Ghost’s Papa Emeritus: ‘We Never Formed the Band Together’
The identities, or lack thereof, of Ghost's members have long been a focal point of the group over the years, but with some recent exits and a lawsuit between Papa Emeritus and several former Nameless Ghouls, the veil has been lifted to an extent.
During a chat with France's Radio Metal, Papa Emeritus spoke about how the masks and the secrecy have both worked for and against the band. The singer was asked if the band members were under contractual obligation to keep their identities a secret, to which he responded (as transcribed to English via Blabbermouth), "Well, I think that one of the mistakes was not putting a lot of pressure on them in doing that. So let's just say that, obviously, there was no such clause because I thought that was sort of part of the settlement agreement. But it wasn't. So there was no effective ban on hiding or… there was no ban from revealing your identity."
When asked about the turnover of the band at the end of 2016, the vocalist parsed his words carefully. "I can't tell you the whole story, but without going into detail, the one thing that has always been a fact is that Ghost was never formed as a band, and its first lineup was formed after the first record was recorded, and it was just a live lineup. And from that lineup, it changed many times," explained Papa Emeritus. "If you've followed us from when we started playing live in October 2010, you will notice that there has been numerous changes over the years. And none of the people in the lineup that was in November last year had ever played on [2010's] Opus Eponymous, for example."
He continued, "We never formed the band together; it was always sort of… I guess a Bathory sort of band, where there was people playing live, and the people playing live [were] not necessarily the same that played on the records. On Opus and Meliora, there's a drummer that has never played with us live, for example. So, from my end, it's never really been ... What some fans seem to think is not true. So, for me, it's just a matter of… People will… further down the line, they will find out that what they're saying or what they're thinking is not correct, is not based upon truth, but that's fine. It's okay. No worries."
The singer says the anonymity has made it easier to some extent when a lineup change is made, though the band's hardcore fans are often quick to point out when a new member is added. But, he continues, "The costumes and everything has also been the band's curse for all these years, because that is the one thing that gets people confused when it comes to their importance. It is difficult to be that band that doesn't do things the way other bands do it. It's a blessing and a curse."
Shortly after granting the interview, it was revealed that four former Nameless Ghouls -- Simon Soderberg, Mauro Rubino, Henrik Palm and Martin Hjerstedt -- had filed a lawsuit against Papa Emeritus, seeking an account of monies made during their time in the band. They cited the singer as being the sole manager of the business affairs who had failed to disclose the band's revenues and expenses between 2011 and 2016. The lawsuit alleges that the singer had been collecting all revenues from the merchandise and recordings and insisted that the "company" was not profitable.
According to the lawsuit, the band did not receive any compensation at all in 2012 until the singer felt pressured to pay them sporadically while still claiming the band was not making money. The four musicians stated that they were offered contract proposals in 2016, which they rejected.
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