The “nameless ghouls” in enigmatic Swedish metal band Ghost have been known to tip a few jars and rage with the locals when they’re in Boston. Just do them a favor if you run into them around town: don’t out them on social media.
“We’re never trying to be assholes to anyone. The only thing we ask is please don’t take photos,” one of the nameless ghouls told the Dig this week during a break in Sweden. “Don’t photograph us, don’t Tweet, Facebook, don’t Instagram. We’re always out on the tour bus and we’d love to talk to you. If you’re really, really nice, maybe we can take you to the bar.”
Like KISS before them, the five members of the mysterious group take great pains to protect their true identities. The ghoul we spoke to was only identified as one of the guitar players, although he shared a few vague personal details. He and four other members hail from the Swedish city of Linkoping and one is a native of Italy. They have all played in Swedish rock and metal bands together and began Ghost as a side project, with little hope it would go anywhere.
But they’ve exploded and now play 150-plus shows per year. Their recently-released third album, Meliora, is another hauntingly awesome batch of dark, Satanic-themed arena metal. It washes over you with massive Fender crunch and glorious power metal riffs, punctuated by creepy church organs and cock rock melodies that would make Boston and Toto proud. It’s a formula some metal purists – most infamously Slayer’s Kerry King – have expressed distaste for, but that doesn’t phase the ghouls a bit.
“We’ve always had a bombastic idea of what we wanted to sound like,” the ghoul said. “It’s a very theatrical sound. We wanted to sound like a big band. For lack of a better word, an arena band. We are very influenced by the late 60s and the sound of the 70s, which is what we commonly refer to as big dinosaur arena rock – big choruses, as opposed to big garagey sort of sludge.”
They return to Boston Sept. 28 to play House of Blues and are no strangers to our city. Their first local gig was at the Middle East and they also played the Orpheum with Mastodon and Opeth. And despite being a relatively new band, they’ve already played Boston Garden, where they opened for Deftones and Avenged Sevenfold in 2013.
After their set that night, they went across town to catch Italian prog-rock outfit Goblin at The Sinclair. The booze flowed, ending with a sloppy after-party with the two bands back at the Garden.
“That show was one of those where we really felt like we were doing something right,” the ghoul said of the Garden gig. “Goblin, the Italian band, was playing on the other side of town. The first thing we did after the show was throw ourselves in a cab and get over to that show, so it was double fun that night. Afterwards, we went back to the arena and had an after-party there. It was a very busy night.”
“That’s one of the quirks when you’re doing support on an arena tour like that. You have a lot of time to come up with things to do. Which more than often, ends up in pancreatitis.”
The web is rife with speculation about who’s really in the band. Dave Grohl is said to have played on record and live with them, but the ghouls aren’t talking. They prefer to behave as though these were pre-Internet days, and yearn for the era when Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons et. al. snuck in and out of limos and hotels, cleverly dodging photographers to protect their mystique.
“It’s meant to be theater,” the ghoul explained. “My favorite analogy is Leatherface. He just appeared out of nowhere. After the film, you don’t really know much about him. Same thing with KISS. When we were kids, we didn’t have any internet. We knew Paul Stanley, but you didn’t know much about him. This is what we wanted this band to be like.”
“We thought we were going to be outed immediately,” he continued. “We are not too worried if a fan comes up to us outside our bus. You just have to respect the fact, that we are civilian. You cannot expect us to be what you want us to be. We are not breaking character just because we go to the movies on a day off. During these five past years, we’ve been coming to terms to what this is all about and what it means to be anonymous.”
GHOST. MON 9.28. HOUSE OF BLUES, 15 LANSDOWNE ST., BOSTON. 7:30PM/ALL AGES/$25. HOUSEOFBLUES.COM/BOSTON.