Ghost have cemented themselves in the mainstream heavy music seen as an entertaining and theatrical metal band fusing wonderful poppy melodies with sludgy, doom-style guitar riffs. Whether through their music, live show or imagery, the band has amassed a large cult following, which has seem them play the main stages at some of the world’s biggest music festivals such as Coachella, Soundwave, Reading and Leeds. With the upcoming release of their third full-length LP, ‘Meliora’, Killyourstereo.com was able to catch up with a Nameless Ghoul to talk about the influences behind the band’s imagery and music, the introduction of their new (or not so new) frontman as well as the new album itself.
Hello, am I speaking with a Nameless Ghoul?
Johnny from KYS, how are you going?
I’m good, it is quite a nice summer day here, still quite cold however.
Yeah, it’s freezing down here at the moment too. How’s your day been so far?
Well, to be honest, my day has really just started. However, I’ve got a full day of laundry ahead of me.
And where are you right now?
I am at just home in Sweden.
General but necessary tasks like laundry aside, what’s a typical day for a Nameless Ghoul, especially while on tour?
It does really depend on the time of the band cycle, as it does take up a lot of our time, on tour, some in the band enjoy really just sleeping and beginning their days in the afternoon, while others in the band enjoy being active and exercising, while personally I try to move around, my thing really is record stores. I really do like to check them out.
I’m sure you have been to quite a few in your time touring the world?
Yes, and each store is different, I mean some can be really great and some can be terrible, it comes down to the store and whether they have their shit together, I do always go in with the purpose of finding something.
On the topic of touring, what can you tell us about Papa III? You’re about to embark on a mammoth headlining tour in the US and I would like to know if he has transitioned into the band nicely yet?
We have really yet to tour so, I would say the transition has been relatively easy, we have played a couple off shows, but we don’t really consider that to be touring so much, we do have a couple dates in August and mid-September is the bigger tour but, for the time being, Papa III has eased in quite well, but in saying that when we tour we don’t travel together, Papa just appears before we go on…
He seems like quite an illustrious character; so with the unveiling of the new Papa also came obviously the new masks that are worn by you guys, what was the inspiration behind them?
We were really striving to bring something of our own in, so inspired really by art-decor we wanted to have a more unique representation of ourselves rather than our old masks, which could really just be bought at a store.
You’re very much a visual band with art being a huge aspect of the group, even viewing film and cinema as a form of art. I know you guys are very influenced by horror films, even noted in the new clip of ‘Cirice’, which reminded me a lot of Carrie, what would you say are some of your favourite horror films?
Carrie is definitely one of the A grades. Movies like The Shining, The Exorcist, The Omen are also some of the classics and ones I personally love, as well as filmmakers such as Romero.
I actually heard ‘Meliora’ today, in an advance copy I received, I did notice, in my perspective, that it is a pretty drastic change from ‘Infestissumam’, maybe more a return to the ‘Opus Eponymous’ feel in that it is definitely a lot darker, you would have these theatrical hooks and then suddenly you would get punched in the gut by a Black Sabbath sounding riff.
In our quest to create a sort of archaeological rock it is important to borrow from the old to sound like the future, and in saying that, we did notice that in ‘Infestissumam’, we ended up sounding a bit too nostalgic and another thing that I noticed, as a guitarist, was that ‘Infestissumam’ was not very guitar heavy, and didn’t have many riffs, and it’s something you only notice after playing those songs for 200 shows, and you can’t really notice it in a production setting really, writing songs isn’t really just the whole band together writing, it’s more of a small collective of people and something we really tried to focus on was the way the drums sounded. For the past two albums we really kind of had the drum lines written for the drummer and just passed them on and said, “here play this, record this” and it ended up sounding somewhat stiff.
And so moving of from the instrumental side of the album, lyrically what is the story behind ‘Meliora’. Your last releases seemed to follow a general theme, can you shed some light on the theme for this?
‘Meliora’s’ general theme follows “the absence of God” and it’s much like the old phrase, ‘when the cat’s out of the house the mice stands on the table’. In the absence of God, we see many of these masters coming and trying to usurp the throne and we don’t try to provide answers, so much as ask the questions.
What was it like recording with Klas Åhlund? I briefly researched him and it seems as though he has done a lot of work with pop style artists, I’m sure this was something a little different for him?
Klas actually is not so far off from metal as his pedigree might make you believe, obviously he has done work as a pop-song writer. However, before he did begin to undertake work in that aspect, he was in a grindcore band, which soon changed to hardcore punk, and then moved onto becoming a big pop hit machine.
Wow, being in a grindcore band is basically world’s apart from producing hits for Vanessa Hudgens and Kylie Minogue as I read on the web.
Well, we knew we were in the right hands because, as un-sexy as it is to talk about money, making a rock record is not lucrative. He spent five months of his time on the record where as he would usually spend a few weeks writing and producing and sending off a pop song; if you met him you would know he is not as removed from metal as one would believe.
With Ghost becoming such a prominent name in the hard rock and metal scene obviously remaining anonymous has become a struggle, especially on some of the mammoth tours and festivals you’ve begun undertaking; will we see a KISS-style unmasking of Ghost anytime soon?
I can truthfully say that Ghost will not stop operating how it already does, for the past four or five years we’ve been operating publicly. We’ve discussed between each other that the day will eventually come when people know who we are, however, in saying that, looking at us on Wikipedia, clicking a link of our real names and seeing who we are will not change the way in which we operate, there will be some day when we may be involved in other projects and people will know us from both but, for lack of a better phrase, it will always remain somewhat of a ‘Slipknot style operation’ in that people may know who we are, but that will not change the imagery of Ghost.
It’s like that you respect the imagery that you’re known for [and] it’s really, what the fans love.
When you go on tour, is there anything you have to bring from home, or miss whenever you’re on the road?
Truthfully, I like missing things when we go on tour.
It just makes it that much better when you get back and get to have it.
Yeah, that’s exactly right, but I guess most would say candy, I don’t really like anything other than Swedish candy so I find it very easy to not eat anything like chocolate while on tour. The exciting thing about touring is seeing what other countries have to offer, like when you go to Argentina and you can have all kinds of meat. If you wanted to just eat meatballs and lingonberry jam from your uh… mother’s bosom its probably not suited that you be in a touring band.
Well, I guess that brings us to the end, thanks for chatting today, I wish you luck in your future endeavours, I’m sure you have a big year ahead of you and I hope you have a great rest of the day, thank you.
Yes, thank you, I hope you have a nice rest of the evening. Goodbye.
‘Meliora’ is due out August 21 via Spinefarm / Loma Vista / Caroline Australia.