Raising Hell across North America on their Black to the Future tour, the six-piece Swedish occult metal band, Ghost, celebrate Satan in stylized, sexual pomp, and for their members, committed to anonymity, Halloween falls on every day of the year. (Their singer, a corpse paint-spattered inversion of the Catholic Pope, goes by the name Papa Emeritus, and the band’s other five masked, horn-adorned members respond only when referred to as “Nameless Ghouls”). Moments before Ghost took the stage, a Nameless Ghoul — this one their founding member/lead guitarist — shared some lessons he’s learned on life, love, sex, and saving (or damning) the planet.
Less ‘concert’ than ‘ritual,’ a Ghost show will often give way to fans’ anthemic chants of lyrics like “Per Aspera Ad Inferi,” (Latin for “Through Hardships to Hell”), which are, according to Nameless Ghoul, “about how ambitions usually lead astray from a biblical path”:
“If you’re gonna live your lives the way we do in the Western world, having fun, thinking about ourselves, that’s pure Satanic behavior: ‘Forget about death!’ We’re guilty of focusing [on] our own well-being rather than taking care of the rest of the world. In theory, I would like to be a vegan, but I can’t because I love meat, and I’m picky. In theory, I would be against pollution, but I have to fly because I’m in a rock band, fulfilling my childhood dream.”
Ask Nameless Ghoul whether fulfilling his dream from behind a mask is a blessing or a curse, and he’ll tell you “it’s a luxury.”
“We’re masked going into character. Very few people expect us to be in character when we’re not. Whereas, if I bump into Dan Aykroyd, I would expect him to be very funny. That’s the lesson: you can take off your mask, step outside of your role, and people are usually cool with it. A lot of people invented their character and never really came out at the end.”
When Ghost released their Phallos Ritual Mortuus box and bag sets, which included a silicone dildo in the shape of Papa Emeritus, a metal butt plug, and a divorce paper scroll, it raised speculation over the band’s interest in sex therapy — an interest Nameless Ghoul neither confirms nor denies.
“It’s not like we’re not doing things to fuck with people, right? We leave a lot to the imagination. Used incorrectly, the dildo can create…an effect. A butt plug, if you’re into that, it can do wonders. Divorce papers are there for the laugh. Or, trying the toys might be the last thing that you do, and then the divorce papers would come in handy.”
Divorce jokes aside, Nameless Ghoul asserts that we humans “have an in-built gravitation toward monogamy.” However…
“There’s a reptilian version of ourselves that doesn’t necessarily think that. Most people do a little ‘Awww…’ when you see that couple that’s been monogamous till they’re 80 years old. [But] the cynic would say ‘What has been going on those 80 years?’ We struggle to make our world match with our idea of the world.”
If we can look to Ghost as our carnal counselors, what’s their bottom line? For Nameless Ghoul, the lyrics to the band’s now-hallowed cover of Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts” — “If you have ghosts, you have everything” — hold the key to becoming master of your own universe.
“I like to think of those lyrics as saying ‘As long as you have spirits within you, voices, your ghosts that you can communicate to, you have a lot — more than you think.’ I don’t know if it’s a recipe for a happy, calm life, but you might have a more interesting life. That may not be ‘everything,’ but it sounds nice. Hell, it’s comforting.”
Ghost is blaspheming throughout the US and Canada now. For tour dates, click here.