Cardinal Copia is questioned.
Note: we refer to Ghost’s frontman by his stage name, see this article for the reason why.
Welcome to The Metal Report’s second part of the coverage of day three 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, day two is here and part 1 of day 3 is here.
Ghost Lawsuit: Cardinal Copia Testimony
The Cardinal is first questioned by his own lawyer Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk. Just as when the Ghouls were questioned by their own lawyer, Michael Berg, expect plenty of questions that result in answers that back up his case. It should also be noted that the Cardinal was questioned for four hours in total by both sides, which is a very long time to be on the stand.
- It’s difficult for him being in court as he has to justify himself.
- He wasn’t in a band when he came up with a song called “Satan’s Night”. He contacted his friend who he had played with in a previous band and suggested that they form a band to record another two songs with this one. Neither had any interest in rehearsing and going nowhere, both wanted this to be a project that they could build on. In 2007 he moved to Linköping.
- His friend (who went on to be the original Water Ghoul and will be referred to as such from here on for ease of reference) worked in a recording studio which they could use. They had decided that the band had to be theatrical and anonymous, dark and also fun.
- In 2008 Copia’s girlfriend became pregnant and in 2009 he became a father. That took his attention away from music but in 2009 he resumed songwriting although his financial situation wasn’t good.
Copia and his girlfriend had twins which would have been especially difficult financially.
- Growing up, it was difficult to find information about the people in bands, not like it is now. Likening it to a theatre production where you see the character but not the actor, he wanted the Ghouls to be like the Stormtroopers in Star Wars with the front person being different.
- As the band was going to be religious it was clear that the front person would be a pope. It was decided that Copia would play guitar in the band and they needed to find the right person to be the front person.
- Copia is asked about Papa Emeritus and where the name came from. He says that he was friends with the man who would become Fire/Aether for many years and when Copia told him about Ghost, Omega told him about Pelle Hällje. Omega referred to Pelle Hällje as a cousin but they may have been just close friends, but Hällje used Papa Emeritus as a username online. Copia liked the name and asked Omega to enquire if Pelle still used the name; if he didn’t then could Copia use it for Ghost?
- The name Ghost was in place by 2008 by the latest although Water had suggested the name ‘The 13th Ghost’ which Copia felt was too long. Copia designed the band’s logo.
The 13th Ghost is likely a reference to the 1960 movie 13 Ghosts which was remade in 2001 as Th13rteen Ghosts. 13 Ghosts was a big deal in the 60’s as director William Castle used blue and red filters for the movie which meant that it could be marketed with the idea that audiences who were brave could watch the movie through a red plastic filter that would allow them to see the ghosts. Anyone who was faint of heart could watch it through a blue plastic film which would filter out the ghosts. The plot of the movie centred around 12 ghosts haunting a house and a mystery about a thirteenth Ghost who is required to free them.
- There’s a long discussion about the administration that goes into a band like booking tours etc, Copia says that he prefers to keep things like copyright and practical things separate from performances and albums. There are many people involved who are not on stage and so he prefers to have one company for the onstage and one for offstage.
- Copia says it is important for people to be paid as that motivates them but in the early days there was no money. He spent far more time on Ghost than anyone else.
- Was never interested in the idea of everyone paying into the band and then being bought out as it means then he is reliant on others. If a band is successful then the financial aspects become far larger than the creative side and he didn’t want other people giving their input on his strategy for the band.
- At one point there were so many tour dates that the Ghouls struggled to keep their day jobs. As Copia has no experience of financial partnerships, he never wanted one and everyone’s financial situation was their own responsibility. Ghost made money from merchandise.
It isn’t mentioned specifically here but it was stated in previous testimony that the merchandise profits were split equally between the Ghouls.
- A financial partnership was never established as that went against his vision for Ghost and was advised against it.
- After becoming a father Copia wanted to get Ghost underway. While Water lived in Oslo they didn’t need to meet up as Copia could record the music without him. At this point Copia called in the person who became Alpha/Fire as they had recorded in a band together.
