Get Ready to Be Haunted

Ghost B.C. is a band shrouded in mystery

What we do know is this: The six-piece band formed as Ghost in 2008 in Linköping, Sweden, and released their 2010 debut album Opus Eponymous, which was widely revered by metalheads and avant-garde music fans. The album was nominated for a Grammis, the Swedish equivalent of a Grammy.

In February, the band changed names, in America anyway, to Ghost B.C. due to "legal reasons." According to a press release, "the 'B.C.' is silent when spoken aloud, please remember that." The band of "Nameless Ghouls" is led by Papa Emeritus II, the lead singer and master of ceremonies.

Ghost B.C. released their sophomore album, Infestissumam, on April 16. It's a heavy, swirling and atmospheric album that'll make fans of Blue Oyster Cult, King Diamond and Electric Wizard bang their heads. With song titles like "Secular Haze," "Per Aspera Ad Inferi," and "Depth of Satan's Eyes," you know what kind of territory is being mined here; it's a 12-sided dice roll into a hellish carnival.

This year sees Ghost B.C. embarking on a "Haze Across North America" tour, which includes their debut at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. At Coachella (the second weekend of which is this Friday through Sunday), they'll be playing during the day, something they're both excited and slightly apprehensive about.

"It's going to be fun. There's always an element in playing festivals that (is) both exciting and annoying. It makes more traditional touring a little bit more comfortable," a Nameless Ghoul says (the band members' names have not been made public). "Especially for a band like us. We have an image problem when it comes to warm, outdoor environments. A lot of the core elements of what we do sort of get a little tempered when we perform in broad daylight. It's not a big problem, but it's not optimal. And ... it's very hot."

Live, the band perfectly fits the mold of theatrical rock. It isn't as campy as a geriatric Alice Cooper beheading baby dolls, or as messy as Gwar's liquified hysterics. Seeing a Ghost B.C. show is akin to going to a midnight Mass, albeit much louder.

"We have a church decor, and everything within the confines of that church is basically a rock 'n' roll band playing in cloaks," the Nameless Ghoul says. "The orchestrator is Papa, who is sort of the head, the main character of everything. There's always a great deal of improv because we are not at the level of performance, or economy, to do all the things we intend to do in the future. It'll involve a great deal of trickery and costume changes. But we'll get there."

Visually, the cloaked and hooded Nameless Ghouls, along with frontman Papa Emeritus II, invoke a Grand Guignol performance. It also translates into their music. It's easy to pick up on the cinematic influences on Infestissumam. "Year Zero," with its spooky organ and demonic chanting, sounds similar to film composer Jerry Goldsmith's diabolic theme to The Omen, while "Ghuleh/Zombie Queen" conjures images of an Ennio Morricone-themed horror-Western.

"Ennio Morricone is obviously an influence. Everybody likes his stuff. He's played a major role in what we're doing," the Nameless Ghoul says. "Also, Tangerine Dream, Jerry Goldsmith, Angelo Badalamenti. David Lynch films play a big role in our lives. There's a lot of cinematic influences that are greater than what we probably give those composers credit for. Our ideas are formed somewhere between music and film and theater. The influences range from all of these gentle things."

High-profile musicians have recently rallied around the band. Metallica's James Hetfield, Pantera's Phil Anselmo and Darkthrone's Fenriz have all joined the congregation onstage at one time or another to fan the flames. The Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl has even recorded with Ghost B.C. on a jaw-dropping cover of fellow Swedes ABBA's "I'm a Marionette."

"We did an ABBA song and a Depeche Mode cover that he played the drums on," the Nameless Ghoul says. "It was a fun way of treating what would be referred to as B-sides in a special way rather than just squeezing in a few hours at the end of a recording process. We spent at least a week with him in a studio just doing those songs, which I think is audible, that we sort of invested a little bit of time and feel into it."

After two weekends of Coachella, Ghost B.C. are making their Tucson debut on Tuesday, April 23, at the Rialto Theatre with Ides of Gemini and Godhunter. This marks their first time playing Arizona.

"We're really looking forward to coming down. Arizona is one of the major markets that we never were really close to. We're glad to fit it into this tour," the Nameless Ghoul says. "Come see us!"

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