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GhostLast seen on our shores as part of the 2013 Soundwave Festival, Ghost bring their heavy metal ‘rituals’ down under for this year’s Big Day Out at Arena Joondalup on Sunday, February 3. SHANE PINNEGAR tries to get a glimpse behind A Nameless Ghoul’s mask.

Despite their skeletally face-painted lead singer, five anonymous ‘Nameless Ghouls’ in black robes and masks, and cheerfully sincere satanic lyrics and artwork, Ghost sound like Blue Oyster Cult meeting The Doors in a biker bar rather than a blood curdling extreme metal band.

The challenge was on to find out what makes this six-piece from Linköping in southern Sweden tick. We kick off discussing their new If You Have Ghost EP, produced by Dave Grohl, an experience ‘the Guitarist Ghoul’ says “was very pleasurable, very inspiring, and very cheerful.”

Ghoul goes on to explain that the band met the Foo Fighters singer/guitarist when both played on the same festival bill, and got to work together almost immediately.

“It was very spontaneous and very quickly executed,” he explains in a calm, quiet voice quite reminiscent of actor Christoph Waltz. “We met, and one month later we were in the studio. We were lucky in the sense that our time schedules, for once, all of a sudden there was a little bit of a gap that coincided, and we had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do.”

Balancing the dichotomy of the extreme metal Satanist image with the ‘70s hard rock vibe, Ghoul says the band members’ influences are wider ranging than most.

“It is literally everything from ABBA to Venom,” he explains. “Most of it is classical rock to hardcore and metal, but also a lot of prog stuff, and alternative, avant garde sort of music, a lot of soundtrack music… everything from the big names like Pink Floyd and The Doors to really weird, eclectic, record-collecting stuff. And that mixture-and-mesh sort of makes our sound.

“We are very pop culturally oriented, and interested in different medias including music and film and art and print and all sorts of aesthetic expressions. I think that Ghost is a very good outlet for all of those things.”

Despite Ghost’s Satanic lyrics and imagery, Ghoul says they haven’t attracted an abundance of religious fanaticism in America.

“We have, but not to the extent that you might expect,” he states. “I think the only time that we sort of noticed it is when the whole burger thing came up,” he says, referencing the placing of a ‘The Ghost’ burger featuring goat shoulder and a communion wafer on the menu of a Chicago heavy metal-themed restaurant’s menu. Catholic institutions demanded it be removed, calling it tasteless.

“As much as we’re here to provoke thought,” he continues, finally shining a crack of light onto their motivations, “we’re not here to provoke just to provoke – and I think that a lot of people that see us sort of understand that. That we are not eating shit onstage, we’re not just trying to fuck things up.”

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