Nameless Ghoul simply known as Fire, lead guitarist with Swedish heavy metal band Ghost chats with Kevin Cooper about their Grammy nomination for their latest single Cirice, shocking the audience, their new album Meliora, and their forthcoming headline tour of the UK.

Ghost (formerly known as Ghost B.C. in the United States) is a Swedish heavy metal band that was formed in Linköping in 2008. In 2010, they released a 3 track demo followed by a 7″ vinyl titled Elizabeth, and later their debut full length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and increased their popularity significantly. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, and debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. The band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015, to much critical acclaim and high record sales; charting at number eight in the United States Billboard, and reaching number one in their home country of Sweden.

Ghost are easily recognisable because of their eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group’s six members wear silver masks with horns, and the vocalist appears wearing skull face paint and is dressed as a demonic anti-Pope. The band’s members keep their identities secret and their names have not been publicly disclosed; the vocalist calls himself Papa Emeritus and the musicians are referred to only as Nameless Ghouls.

Whilst preparing for their forthcoming tour of the UK, Nameless Ghoul simply known as Fire, took time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.


Good afternoon Nameless Ghoul, how are you today?

I am very well Kevin thank you for asking.

Let me just thank you for taking the time out to speak to me.

No worries, thank you for being interested in us and what we are about.

There are five Nameless Ghouls in Ghost, all of you being instrumentalists. You all take your names from the elements and so may I ask which element are you?

Yes you may Kevin and I am Fire.

So I assume then that you are the lead guitarist in the band?

That is correct Kevin.

You will have to be gentle with me because up until a few days ago I was a Ghost Virgin.

Really, well nobody’s perfect (laughter).

How would you describe your music to me?

That’s easy Kevin, we are a shock-rock band (laughter). Having said that we are also very different from most of our contemporaries.

And how long have you been with the band?

I have actually been with the band since its inception. I am the instigating member I guess (laughter).

Did you personally have any previous musical experience before you joined Ghost?

Yes I did Kevin. I was a member of various bands for the best part of twenty-two years before joining Ghost. But I was never a member of any band that was successful or busy the way that Ghost is. Even though we released records it was always more on an amateur level. It was on a completely different ambition level.

So how is life treating you?

Right now it is going very well. We are on tour; we are busy, we are growing, we are selling out shows so what more could we ask for. It’s fantastic (laughter).

I understand that you have been nominated for a Grammy for the single Cirice, is that correct?

Yes we have Kevin and that is very exciting because no one has ever been nominated before in the Hard Rock category who comes from Sweden. There are hardly ever any Swedish artists who win anything; the awards always go to the American and UK artists. Even though it is only a nomination Kevin, it feels really big; it feels right. Who would have thought years ago that this would ever happen?

You are about to play in Antwerp, so let me ask just how is the tour going?

I have to say that this tour is going incredibly well Kevin. It really has been a lot of fun. A lot of the shows that we have played have been sold-out so to us it felt a little victorious because technically it is our first real European Tour. We have played a lot in Europe before but almost always at Festivals and one-off gigs plus supporting other artists. So this is our first real tour and we are loving it.

The band recently played in Paris. How was that after the recent atrocities?

As you quite rightly say Kevin the atrocities took place right in the middle of our tour which obviously cast a very, very dark shadow over the entourage and over Europe in general. Being part of the entertainment industry that was victimised in what happened it was definitely an unsafe vibe. Things will probably never be the same and we will always be looking at the exits. When we played in Paris, we as a collective, chose not to be restricted by what happened. So from that point of view I have to say that it really did feel nice for us to be able to perform in Paris because the events leading up to it had been mind consuming.

Are you looking forward to getting out on the road over here in the UK?

But of course. We have toured in the UK before many times but this is going to be our first real proper headline tour which absolutely feels great. We will be playing at some really good venues and we like the UK a lot. Our crew is almost entirely from the UK and London is where most things started for us. At the time when our first record was released it was on a London label. For us it is always a bit special coming over to England.

You have entitled your latest album Meliora which is the Latin for the pursuit of the better. Is that how you viewed the album?

