Ghost. Photo courtesy of the band
Since the band’s inception in 2008, theatrical group Ghost has shown that they know the key to success, as after each album in their small discography is released, they go on to bigger and better things, whether it be touring the States for the first time, coming back to the same venue only a short time later to a sold-out show, providing support for one of metal’s biggest bands, and oh, picking up a Grammy somewhere down the line. Prior to their show at Toyota Center with Iron Maiden on Wednesday, Free Press Houston spoke with one of the band’s Nameless Ghouls about the band’s success, influences and upbringings, and their reception across the internet.
FPH: You just started out touring the United States with Iron Maiden. How have the first few shows gone for you? Have the die-hard Maiden fans been accepting?
Nameless Ghoul: Amazingly well. I mean, coming onto a tour as support is very hard to predict; you can’t expect a lot of things. You can expect things from a practical point of view, like whatever you agree upon. But from a crowd point of view, you have to go in with a very, very open mind, especially with established and iconic bands like Iron Maiden. People are there to watch them, you know? You just have to make the best out of it. I must say that, a couple of shows down, they have been overwhelmingly accepting. Enormous responses from the crowd. If we don’t have them by the first 5 to 15 minutes, we definitely have them within the last 10, so I see that as a good sign. But you know, it differs when you go to different areas. A lot of the cities that we’re playing we’ve played several times on our own over the years. We’ve gone from venues that hold 500 up to 3,000 on our own, so I guess we’re not entirely unknown. But there is a difference between a few thousand people and 20,000.
FPH: I believe the first time I saw the band was at the House of Blues, your first time playing the city. I thought that kind of venue fit the band very well. On this tour you’re playing a basketball arena. Have you had to change up the shows over the years, when you play these large venues or massive festivals, being such a theatrical group? Can the people who see this set see the same one they would see at the House of Blues?
NG: Well, if you’re going to a show that we’re providing support for, or a large festival, you’re obviously going to see a condensed version. We have to shave off some fat from the show, so we have to stick to the so-called “bangers.” But yeah, I think especially for these shows, we include the most important things about a Ghost show. Papa [Emeritus] will come out, look very dapper, and we’ll play our significant songs. We make the best out of the 45 minutes we’re playing. That’s it, really. Most of the time we do that we come back a year or so later and do a full Ghost show. Every time we’ve done one so far it’s been bigger and bigger, so even if it’s more fun to do your own thing entirely, the tour has been going very well. We’ve been treated very well. That’s what you need to do to become a bigger and better band. It’s part of the job. We love playing, and we’re having a lot of fun.
FPH: Obviously people like to make comparisons to bands like Kiss, but I’ve heard that the goth bands like Bauhaus have also been big, if not bigger, inspirations to Ghost. If the opportunity was to randomly appear, which would you rather do a show with?
NG: Ah, that’s a good one. I must say, though, we’re not aiming to be like other bands that have a similar image, because it turns a little bit too much into a tribute fest. The distinction between us and Iron Maiden feels at least clear enough, compared to playing with bands like Kiss, King Diamond, and Alice Cooper. Playing with those groups make it feel like too much of an evening with makeup. So, with that being said, I’m tempted to say Bauhaus. Obviously, from a commercial point of view, touring with Kiss would make more economic sense. And Kiss were my first idols, ever. So of course it would be fantastic, but I’m also a big fan of Bauhaus as well, and that’s coming from more of an artistic point of view. I think that would be more interesting. That’s a tough one, though.
FPH: For some reason I can’t help but to draw similarities from Ghost to the Cramps. Were they an inspiration to you growing up in Sweden at all?
NG: For me personally, I like the band. Some of their records I’ve listened to a lot, like Songs the Lord Taught Us and Smell of Female. I’ve also been interested in their other stuff, but I don’t think they’ve ever been a significant influence, for me. But their attitudes have been. But they have not been extraordinarily influential, no.
FPH: There is tons of content of the band on the internet, whether it be live footage, interviews, fan pages, and a plethora conspiracy theories about your message as a band. Referring specifically to the ones that the ultra religious community write about, do you read that stuff?
NG: There are certain pages that I’ve seen. But overall, I try to stay away from social media as far as I can, because I’ve never been into that stuff. I’ve never had a Facebook account, no Instagram, never had Twitter. So if people see one with my name on it, it’s not me. I’m trying to avoid it, as I feel it’s a waste of one’s time and life, because you’re letting people into your life that have no business being in there. But every time I’ve heard about certain articles or videos, I have a hard time that they are for real. For me, that stuff is so unrealistically unintelligent that I have a hard time realizing that it’s not a joke. Most of that stuff is a joke, but if it’s not, I think it would be an errand for psychological and mental evaluation. I don’t know what to say about it without being funny or downright rude. I feel sorry for the people that spend their lives — if they’re honestly into that shit, they are wasting their time. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about forums in general, I’m talking about very specific ones.
FPH: There’s also many a post talking about how your music is not suitable for the religious community, or how the band would become a “superstar” band if the topic of Satan was to go away. I know fans perceive your music in different ways than the people who write these kinds of things, but have you ever been afraid that the group has or come close to crossing a line?
NG: Um, yes. I guess the answer is yes. From a point of view where, at the end of the day we are an entertainment act — we’re here to entertain people and make them happy — as opposed to the self-proclaimed “real” black metal bands, the one’s who are here to “destroy the world,” that’s never been our agenda. If you’re a puritan, I would assume that part of our shtick would come off as subversive or blasphemous, if you want. But at the end of the day, we’re singing about mankind, not anything else. It’s not about anything else; it’s about mankind and how men and women treat each other. It has a lot more to do with man and superstition than religion itself.
FPH: The band seemed to get very large, very quickly, or at least shortly after the second album was released, you were soon playing sold-out shows around the world. Was there a band pre-Ghost? As in, was the concept of Ghost a new idea for an old group, or was it something new at the right time?
NG: Yes and no. I was apart of several bands at one point, even while first starting out Ghost. So I was in a community where there was a bigger group of people in different bands at once. And Ghost was originally just a project, it was just a fun thing that was supposed to possibly blossom into something. And all of a sudden it exploded, and people were recruited out of proximity. All of a sudden it was, especially for me, a full-time commitment. I was always aiming at being a professional musician, obviously. At one point I was like, “Oh, that’s the train, and it’s leaving now.” So you have to quickly make your mind up- what are you going to do? You need to put your eggs in the basket.
Ghost performs with Iron Maiden on Wednesday, June 21 at Toyota Center.
Man and Superstition: An Interview with Ghost This was reposted for my personal reading use