November 5, 2015 Interview – A Nameless Ghoul of Ghost
Sometimes the things we know the least about are the most compelling. In a world where personal privacy has become obsolete and everyone’s lives are hung out on a public forum daily, Swedish band Ghost choose to keep their identities concealed. Known for a mystical, theatrical presence, the band’s story began back in 2008, and since, they have become an international phenomena dominating Heavy Metal. Creating an interest because of their anonymity, fans across the globe quickly realize that Ghost is not a gimmick and their music is one of deeply thought-out concepts and carefully constructed songs. Now taking their cultural impact to new heights with their 2015 album Meliora, Ghost stands strong in who they are, or who they are not. Recently we sat down with one of the Nameless Ghouls behind Ghost’s music for a closer look at their vision, Pop culture, touring, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Ghost has really seen a great deal of success since the band’s formation around seven years ago. What has your time with Ghost been like thus far?
Nameless Ghoul – It has been very…I would not know what to refer to in terms of touring because I was never in a band even close to this successful. It has been very informative. I have learned a lot and have experienced a lot of stuff I only dreamed of, that was my goal. As much as you develop musically, you develop as a person too, and it has been wonderful; so much joy, fun, travels, and what not. It is very fulfilling and a beautiful thing, we are very happy and grateful, every one of us.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, one could imagine. One of the aspects of Ghost is the mysticism behind each musician a part of the band. That mysticism is really interesting. As a musician, what has the experience been like keeping the mystique of Ghost potent?
Nameless Ghoul – It has been a very good thing for many reasons. First of all, a big problem, at least for me personally, would be that I would be recognized and I would lose my mind more than I already did being myself. I would be even more out of my wits. We decided early on to be mysterious and anonymous because this was not about us as persons other than what we do as art. I do not want to be a Rock Star myself. I do not want people to know anything about me except for what I want them to know. I am not interested in presenting myself and my feelings, that is not what this is about, but I do love lots of artists that do that. I dig Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and what not, singing about their problems, their lives, and feelings. I have got nothing against that, but this time around, we did not want to be those persons. We did not want to put ourselves out there. In a very egotistical artistic community, we decided to go the other way and decided that no one should be able to figure out what I had for breakfast, or whom I am dating, or who I am. That is not what it is about. We wanted to create something else, in a time and age where everyone can find out everything about everyone: who they are, where they were born, etc. What is appealing and interesting in a world like that? The lack of ability to find everything about everyone must be appealing and mysterious, so let’s do that. That is how it came about.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is really cool because mysticism is not seen too often in modern Rock-n-Roll. Like you said, everyone knows everything about everyone, but it seems Ghost really relishes in bringing back this classic theatrical style, and audiences are loving it as well.
Nameless Ghoul – I certainly love it, and as I said, I do not dislike bands that do not do it this way. I love bands like that. I actually envy them because there are so many times I’m like, “Oh fucking shit, couldn’t we have been a trio playing Punk Rock or something just for the use of it,” because there is quite a lot of work behind this during tours and what not. I would like to think so as well because we try to keep it fun, at least for ourselves. We are serious in what we put out there musically and in a lot of the stuff we do. We also want to have fun. We are entertainers, we are not politicians or diplomats. We are not here to save the world, or maybe we are, but we are in the entertainment business, and that is what is about. Every artist that ever is or ever was, although some had more important stuff than others to say, but at the end of the day, you will still find them at some bar with two chicks on their cock and blow up their nose, so, that is for that (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Yes, you are absolutely right. Ghost recently released their third overall studio record, Meliora, back in August. What was the writing and recording process like for this record?
Nameless Ghoul – We set out to create an album that would sound more expensive and more levitated than the previous two because we had this vision of taking the band into a world, a future world so to speak, but we wanted to use Art-Deco future visions. That is because today’s future visions, Star Trek and what not, is not sexy and does not appeal to us. We wanted something very elegant and classy, so we took the vision of the future like ’20s and ’30s Art-Deco metropolis style. We wanted to write music that sounded very urban and tall skyscraper building majestic, but it would sound like a world where our reality is out of the picture for so many reasons. Where man discovered and set their own rules, so mankind itself got rid of both good and bad spiritual forces. Maybe what happens when they start hitting the ground, the bottom of it all, they think, “Hey, there has to be more than this.” Maybe there is and maybe there is not. Maybe they will start longing for it after so many loops with maths and physics. Maybe people start looking for other dimensions and holes in there for spirits. Given that idea of the album, we started to write songs that would feel and sound like that, to us at least. That is how it came about.
CrypticRock.com – It is a very interesting concept and, as you mentioned, this record is broader in sound. It seems even more textured than the last two releases, as far as the music?
Nameless Ghoul – Yes, we have worked with producers before. I would not say not to this extent, but we certainly worked a different way with a producer this time. We presented very clearly what we wanted to do, what we did not want to do, what kind of material, songs, and lyrics do we have, and how we wanted it to start out and turn out exactly; what is the idea behind this album. Obviously we got Klas Åhlund on and started hammering it out. He is a sharp critic, this guy, and a very clever man. He has a strong will, as do we, so we had a lot of clashes. Not about like how should the chorus go, nothing like that, but more like how you build up a song. We were often like that, which is pretty bad that we think we know it all, but we are aware that we obviously do not. We have lots and lots to learn. We learned so much from him and it was a beautiful thing. All in all, I am very satisfied with the recordings, and it turned out like the vision we had.
