Interview: Ghost

[METAL] When life gets hectic and chaotic, sometimes you need to embrace that chaos as natural and a part of your own individuality. At least, that’s what Ghost believes. Ghost are a Swedish doom rock/metal band that certainly have kept the spirit of theatricality and technique in metal alive over the past six years. With complete anonymity, the band, which is comprised of five masked “nameless ghouls” and a skeletal pope vocalist named Papa Emeritus III (one and two have been “fired” from the band after each successive album release) subvert common Christian symbols not out of hatred, but to simply show that some dogmas aren’t as they appear to be all the time. Their lyricism, though certainly dark, feels very relevant  and timely in regards to the zeitgeist of modern culture. And their musicianship has gotten a fair amount of attention. Dave Grohl has even worked with the band, and the group has just come off a Best Metal Performance Grammy win at this year’s awards. With the door to darkness now open to them and with an upcoming show at the Rapids Theatre on Sunday, April 17, The Public spoke with one of the nameless ghouls about their recent success and how the band operates musically and personally.

This year is already so huge for you guys coming off of your first Grammy win. If anything, what did that win signify to you more than anything else?
How we perceive it is that it is an eye opening thing for people who are interested in things like that, like promoter X and Y. But first and foremost is that it’s a big box of opportunity. It opens up a lot of doors for you, but you ultimately have to decide whether those are doors you want to go through.

You said that while tackling the writing of Meliora, you wanted a more guitar-centric sound. That being said, there’s a lot of songs that sound inspired by a lot of classic rock and early metal albums. Was this a place you looked to for inspiration this time?
I think we’ve always been influenced by stuff like that. When starting work on the album, we had three “black” albums on the wall that we looked at for guidance. We wanted something that was very head-on in terms of clear instrumentation, and for that we looked at “Back in Black.” We also wanted it to have the same muscles as [Metallica’s] “Black Album.” And we wanted the playfulness and out of the box thinking of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. But for throwing around riffs, it’s always a lot of Rainbow, a lot of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Scorpions…classic stuff.

You use the term “pop hymns” to describe how you view your music. Do you think that even though the lyrics may be offputting to some people that your sound and your pop sensibility grabs people that otherwise would shy away?
Possibly. I honestly don’t know. I think that regardless of what we play, we’re still reaching a lot of people who don’t care whether you’re offensive or not. There is a big difference between the English speaking public and the non-English speaking public. Here in Sweden, “He Is” has been constantly on the radio for the past four or five months. There’s a lot lost in translation and a lot of cultural difference there.

Besides music, what are some other pieces of art that inspire you all the most?
We’ve all been very into film. I grew up in a liberal household, so there were a lot of films like The Shining and Jaws that I would watch when I was too little probably, so that’s stayed with me for sure.

You’ve said before that the theme of Meliora is living with the absence of God in the world. In light of recent events from around the world and many people’s personal feelings in this day and age, do you feel you’ve accurately captured some of the zeitgeist right now with the album?
I think what we are saying, especially now, when there is…well let’s call it the trauma that comes from linear religion is very contemporary, and it’s highly newsworthy. I choose not to go too deep into this, but we are singing about the state of the world, the conflicting nature of religion, and about how in the western world, we’ve been sort of force fed this notion that if you do this and this you’ll get to heaven.



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