The remaining Ghouls all take the stand.
Note: we refer to Ghost’s frontman by his stage name, see this article for the reason why.
Welcome to The Metal Report’s 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 and day two is here.
Ghost Lawsuit: Alpha/Fire Testimony (Day 2)
- The former Alpha/Fire Ghoul takes the stand to be questioned again by Cardinal Copia’s lawyer Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk
- Alpha is asked about invoices he submitted in 2012, but he says he doesn’t remember details, the invoices were sent as the band’s lawyer had told him to.
Questioning of Alpha ends. Air is next to take the stand and is questioned first by his own lawyer, Michael Berg.
Ghost Lawsuit: Air Testimony
- Air states he has been a musician for 40 years and played in 10 bands.
- He confirms that he plays keyboards then repeats Alpha’s statements from yesterday that in bands he’s played in, the members are considered equal partners though the member who booked the gig would sometimes get extra. Costs would also be divided equally.
- When asked how he met the others in the band, Air says that he had seen them at the rehearsal space he used.
- He was asked to join the band by Alpha and met with Alpha and Omega/Aether the next day. In January 2011 he successfully auditioned and became Ghost’s keyboardist.
- Air states that he was not asked to be a hired musician, he would be a member of the band – an equal partner.
- Decisions that the band were made as a group and sometimes the decisions would be a majority decision if not all members agreed.
- Confirms he was present at the March 2011 meeting and that Omega/Aether took notes. Says that it was decided that everyone was an equal member with Cardinal Copia being in charge and having final say over the music and appearance of the band.
- Reiterates that he was an equal partner in the band.
- Talk moves to the band needing a manager so that they could make money. Air is lead by his lawyer in reconfirming several times that they were equal partners and money would be split equally.
In March 2011 the first Water Ghoul quit the band.
- At the April meeting a new bassist had been brought in to be the Water Ghoul. Air restates what Alpha did yesterday that at this meeting they determined they would be equal partners in the band.
- They talk about summer of 2012, Air says that they played some festivals and played the US.
Ghost played the US and Canada in January and February and returned in April and May, not summer. In June, July and August Ghost played a number of festivals.
- Air says “we” weren’t paid for the gigs but they did make a profit on merchandise sales and that was divided equally.
If the Ghouls never saw the accounts as they state then presumably they had no way of knowing the money was split equally, only that the five of them received an equal amount.
- They met with someone only named as “Justin” but instead chose Rick Sales to manage them.
Rick Sales is the manager of Slayer, Gojira and Mastodon. He also managed Anvil’s comeback in 2011 and 2012. Outside metal, he has managed/booked Tom Jones, The Monkees, Julio Iglesias and many more. Justin Archangel was the Justin in question, Slipknot’s manager.
- Talks of the management contract, yet more reiterations of being in the band, that they were equal members. The lawyer who represented Ghost at that time was Sissi Hagald.
I believe that Sissi Hagald still represents Cardinal Copia, or at least she did as recently as last year.
- They discuss meetings with Magnus Strömblad who had recommended creating a company, Air recalls that Magnus suggested creating a company in which the six band members would be equal partners. The company created was called Santasma at Cardinal Copia’s insistence.
There are three companies here – Santasma Touring, Inc and Papastrello Limited which were companies set up to deal with Ghost’s business; Santasma is registered in the US while Papstrello is registered in the UK. Svenk Drama Pop AB is Cardinal Copia’s company, registered in Sweden.
Santasma Touring, Inc and Papastrello Limited are the companies which the Ghouls say they are partners in.
Santasma Touring, Inc was created on December 19th, 2011. This company is said to be the company that collected tour revenue. I couldn’t obtain financial records for the company.
Papastrello Limited was set up on November 15th 2012 with Svenk Drama Pop AB as the only registered shareholder but this was later changed to being owned by Cardinal Copia. This company apparently is for merchandise revenue.
