Ghost, the Swedish metal band whose frontman dresses in Papal robes and hat, found itself in the U.S. last week at the same time as the real Pope. Odd?
"Well, I wouldn't say that," one of the four Nameless Ghouls who are also part of the band, their identities hidden by elaborate masks, says by phone from Pittsburgh. "It's obviously fun and exciting in a sense. He's usually a lot closer to us than that, even, in so many senses."
And given that Ghost "changes" frontmen, or at least the name, with each album (the new "Meliora" introduces Papa Emeritus III"), would it consider an audition for Pope Francis now that he's become a pop recording artist in his own right?
"Well, I think he'd probably do a great job and everything," the guitar-playing Ghoul notes. "I don't know about his singing skill -- but he certainly has the smile."
There is, of course, an element of fun to Ghost despite the macabre trappings of the costumes. But the Ghoul also makes clear that the quintet -- which formed in Linkoping seven years ago and has become a favorite of colleagues such as Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and Dave Grohl -- is serious about what it does. That certainly pertains to the music, which on "Meliora" finds the group working with Klas Ahlund, a producer and writer known for his pop recordings with acts such as Robyn, Madonna, Britney Spears, Katy Perry and others.
"What we wanted to achieve this time was...something that sounded very luxurious and expensive," the Ghoul explains. "A few years back I had this idea of working with Klas. It was a very strange idea and it got shut down pretty early. We thought that trying to convince our label that having this pop-rock radio (-friendly) producer from Sweden would not come across as such a good idea.
"But a year back some people at the label were like, have you asked this guy (Ahlund)? Let's try him.' And it came out great. It was a very strong album to make; he's a man of strong will, and so are we. It was like a constant fight, but in a very good sense. We're very proud of what we created."
Focus and songcraft was where Ahlund exerted the most influence on the process, according to the Ghoul.
"I love bands like Radiohead and whatnot who do their thing in it's beautiful, but we can't be like that," the Ghoul says. "We have to frame what we do very hard. What can we do or not do? What should be the key instruments? How much choir should we have? We certainly did plan the album and write the songs out; it's not like we came up with a song and said, 'This sounds like art deco. Let's do more like that.'
"We did a lot of talking and a lot of arguing and a lot of trying different things. It all worked out in the end. We feel like it's a real step forward."
Ghost and Purson
Friday, Oct. 2. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
The Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave.,
Tickets are $27.60 in advance, $32.60 day of show.
Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com
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