The identity of Ghost's Nameless Ghouls has been as much a part of their endearing mystique as the ever-evolving journey of their fictional frontmen. Masked and only going by pseudonyms (or, often, cute nicknames provided by Ghost's ever-dedicated fanbase), the Ghouls and Ghoullettes have been the subject of intense speculation since Tobias Forge first brought his spooktacular vision to the world in 2010, though have rarely broken ranks to give interviews about their experiences, even after exiting the band.
Now, one former Ghoul, Chris Catalyst, who has also played with the likes of goth icons Sisters Of Mercy and 90s alt rock mainstays Ugly Kid Joe, has lifted the lid on his experiences touring with Ghost, having joined them for their recent tours in support of latest studio album, Impera.
Speaking to Guitar World, Catalyst explains how his stint in the band ended up coming together.
"It came through a friend. It was their producer Tom Dalgety who knew they needed a player," he says. "My life is so chock-full of serendipity… I wouldn’t say good luck, but good fortune. I had just finished that tour with Ugly Kid Joe. I’d just bought a house with my girlfriend at the time, came back home and she said it was over. I didn’t really have anywhere to go. I was living on the sofa in the Sisters rehearsal room, wondering what I would do next.
“Just a few days later, I got the call saying there was a band looking for a player. I said yes before even asking which band it was. Then I got told it was Ghost – I’d heard the name and seen the pictures, so I knew it was going to be quite heavy. But after giving them another listen I knew they also had big tunes, hooks and choruses. I did a video of me playing, sent it over to the boss and he said, ‘Yeah, you’ve got the gig if you want it!’ And then he said there were two things I needed to be aware of…
“First of all, it would be a lot of touring," he continues, "which was brilliant for me! The other thing was ‘You’re not going to have many guitar solos,’ and I said ‘Even better!’ Because I love rhythm. It’s always been about chords and riffs for me. I love solos as much as the next fret wanker but the kind of ones I like aren’t really widdly; they’re more atmospheric or melodic.”
Catalyst goes on to reveal that Watcher In The Sky and Spirit were two of the most challenging Ghost songs to bring to life on the stage, before revealing his favourite song by the band to play live.
“I really loved Kaisarion," he says. "It’s such a journey of a song – it’s riffy but also has prog bits. I’m a big fan of Cardiacs, who would do proggish stuff but without the cloaks! Some of it reminded me of that, other parts felt more Iron Maiden. I think it’s the first song Tobias wrote in a major key. People seem to default to writing in certain ways, and I tend to lean towards major keys myself, so that’s probably why I enjoyed that song a lot. It’s more of an effort for me to play sad songs because I’m not much of a sad person!”
Impera was released last year to critical acclaim. In his 9/10 review for Metal Hammer, Dave Everley wrote: "Impera wins on bolshiness, bravado and skyscraping songs alone. Ghost have turned in a modern metal classic with an arena rock heart." In a recent interview with Hammer, Ghost mainman Tobias Forge revealed that he'd used two LA shows on the band's recent world tour to shoot scenes for a secret new film project.
"We were essentially shooting a film," he stated. "And we used two nights of crowds as extras...It’s going to be a film with a concert element. So a lot of what you experienced [at the two LA shows] is going to be part of this project."
When Forge was asked if the movie project will take on a similar approach to Metallica's Through The Never concert film, Forge replied: "In the sense that it’s a concert with something else combined."