- There’s a long discussion about Myspace and how it worked, when Copia uses the word, “we” Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk asks who he is referring to. Copia replies Water and himself.
- After the music was released on Myspace there was interest from the record label Iron Pegasus and this led to the release of the Elizabeth 7″ single.
- There’s a long discussion about choosing musicians. Copia was unable to find a frontman and originally drums were to be played by someone Water suggested but he wasn’t a good enough drummer. The drums on the demo were performed by Copia.
- As a new father and living in Linköping, it was necessary to have all the band members be in Linköping. A drummer from Linköping was brought in to play on the recording of Opus Eponymous. There was a release date for the album and live gigs in place so they were now on a schedule.
- The record label said that they wanted Copia as the singer as they had signed Ghost on that basis.
- As he now had to perform vocals, Alpha/Fire was asked to take over guitar. A new drummer was then added.
- When Alpha was asked to join, Omega wanted to join too but Copia was hesitant as although Omega was his best friend, he knew that Water “couldn’t stand” Omega.
- Alpha insisted on Air being added, Copia made the decision to add him.
- We skip ahead. Copia says that their tour manager was the one who suggested the Earth who is involved in the lawsuit and it was Copia who added him. His salary was decided by himself and Ghost’s manager, Rick Sales.
- In Autumn 2014 Klas Åhlund and Copia worked on demos for Meliora with the plan that Copia would perform bass, vocals, all guitars and some keyboards but Klas felt that it would be too much for Copia.
- Alpha was asked to play guitar on the album. Klas suggested the Water Ghoul who is involved in the lawsuit be brought in to play bass, but Copia didn’t want him to be in Ghost. Water was already in a band and Copia didn’t want the two associated but when Copia learned that Water’s band had split he brought Water in.
- There was a good chemistry with Water so he and Earth were added to the live line up.
- When asked if they discussed a financial partnership at the meeting where the two were added to the lineup, Copia says he doesn’t remember but doubts that they’d discuss it after auditions. He says that it’s possible the Ghouls had discussions about it and that Water was living with Omega at the time.
- Payments to the members were different as Alpha was involved in recording and Ghost’s gear was stored at his studio. Omega was also paid more than other Ghouls as he took on more responsibilities than other Ghouls plus Copia wanted to pay him more as Omega was his best friend.
- We go back to Opus era. Ghost signed to Rise Above records, album sale profits would be split 50/50 between the label and Ghost once the label had recovered the cost of the album’s release.
- Copia lived off his songwriting credits. Rise Above paid for gigs but the costs were added to the amount that would need to be recovered before Ghost were paid royalties.
- He didn’t drive or have a credit card, so the tour manager took care of a lot of administration.
- Copia made a deal with a company called Lucky You who helped out with Ghost’s cash flow.
- The only money to pay anyone came from merchandise sales.
- The advances being paid to the band were potentially a growing debt and the only signatory to responsibility for that debt was Copia’s Svenk Drama Pop AB company.
- None of the Ghouls were aware of the group’s finances.
- The only notes taken at meetings were by Omega as “he likes to take notes on everything”. The notes were note given out to the members of Ghost.
- At the meeting where the Ghouls stated that the 1/6 equal agreement was decided, Copia disagrees. Copia was friends with Alpha and Omega but didn’t know the others. Earth at that point wasn’t interested in being in the band and Copia didn’t want to lose 1/6 to him. Water ended up being fired or quitting as he and Copia were angry with each other. Copia says that Water was sloppy when playing live. and his replacement wasn’t someone that Copia knew.
- Says that he had worked for years on the band before anyone else came on board so the idea that he would give away 5/6 is absurd.
- Magnus Larnhed was the band’s first manager but Copia fired him and did the management himself until he took on Sissi Hagald on as his lawyer and Rick Sales as Ghost’s manager.
