and my two friends, in front of Dylan, whom we feared the worst, then, day after day we wrote different songs, Fulci liked a lot, and a collaboration had begun.
What did you enjoy the most about working with Fulci to match your soul-stirring music to his iconic visuals?
Fabio Frizzi: Lucio was a true maestro. He knew cinema and his mechanisms in an incredible way and surrounded himself with a few trusted people in key roles. For a long time, in music, this role has fallen to me. Creating emotions is not an easy thing, but the stories and images of Fulci's films were very illuminating. Listening again, orchestrating and interpreting those themes, after so many years, it makes me feel very proud.
Looking back on your career, what is one of the most rewarding cinematic music moments that you are proud of?
Fabio Frizzi: There are many, though I'm a bit appalled and very demanding with myself. The work of the composer of soundtracks is not, as one might believe, an easy job. And pride, if it arrives, comes after a while, sometimes after a long time. In the list I would put an Italian comedy Il secondo tragico Fantozzi, which as well as having given the start to my career, has become a great cult hit in Italy and beyond. Then, among the few classical works I composed, six guitar preludes and the G major concert for clarinet and strings, plus a couple of ballets. Among the TV series, Le ragazze di San Frediano , directed by Vittorio Sindoni and a couple of themes taken from works with the same director. One of these, sung by Edda Dell'Orso, the vocalist of all the most beautiful themes of Morricone, makes me shiver whenever I listen to it. Then, all the musical corpus written for Fulci, which today accompanies me daily.
This October you’ll be making your New York City performance debut at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, where you and your band will perform music from some of your most memorable scores, including Zombi and The Beyond. What can attendees look forward to experiencing at your New York City concerts?
Fabio Frizzi: It's a rundown on all of the experiences with Lucio with the suite's logic. In short, similar to classical music, I tell the film through his musical themes, and the progressive rock flavor comes out from start to finish.
The first night of your New York City concerts, you’ll perform the expanded “Composer’s Cut” of your score to The Beyond. What extra content can listeners look forward to in the Composer’s Cut?
Fabio Frizzi: The film's cut is the original one. I had found all the notes taken with Fulci and the producer at that time. Some of the songs in the final mix of the film, as often happens, had been shortened or even removed, in the balance they had decided to follow. I thought of doing a re-reading of all the original musical material, with the addition of a new theme that ties it all. It does not want to be an alternative, but an affectionate musical review of a movie I loved very much. Even with the experience of 35 years more.
What do you enjoy the most about performing your scores in front of a live audience?
Fabio Frizzi: Human warmth is perhaps the most lacking in a composer who lives his life in a recording studio. I remember that the first time we played this project at Union Chapel London, on Halloween 2013, I felt feelings I could not even imagine. Enthusiasm, appreciation, and affection are beautiful things to breathe.
What instruments do you and your band play to bring your scores to life at these live shows?
Fabio Frizzi: It's a fairly classic band: bass and drums, two guitarists (one with electric guitar, the other with classical extraction plays various instruments), a keyboard player, and a female voice. I play keyboard and classical guitar.
In addition to your live shows, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
Fabio Frizzi: A new experience I really liked was an LP just released with Cadabra Records, a story by H.P. Lovecraft, "The Picture in the House," read by Andrew Leman. I wrote and produced the soundtrack, as if it were a movie. Then, there will be a musical here in Italy and a film at the beginning of 2018. Among the other projects I’m planning is a studio recording of The Beyond Composer's Cut score with band, orchestra, and choir. My social pages have been a direct contact with my friends and fans from all over the world for years:
To learn more about Frizzi's upcoming New York City performances, visit the Music Hall of Williamsburg online, and check out the images, video, and audio sample below for more information on Frizzi's current tour.
Images courtesy of Ship to Shore: