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Ghost Frontman’s Response Claims ‘No Legal Partnership’ Existed With Bandmates

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Earlier this year, four “nameless ghouls” from Ghost revealed their identities while filing legal action against the band’s frontman Tobias Forge, known to most as Papa Emeritus, over profits from the band’s albums and touring, revealing his identity in the process as well. Now Forge has officially filed his legal response, which breaks down a bit of how the mysterious band known as Ghost operates.

Simon Soderberg, Mauro Rubino, Henrik Palm and Martin Hjertstedt were the four members who filed suit against Forge earlier this year, claiming that the singer controlled the band’s business affairs as part of a partnership agreement that existed between them. But in his legal response, Forge disputes that partnership.

According to Forge, there was “no legal partnership” that ever existed between himself and the four musicians, before going on to add that “none of the plaintiffs were present at the time of the” formation of the band and that their sole task was to perform and execute the band’s musical works and the image as instructed by the singer. For their performance, the musicians were paid a fixed salary.

Forge also revealed that he was the main author of all of Ghost’s musical works with the exception of two songs — “Year Zero” and “Zenith” — both which came from the ideas of guitarist Martin Persner. Persner previously revealed his exit from the band, but has not taken part in the legal action filed by the other four “nameless ghouls.” Forge also adds that the two songs that Persner brought to the table were eventually revised, arranged and given instrumentation by himself and that he also penned the lyrics for “Year Zero.”

In addition, Forge claims to have performed all vocal parts with the exception of some choir singing handled by hired vocalists and that with only a few exceptions, he also was solely responsible for the instrumentation of the songs. He adds that it has always been “very clear” that Ghost is “not a joint project,” but rather an entity that he controls and that the other performers are “musicians for hire” and that they are not irreplaceable or considered crucial for the band. It was also his initial opinion that in addition to the standard payment, that those playing with the band could receive some form of additional income from the band’s activities. However, the singer says that it wasn’t until 2017’s Popestar European Tour that the band’s touring business started to turn a profit. Forge says that all revenue from past tours was used to pay the musicians, production, staff, travel, lodging and the purchase of equipment.

In the statement, Forge revealed that until 2017, he had not received a salary from any income or sales of merchandise and that he had solely lived off the publishing rights and royalties that the first Ghost album (Opus Eponymous) had generated.

As fans know, Ghost have always had a bit of mystery due to the forged identities of the players who are often masked onstage. Forge states that by filing the lawsuit, the musicians “have now destroyed the mystery” surrounding the band.

A full English-language translation of Forge’s response can be read in two parts via Reddit here and here.

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