CrypticRock.com – The album is a very strong cohesive piece. Ghost’s music is all about creating an atmosphere. Now, the atmosphere is clear in the band’s live performance. How do you think it differ for you as a musician trying to get into the vibe of the music on stage opposed what the audience see’s through their eyes?
Nameless Ghoul – Interesting question. This time around, we actually, more than ever, tried to look at the songs, like how will this one feel live? Not even that, we said right from the start, “Let’s write a few songs that would sound amazing live.” As for recording them, that is very hard. I will never see this band as a member of the audience. I have never seen us live, except for on video. I will never grasp what this band is as much as someone looking at it from the outside, because I am in the middle of the storm. I will never grasp what the band actually is, because it is constantly in our minds. It is an organic thing, we not only grow but also the shape of the band looks very different from within our minds then concrete picture that other people, the audience or listeners, get from gathering pieces from what we present; whether it is live, or artwork, or interviews. So, as for that, as we are behind the wheels of this thing, we can go anywhere we want, where as everyone else’s opinion or their feeling for the band is the way they view us or the band. It is very strange and it is hard to understand how it will come out live and things like that. Everything is hard to predict, but you do the best you can.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, of course. It is interesting to figure out the different perspectives like that. The band recently completed another successful North American tour. What was this tour like for you?
Nameless Ghoul – To be completely honest, I was completely in a blur when it first started, I yet to understand I was on tour actually (laughs). I was just thrown in here in a tumbler. Let’s put it this way, I was very happy still. It takes a week or something to get your head around what you are doing and where you are at.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, of course it takes time to get acclimated, completely understandable. With the positive reception that Ghost has received internationally, and particularly in North America, of course there always comes negativity as well, meaning that Ghost is misconceived by some people with the imagery and lyrical content. How does the band approach that sort of negative backlash that sometimes it receives because of the misconceptions that some people have about the imagery and the lyrical content?
Nameless Ghoul – Obviously we know that, and we are aware of that. That is just a punch you have to roll with. In a sense, we have been taking it on the chin, so we are aware of it. At the same time, it is what it is. We never even thought we would reach even one sentence in the mainstream media newspaper, so we are happy to be in there. They can say whatever the fuck they want to. As long as we are mentioned, I am happy. Also, the thing is that obviously people don’t realize that music, pure music, is an entity in itself. A pure musical work is maybe just a song. Let’s say it like this, a musical work is just sounds. Then you add what instruments you play, you might play electric guitars, bass, and drums. With that you have added some value to that song. Then you add lyrics, and that adds even more value to that. Then you add distorted guitar and all of a sudden its called Heavy Metal, even though it might be a Pop song.
Then you add an artist to that which might add even more value to the song. For example, all of a sudden there is a Springsteen, or Madonna, or Bono that you have to think something about to listen to the song. Then you add artwork of the album, that you happen to like or not like, which adds one more value to the song. We have done exactly the same thing except that we have removed the artist and have replaced it with comic book characters, or demons, or fantasy creatures, or whatever you like to call it. So we do the exact same thing. If people want to say that we are in costumes and masks to conceal lack of quality of the music, they can fuck off because everyone is doing that. Everyone has the same amount of value to their music, but in different shapes. No one’s music is more or less pretentious or pure, it is the same bullshit all over, in my mind at least. That is an interesting thought I would like to share (laugh).
CrypticRock.com – You make a very valid point there, agreed 100% there. Now, I had one last question for you pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Nameless Ghoul – We love Horror movies. That is basically us travelling through childhood in a funny way because that is home for us. We were brought up like everyone else in America, the same thing in Sweden, we were brought up on media. Movies were bread and butter for us. Not living in a village 500 years ago renders you having to have lots of phases in your life, and an imaginary village, and our friends are movie stars. You know what I mean? We were brought up in a fantasy world where the guy reading the news on television was part of our community. Movies and music are extremely important for us and they have been our friends. Music and movies are very tightly connected to us.
CrypticRock.com – Another great point. Do you have any favorite Horror films that you turn to that you enjoy?
Nameless Ghoul – I am a fan of the three classics. Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Omen (1976), and The Exorcist (1973) are my absolute favorite ones of all. I have never been much of a Slasher fan. I find the scary happenings in an everyday community, like The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby, are way more scary because it is set in every day to day life. When something scary happens there, it makes it so much more vibrant and vivid in a sense then when there is a monster coming up with two kitchen knives (laughs). That doesn’t scare me that much.
CrypticRock.com – Understood, and there is a certain type of atmosphere to those films as well, as that you had mentioned, films such as The Exorcist.
Nameless Ghoul – Yes, it is like something that lurks. It creeps into you and it is like spiritually dangerous. It is not just a bad guy in a closet or under the water, or whatnot. I am a fan of Stephen King’s literature as well, for many reasons, he is brilliant. King is King.