Satantic Rock Band Ghost on Getting Postponed By “Frankie”
Move over, Francis—there’s another Papa headed to town. One of the more bizarre subplots surrounding the papal visit involves the costumed Swedish rockers Ghost, who were forced to move their scheduled concert at Union Transfer from tonight to this Tuesday. That didn’t sit well with the band, whose skull-faced frontman, Papa Emeritus III, dresses in black pontiff robes and sings tunes with titles like “Satan Prayer” and “Deus In Absentia.” One of Ghost’s guitarists—a Nameless Ghoul, as each masked instrumentalist is known—called from their gig in Pittsburgh to discuss (in an exceedingly polite manner) how their live show is like mass, his love of certain Philly institutions, and a most unholy competition between the band and “Frankie.”
Hello, how are you?
Good. Thank you for taking some time to talk, we appreciate it.
No, thank you.
I assume it was no coincidence that you’d originally scheduled your Philadelphia show on the night Pope Francis was in town.
I have no idea. [laughs] It was not intentional as far as I know. It just happened to coincide with another pope coming to town, apparently.
Is it true that [band frontman] Papa Emeritus III had planned to drive around the city in some sort of Papamobile, waving to onlookers?
I wouldn’t be surprised. He thought at first that all of the debacle was about him. Then when he heard that Frankie was coming, it was a little bit of a stinger. Especially the way it all ended, it was just horrible. But we prefer here internally not to mention the war. It got a little nasty. I mean, you know how it all ended, right?
Once we noticed the city had done a double booking and nobody was willing to move, they resorted to arm wrestling.
This is Papa and Pope Francis.
Yes. They arm-wrestled and they couldn’t get it settled at that point. It was even. So they did the only thing that two men can do if they really want to measure up. [takes deep breath] Apparently our guy lost. That’s all I have to say about that.
This city is shutting down for days for the Pope’s visit. Should Philadelphians prepare for any security measures when Ghost arrives? Have you coordinated with the Secret Service and Philadelphia’s mayor’s office?
What, to lock up your daughters? [laughs] Yes, you need barricades around our bus to protect the city from Ghost.
You’ve been called an “anti-Pope” band and “Satanic.” Is that accurate?
I think that depends completely on which level of intellect you’re bringing to your theological discussion. Obviously from a Biblical blind person, we would be deemed as utterly satanic. I guess we are for that person. But from an intellectual point of view, with a slightly broader philosophical angle, I think we’re really not. But who are we to say? At the end of the day, we’re an entertainment act. That doesn’t mean that everything we’re saying is bullshit, but that means that we are here to entertain people.
Ghost is often called a metal band, but on your new record, Meliora, you can hear some diverse influences in the songs—pop, classic rock, prog, hymns. How would you describe your music?
The most simple way to explain it is its melodic rock. It reminds most people of a later 70s style. I hate to say that we’re just a nostalgic or a retrospective band—we try not to be a retro band. But most of our influences are from the 60s and 70s and some 80s stuff. Imagine that we are a band in the mid-70s, and we’re just trying to become the biggest band of the 80s. That’s what we sound like in our mind. Like some kind of proto-metal, but very melodic. And dark leaning.
What can folks expect to see at your live show?
We’re trying to simulate the positive elements of mass, so it’s without the guilt. [laughs] We’re just telling everybody that they are going to burn in hell, but it’s a good thing in the end. Telling people to have more sex and have more fun and to enjoy life. So many people have destroyed their lives with the fear of what happens next. The world would become such a better place if we could just agree that we have no idea whatsoever. And anyone who says they know is lying to your face, most often to get something from you. So what we do at our show is to get in touch with the idea of a real divinity and make people feel very joyous and euphoric. We want people to go out from our shows with a smile.
One of my co-workers went to Catholic school and was rather frightened watching your video for “Cirice.” What would you say to ease her concerns about checking out your concert? Or should she be afraid?
[laughs] Well, if she’s worried about going to hell, she should bear in mind that everyone she knows will be there anyways. And if she happens, for some remarkable reason, to end up in heaven, that’s going to be like—imagine this big empty space where no one’s at. Because nobody fits that criteria. It will be a very lonely place.
Philadelphia was the first date on your tour to sell out.
Yeah, Philadelphia has always been great to us. We love coming there. We have a lot of friends there too, so it’s always good.
Have you ever had time to take in any cultural or touristy things in Philadelphia?
I’ve been to the Mütter Museum. Everybody should go there. I’ve been at the cheesesteak—what are those two arguing places?
Pat’s and Geno’s.
Yeah. I’ve been there. I don’t remember which one I went to. I just ate one of them. And I don’t want to pick sides.
Don’t want to make this political.
Exactly. We like them both. Whichever it was, it was really good. I liked it a lot.
I’m sure they’ll appreciate your endorsement. So again, thanks for your time.
Thank you very much. Have a nice day.