How did you start your musical career and how did it develop over time?
After a few years playing with several local rock bands, I started earnest in 1974 with my very first official tour. At that time I was playing jazz rock, but I had the chance to tour with a more country pop band called Loy & Altomare.
In 1975 I started playing with Goblin (http://goblinofficial.com). I also started working solo, mostly involved in scores for horror movies. From ’75 to ’90 I did many, many tours and I spent a lot of time in recording studios. My solo career was particularly satisfying at that time. Towards the end of the ‘80s the music industry started to experience a crisis, especially in Italy, and I could not stay afloat unless I’d accept to play far more mainstream genres – which I wasn’t willing to do. Luckily I had learned a lot about computers as a hobby, so I started working on developing software and videogames.
In ’98 the Canadian company with whom I was working on a videogame invited me to come to Canada for a visit and I never left. I’ve been living in the GTA since then. Here I got busy playing as a session musician and as a solo artist. I put together a trio called Orco Muto that used to play Goblin music but in a more experimental vein. In 2005 the other Goblin members got back in touch and we started collaborating again, this time long distance. In 2009 we started touring again and our fans were very excited about our reunion – we toured worldwide for many years and sold out huge venues in the largest urban centres such as LA, New York, many European capitals etc. Meanwhile I also continued to play solo and in 2013 I released my first solo album, Creatures from a Drawer.
Who inspired you to play prog music when you started?
My biggest inspiration was Gentle Giant, I loved them. I also liked Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer and all of the UK prog bands of that time. After several years I started to get inspired more by fusion bands like the Weather Report. Today I still find Joe Zawinul extremely inspiring, together with classical music and any kind of music where I can perceive an insightful, experimental and creative soul.
How do you think the future of your music career will develop from here?
I am working on a new album at the moment. Now that Goblin is less active I have time to develop my own band, with whom I hope to tour in future. The band formation I’ll bring to 5/4 Fest is experimental – for me, this is extremely important. I am not so interested in planning so much as in experimenting to see what works.
I am also quite involved in 3D technology and I am working on a music-related project in 3D and Virtual Reality. I think in the near future people will be quite involved in listening to music using 3D technology, for instance at concerts, and I want to be part of that development when it gets here. Today it is hard to imagine the future, and when we try we often do a very poor job. So I cannot tell how exactly the intersection of 3D and music will evolve, but I know I want to be part of it.
Did you have to overcome any substantial obstacles in your career?
I don’t think I’ve had huge obstacles, I feel I’ve always been somewhat lucky. But one thing that did not agree with me was the way of scratching one’s back so they’ll scratch yours, that I experienced in my original Country – that constant exchange of favours that would allow you to keep working. For me this was always a huge limitation on my freedom and I never liked it, never mind being good at it.
What about any unexpected opportunities?
Being able to work as a professional musician is in itself a huge opportunity. Getting together with Goblin was a great opportunity for sure, as well as working with the many talented people with whom I’ve collaborated over time. When I was still living in Rome I used to go to the bar in the RCA studios building where musicians, producers, film directors and all sorts of artists used to congregate for a drink and a chat. Often I had good opportunities because I was in the right place at the right time. As I said, I’ve been lucky.
What’s the instrument in your possession that you value most?
I have two – the first is my ARP2006, an analogue synthesizer from early 1970s, which was my first love. The second is a Yamaha CS80, which was a revolutionary machine for the late ‘70s – early ‘80s period. Every keyboard has its own tone and personality. Of course I also have a lot of digital keyboards, of which my favourite is probably the Roland Jupiter 80. Nowadays I use mostly digital instruments and plug-ins rather than analogue synths.
What’s your favourite song in your repertoire?
They change all the time. Today I’d say a couple of songs from my solo album, Dialogue (https://maurizioguarini.bandcamp.com/track/dialogue) and Aniens Comma 21 (https://maurizioguarini.bandcamp.com/track/aniens-comma-21).
What is your favourite venue to play at?
I haven’t played many venues in Toronto, but I guess my favourite for the moment is the Opera House. It has an interesting personality. However, I cannot compare it to some amazing venues around the globe, I guess my favorite is the Melbourne Town Hall – playing there for me was an exceptional experience. It has the largest organ in the southern hemisphere. It was so large and loud that it could easily compete with all the amplified instruments in the band. I loved playing it.
Did you ever suffer from stage fright?
I’m always nervous before going on stage, but it is not a debilitating anxiety. It is rather that kind of excitement that gives you energy. When you see that people come out to hear you play, you want to make them happy. You feel responsible for their emotions. That kind of nervousness is propulsive and creative.
What do you think of the Toronto prog scene and what could we do to improve it?
Initiatives like 5/4 Fest are great, there are many people in Toronto who like progressive music and who need opportunities to get together. And since prog fans are far from ‘normal’ people, we can afford to be creative and do things off the beaten path. If 5/4 Fest gets a good attendance, it could definitely be the start of something new.
If more people listened to prog, how would it change the world in 10 years?
People mostly listen to what the radio and especially the TV brings to them. If more people listened to prog, the world would definitely become a more open-minded place. All sorts of people from different backgrounds and walks of life like prog, but its distribution is certainly limited by its non-commercial nature. If record labels aspired to make art rather than money, at least in some limited way, it would stand a chance of getting more widely known. In the ‘70s, artists had much more freedom and for this reason that became a decade of exploration and creativity that developed in many new directions. Today a few record labels have pretty much a monopoly over the music industry, so music has become far more homogeneous and far less free.
Maurizio Guarini from Maurizio Guarini Circle was interview by Nico Mira, Organizer, Day 2