Ghost B.C are not the kind of band you forget in a hurry. Clad head to toe in gothic robes, with a front man who resembles a high-priest from the fiery depths of Hell, all is not what it seems when they take the stage to perform in a multitude of musical styles. Formed in 2008 in Linköping, Sweden, they have been sweeping a storm throughout the world as of late, completing both a American and European tour. We caught up with Papa Emeritus and his Nameless Ghouls to talk about life on the road, Meloria, and the absence of God…
S] How are you finding the tour so far? It must be good for the soul to be out there playing again!
NG] “We had a year off before this tour…well not a year off really, we wrote and recorded and album in that year! But we’ve been out and about since September and it’s a lot of fun touring America and Europe.”
S] What do you guys to for Christmas? Did you relax or have you been constantly writing new stuff?
NG] “We generally spend time with our family and friends, have a bit of a break from Ghost!”
S] You guys have a very vast, technical, and theatrical show- what are the biggest challenged you face in pulling a Ghost show off?
NG] “Well, the major challenge is getting it all right of course aha. It’s something that has developed over the years, how we move and what we say on-stage, how we play, how we dress…it’s all changed. As far as putting on a show nowadays goes, it’s all thanks to the crew. Setting up the stage is the most difficult part, especially what with every venue and every stage space being really different- have have to accommodate for that.”
S] I feel like there is an uplifting element to your music- you have horror influenced, comedy influences, tongue-in-cheek stuff. If it your aim to uplift your audience?
NG] “Yeah, definitely. Our goal is to entertain. As much as there are many ways to entertain people, this is the way we decide to do it.”
S] I’ve noticed that there are a lot of younger fans at your recent shows who enjoy your imagery. With a lot of black metal bands you don’t get this uplifting feeling that you get at a Ghost show.
NG] “I know what you mean, I get that with those kinds of bands it’s the kind of image they want to put out and the way they want people to feel, that’s that’s not how we want people to feel, not bleak. I could maybe make music like that in another band, but not for Ghost. I’d say 99.9% of bands are very aware of the image they want and aim to project, on-stage and in the media, even the most indie rock bands who look like they turn up by accident to rehearsals, they know what they’re doing, right down to the fucking t-shirt they’re wearing.”
S] In terms of outside influences that feed into Ghost material, what inspires you personally?
NG] “A lot of movies and TV shows, visual stuff. Even architecture and the art of buildings. The countryside, the city, different cultures, traveling….anything that I find interesting! We all enjoy old horror movies, I hate to namedrop though. It tends to be subtle things, like the way certain characters move in a film and they capture a certain mood, we take that and adapt it to our own show to revive that feeling. Like the way we look at and dress each other, could be influenced by a certain scene in a movie. We don’t actually take much influence from metal music or the world of metal- we don’t want to do something that people have seen before.”
Q. In terms of the writing process, do you find yourself noting things down as you travel or do you all have to sit down together and plan things meticulously?
NG] “We definitely jot things down on the road- not specifically music, but definitely visual and performance ideas, or how to promote a new single, that kind of thing. Musically, we don’t sit down and have concrete writing sessions, so I guess the ideas for music are organic also, things just tend to flow naturally. We create things out of joy but also as a way of venting, of letting out frustration, which is only natural. If you aren’t inspired but you’re forced to create something, I can guarantee it will turn out shit. Many songs we hear on the radio, even in metal, are probably written in a haste. Mind you, not all good songs start out by being inspired, so it is good to leave things alone and pick them up again when you are in the right frame of mind.”
S] The concepts and styles of Ghost have changed with each record. How do you think you’ve changed since the beginnings of Ghost, personally as a musician?
NG] “You get more and more humble for every day that you’re allowed to do this, to play music for your living. You learn from other bands that you work with and who you see perform, you understand how much work goes into the whole process. I have a whole new respect for the musicians I looked up to as a kid, now. It’s a business like everything else, but the selling point is it’s more spiritual and rewarding than most! Don’t get me wrong, some bits are fucking boring and it’s hard sometimes on the road and you miss home.”
S] Do you think it takes a special kind of person to deal with going on tour without getting overwhelmed?
NG] “All of us in the band have got very different views and feelings about touring, some get easily homesick and others, especially the crew members, don’t appear to be phased. Maybe because they have been doing it for so long, it’s their life, they accept it. We’ve been out for 5-6 years now, and it still feels new to us, I don’t think any of us are totally at ease yet. But we’re still riding on a wave of beginners’ happiness.”
S] Do you feel like the initial passion behind Ghost that was there at the start is still there, despite the constant touring and mounting pressure?
NG] “Yes! We couldn’t do this is the passion was still there. We can only do what we do best and write music that we like, when you start to compromise you lose your sound. So we keep going with passion and we don’t compromise our sound. If we were to obey other people’s demands we would be sell-outs, and we never want that. We have had shit and we will continue getting shit for now doing what people expect us to do, but that is not our problem.”
S] I remember seeing you live at Leeds last year; there was a little girl in the crowd talking to her mum saying ‘Oh my god weren’t they amazing?’. She was so excited, it’s something I’ll never forget. Do you have moments that you think you’ll never forget?
NG] “When some of my childhood idols have recognised and praised us and other worldwide renowned musicians, Dave Grohl being an example. To be honest I’m proud every night, every time I see our audience, every time I see someone in a Ghost shirt. Everyday I stop and think, wow, can’t they see we’re just a bunch of shit-kickers from Sweden, and I start to question things aha. It’s weird that so many people love what we do but know nothing, personally, about me. I think about that a lot. But at the end of the day this is a job, and playing all over the world is a great privilege.”
S] We’ve had questions about the themed of this record [Meliora]- in the absence of God, you seem to offer a helping hand to fans. Do you believe in an afterlife, of something post-physical existence?
NG] “I’m afraid I can’t answer that. The record is more of a comment on modern society, that we are doing fine by ourselves but still yearning for something bigger. And who knows, maybe there is something, not God but a force, a drive that guides us. The human brains calls for guidance and meaning, constantly.”
S] A lot of Metal bands comment on and address concept of religion and how it works in society- I feel like people do find comfort in it, and so fans find comfort in them and their music. Certainly your fans feel comfort and elevation at your shows, they find that comfort they need to get them through the day.
NG] “I definitely found that with a lot of bands when I was growing up. It could be a line of lyrics that could help me through tough weeks, or a song I saw in a movie. When you play music, memories linked to that music are evoked, and images of that movie or music video or that day resurface, it is such a powerful force. Music sure as shit helps people! We aren’t here to save anyone, but we hope that our music can offer a comforting escape, or help make reality more bearable.”
Final question, can you tell me anything about Ghost’s plans for this year?
NG] “We can’t say much, but we can say that we will be touring our fucking asses off, so you can expect to see us around very soon!”
Words: Alex Inkley