Ghost: its face-covered crusade

Ghost strives to conquer. As a result If You Have Ghost, the band’s new cover EP, comes at the right time. After noteworthy performances this summer at Sonisphere and Hellfest, this new promo allows the band to push their new phenomenon, especially in Europe where Ghost still needs to reach the same popularity it has already acquired in America. This is why, five months only after our previous interview, we meet up again with one of the Nameless Ghouls.

It is for us the occasion to understand how this cover EP and the collaboration with drummer Dave Grohl have been initiated. But it was also the occasion to dig a little deeper within Ghost’s concept, where our previous encounter had only enabled us to clear out the way. Regarding this, he tells us that the band has started preparing for the new album, which shouldn’t however see the light of day before 2015. Ghost is a band whose career is carefully thought through, anticipated, and it is interesting to learn how much what the band experiences on stage today influences the music it’ll produce tomorrow.

In the Ghost concept, anonymity obviously plays a big part for the curiosity it triggers. Such a state is difficult to maintain when one aspires to being popular, as he admits. And it is amusing to see him take his time to think before answering any question when we tease him on this topic.

Anyhow, it is always nice to catch up with this sympathetic ghoul…

« I have no problem with my own metal credibility! »

Radio Metal: Can you tell us more on how you got in touch with Dave Grohl who played drums with you and who produced this EP?

Nameless Ghoul: We were doing festivals together… Well, we were basically booked on to the festivals simultaneously and we bumped into each other, started hanging out and got talking about possibly, at some point, somewhere, somehow, doing anything… something together! And at that point he just happened to have some time off coming up and we happened to have something sort of concrete to bring onto the table which were these cover songs that we initially intended to do on our full length recording but we figured it might be fun to do them with Dave instead, he agreed and off we went.

Do you think that there will be more cooperation between Ghost and Dave Grohl in the future?

I have no idea. He’s a fun guy to work with so why not, but it’s hard to say right now, obviously.

Okay. If You Have Ghost features 4 covers of old pop songs; is this what you’re trying to get back with Ghost; the power of catchy pop songs like they used to do in the 80’s or in the 70’s?

We just chose songs that we liked and we felt that maybe we could do something interesting with. We think, at some point there’s a certain degree of dark-defying songs, I guess and if we started doing old metal songs and try to interpret them, first of all we wouldn’t really do much to them probably and it doesn’t really feel exciting and it’s not very interesting at all! Whereas taking old pop songs or songs in general that might not be completely, hum… sort of metal songs, it’s more interesting and it can actually give something to fans who might not have heard those songs before or never really paid attention.

How come you’re releasing this record so quickly after the release of your second album?

Well, the EP was recorded before the album and initially the songs themselves were just intended to be what is referred to as B-sides. But, you know, the songs that we put on a record usually contain a certain level of filth and that sort of filth excludes us from commercial radio. So we figured that, because some of these songs that we’re doing with Grohl might not contain too much filth, they might actually have a chance to go on the radio. Especially when Dave plays on them, it was going to be noticed, obviously and we didn’t want that to sort of obscure the album. So we thought it best to put the EP aside and have it released at some other point and that other point is now because we are in the middle of the record… the « album cycle », as they call it… You know how it is!

« Because everything is based upon how we are live, a lot of the things that we write now is based upon what we are NOT doing live now. »

Do you have some leftovers, some cover songs that you didn’t release?

Hum… Maybe!

(laughing) Okay! You’re covering 2 Swedish bands on this EP, is this just coincidence or do you have a special relationship with Swedish pop music?

No, it’s a coincidence but yes, of course, sure we have! Both Abba and Army Of Lovers are bands that we have, in some way, grown up listening to. I think, especially as we’re looking towards the future where we’re constantly trying to find new covers to do for the next record or the next session or whatever, we will always look at Swedish music in the sense that it’s music that has meant something for us. And from an artistic point, we had a great deal of really good bands in the 80’s and in the late 70’s that have only achieved domestic success. Just because they were new wave, rock bands, punk bands, and all kinds of artists who sang in Swedish. There’s a large catalogue of stuff that people outside of Sweden have never heard and it’s right out there, so there’s a lot to work with. But I’m not saying that we’re only going to do Swedish songs, I’m just saying that always comes into consideration, obviously when you try to pick up an interesting cover.

Despite your huge success, there are some stubborn hardcore metalheads there who say that you don’t belong to the rock scene or the metal scene because of the pop vibe of your music…

(He expresses agreement)

… And this EP won’t change their minds but I guess you don’t care, right?

Not really! (both laughing) I don’t, I have no problem with my own metal credibility!

Is it too early to talk about the next album or do you already have ideas or songs?

We are right now quite heavily into the creative process of the record, obviously it’s too early to talk about it as an actual release because we are going into the studio one year from now, so we are talking 2015 release. But the creative process is now. We are lucky enough to be able to combine touring and writing, especially because our way of writing is so heavily based on what we do live. As much as I love making records, one of my favourite parts of doing the band is writing songs. When you play live, you’re not very creative, you’re just recreating what you did, whereas writing and recording, that’s when it’s exciting even for the ones who do it. But just because everything is based upon how we are live, a lot of the things that we write now is based upon what we are NOT doing live now, you try to build for the future, you know. We’re trying to build the future show. It’s an interesting aspect because it’s based heavily upon our experiences now in this contemporary touring: how you relate to crowds, what people react to, what you react to, what you miss, what does our drummer miss, are we not making use of him being a phenomenal drummer, maybe we should have a track, next time that is a little bit more intricate in timings, just to make use of the in-house incompetence… hum (laughing)… competence, and so forth. It’s an interesting process that I’m glad we are able to combine because there are a whole lot of bands that just stay out on tour for two years and just completely drink their heads to pieces and when they sort of crash after two years, then, they start over with a blank paper. I’m under the impression that a lot of bands are really stressed out because of that… This is stressful as well but it’s different.

