Fans of horror and synthesizers have a lot to rejoice about in 2013 – legendary synth rockers, ZOMBI, are back after a two-year hiatus for a tour with none other than, Goblin. Serving as long time inspirations for the duo and the masterminds behind the synth-tastic scores to films like Dario Argento’s Suspira, and George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, it’s no secret that Goblin and Zombi go hand-in-hand. I got to chat with the duo as they kicked off their tour at the Empty Bottle and find out where to go to feel like a rockstar, what it feels like to tour with your idols, and, of course, their Spirit Animals.
ASHLEIGH DYE: First off, welcome back to Chicago, and more importantly the Empty Bottle! So you guys have toured, literally, all over. All over the States, Japan, the UK, where has been your favorite so far?
A.E PATERRA: Definitely Japan, definitely.
AD: It’s so bonkers over there! Did you guys have a residency there? I saw you played the same club a few times.
STEVE MOORE: No, so it’s like a chain club. So its ‘Club Quattro” but in different cities, did we play four shows?
AP: No, it was just three shows. The level of hospitality there, though, oh you’re just treated so well. The shows are a little different; it’s a little more low-key. The crowds aren’t very rowdy, in Tokyo it was.
SM: Very well-behaved.
AP: Tokyo was more of a normal show, but the other two were very low-key, very respectful. It was a great time.
SM: After you play a song everybody’s like [golf claps] and then that’s it! They clap for fifteen seconds then they’re done. Very reserved.
AP: Japans great, I really love touring Europe. Touring the US is great, its difficult because the drives are long, but the thing about the US is that we’ve played certain venues a lot, playing here I always have a good time, everyone is so great. In the US I feel like it’s more about the venues than it is the cities and Japan there’s just a different level, we’re respected a little more. It’s a different mentality for how the treat touring acts.
SM: There [Japan] they assume you’re a professional, touring band. Where as in the states if you walk into a club and the sound guy doesn’t know you, they assume you’re some schmos. In Japan, the first night we set up all our gear, and there were these two guys watching how we set everything up. After we were done we just left, left everything on stage and they packed everything up and the next day we took a train to the next city and we get there and my stuff would be set up exactly the way I would set it up.
AD: So they were taking some pretty thorough notes?
SM: That’s like some real rock star shit.
AP: It lets you exist on a level that we aren’t at, really.
AD: So you guys are starting your tour with Goblin tomorrow night. They have been a pretty big influence on you – I mean, your name is even an ode to them. How does it feel to be touring with people that are such huge inspirations for you guys? What’s the anticipation like?
AP: Its strange – I don’t even know, I’m just really excited to meet them. I think it’s going to be really neat to meet guys that are so much older than we are, that made such influential music.
SM: They made some of my favorite music ever! These guys are absolutely responsible for so much of my iTunes.
AD: Yeah, it must be great. I think about it a lot, it’s happened to various bands that they eventually get to team up with someone who inspired their band in the first place. Like you guys don’t just get to meet Goblin, you’re playing with them and existing on the same level, rad shit. Back in 2007, you guys put out Sapphire and worked with Norwegian producer, Prins Thomas. How did that all come about?
SM: Well, it’s really funny. I can explain exactly how this came about. Tony and I, we recorded that song in 2005. Our buddy Doug Moserac was saying “look you guys have to do some Italia Disco, you have all the gear and I think you could pull it off, and people are going to love it if you do” and so we were like ‘Oh this could be fun’ so we did it and he said, “you make these songs and I’ll put them out.” He had this label he was running, and they ended up just sitting around for a while. He had them in his Napster folder, then James Freedman, a DJ, grabbed them, and then Prins Thomas grabbed them from him, and then all these European DJs grabbed it from him, and, without us even knowing about it at all, it was playing in all these clubs in Europe. James Friedman runs a label now, and he was like “you guys have to let me put this stuff out”, so we were like, “Yeah, lets do it.”
AD: You guys have been a part of a lot of cool projects like that, you did a song for a film that Lori Felkner made, was the track made specifically for that movie?
