As a little boy growing up in Soriano nel Cimino, how did you gravitate towards music? Did you have professional training?
In the village of Soriano there were small shops such as barber & taylor shops - all had instruments hanging on the walls. In between clients—or when there were no clients - anyone could play the mandolin or guitar or cello or clarinet….and that is how I was captured by music. I am self taught with no professional training.
You started your professional career as a pop star along the lines of The Four Freshman…how did this ricochet into a career in film?
I was more interested in writing my own music, especially for movies, rather than continue a hectic life "on the road" with the CARAVELS".
Whistling - many know you from your work with Morricone – when did you discover your talent for whistling?
During a recording session of music, Nino Rota asked if anyone in the orchestra could whistle - I was playing guitar then. No one came forward so I said that I could try "no commitment"! And that is how the quality of my whistle was discovered.
Can you tell me about your initial work with Ennio? How free were you to experiment?
My work with Ennio was always engaging. Often my task was to suggest alternative styles in the execution of his written music.
Do you ever feel that you haven't received enough credit for your work on those incredible westerns?
Yes, for sure!
Many people have guitar heroes and you're one of mine…I LOVE the sound of your guitar. Who were some of your influences?
I don't recall being influenced…I just played according to my feelings.
Can you describe those prolific days working in Italian genre cinema in the 60's and 70's? It must have been a very exciting time…
In those years we had so many wonderful directors; Fellini, Pasolini, Risi, Germi, Leoni etc and many good films were made. After the success of "A Fistfull of $$'s" we musicians were kept very busy. Also, the "CANTORI MODERNI di Alessandroni" were very much in demand and so yes, it was a very exciting (and busy) time.
I must admit that one of my FAVORITE scores of yours was for Jean Brismee's 1971 horror film La Terrificante notte del demonio aka The Devil Walks at Midnight. What are your memories of that picture?
I'm sorry, but after some 40 years - and a lot of music in between - I don't remember!
Who did those haunting female vocals in that film?
My late wife, Giulia De Mutiis.
Your work in the same year's Lady Frankenstein is also brilliant, fully exploiting that distinctive fuzz guitar of yours. What did you think of that film? How closely did you work with the American director Mel Welles?
The film was not bad! I don't recall working with Mel Welles. As was often the case, he may have left it up to my decision—to create the sound as I chose appropriate.
You worked with notorious Italian exploitation filmmaker Bruno Mattei on 1977's SS Experiment Camp (KZ9 - Lager di Sterminio). What are your thoughts on that picture?
On Mattei himself? No great masterpiece! In fact, very mediocre, both music and film. I worked willingly with Mattei as I found him to be a very nice man.
You worked on two adult films in 1980 with the great Joe D'Amato (Massachessi). What was he like? Did you take a different approach to scoring sex films?
D'Amato was really amusing. No different approach but to write music for adult films I was obliged to think erotically!
Your last credited film is 1998's Trinity Goes West . Any plans to return to film composing?
I would willingly compose more film scores but in Italy these days everything is motivated by politics for political ends. That is not for me. I am a free man and I would want my music free of obligations or constraints. Anyhow, I am glad that publishers are reprinting a lot of my music.
Your scores for horror films were SO eccentric and interesting. Do you watch horror? Have you heard any music in horror that you really liked?
No, I have never watched or listened to horror [except to compose for those horror movies I wrote the score to]. I simply followed my instincts. The bottom line is that I LOVE to create new sounds all the time and horror movies were great for that!