Although their names have long been something of an open secret thanks to internet detective work, the members of Satanic pop-metal band Ghost insist on concealing their identities in public, hiding behind long black cloaks and masks inspired by medieval plague doctors and giving all but their leader/lead singer, Papa Emeritus, the humble sobriquet of “Nameless Ghoul.” They even sign autographs with rubber stamps, lest their handwriting give anything away. And you know what? It’s fucking hot behind those masks, and those robes start to stink after a while.
That’s just one of the mundane complaints leveled in a lawsuit brought in Swedish court by four former Nameless Ghouls against Papa Emeritus—a.k.a. 36-year-old metal musician Tobias Forge—alleging everything from inadequate laundry facilities and rogue bananas (one crew member is allergic) to more serious charges of cheating band members out of their fair share of the band’s profits. In the suit, the four musicians say Forge treated them like disposable musicians for hire, going back on promises to make them all partners and distribute the band’s profits equally.
In perhaps the most metal statement of all time, the plaintiffs say Forge is a man characterized by his “unabashed dishonesty, greed, and darkness. Not the darkness of which Ghost sings, but a darkness that pushes a person to betray his best friends when fame and fortune appear within reach.” Their lawsuit includes minutes from band meetings and group e-mails, revealing that even those branded with the mark of the beast are concerned with such mundane affairs as tour riders—cold cuts, stamped postcards, beer, room-temperature water, and nice chocolate (“NOT HERSHEY!”) are all on the menu—and sleeping arrangements on the bus.
And in true self-serving Satanic fashion, Forge doesn’t really dispute this account. In a statement filed last week, he said that the band, which is “destroyed” now that its members’ identities have been revealed, was completely his idea, he wrote all but two of its songs and handles all of its business affairs, and that none of the ex-band members suing him were there at the beginning. Not that it would matter, anyway, given that there’s “no legal partnership” between them. The only other musician who Forge gives any sort of creative credit is ex-guitarist Martin Persner, who is not part of the lawsuit and who unmasked himself in a video promoting his new band back in March.
Corroborating the ex-Ghouls’ picture of Forge, he fired the last iteration of the band after wrapping up Ghost’s Fall 2016 tour and recruited all-new Nameless Ghouls without making any sort of formal announcement. That new lineup is on tour with Iron Maiden now.