« I’m sorry drummers but this is sort of a fact that EVERYBODY knows that the drummer is not unusually the sporty guy in the band and doesn’t really care about music and just cares about drumming! »

You said in an interview that the band could evolve into other things, so, since you’ve already started the creative process, what can we expect?

(hesitating) I’m not really sure what you meant… But, what I feel comfortable about right now and very confident about, is just knowing a little bit where the new material is going. I sincerely believe that we are able to create yet another album that will still feel progressive but still within the frame of what we do. I mean, obviously we are a really niched band in the sense that we are lyrically and visually locked into what we created. I don’t see that as a problem, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If we wanted to do something completely different, we would do that with another band. You can ask those hardcore metal people and they would probably disagree but I think we can just stay on the carpet, as they say in Sweden, and still do at least one or two records that would feel fresh and still be new grips, new formats of essentially the same thing, if you want.

About your drummer, you were talking about him a few minutes ago; isn’t it a bit frustrating for him to not be able to play with his full abilities?

(Laughing) It probably is! But he is a very musical drummer, in the sense that… Well, I’m sorry drummers but this is sort of a fact that EVERYBODY knows that the drummer is not unusually the sporty guy in the band and doesn’t really care about music and just cares about drumming! And he has some sort of sport approach when it comes to his playing just because it’s physical! It’s more of a physical chore. As a guitarist, you’re not really using your body in the same way that you do when you’re a drummer and there are a whole lot of drummers out there who just care about the drumming whereas you have drummers like Dave Grohl, obviously and our own drummer who are interested in the art of drumming but still listen to music that doesn’t necessarily involve an insane drummer. What I’m trying to say is that he is a music fan in general as well, so he understands the importance of not being too busy, but obviously when you’re doing hundreds of shows every year, well, from a solidarity point of view you’re like… Yeah, maybe, we should give him something that’s a little bit… excessive!? (Laughing) For house peace!

Have the guys played in other bands unmasked or is Ghost your first and only project?

I’ve actually been in a band that nobody knows that I was in, which I think was one of the ideas behind the idea of being anonymous; it was one of the trigger points. But, yes, we’ve been in bands before, but these other bands were somewhat conventional in that way… Except for my part-taking in that other band, as I was saying… Which I can’t tell you about, obviously!

About the fact to remain anonymous: « It’s a utopian thing and it would be a nice one to achieve, but I’m having a hard time seeing us doing it. »

There have been other artists, in the past whose individual identities were hidden like gutarist Buckethead, or Daft Punk, or The Residents; have all these artists been an influence on the Ghost concept?

Yeah, very much, actually… Yes! But the thing is, obviously nowadays, everybody knows who Daft Punk are, and it didn’t hurt them (laughing).

The Residents’ band members’ identities are still unknown after 40 years and they’re still active today. Is this a goal you would like to reach?

If possible, it would be nice. It would be fun! But you have to realise that, first of all, 30 of those 40 years spent in The Residents were before the internet! And there’s another thing that sort of sticks out amongst bands who have tried to stay anonymous, well, apart for Daft Punk, obviously: The Residents, for example, are probably known by every record collector, but it’s still a very eclectic and unknown band, and that’s a way to stay anonymous. We, on the other hand, are constantly working on progressing as a band, in terms of getting bigger and more popular; I guess it’s the bottom line. So, obviously, it’s a way to go out of anonymity. It’s a utopian thing and it would be a nice one to achieve, but I’m having a hard time seeing us doing it.

Would you tell us if Buckethead was actually part of the band, because we don’t know who he is, anyway?

Right, yeah, we would, especially because I, myself, would be surprised!

You have stated, in the past that Dave Grohl played with the band on stage, once, is it the concert from which the live version of Secular Haze comes from?

No, I never said that he played with us on stage. I got asked if he had ever played in a Ghoul suit, and I said that yes, yes, he has played in a Ghoul suit.

Okay, so on which occasion was it?

Well I can’t really tell you that, I can only answer, literally, yes he played in a Ghoul suit (laughing)!

Okay! Apparently another musician has done that: playing with you in a Ghoul suit, but you’re not going to tell us who that was, are you?

(He hesitates) I’m just curious, what have you heard?

Well, I just heard that some other musician has played with you in the suit.

Okay. Okay, no comment.

Okay, no problem! (both laughing) Last question: have you ever been recognized by a journalist, I mean, have you ever been interviewed by a journalist who actually recognized your voice or your face because he knew you or he met you before or something like that?

(He hesitates) Well, not in the way that you present it, no, but obviously, I have been interviewed by people that I know. So that means yes, but no! (both laughing) It never really happened that it revealed itself just because they recognized my voice.

Interview conducted by phone on November, 19th 2013 by Metal’O Phil.
Questions and introduction: Spaceman.
Transcription: Judith.

Ghost’s official website: ghost-official.com

EP If You Have Ghost, out since November 18th, 2013 via Loma Vista Recordings.

Laisser un commentaire

  • Arrow
    Arch Enemy @ Lyon
  • 1/3