Ghost: Here’s a List of Writing Credits for Every Song in Their Catalog
This morning, the details of lawsuit brought against Ghost frontman Tobias Forge (“Papa Emeritus”) were revealed, and the accusations made in the suit certainly look very bad: ex-guitarist Simon Söderberg alleges that Forge claimed the band made no profits, hasn’t provided income/expense paperwork to back up that claim, and he attempted to contract the other members as paid consultants despite a supposed previous agreement in which they’d be treated as equal members.
But if there’s one thing we know for certain about Ghost — from a fan perspective, anyway — it’s that Forge has always seemed like the band’s mastermind: the group’s visuals strongly feature him as the epicenter (the other members are literally called “Nameless” fer chrissakes), he conducts all of their interviews dressed as a Ghoul himself, and he’s stated publicly that he writes almost all of their music,
One MetalSucks reader who wishes to remain anonymous decided to look deeper into the songwriting element: how crucial is Forge’s role in the writing process, and to what extent have any other members played a part? Public records available at ASCAP, a performing rights organization which licenses and collects royalties for copyrighted works on behalf of its members, are very telling.
Surely you can already see where this is going: it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Forge has indeed written (or co-written) the bulk of Ghost’s music.
A couple of important notes before we dive in:
1) The fact that Forge’s role in writing Ghost’s music is so prominent in no way implies that the four former members bringing the suit against him don’t have a case: revenue from touring does not fall under ASCAP’s jurisdiction, and that income stream seems to the focus of the lawsuit.
2) The fact that ASCAP records indicate Forge had such a prominent role in the band’s songwriting doesn’t necessarily mean that he actually did have such a prominent role in songwriting. History is littered with examples of musicians claiming they’ve been unfairly excluded from songwriting credits.
That said, taken in concert with what we already know about Ghost — it’s certainly always seemed like The Papa Show — it’s hard to look at these songwriting credits and imagine Forge would ever agree to anything in which all revenue was to be split equally between band members.
Let’s have a look.
Here are all of the songwriters credited on Ghost’s entire catalogue (musicians often chose aliases for their ASCAP entities):
A Ghoul Writer – Tobias Jens Forge
Indio Marcato – Martin Persner, ex-guitarist
Klaus Ahlund – producer of Meliora, member of Teddybears
Gustaf Lindström – ex-bassist of Repugnant, Subvision, presumably Ghost, etc. (credited for one song, “Mummy Dust”)
Johan Ingvar Lindström (credited for one song, “Deus in Absentia”)
Opus Eponymous – All songs credited solely to A Ghoul Writer
Infestissumam – All songs include a credit to A Ghoul Writer, some including co-writers:
Per Aspera ad Inferi
Jigolo Har Megiddo
Ghuleh / Zombie Queen (oddly enough, the only Ghost song credited to Tobias Jens Forge and not A Ghoul Writer)
Year Zero (Marcato)
Body and Blood (Marcato)
Depth of Satan’s Eyes
Monstrance Clock (Marcato)
La Mantra Mori
Meliora – All songs include credit to A Ghoul Writer, most including co-writers:
From The Pinnacle To The Pit (Ahlund, Marcato)
He Is (Ahlund, Marcato)
Mummy Dust (Ahlund, Marcato, Gustaf Lindström)
Absolution (Ahlund, Marcato)
Deus In Absentia (Ahlund, Johan Ingvar Lindström)
Zenith (Ahlund, Marcato)
It’s worth noting that while the band’s debut was credited solely to Forge, each album since has included more co-writing credits than the last, giving the claims in the lawsuit some added weight. Still, there’s no denying — based on these records, anyway — that Forge’s role in the band’s writing process is outsize.
It’s also interesting that Martin Persner is not a participant in the lawsuit despite his significant songwriting contributions on Meliora. Perhaps Persner feels the income received for songwriting via ASCAP is enough, maybe he had a different deal with Forge than the other members, or maybe he simply didn’t want to be involved in the suit. All just speculation.
This is certainly an interesting case, and one that’s undoubtedly way more complex than the information available publicly would indicate: there are ALWAYS more details, often quite small, that are crucial to understanding the entirely of an issue like this.
We’ll continue to post any new information on the Ghost lawsuit as it becomes available.