Two rather quiet years after the release of the hauntingly poignant Moonlover (2014, Northern Silence Productions), GHOST BATH are back and tearing into the souls of black metallers everywhere with new album Starmourner (2017, Nuclear Blast). We had the pleasure of catching vocalist Nameless right before the first show of the European tour in support to KATATONIA to discuss the band’s rise, their latest record Starmourner and the reaction to the band’s rather unusual approach to black metal.
So this is the first date of your Starmourner European tour, are there any particular places you’re especially looking forward to playing?
Nameless: Well we’re already excited to be back in the UK, we had a great time at Bloodstock! Not to mention that was the only date we got to play last year. But I’m also looking forward to seeing Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, you know, all the eastern European countries.
How do you feel about playing with KATATONIA?
Nameless: Again, pretty excited even though I’ve never really listened to them. I know when we posted the announcement that we were playing with them, a tonne of people got really excited like “Holy shit you’re playing with KATATONIA!” but yeah, I don’t know.
The rest of your tour is to promote the shiny new album Starmourner, which is quite an unusual piece. I remember you mentioning it explores ecstasy as a human emotion. I wonder, how do you intend on translating that into a live performance without compromising any of the black metal?
Nameless: I think the ecstasy and the happiness, these are emotions that are taking place around me whereas the vocals remain depressive and so I think, actually, the best way to illustrate that is through one of the stories I wrote for album. In the story, a guy wakes up in heaven surrounded by angels, and they’re all holding hands, praising and singing, but he’s just there in the middle of it, alone. It’s this idea of solitude, basically, that I use as a tool to explore depression and like, sorrow and stuff.
So like, exploring that uncanny feeling of being lonely in a crowd?
Nameless: Yeah, yeah definitely. Like, everyone’s feeling good around you but you’re not, yourself.
The album itself is ambitious, it clocks in at a surprising 71 minutes long which is nearly a whole half an hour longer than Moonlover. Why such a big project?
Nameless: Well if I’m honest, Moonlover is short because I only had like, a thousand dollars and three days to record…
…Three days and you recorded all of Moonlover?
Nameless: Yeah haha, I wrote it in a couple of days and then I went and recorded it for a couple days. So, that was kinda just based on my financial situation, I guess! But obviously I did the best I could in that situation. But yeah this one, I don’t know, I don’t really keep track of time. I just write songs until I figure I’ve got a finished piece. It actually had one more song but that was used as a bonus track on Moonlover, that was Ascension.
Granted this is the Starmourner tour, but GHOST BATH have another two fantastic albums before that: Funeral and Moonlover. How’ve you managed to organise your setlist?
Nameless: We’ve tried to [fit everything in]. Obviously on the opening days we can’t play as much variety because we’ve only got like, forty minutes on this shared part of the tour, our songs are really long as well! So I don’t know, I think we’ll just try do half and half between Moonlover and Starmourner and then when we have the time we’ll put in something from Funeral.
Good plan! Now, GHOST BATH have absolutely exploded onto the scene considering you only released your first EP like what, four years ago? Did you ever expect to get to this level so quickly?
Nameless: No! I didn’t expect it at all! Basically at the time I had just quit my previous band, was going to college, so GHOST BATH was really a side project. I really enjoy writing music, so all my free time was spent doing just that. Then I think when Funeral came out it got a lot of good responses and so that’s when I decided to take that money and go to an actual studio to record Moonlover. So yeah, I wasn’t expecting that! And even after I recorded Moonlover, everything still feels like it happened so fast…
Money well spent, Moonlover was glorious! Given that Starmourner is this beautifully complicated piece, what kind of reactions are you hoping for? More specifically, what kind of emotions are you hoping to invoke in your audiences?
Nameless: I’d like just to invoke an emotion -it doesn’t have to be anything specific. Like, any reaction’s fine with me. People literally laughing at it is also fine with me because I would laugh at the same thing! Like when I listened to SILENCER for the first time I did at first laugh, and now I just love that sound… So I don’t know, I think people either love it or hate it and that’s exactly where I want to be. I’d hate it if people were sort of like ‘ehh’ kinda in the middle about it.
So as long as there is that emotion there? Also, what would you say to people who, you know, perhaps did have a negative reaction to such unusual vocals?
Nameless: Again, any reaction is fine with me. I don’t believe there’s a wrong way of looking at something. I also think when you’re listening to music, how much you like it or how much you hate it says a lot more about you as a person than it does about the actual music. Like, you can listen to the same album when you’re older and have a totally different opinion of it than you had when you were younger. Or alternatively, something you listened to and enjoyed when you were younger might not be something you’d like if you heard it for the first time now. It’s about where you’re at in life.
Speaking of which, you’re at a busy time in yours. There’s the release of the new album, you’re on a new tour, what else does 2017 hold in store for GHOST BATH?
Nameless: Basically just as much touring as possible! We tour all of Europe till July, almost, and then we’re going on tour with THY ART IS MURDER, DECAPITATED, and FALLUJAH in the US for like, a full month, so that’ll be awesome. I mean, in the plans we’re trying to get to Japan, Australia and hopefully China.
There’s quite a diversity between THY ART IS MURDER and GHOST BATH! FALLUJAH as well -mixing blackgaze and djent! It’s certainly an interesting combo…
Nameless: I mean we’re friends with a lot of those guys! It’s not the reason we’re going on the tour, but it certainly helped haha! Last year when we were here we played with THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, GOATWHORE and DYING FETUS so I think we’re kinda used to playing with heavier death metal…
Finally, where do you see GHOST BATH in say, five or ten years?
Nameless: Ahh it’s really hard to say! Like, if you were to ask me that back when I started the band I’d have said “oh you know, I guess I’ll just put some albums out on YouTube or something” haha! But it’d be awesome if we were still touring and bringing out albums.
Hopefully so! Thank you so much!
Starmourner is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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