- Discusses meeting Justin Archangel, the manager of Slipknot. When Ghost went on tour in the US it was a hasty decision and Copia hadn’t organised it well. Justin stepped in and helped so Copia took him on as Ghost’s manager. Sissi disagreed with the decision saying that a manager is a long term relationship and shouldn’t be decided because they needed someone to help with the tour. Copia then signed with Rick Sales.
- When asked why the Ghouls signed the management contract, Copia said he wanted them to feel involved. He says that their signing was “symbolic” and nothing more as he was the only one bound to it.
- Regarding the email sent on Halloween, Copia hadn’t seen the Ghouls in a while and he thinks he sent it probably because Omega had insisted that everyone know what was going on. Copia says that in his emails he talks about things that are likely to happen, but these are not things that will definitely happen.
- No one had money in 2011 but Copia knew they had to be paid but he didn’t want to pay them from his writing credits. Ghost lost money on gigs and made money only on merch sales and advances from the record label.
Just as a reminder, advances from a label are a loan and a band is accruing debt when they accept advances.
- Apart from Omega, the Ghouls’ responsibility was only to get themselves prepared for a gig, although driving and moving gear was shared. As Copia would still be in the Papa Emeritus costume after a show and he had decided that the character wouldn’t give interviews, the Ghouls would cover interviews that were conducted immediately after a show if the interview wasn’t an important one.
Important interviews were always done by Copia dressed as a Ghoul.
- We skip to 2016 and details of payment. The Ghouls were still paid different amounts. Air contacted Copia needing money to cover debt and to see a dentist but management handled salaries, not him. Copia’s role was telling management who did the most work and who needed money. Copia asked management to give Air extra money then it was out of his hands. Copia was stressed as he wanted everyone to be paid more and management was working on new contracts.
- Before the US tour Copia had to record the Popestar EP. He and Omega weren’t getting along and Copia also got married during that time. It was a stressful time.
- Copia had asked for a bonus system to be included in the contracts as an incentive to motivate the Ghouls. The contracts they were given before the tour were not what he had requested and he told the Ghouls not to sign them.
- A meeting was held and Copia told the Ghouls his vision of Ghost over the next 2-3 years. Popestar would be released in September and the band would tour in support of it until Spring 2017. The a new album would be recorded, released and the band would tour to promote it. His plan went up to the end 2018 as he didn’t want to commit to long term payment of wages.
- The tour after that meeting started off with a better mood as Omega had been fired and replaced but didn’t stay that way.
- The current Ghouls are paid weekly and are on short term contracts.
End of questioning by Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk. The judge tells Copia that he needs to keep his answers shorter and to the point. Cardinal Copia is now questioned by the Ghouls’ lawyer Michael Berg.
- Copia had been in previous bands, but doesn’t remember what the agreements were in those bands regarding finances.
- The original Water was a part of the Ghost project but they never discussed financial arrangements.
- Alpha says he is the one who contacted the third drummer, Copia says that it was the session drummer.
This is a little tricky to keep up with the drummers:
Drummer 1 – Wasn’t suitable and didn’t participate beyond one practice.
Drummer 2 – Session musician brought in only for recording.
Drummer 3 – The first Earth. Was in the band until 2014/2015 and played on Infestissumam.
Drummer 4 – The second Earth, the one who is involved in this lawsuit. Member of the band between June 2015 and November 2016.
Berg says that “we’ll ask him when he takes the stand”.
- Copia says the only agreement between him and a Ghoul was the original Water but nothing in writing.
- He is asked if he was responsible for paying the Ghouls, Copia agrees. If they played then wasn’t he responsible for paying them and their insurance? Yes, but there was no money to pay them.
- Copia agrees that they would only be paid if there was money to do so. He is asked if the band never made money, does that mean they’d never be paid. Copia confirms.
- Berg asks if Copia was running a business where employees would not be paid? How could that be a business? Yes, that is correct.
