INSPIRED: Italy’s Gaethan Project on the Creepy-Retro-Psychobilly Sound of ALIBI’s ‘Freak and Roll’
When ALIBI’s Sam Wale began working with Rome-based Gaethan Project earlier this year, he was immediately drawn in by the music production team’s unique creative approach and authentic retro sounds. The talented trio of producers-performers had an uncanny knack for nailing the vibes they were asked to create, with each track its own virtual way-back machine. Whether journeying into an ‘80s new wave dance-off, graveyard goth party or punk rock Christmas, you were right there immersed in it all.
Four albums in, Gaethan Project’s latest creation ---- is one badass trip into a late ‘70s/early ‘80s scene where goth, rockabilly and punk collide for an epically creepy funhouse romp. An homage to Grindhouse-style horror, this album’s campy tracks conjure up all kinds of Halloween imagery, from spooky scenes and ghost hunting to the macabre and bloody nightmares.
With Halloween just around the corner, we caught up with Gaethan Project’s Manuel Contreras to delve into their inspiration for the new album, specialized approach to making music and next ambitions:
ALIBI: First, who is Gaethan Project and how do you work together?
Manuel: Our unique work approach is a blend of two different ways of writing. Every album we make is composed by Alex Mannucci and me. While he’s very creative hands on the instrument, tweaking different sounds and plugins, writing things straight on the computer, I prefer (on the other hand) to start writing my ideas away from my instruments. Everywhere, but not in the studio! Otherwise, I’d think too much as a guitarist or I’d be stuck in a more complex, harmonically speaking, way of thinking. I like to sing and record with my phone every single thought I have in mind. My teacher used to say, “Music is a state of your mind; if you can think it, sing it… then, you can play it!” Francesco Procacci, finally, is the one that helps us to put things together, always keeping our feet on the ground.
ALIBI: What was your inspiration for the "Freak and Roll" album?
Manuel:Alex and I have known each other since we were kids. We grew up in the same neighborhood in Gaeta, a town by the sea halfway between Naples and Rome (hence, the name Gaethan Project). We lived in a small place that hosted a U.S. NATO Military Base for a long time. I remember growing up with a lot of Americans around, hanging out in pubs and clubs, singing and getting crazy listening to rock, metal and punk music.
We were 16 years old and together we used to listen to all that kind of stuff, A LOT. One of our favorite tunes was Metallica’s version of “Last Caress” by The Misfits… we also loved wearing their skull face logo on our T-shirts. Since then, we have played all kinds of different music, but Alex was definitely more into the heavier stuff. He has been very active in the Italian DIY hardcore punk scene since the late ‘90s, as a co-producer of Italian and foreign hardcore punk bands with his label Velen(A), and also organizing benefit punk concerts in Rome.
A few months ago, we were working on the “80s Goth” album for ALIBI, and some of the reference songs Sam shared with us were by The Cramps, a late ‘70s/early ‘80s psychobilly band whose horror/sci-fi, b-movie iconography and sound were adopted by the goth crowd. We made a song for that album called “Outcast” based on that vibe, and we were very happy about how it came out. Alex and I had a lot of fun writing it… and the way he sang it was so convincing that I thought: “We nailed it! Why don’t we make an entire album based on that specific concept?”
ALIBI: How did you get involved with ALIBI on it?
Manuel: After we delivered “80s Goth,” the ALIBI team was very pleased about the style and production sound of the album, so we shared our new idea with Sam, making a playlist that could describe what "Freak and Roll" was about: songs with that kind of retro horror, but also ironic thematics with monsters, freaks… and crimes. Psychobilly/rockabilly music blended with ‘70s punk stuff like the old Misfits, and other styles with creepy atmospheres, textures and sound effects. They were pretty happy about the idea, as we can see.
ALIBI: How did Gaethan Project approach this album?
Manuel: I’m involved with Gaethan Project on all kinds of productions for TV and advertising. We are a team based in Rome (Italy) -- three producers and performers working together on a wide range of sounds and styles, always trying to keep a distinctive creative approach. I’m a professional guitar player, music teacher and songwriter with international experience (I had the great opportunity to work for two years in London and four in Washington, DC).