(Laughter) if you don’t strive to be better than your previous work then what’s the point Kevin? Obviously we joked about the title because we all thought that it was a better record than the previous album so we just called it Better. I have to tell you that Meliora is almost irony; it is tongue in cheek like, is this really the better world that we were striving for. Most people are very lost and others are eating tablets to stop them from having panic attacks. Is this really a better world, what is our life, what are our goals, who are we. It is really meant as an existential reflection or question Kevin as we the band do not provide any answers.

Where do you as a band draw your inspiration from?

We draw our inspirations from music, films and literature. Musically it can be anything. As a record collector I know that there are some things that I enjoy listening to more than others. All of the band are very interested in the craft of creating songs in general, be it a pop song written for Beyoncé Knowles or a fifteen minute progressive song by Egg (laughter). A good song is a good song and I think that interest in music crafting in general reflects a little in the way in which we are making music.

Does it frustrate you at times that a lot of people out there fail to get what it is that you are trying to say?

(Laughter) how do you define the people out there; all of the people who would go to an AC/DC show (laughter).

(Laughter) now then you are trying to turn the tables on me as I am a massive AC/DC fan (laughter).

(Laughter) ok Kevin let me put it this way, you can’t please everyone that is not why we are here. My experience tells me that being in existence and keeping on going has a tendency to turns people’s heads. Or at least the way that we have done it so far has managed to do that. However I am not too worried about the fans that we don’t have right now, because I have seen such a phenomenal growth. People are always coming up to me saying that they hated our first two albums but now they love the band (laughter). I have heard that so many times that I am cool with it. I don’t mind if we never accumulate the size of fan base as let’s say Metallica or Iron Maiden, to me that’s fine. Maybe we can be as big as Motorhead (laughter).

We are doing this thing and we are doing well, in fact we are doing better than most other bands. What I can say is that we are not here to please everyone. For us it has been a blessing that we have a tendency to polarise people because that polarization has resulted in a massive amount of valuable chatter which you need on the internet in order to create traffic. At least people have an opinion about us which has to be good. As long as they are aware of us and they have an opinion then every time that we play Festivals then people turn up. Many of them turn up hoping that we will suck but then after the show its “fucking hell, I thought that you sucked but that was fantastic man”. However some do say “before the show I thought that you sucked and now I know that you do so fuck off” (laughter). Fuck you too is what I say Kevin (laughter).

Do you go onstage with the intention of shocking the audience?

No not at all Kevin, we are doing it in order to entertain the audience. Rockbitch shocked people because they were copulating onstage. Back in the day Alice Cooper shocked people because they lacked perspective of what he was all about. The Sex Pistols shocked people Kevin. I don’t think that we are remotely as offensive as they are. The idea was never to make people revolt or feel repulsed in any way. Sometimes when we play Festivals we can see the faces of distain because some people do see us as being a highly blasphemous band. Sometimes when we are playing in the Deep South you can see it in the faces of the people who are standing with crosses over their shoulders. I guess that is as far as the shocking goes.

Most of the people who come to our shows are open minded, especially those who bring their children with them.   We do warn the parents that we are trying to cut down on the number of shits and cunts in the show but we do play a song that is about fucking so… (laughter). Most of them are fine with that as it goes Kevin.

I have to ask you, would you let your children go to one of your shows?

Ironically they have been because I don’t believe in censorship in that way. I come from a very Liberal background where grown up music and grown up entertainment was always on the table. I had that at my disposal from a very early age. Even with some of the scarier things that I saw, there was always someone there to explain to me that it was just a film. You never see the chainsaw actually going into the body; you just hear the sound. That triggered an early fascination for the cinema for me, especially with the question just how do you produce the make-believe. Because of my upbringing I feel that I am quite Liberal myself.

However I also know that some kids handle seeing horror movies very badly. Subsequently I have had a life-long fear of the dark ironically (laughter). I can no longer be alone in the house which has served as a catalyst for what I am currently doing. A lot of things which the band are doing are all about fear and what the audience finds scary.

You are now on your third Papa Emeritus (vocalist) how is he settling in?

Yes he is better than ever actually Kevin. Eventually it will be sad to see him go. He has certainly raised the bar for the next Papa Emeritus.

On that note let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me and wish you all the very best with the tour.

Thank you very much man, it’s been a pleasure. Bye for now and we will catch up when the band gets to Nottingham.