- Berg asks if an email from Copia to the others was asking their opinions or was for information. He confirms it was looking for their input.
- It was a joint decision for Air to join and Copia did not veto it. The only difference with Air is that he wasn’t friends with Copia beforehand, there was no difference between him and the other Ghouls legally.
- Bringing up the notes from the meeting, Copia says that the details were what a manager generally does. He says that those details were not discussed and that Omega probably wrote them of his own accord.
- The Ghouls had no guarantee of profit sharing. Again they go over the fact that the Ghouls wouldn’t be paid unless there was money to do so.
- Talk of the merch making profit, Copia is asked how that was split. It was split equally 1/6 each.
- Copia is asked about a “cultural stipend” he received for 50,000 SEK (£4,267). He applied for 300,000 SEK (£25,607) and on the application had listed the names of the Ghouls. Copia states that he applied on behalf of his brand, Ghost. If the money had become part of profit made by the band it would have been shared, even though it could have been reinvested.
- Copia says he uses “we” when discussing Ghost but that he means himself but doesn’t refer to himself as “we”. He is asked if his using of “we” in an email to the Ghouls outlining responsibilities to act professionally etc is a reference to himself or to himself and the other members. Copia says it is the band and the Ghouls. Berg continues to read from the email and numerous references to “we”.
- The band didn’t have a say in decisions, but as a friend Copia allowed them to give their suggestions.
- Discussion of the contract with Rick Sales. Copia is asked why their names were on it, he says it was to include them but that they wouldn’t be bound to it, only him.
- Copia did not inform Rick Sales that the Ghouls were not legal representatives of Ghost.
- Even though they were legal signatories to the contract it was down to Copia whether they got paid or not.
This contract with Sales was immediately annulled and replaced with one where Copia was the only signatory. Presumably Copia didn’t mention this after being warned by the judge to keep his answers short and to the point but his lawyer could have intervened.
- Sissi Hagald is identified as being Copia’s lawyer, he can’t comment on whether the Ghouls thought she was their manager too.
- Berg reads documents where Hagald describes herself as the band’s lawyer. Copia re-states that she is his lawyer.
- Asked why he wanted the Ghouls’ social security numbers, Copia says that it was because “we” were going to form and agreement but he needed to research it. Clarification that he meant “I”. Asked if he needed these details for research – no. He asked for them because it was urgent as they needed money.
- Copia is grilled over the meaning of the term, “companionship agreement”, he says he doesn’t know and it’s never been explained to him. Is asked what he meant when he used the term in communication with his lawyer, he doesn’t know.
- Discussion now on the meaning of the word business, then back to we/I with Berg contending that Copia alters the meaning of words to suit him.
- We return to the emails and how they were forecasts of things that were likely to happen and not definite.
- Omega was very outspoken in his opinion and wanted financial guarantees for the shows he’d play.
- Asked if the others had a right to the music paid by Universal Music, Copia says no as he was the one who took the risks.
Again the money by Universal would have been an advance. It can’t be split between band members as it needs to pay for the recording, although any remaining money could be split. However, it is a debt belonging to the band as a whole so it would be wiser to retain any remaining money than have the members spend it if the band isn’t profitable. If you’re Metallica and living in mansions then the advance can be immediately split between the band because the Metallica brand already has enough cash to pay the recording fees and isn’t reliant on that money to do so.
- Copia confirms that during recording in Nashville he was there for only two weeks while others were there for six. Universal Music paid.
- Berg asks if the heavy touring in 2013 made a profit. Copia says that a profit is when Ghost makes a profit as a whole. Berg notes that profit is down to whether Copia decides they are in profit or not.
This is what accounts are for. Profit isn’t decided by a person, it’s whether the entity has made profit or not. This is pedantic on the lawyer’s part and it’s surprising that Copia’s lawyer didn’t object as now Berg is changing the meaning of words.
