Grammy-winning Swedish metal band Ghost haunt Stroudsburg’s Sherman Theater April 14
STROUDSBURG — When Ghost won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance earlier this year, vocalist Papa Emeritus III’s speech on the Grammy stage was short and to-the-point.
“Hello, we are Ghost. Thank you so much for this,” said the fully-facepainted rocker while flanked by his bandmates, known only as Nameless Ghouls. “This is a big, big thing for us, obviously… thank you all for that. Thank you everybody involved and thank you for voting. Now go party!”
According to the Nameless Ghoul responsible for lead guitar, Ghost’s April 14 performance at Stroudsburg’s Sherman Theater will end in a similar fashion — a directive from Papa to “be happy, be glad, be nice to each other, be cool” — but the moments before that send-off will meld their musical performance with a showmanship reflective of the Swedish band’s aesthetic.
“Imagine religious mass meets cabaret,” the Nameless Ghoul said. “We usually start off quite dark and sort of sinister and serious, then it ends up quite loose; the word that we’re striving for is euphoric. We want people to be very happy when they leave.”
If the Nameless Ghoul’s comments are any indication, Ghost has yet to reach the level of production they’re aspiring to; that will come when the band institutes theatrical set changes akin to those seen during a musical or play. Until then, their show centers around the aforementioned metamorphosis of mood within the room they inhabit, with changes in tone embodied by changes in Papa’s wardrobe.
The artists involved with Ghost have a penchant for showmanship, but at the end of the day, Ghost is a band. As lead guitarist, the Nameless Ghoul has been part of the group’s growth as writers, as musicians and as an ensemble.
“I think, especially looking a few years back when we started touring with this band, I definitely see a lot of maturity… just generally feeling different about playing,” the Nameless Ghoul said. “When you’re a band playing six nights every week for years, you just find yourself all of a sudden. You’re like, ‘wow, we just improvised something in front of 40,000 people.’ That’s when you notice we’re kind of professionals now, and that’s a fun feeling.”
A professional band has to deliver in the studio too, and each of Ghost’s three full-length albums — 2010’s “Opus Eponymous, 2013’s “Infestissumam” and 2015’s “Meliora” — charted in Sweden, with the latter two reaching No. 1 status. Their albums have also reached top 10 spots in Finland, Germany and the United States, and the Nameless Ghoul attributes this success to sound songwriting in a genre otherwise known for its brutality.
“I think it’s because it’s very melodic and it’s very hooky,” the Nameless Ghoul said. “Ever since I started writing music I’ve always been very influenced by a lot of different music… that’s the problem with most metal bands, they just rely on a certain sound. When I write riffs I can write a riff based on a vocal line… what are the words, what chords do we emphasize? That’s what makes us different than most metal bands. I’m not saying better, I’m saying different.”
The Nameless Ghoul said their live shows are attended by fans who get their use of iconography, understand their message and range in age from childhood fans of Alice Cooper and KISS on down. If you’d like to spend your Thursday at night mass with Papa Emeritus III and the Namesless Ghouls, $25 tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com. Service begins promptly at 8 p.m.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts