Second day of the hearing.
Welcome to The Metal Report’s coverage of day two of the trial which sees four former Nameless Ghouls suing Ghost‘s front man. Bold text is The Metal Report’s comments and are not a part of the proceedings. Day One’s coverage is here.
Updated at 13:49 on the 5th of September: the drummer was incorrectly referred to as Ether, when his stage name was actually Earth. The article has been changed to reflect this.
Ghost Lawsuit: Cardinal Copia’s Lawyer’s Opening Remarks (Day 2)
- Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk, the lawyer representing Cardinal Copia, picks up where she left off yesterday. She begins by stating that some of the four Ghouls in the lawsuit have submitted invoices and accordingly, have been paid.
- The royalties system is mentioned again and that if the albums sold well then everyone made more money.
- She mentions that one Ghoul in the past was fired and that the band continued as normal.
- More meetings were held regarding finances with both sides trying to reach an agreement but the atmosphere in the band had become “frosty”.
- Björk recaps the payments to the Ghouls and reinforces the point that they have been paid.
It should be noted that the Ghouls have requested to see accounts of how much money Ghost have earned to ensure that the amounts they have been paid are fair. A statement released by them on social media perhaps gave the impression they hadn’t been paid at all but the dispute is actually over how much they should have been paid.
- A dispute breaks out between the lawyers as the Ghouls’ lawyer, Michael Berg, claims that a letter produced by Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk is unreadable. She counters that it’s easy to read and she can read it to Berg if he is unable to do so. After more back and forth, the judge tells Björk to continue.
- She goes through agreements and payments made in October 2016 and how the band went on tour but that the Ghouls barely spoke to Cardinal Copia for the duration of the tour. Each night he was not sure if they would perform or not.
The band travel on one tour bus so that must have been very uncomfortable especially for the lady Ghoul who joined Ghost on that tour and would have been stuck in the middle.
- During this time the Ghouls employed someone to act as their representative in negotiations.
- After the tour concluded in November the Ghouls left Ghost but a month later their agent contacted Copia, asserting that the former Ghouls and Copia were equal partners in Ghost.
- Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk lists former Ghouls including one who was in Ghost until 2011 who is not involved in the lawsuit. She states they are the only person who could be considered a member of Ghost and Copia agrees with this.
This is presumably the original bassist who Copia worked with in recording the original Ghost demo.
- Björk now brings up the Ghoul known as Alpha/Fire. She says that he claims to have been involved in part of the production for the band but wasn’t and that he did not play drums on Opus Eponymous.
I’m not sure what the drum issue is about as who played drums on Opus has never been contested, it was never Alpha.
- She produces an email from 2012 where Alpha/Fire acknowledges the band as being Copia’s. She outlines Alpha’s contributions and appearances with the band before stating that “he has not created anything of value.” She asserts he was “an emergency solution”.
- Next she addresses the Ghoul known as Air who played keyboards between 2011 and 2016, arguing that he had no input to the band. He was a paid musician who invoiced Ghost accordingly and was paid as such.
- The Water Ghoul involved in the lawsuit was only in the band between 2015 and 2016 and was paid a monthly salary. He has stated he wrote a riff in a song but Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk says that he didn’t write it, he botched the playing of the already written riff and it ended up on the final recording.
This also happened with Metallica’s Seek and Destroy where the wrong take of the guitar solo was used which included an incorrect note. Kirk Hammett has always played the correct version of the solo live. Therefore Water’s accidental rewriting of a riff isn’t an unprecedented occurrence.
- Lastly the fourth Ghoul, Earth, is addressed. He was involved in Ghost between 2015 and 2016 and played drums live. He has submitted invoices and been paid as a live musician for hire, which he was contracted as.
That’s now the end of Cardinal Copia’s lawyer’s opening remarks, after lunch Alpha/Fire takes the stand.
Ghost Lawsuit: Alpha/Fire Testimony
Alpha is being questioned by his own lawyer to begin.
- Alpha says he has been in the music industry for 20 years, has played in several bands and owns his own recording studio.
- Every band he has been in hasn’t been about the money so all members were equals.
- He met Copia in 2003, they were in different bands. Copia moved from Stockholm to Linkoping in 2004, the two started playing in a band together in 2005/2006. In 2009 Copia talked of a project he wanted to start called Ghost. He wanted to record three songs so Alpha helped him. Alpha says he programmed melodies which he says is the same as writing the song as he was choosing which instruments would play which part of the music.
- Says he was involved in the recording and two singles were released.
I’m not sure what two singles he’s referring to as one single was released with two songs on it, Elizabeth and Death Knell. Perhaps he meant two songs were released. Again, please bear in mind that what he is being said is being transcribed by a journalist and then I’m translating their notes into English, so this could be a misunderstanding in the process.
- Alpha says that they had offers of gigs and that he was to play guitar. They needed a drummer and a keyboardist, he says he was involved in discussions over who to use.
- None of the members of Ghost at that time had any money and couldn’t afford things like shoes. He worked part time in a record shop to make ends meet. As nothing was said in terms of him being a hired musician he worked on the premise that he was an equal part of the band, like other bands he had been in.
- In 2010 Alpha asked the Air Ghoul in the lawsuit to join Ghost. Though he later says he suggested Air as a member.
- By 2011 they had a full line up in place and had a meeting where it was decided they were all equal partners and that all profits would be split equally, one sixth each. All members were fully committed to making Ghost a success.
- Alpha only worked part time in the record store and lived off his girlfriend at the time.
- He repeatedly mentions meetings including one with a manager, stating he was in the meetings because he was in the band.
Bear in mind that this is his lawyer questioning him so he is being asked questions that result in him repeating statements that back up his legal claim. I mention this to clarify how trials work, Cardinal Copia’s lawyer will employ the same tactic when she questions Copia and Michael Berg will repeat this tactic with all four of the Ghouls.
- An agreement was signed and an American company was established to handle Ghost’s business. Alpha repeats that he signed the agreement as he was in the band.
- More reiteration that it was agreed everything would be split equally between the six members.
- Alpha says that he played guitar and helped create the backing tracks the band used live.
- In 2012 Alpha says he became “pissed off” as a partnership was agreed but nothing was put in writing. He asked Copia if Ghost was a solo project or a band. He claims it was never mentioned that they would be hired musicians.
- The Ghouls felt that the one good thing about not having a written agreement was that if Copia decided to go back on their deal then he’d have to buy them out of the band.
If no agreement was in writing then there was no proof of them having an equal partnership, so it’s odd that Alpha should think that they’d need to be bought out.
- In 2012 Alpha says that they received an advance from Universal to record a new album. They recorded a demo version at his studio then they travelled to Nashville to work on it. Alpha says he was there for six weeks working on the album but Copia was there for only two.
- In 2014 they were to begin work on another album and the Water Ghouls involved in the lawsuit was brought in to play bass and as an equal partner in the band.
- They jump ahead and discuss a member of the band being fired and that all members of the band voted for them to be fired.
- Talk of the contract they were offered as hired musicians in 2016, the Ghouls felt it was unfair and should contact a lawyer. They did sign a short term agreement before the US tour.
- Alpha is then read a list of songs he says that he co-wrote. He confirms that he co-wrote each one.
Questioning by the Ghoul’s lawyer, Michael Berg, ends. Copia’s lawyer Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk now begins cross examining Alpha.
- Alpha is asked who paid for the Autumn 2010 tour, he answers that there were companies who picked up the costs.
- He’s asked if any of the Ghouls were paid per gig in 2011, he says no.
- The cost of merch was advanced and would have to be repaid if the merch didn’t sell, Alpha is asked if he was told of the risk. He was aware. Confirms that he was not asked to put money into the band as an equal partner. When asked if he would have done so, he replies that he “Does not know”.
- Copia’s lawyer starts grilling Alpha over a meeting on April 2nd 2011 and his statement that this meeting established them as one sixth equal partners. Alpha says it was Copia’s idea for them to be equal. Alpha never asked for shares in the company, nor did he ask to be added to the company operating as Ghost, even though it was Copia’s company.
Questioning ends, as do proceedings for the day.
Ghost Lawsuit Day 2 Overview
It was a heated day in court as lawyers Michael Berg and Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk clashed repeatedly in open hostilities. Björk objected to a number of lines of questioning and was told by Berg to sit down and calm down at one point. Björk’s descriptions of the Ghouls in the lawsuits was pretty scathing and can’t have sat well with them.
Copia considering the original Water an equal partner in the band isn’t a surprise as he has given credit to that Water in interviews. This was also a key admission in court as it shows that Copia is willing to give credit where it is deserved and that he’s not simply trying to claim credit for everything, as the litigating Ghouls claim.
Alpha/Fire is seemingly trying to position himself as being not just equal to the other band members but equal to Copia in terms of songwriting and band leadership, though he isn’t credited as having written any Ghost songs and seemingly had no issue with it prior to today. It’s somewhat surprising that Björk wasn’t more aggressive in her questioning of Alpha but considering he kept repeating that all members were equal, it probably wouldn’t have gotten far. Also, he has the strongest claim as he was the longest serving band member other than Copia and was involved in the early stages of recording.
Presumably her plan here is to dismantle the other three Ghouls as Air was the second longest serving of the litigants but only played on Infestissumam, Earth never played on an album and Water was paid monthly. At a guess, she will attack their claim to being equal partners when the three clearly weren’t as active in the band as the other Ghouls, let alone Copia himself.
It makes me wonder why Alpha didn’t file his own lawsuit as his claim is reasonably solid from a legal standpoint whereas Air, Earth and Water are on much more shaky ground.
Unfortunately, Linkoping News will not be reporting the trial live tomorrow so we won’t have coverage tomorrow unless another Swedish news outlet picks it up. The trial is not taking place on Thursday or Friday but resumes next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Andreas Schander has been covering the trial live for Linkoping News and this report is based on translations of his work. The only parts of his work that have been replicated exactly are reproduced in quotations.