AP: Yea I still remember sitting around the tv with our synths [laughter]
AD: Do projects like that, and tours with bands like Goblin give you guys a lot of inspiration and motivation to draw from?
AP: I think, if anything, it’ll inspire us to keep going and making music.
AD: I guess, I just mean that all these collaborations and tours open the doors to working with creatively like-minded, but still different people. Would you say you’ve benefitted from that?
AP: I think back when we were touring a lot, like touring with Trans Am – we were able to tour with a lot of really good bands, I think.
SM: Yeah, Goblin is not the first band we’ve toured with that was a huge inspiration. The Trans Am tour was a really big one. The Champs.
AP: It was neat; all these bands that we really liked and respected were asking us to go on tour. It kind of validated what we were doing, and gave us a lot of confidence in what we were doing.
SM: Yeah, in that sense, the fact that we were asked to open for Goblin will make us feel more wanted, needed.
AP: Its kind of a strange thing, since we’ve started, it’s popular for any label to associate a larger band with a newer band to give it some sort of credence. Like this is Zombi, they’re like Goblin. We’re going to be able to go out with a band that we’ve been compared to for so long.
SM: When we first started playing Zombi, there weren’t many just solely synthesizer-based acts, so I think its pretty natural for someone to compare us to someone like Goblin because that what the reference. Now there’s a lot, its almost like a scene now.
AD: So you guys were both in bands before Zombi, and both do a lot of solo stuff now. How do you balance your solo stuff and Zombi stuff? Are there things you’ll record that you reserve for one or the other, where do you draw that creative line?
AP: I think what we realized is that a lot of the ideas we’ve been throwing around with each other exist in our own individual worlds, and what makes Zombi Zombi is the combination of us playing organic music and not so much playing heavily sequenced music.
SM: We don’t live in the same city. Tony lives in Pittsburgh and I live in the finger lakes area of New York and when were writing we’ll come up with demos individual and send them back and forth, then a lot of times its like Tony wrote this demo and sent it to me and it sounds like an awesome song already, I don’t know what to do with it, or vice versa. Back when we were both living together we would just get together and rehearse and just start playing, that’s when we were really writing the music that sounds like us, like Zombi.
AD: You guys have the VCO label that you run and operate, and you intentionally, from what I take, don’t put Zombi on there. Is that because of timing and lack of new material, or is it something you reserve for your solo projects, and other musicians?
AP: We basically started it because we have a lot of stuff, Steve especially, a lot of out-put. And it gets annoying, you have this song you recorded that you like and you send it out and don’t hear anything, so we decided we could do it on this format that’s cheap to put out, and it’s a format that we both like. I grew up with cassettes, so it’s this familiar thing. It’s been a good way to put out some of our own material with no hassle and put out things for other artists that are like-minded, its very limited runs, and its more personal.
AD: How do you feel you guys have grown together over the last decade? You’ve gone from living together to living apart – how do you feel you’ve matured?
AP: I think we’re in a good spot, all those years of touring, we got to spend a lot of time together.
SM: A lot of shows! We spent a lot of time just the two of us in a van across the country.
AD: Well you didn’t kill each other, so you’ve surpassed that point at least.
SM: Yeah, if it were going happen, it would have happened years ago.
AP: These past six years, I’ve been able to do things on my own, Steve’s been able to do things on his own. We’ve been able to exist and have our space. I’m very excited for this tour. I wasn’t sure if we’d ever do anything like this again. I’d been playing these solo synth shows were I’m not physically doing anything on stage, it’s nice to physically play an instrument.
AD: OK so this is the final, and most important question. What would you say your guys’ Spirit Animals are?
SM: OH! Excellent question!
AP: According to an online survey, poll thing I did mine was an otter.
SM: I think I would be a turtle, a tortoise maybe.
AD: Yeah, they’re a little more dignified. The turtles older, more mature cousin.
Photos, words & interview by ASHLEIGH DYE