In 2013 Papastrello Limited made a loss of £8,537
In 2014 Papastrello Limited lost £37,721
In 2015 a loss of £42, 052
In 2016 the company made a profit of £112, 396
In 2017 Papastrello made a profit of £66,080
Svenk Drama Pop AB was created on 20th December 2010.
In 2011 the company lost 10,000 Swedish Krona (£848)
In 2012 a loss of 227,000 Swedish Krona (£19,270)
In 2013 a loss of 193,000 Swedish Krona (£16,382)
In 2014 a profit of 438,000 Swedish Krona (£37,179)
In 2015 a profit of 47,000 Swedish Krona (£3,989)
In 2016 profit of 596,000 Swedish Krona (£50,594)
In 2017 profit of 1,595,000 Swedish Krona (£135,400)
Magnus Strömblad is a financial consultant in Sweden working for the company Strömblad Ekonomi AB. They also have advised In Flames.
- Air says that he was trying to balance his job as a painter with playing gigs but in 2012 there were too many gigs for him to work as a painter. He was making no money at this time.
- They discuss the need for each member to register as a company and to be paid by Svenk Drama Pop AB which would be collecting the money paid to Ghost.
- Air says that he never saw the recording contracts with the record label but accepted the arrangement of invoicing Svenk Drama Pop AB.
- The band members kept asking for a partnership agreement but didn’t receive one.
- He is asked if Omega/Aether ever represented him in later discussions with Kristen Mulderig. He says no. He wasn’t aware at the time of Omega asserting that the Ghouls should be bought out of Ghost as they were now hired musicians. He became aware of it later and says being bought out makes sense.
After Rick Sales, Ghost were managed by Kristen Mulderig who has also managed Slayer.
- Cardinal Copia signed the deal with Universal Music, none of the Ghouls signed the contract. At the time Air took out a loan of 100,000 SEK (£8,480) as he had no money.
- Air is asked about how a new Water Ghoul (the one involved in this lawsuit) came to be in Ghost. He and Alpha discussed it and Water joined Ghost on the same terms as everyone else. He says the same happened with Earth (the one in the lawsuit).
- In 2016 Air needed money to go to the dentist, Copia told him to invoice an extra 15,000 SEK as a bonus but this turned out to be an advance.
- When they received the new contract it wasn’t what they had agreed and the Ghouls were furious. They went on the US tour anyway. He says that Copia said the contract must be a misunderstanding on Sissi Hagald’s behalf. Kristen Mulderig instructed the Ghouls to send invoices for larger amounts as a pay rise.
- Omega was fired after he fell out with Cardinal Copia. Air didn’t agree with the decision but it was a majority decision.
Michael Berg has no further questions. Cardinal Copia’s lawyer Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk will begin her questioning.
- She asks why out of 11 former members are only 4 in court. Air doesn’t know. Asks if he was willing to share costs, Air said that he had no money but if he did then he would have.
- Air confirms that the equal partners 1/6th arrangement isn’t documented anywhere.
- He met with Justin but was working when the meeting happened with Rick Sales. He trusted the judgement of the other band members.
- Air confirms that he doesn’t have shares in Papastrello Limited
- Björk goes over the contract details – Copia cannot leave the band and will be paid more than the Ghouls.
- He wasn’t part of the recording for Meliora but invoiced for it and was paid.
- Air is asked if he received a raise and he says no. Björk points out that he started invoicing more though. Air agrees.
- He can’t remember the differences between the contract offered in April 2016 and the one offered in September 2016.
- Air seems to get confused by questioning over the raise issue. He says it was for the dentist but yet invoiced for a larger amount after that one off charge. Says he charged what he was told to charge.
That’s the end of Air’s testimony. After a break Earth is questioned by his lawyer Michael Berg.
Ghost Lawsuit: Earth Testimony
- He is asked about previous bands and arrangements in those bands, same questions that Air was asked, same answers that they were equal partnerships.
