When you guys are out on stage doing your black ritual thing, we could imagine Steve Buscemi under those cloaks if we so desired. But is that the point? The man underneath makes no difference?
We’d like to think so. [pauses for thought] We know that there are a lot of things that we set out early on for this band. Now, five years later, these goals feel very naive and unrealistic. We never considered the concept of Ghost. It’s kind of paradoxical when we’re trying to be a successful band and trying to remain anonymous. The idea was to have the experience be as intense as possible for people watching. The anonymity thing was just a bonus.
Black metal for instance has a discount store theatre to it, with costumes and stage names and what have you. You guys take the Alice Cooper shocking-apron-wearing-mothers-into-fainting thing beyond the limit. Where does the theatre come from in your musical upbringing?
Ghost derives from a very fanboy point of view. It’s a combination of all those big dinosaur rock phenomenons. It comes from a profound fascination with underground death and black metal. Thrash metal, too. The darker elements of Ghost comes from the early ‘90s black metal scene. We picked up a lot of those aesthetics. I was brought up in that underground. The clandestine aspect comes from bands like Mayhem or Sarcophago or say, Devil Doll.
Is that what Ghost is all about? Stealing back mystery from the Internet?
I think so. All of those pre-internet elements coloured a lot of my thinking. Back then you couldn’t find anything about these bands. You may have seen four pictures of them. You knew very little about them. That experience and that background is how I want people to regard Ghost. We don’t want Ghost to be obvious.
I love that about them, the theatricality and the mysteriousness (and it’s always heartening to see artists who scorn the idea of compulsive attention-seeking and living on permanent display). I only wish their music didn’t seem merely average to me. Maybe they’ll grow on me if I try hard enough.