In this album, apart from playing guitars, bass and programming drums, I co-wrote and co-produced all the songs with Alex. He is a pianist/keyboard player, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, experienced in a variety of genres, from electronic to heavy metal. Alex also wrote the lyrics and sang all the songs in this album. Francesco is our sound engineer (Pro Tools-certified and teacher). He also co-produced and mixed the whole album in his Kate Academy studio, magically finalizing it with lots of different mixing versions for the mastering engineer.
ALIBI: What are you most excited about with the release of “Freak and Roll”?
Manuel: We are all very excited about this release because we think it’s kind of audacious and unique and it has a very distinctive vibe. Not sure there is something similar in other library music catalogs.
ALIBI: Where do you envision the music being used when you think of your top choice?
Manuel: We thought about that from the very beginning of our writing process, trying to work on something versatile, usable also on some cool teen-focused TV Shows or cartoons. We actually pictured some “Scooby-Doo” scenes with our “Spicy Bath” or “Ghost Hunting” songs… or maybe “Dancing Bones” and “Just Like Me” on the new season of “Wednesday” (Wednesday Addams). Why not?!
ALIBI: Describe some of your previous projects for ALIBI.
Manuel: Gaethan Project has been working for ALIBI Music since February 2023. Since then, we’ve released three other albums before “Freak and Roll.” The first, called “80s Waves,” is a retro-modern mixtape of 18 instrumental songs with some of the most iconic sounds, textures and flavors inspired by the 1980s. The second was “80s Goth,” inspired by dark and gothic bands like The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus and Depeche Mode. We made nine songs in this collaboration with other great composers. We then made our daring, 12-track holiday album called “Christmas Rock,” which features energetic and fun original songs with vocals, painting a vivacious portrait of Christmas – from heavy songs and punk carols to emotional rock ballads.
ALIBI: Are you doing anything exciting right now that you'd like to share with the world?
Manuel: Right now, we are waiting for a new release called “Retro Orchestral Pop,” a collaboration with great composers coming up soon for ALIBI Music. We are really excited about it; it will be fantastic! Meanwhile, we are working on another album called “Minimal Guitars,” and we have many different ideas in mind. We are all big fans of Maestro Ennio Morricone, so our dream is to make a “Hybrid Trailerized Western” album; not a typical Spaghetti Western type of work, but something a little dirtier, more daring… let's say a new “Freak and Roll” album dressed in a cowboy suit and boots, set in present days, ready to ride "big risers and hits."
ALIBI Delivers on Creepy with New Production Music for Halloween
These albums and curated playlist are heavy on spooky, spine-tingling, haunting cues ideal for promos, trailers, seasonal ads, games and more.
Giving editors extra ammunition for their Halloween projects, ALIBI Music has dropped new production music sure to ratchet up the creepiness factor. The three new albums – “Creepy Magical Mystery,” “Freak and Roll” and “Psychological Thriller” – were created for use across a wide array of projects, including promos, trailers, seasonal advertising, games and more.
Check them out here:
Creepy Magical Mystery (11 Tracks, 372 Audio Files,
This album invites listeners to enter the enigmatic world of creepy magical mystery! Unravel high-quality orchestral cues, inspired by beloved dark, gothic, and spooky fantasy adventures. Let enchanted woodwinds and delicate bells twinkle, while strings and brass build, waltz and gallop below.
Freak and Roll (10 Tracks, 425 Audio Files,
An homage to Grindhouse-style horror, this album spans surf guitar/retro rock sounds all the way to punk. Its tracks conjure up all kinds of Halloween imagery, from spooky scenes and ghost hunting to the macabre and bloody nightmares. These campy horror songs will delight kids and cult classic connoisseurs alike! Ideal for TV/film content, network promos and seasonal advertising.
Psychological Thriller (12 Tracks, 671 Audio Files,
A haunting, chilling and terrifying collection of tension building horror cues, tapping into the deepest and darkest corners of the psyche. Dissonant string risers, mangled signature sounds, apocalyptic brass and braams mingle with twisted vocal FX and slow thunderous drums, ticking and various foley. These tracks are perfectly arranged and crafted for use in trailers/promos for slow-burn thrillers and gripping psychological horror, as well as survival horror video games.
In addition, ALIBI has curated a special Halloween playlist aptly called “Halloween Songs” with 25 royalty-free spooky songs with lyrics carefully designed to produce spine-tingling shivers and playful grins.
Haunting cues from ALIBI Music have been used in the trailers promoting such notable projects as “