- Met Ghost from opening for them on tour, was asked by Alpha to join when the band where preparing to record Meliora.
- Earth was invoicing 10,000 SEK per month (£848), calling it a ridiculously low amount but he was willing to take a low amount believing that if Ghost were successful then he’d make money. Says he turned down a tour for 3,300 SEK per show and that he had to sell his apartment and move in with his girlfriend.
- Talks about the Water involved in the case joining the band, more talk of being equal partners.
- Earth was shocked by the contract the Ghouls were offered but didn’t read it until he was already in the US.
- Invoiced a higher amount after that contract which he says Copia and Sissi told him to do but denies that the higher amount was an acceptance of the contract.
- Says Sissi was pressuring them into accepting the new contract and that the Ghouls signed a limited date contract.
Michael Berg has no more questions, Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk will now question Earth.
- Earth is also asked why all 11 former members of Ghost aren’t here, he says he can’t speak for them.
- He never spoke with Copia personally about the equal partnership, it was only discussed as a group.
- Says he doesn’t understand the difference between the two contracts he was offered. Says that he does understand the bonus scheme that was in place.
Ghost Lawsuit: Water Testimony
- Water has been a professional musician for the last ten years, the same opening questions and answers that previous bands shared everything equally.
- Met Cardinal Copia in 2011. When Ghost needed a bassist for the Meliora recording he was called by Klas Åhlund’s brother to ask him if he was interested, then Copia called him 20 minutes later. He was in the studio the next day with the band.
Klas Åhlund produced Meliora and Popestar.
- Joined as a studio musician, got on well with everyone but particularly Cardinal Copia.
- A week later Copia told him “You really have to play with us”.
- He felt that being in the band meant that he was an equal member. He received an email from Kristen Mulderig with the subject ‘New Member’ which confirms to him that he was no longer a musician for hire.
- He was happy to speak out and give his opinion during meetings.
- Water was supposed to play bass but was asked to play guitar in the recordings instead. He also organised many of the rehearsals.
- Had no idea about invoices so Omega and an accountant helped him with submitting them.
- He was playing around with a riff that was part of Cirice and was told to play it that was by Klas Åhlund. He didn’t know that Copia would be angry about it.
- When he received the contract as a hired musician he asked a friend to read it through as he has no legal knowledge himself. After receiving it he invoiced for larger amounts of money but it wasn’t an indication that he had accepted the contract.
- Omega was fired as Copia had enough of him. Water understood as he’d had issues with Omega too.
- Water asked a lawyer to read the second contract that was given to him in Autumn. He felt it was totally wrong.
Berg has finished his questioning, Ann-Charlotte Söderlund Björk will now question Water.
- Says he doesn’t know why all 11 former members aren’t there.
- Confirms he was hired by Copia and it was Copia who said he should be paid.
- Water says he did not have any agreements in place with Omega, though they had discussed the partnership of Ghost and had done so in meetings.
- He had a raise as an advance which he was happy for as he needed the money. It was arranged by his lawyer.
- Doesn’t know what the differences were between the April contract and the September contract as his lawyer dealt with it.
- He is asked if he can see the difference in the bonus system in the contracts and replies that he can.
Ghost Lawsuit: Earth Testimony Part 2
Earth retakes the stand as his lawyer wants to ask more questions.
- Earth confirms that Omega was fired right before they played in Mexico.
The Mexico gig was the Heaven and Hell Festival on 23rd of July 2016, the band then played five dates in the US from the 27th to the 31st of July. Omega had also missed two South American shows on the 19th and 20th of March – Lollapalooza in Argentina and Lollapalooza in Chile respectively. Rumours at the time were that he had visa issues but this has never been officially confirmed.
- Earth says that Cardinal Copia called him and told him that Copia had spoken with the others and that they were in agreement about firing Omega. Earth also agreed as he was tired of Omega’s behaviour.