A Nameless Ghoul talks Ghost B.C.'s If You Have Ghost EP
Before they recorded their most recent album, Infestissumam, the members of Ghost B.C. ran into Dave Grohl at a music festival. The spooky Swedish rockers and the omnipresent Foo Fighter hit it off and realized that they shared similar musical tastes. "We both have understandings of pop, classic rock, extreme metal and punk," says one of Ghost B.C.'s Nameless Ghouls. "Very quickly, we were saying, ‘Wow, it’d be great to do something together someday.’ And as luck would have it, Dave said, ‘Well, I just happen to have a break right now.’"
A plan was hatched to record a selection of covers, but as the Nameless Ghoul notes, the band would devote as much attention to the set as they would a proper album. “Usually, when you do B-sides, they're really B-sides," he says. "They’re done at the last minute on the last day of recording, so the quality can be somewhat lacking. We weren't gonna do that. We decided to concentrate on the album in Nashville, and then we would turn our attention to doing the covers record with Dave and treat them accordingly."
After finishing Infestissumam with producer Nick Raskulinecz, the band convened with Grohl at his 606 Studio in Los Angeles, where filming on the recent Sound City documentary has just finished. "I think some of the same coffee cups you saw in the film were still sitting there when we did the EP," says the Ghoul, who adds that "Dave had an incredible work ethic and a lot of energy. He worked for 10 hours a day and really got stuff done. That was pretty inspiring.”
For the covers – an intriguing array originally recorded by the likes of Roky Erickson, ABBA, Army Of Lovers and Depeche Mode – Grohl performed double duty as both producer and drummer. The Ghoul says that Ghost B.C.'s sticksman had no issues with abdicating his throne for the famed skin beater.
“We’re all on the lower scale of things from an egocentric point of view," he explains, "and because we’re anonymous anyway, our drummer was prepared to make the exception simply because it was Dave Grohl, which we did, as well. It won’t be a recurring thing. Funnily enough, our drummer is a lot better than we allow him to be. [Laughs] He’s more of a technical, jazzy, progressive and ‘break-beaty’ player, and a lot of our stuff is simplified, so you don't often hear how incredible he is.”
On the following pages, the Nameless Ghoul runs down the cover tunes on Ghost B.C.'s forthcoming EP, If You Have Ghost (due out November 19th), as well as the live recording of the band's Secular Haze, which completes the set.
You can order Ghost B.C.'s If You Have Ghost on Amazon.
If You Have Ghosts
“In the mid-‘90s, the band Entombed did a cover of Night Of The Vampire, so that was my introduction to Roky Erickson. Over the years, I would find his records and check them out, and I became a fan. In Scandinavia, he’s always been recognized in the underground scene, but I think it’s fair to say that this happened after the Entombed cover.
“The song screamed ‘cover material,’ what with the title, of course. We added that final sort of chorus that levitated our version a bit; that said, of all the covers we’ve done, this might be the one that we changed the least. I like the REM-like pop sensibility that we put on it – it makes the song fly. It’s not a rough, rowdy garage-rock version; there’s a lighter touch to it. We straightened it out from the original and broadened the melodic language.”
I Am A Marionette
“We’re huge ABBA fans. It’s probably in our DNA to some extent, but you just can’t deny the songs. What an amazing body of work. Out of all the ABBA songs, this is the one that people know about the least. It’s never on any compilations or ‘best-of’ collections
“I’ve been wanting to cover this song for 10 years, probably. With this band, we never really came up with a way to do it until now. When we were preparing to do this record, I brought it up and said that I wanted to do a Faith No More-type version of it. Especially with Dave drumming on it, I thought it should be a very percussive song.”
“This is the most tongue-in-cheek thing we’ve done. Army Of Lovers were huge in Sweden at one point. It’s not known to the rest of the world, but the characters have sort of outlived the band – they’ve become TV personalities and have been visible in various ways. It’s something of a spectacle circus in Sweden, but they’re highly respected. You see them in the media as political commentators, and they’ve been very outspoken in sexual matters and gay pride.
“From a Swedish perspective, covering Army Of Lovers probably means a lot more, whereas to the rest of the world, it’s just us taking this weird, gay disco song and turning it into something else.
“It’s a great song. Alexander Bard is a really good writer. Obviously, lyrically, it goes well with what we’re doing, and that’s a very important criterion for us. Papa needs to be able to sing it, so the subject matter or theme has to work.”
Waiting For The Night
“I’ve always liked this song, but because I’m more of a guitar guy I heard it a little differently, or I thought about what it could be. It’s been lying around for a while for us to – well, not “fix” it, but to take it somewhere else. Depeche Mode has such a strong body of work, and it’s one that has a lot of potential for bands to do things with.
“This song required a lot of work, though. We had done one demo that was faster and slightly more orchestral. We felt, when we were recording the EP, ‘Oh, fuck shit, we kind of blew a load of violins on If You Have Ghosts, so maybe we shouldn’t do that here.’ We realized that the one thing we hadn’t done was a proper metal song.
“Dave and I, being from different ages but still having the same sort of reverential feel, decided to turn it into more of a Trouble song – really slow and kind of by ear almost. It was him on the drums and me on guitar, getting a very live feel. It’s translates to people who are into doom.”
“I’m going to be very frank: It was the label that wanted five songs. We had done the live recording in New York – sometimes you just do things for archives – and they wanted to use something from it. We didn’t want to, but they insisted, so we chose Secular Haze because it sounded the best.
“What it adds is the fact that it’s a proper live recording, and we’re a good live band, so there you go. We’ve been discussing doing something more proper as a live release – a film, perhaps, other than ‘Oh, this is a live version of a song you’ve already heard.’”