Mystery breeds curiosity. When you know of something but don’t know all the details it’s just natural to be intrigued by it. Why isn’t Grant buried in Grant’s Tomb? What’s the identity of the Unknown Soldier? Things like these have had people’s attention for years. But history isn’t the only one, music has its share of mystery but nothing long term. Yet that mystery lead to success.
Over the years the big music mystery’s that I best relate to music have been successful and at different times; KISS, GWAR, Slipknot, and most recently Ghost. With the latter mystery identity being revealed today. But let’s look at the predecessors before determining if in fact Ghost busted themselves.
When KISS first broke their identities were their secret to success. Besides their extravagant live show and music it was the superhero like personalities that grabbed people. While those closest to them knew their true identity there was an understanding to keep it secret. That secret became part of their draw. And why not? In the 1970s it was SO much easier to hide an identity. No social media and no internet. And people you could trust to keep your identity secret.
For KISS it was a promotional stunt to unmask in the 1980s. Popularity dropping along with record sales meant something had to be done to shake things up and they took to MTV to do so, the 1980s equivalent of Facebook Live.
Unfortunately for KISS the unmasking didn’t help much for them as the 1980s saw big hair and glam take priority. Ironically the band had it’s return in the 1990s when they put the makeup back on to reunite with original members.
GWAR was KISS to the next level, just not as successful. They took the secrecy to the next level by creating a full on story. And their story can literally continue on for as long as someone wants to continue. Which is what founding member David Brockie probably had in mind. Because GWAR are from another planet and have a secret layer underneath Antarctica with other members waiting to be awoken there is technically no end as long as there’s someone to continue the story.
GWAR survived the technology boom that can easily identify each of them, and has, because they never hit the ultimate height of music success plus their fan base is limited and respects them so their identities won’t be the end of them.
Then the late 1990s very early 2000s gave us Slipknot. A band that went from obscurity to success in a big way overnight with just one song and 9 members who were originally known by just numbers.
But they fell victim to technology. While everyone was going nuts joining their fan base the pre social media age quickly lead to the identities of Slipknot members going from unknown to known as fast as their success came. But unlike KISS it only helped. Fans then began identifying with members and when Slipknot broke so Corey Taylor could do Stone Sour it made it easier for fans to follow and cross over.
This brings us back to Ghost and today’s revelation that Tobias Forge is their frontman Papa Emeritus. The irony here is unlike the bands above there was a very low chance of Ghost or anybody staying unknown in the days of social media and internet yet he did it. For 9-years and 5 albums they’ve managed to remain mysterious. It’s that mystery that defied technology and their old school sound that’s made them the success they’ve become which included an arena tour with Iron Maiden earlier this summer.
So is Ghost busted? It’s just too soon to tell. Only Papa Emeritus has been revealed while to rest of it’s current line up is unknown as “Nameless Ghouls”. Whenever Ghost releases it’s next album will decide if their busted or not based on the fans. After all without the fans there’s no amount of mystery that’ll magically create money.