Interview with a Nameless Ghoul

A sweet new album, a sweet new singer...

Cue spooky Scooby Doo music because I’ve got a one of Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls on the phone. He plays guitar and I mention that I think I interviewed him at Soundwave a few years back. He doesn’t recall but he’s honest enough to admit “I would be lying if I said that I remembered that…” so after assuring him that it was one of the greatest times of his life, we push on.

So Ghost’s third album Meliora is released this month, do you now feel like you really know what the band is about? He ponders the question before answering in a slow, metered voice,“I thought that two years ago too; one dot is just a dot and two dots can make a line but it takes the third dot to really be able to make something that you can recognise as a shape, so I guess you can say that we’ve found somewhat of a basis to stand on to take things forward.” I’m tempted to ask his opinions on the nature of sacred geometry but instead opt to enquire about the difference with Meliora compared to Opus Eponymous (2010) or Infestissumam (2013). Again, he deliberates before answering “There’s been a bit of a dramatic change in our MO and the creative process has been very different.”

Mr Ghoul then goes into meticulous detail about how the drafting process of the songs has been very different to the previous two albums before recapping with “I’m a somewhat able drummer but it’s not my strong point. The previous two albums suffered a little bit because of the weakness of the drums – they basically came across as being too stiff. This time the drums truly were the foundation on which everything else has been hung. The drums on the first album sound very held back but this time we’ve made them jump out. We spent two weeks in the studio just to record the drums – nothing else.” Having heard the new album, I must say that I’m loving it; it’s Ghost to the power of ten so the new processes are obviously working well.

We touch briefly on the incoming Papa Emeritus III and the now departed Papa Emeritus II; are there many difficulties associated with a change of vocalist. Nameless Ghoul doesn’t get all theatrical – he just addresses it from the standpoint of a typical musician: “It’s more of a growing pain, having a new person in the band – and it’s also a kind of a shock for the fans – having a new person to ‘worship’, if you will. But it is weird, especially when you’ve been touring for two years with one character and then a new one comes in – it’s almost like there’s a bit of schizophrenia going on, and it takes some time to get used to it and evolve…” and he ends with an off the cuff comment about chucking the new singer out if he doesn’t measure up. I sense he isn’t joking.

So after the US tour in September and October, are there any other dates lined up? Essentially I’m asking if they’re coming back to Australia any time soon. “Australian dates are definitely in the calendar, or rather I should say, it’s planned. Right now, we’re just trying to figure out when. There’s a tradition of certain times when a band should come; certain events…we’ll figure it out after the US tour.”

He’s definitely alluding to the festival circuit and there’s a definite suggestion that the band would like to come out on their own headlining tour.

I return to my love of Ghost’s sound and note that Meliora, at least to my ear, has a discernible whiff of Abba and perhaps even a dash of The Who to its sound. There’s even a touch Madness on the final track Deus In Absentia. Mr Ghoul praises my hearing and I giggle with rapturous delight. “This is what happens when you have a band with such diverse tastes in music; all of us have very different tastes in music, from pop through to some terrible black metal. One of the things that we’re very strong on is that no [musical] idea should be ignored straight away so everything is at least given a chance – but obviously if it’s no good then it goes !”

And the recent home-town gig in Linkoping; did you enjoy busting it out there? His answer surprises me a little: “Home town gigs are always, always a pain the ass! There’s so much riding on the one gig; at least with a 60 or 90 day tour, if you fuck up on the first day – or at any other point – then there’s always the next day when you can, so to speak, redeem yourself. The after-party was very good! But it went really well. The people were happy.”

I mention their cover of Abba’s I’m a Marionette and he assures me that now they’ve got plenty of their own material, there won’t (maybe) be any covers for a while. So I ask which tracks off of the new album he’s looking forward to playing live. Without a moment’s pause he states “He Is – because it’s one of our softer songs, I’m keen to see how that goes down in a live setting and to see how the fans react to it.”
And then my time is up and Mr Ghoul departs into the ether – though I am warmed by the thought that those Ghost fellows may be hitting our shores in the (relatively) near future…
Scooby Doo, where are you?