- Copia confirms that the 12,000 SEK (£1,024) per month salary of the Water Ghoul in the case was very low but that he would receive profit share if Ghost made money. This was the same as the other Ghouls.
- Earth involved in the lawsuit was paid 10,000 SEK (£853) per month but played in other bands while in Ghost and would receive additional income from those bands. He also would receive profit share if there was any.
- They discuss the dental conversation with Air, Copia said they discussed invoicing for higher amounts but he didn’t know if it had been done.
- The female Water Ghoul was brought in on a hired musician contract as she asked for it.
That ends days 3 of the trial
Ghost Lawsuit Day 3 Overview
I honestly don’t know what is going on here. It’s pretty standard for the Ghouls to be given questions that they can give the “equal partnerships” and “one sixth profit share” answers to and then the lawyer cross examining would start to dismantle those statements but Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk hasn’t been as aggressive as I personally expected. There’s huge room for her to ask Earth and Water why they expected an equal share in something they didn’t help create. Likewise, there is a clear line of establishing that Air was a live session musician who was brought in for one recording but invoiced for a recording he wasn’t even present for. Her approach so far has seemed quite relaxed compared to Michael Berg who has been very aggressive and patronising in his questioning of Copia; a tactic used by most lawyers. Björk started out well with the opening remarks where she was really scathing about the input of the former Ghouls but since then seems to be in second gear. Even her questioning of Copia didn’t focus on the argument of how he did the work, how he’d have had the sole responsibility and the stress with trying to build Ghost, spending much of his free time working while the others were at their other jobs or otherwise not involved.
Berg’s questioning has been fast, vicious and pedantic in the way that lawyers are – the arguing over the use of the word “we” and mixing their applications is a good example of how lawyers will twist a person’s answers to discredit them. Copia was repeatedly described by people in attendance as seemingly like he was unprepared and it certainly comes across that way. – Copia’s testimony when questioned by Berg has not helped his cause at all as he has come off badly.
It very much seems like Ghost was started as Copia’s project with the intention of splitting the profits equally amongst his friends. As time went on he was still doing the majority of the work, people came and went while others took less responsibility over time (Alpha) and Copia was the one solely responsible for the band’s debts. Therefore his stance changed as he didn’t feel he should be paid equal to the Ghouls who did far less than him and he solely took the financial risks, with no offer of help from the others. Instead of being open if that was the case, he has been portrayed as screwing the Ghouls over from the beginning and his own testimony hasn’t done a lot to contradict that portrayal.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that if the judge felt that Copia’s answers were too long and not relevant then he should have made the point far sooner. He did interject at one point to move the questioning forward but warning someone on the stand to keep their answers shorter during the change of lawyers is unfair as that person is not answering in the same manner for the second lot of questions as they were the first.
With the original Earth set to testify in the coming week and Omega also likely to be questioned it doesn’t seem like much will happen to turn this around in Copia’s favour. At the moment it looks like Copia will be forced to disclose the accounts from the three companies involved and then there will be further litigation as this trial is only about having access to the accounts. Realistically, if the Ghouls win at this round then those accounts are highly unlikely to show significant profit for the period when the Ghouls in this case were a part of Ghost – this is a fairly standard approach. It’ll then be up to the Ghouls to challenge those accounts and to seek a division of profit.
If the Ghouls do win then it could open the door for anyone who was in a successful band for five minutes to claim that they are owed an equal share of profits for the period they were involved. For Ghost this could mean additional legal action from the other Ghouls who aren’t in this lawsuit and from Pelle Hällje in relation to the Papa Emeritus name. As I wrote in the Prequelle Ultimate Guide, it seems that the lawsuit and the subsequent interviews that Pelle Hällje gave to the press were the major factor in killing off the three Papa Emeritus characters and the renaming of Papa Zero to Papa Nihil to remove any link between “Papa Emeritus” and Ghost going forwards in order to limit any financial damages.
The trial will resume on Monday with Andreas Schander’s coverage.