Former GHOST Member LINTON RUBINO Needed Six Months Of Therapy After Getting Fired By TOBIAS FORGE

July 5, 2022

In a new interview with Dr. Music, PRIEST vocalist Linton Rubino, who played bass in GHOST as one of the Nameless Ghouls under the stage name Water, was asked if he was involved in the 2017 lawsuit filed against GHOST leader Tobias Forge by four former members of the band after being dismissed by the group's founder the previous December.

"I was fired in 2015 from GHOST, so I wasn't a part of that process. But I have a family member and a close friend that was in that process, in the trial," he said, apparently referring to his father, Mauro Rubino, who was the keyboardist Air in GHOST from 2011 until 2016, and Simon Söderberg, who played guitar for GHOST from 2010 until 2016. "So, yeah, I was involved emotionally, you can say. But otherwise from that, I wasn't a part of that process."

Asked if it was difficult to deal with the fact that nobody knew his identity while he was in GHOST and he had to virtually start from scratch again once he was out of the band, Linton said: "I actually went through therapy for six months after that 'cause I felt that I'm nobody. We were up there playing with METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN and everything, and they know who we are, all the people backstage know who we are, but nobody else [does]. So it was just like being up [at the top] and then you're basically [on your own once you are out of the band]. And then I didn't have a job or anything and then it was cold turkey money-wise. So I had to really restart from bottom. Every breakup takes a while, right?! Then you're back on track in a couple of months. And you just roll up your sleeves and get at it again. You don't have much of a choice."

The four former members of GHOST who sued Forge were Söderberg, Mauro Rubino, Henrik Palm (Eather; member of GHOST from 2015 until 2016) and Martin Hjertstedt (Earth; member of GHOST from 2014 until 2016). They accused the singer of cheating them out of their rightful share of the profits from the band's album releases and world tours.

The original lawsuit, which was filed in the district court of Linköping, where GHOST was originally based, claimed that Forge solely controlled the band's business affairs without input from anyone else in the group. The four musicians furthermore stated that a partnership agreement existed between them and Forge which put Tobias in charge of carrying out the company's management duties.

In June 2017, Forge filed an official response to the lawsuit, claiming that "no legal partnership" ever existed between him and the four musicians regarding the activities of GHOST and explaining that "none of the plaintiffs were present at the time of the" group's formation and that their sole task was to "perform" and "execute" the musical works and the image that Forge had created, produced and decided, all according to his instructions. For their efforts, he said, the musicians were paid a fixed salary.

In August 2017, the four ex-GHOST members presented an answer of their own, dismissing Forge's claim that GHOST is a solo project as "not [being] in accordance with the truth." "Forge has certainly been the band's main songwriter, he has had the role of the band's cinematic front figure 'Papa Emeritus,' has been a driving force in the band's business, as well as in the handling of the band's business affairs," the musicians wrote. "However, the activities carried out with respect to GHOST were extensively handled jointly by the members — for example, by making decisions jointly regarding the band's image, by participating in interviews, and by the fact that every member has, at certain times, contributed when recording the band's albums and singles and by touring together almost continuously since 2011."

The four ex-members, known previously only as Nameless Ghouls, claimed that between the years of 2010 and 2016, Forge never told them that he viewed GHOST as a one-man business and solo project. "To the contrary, Tobias Forge has always emphasized that it was a collaboration that everyone was involved in and would share in the profit of once the business became profitable," they wrote. "The first time Tobias Forge, through the band's management, mentioned that he saw them as hired musicians rather than full-fledged members of GHOST was in the context of a contract proposal presented in April 2016." This proposal was later rejected.

According to GHOST's ex-members, "It is not true that Tobias Forge was solely responsible for the creation of GHOST, its image based on anonymity and its special stage presentation. Tobias Forge might have taken the initiative of founding the band GHOST, but all members of the band were involved in the creation and development of the band's image and live show," they wrote. "For example, [former guitarist] Martin Persner [who was not involved with the lawsuit] designed most of the costumes and clothing that the band had on the stage (some of them together with Tobias Forge). Martin Persner has also, together with Tobias Forge, designed some of the masks that members have worn at stage performances. Martin Persner is also behind many of the symbols used in GHOST's activities, such as the 'Water', 'Fire', 'Air' and 'Quintessence' symbols, as well as the various album covers, t-shirt designs, etc. For others members of the group they, like Martin Persner, have been involved in the development of the band's stage show, setlists, choreography, lighting, stage I and the like."

The ex-GHOST musicians alleged that the Papa Emeritus character was actually created by Peter Hällje, a former bandmate of Persner, prior to GHOST's formation. Hällje never performed as Papa Emeritus, but agreed to let Persner use the character for his then-new band. "It is noteworthy that the permission given by Peter Hällje was not given to Tobias Forge, but to Martin Persner for use in the band GHOST," they wrote.

The musicians furthermore claimed that in 2011, they discussed the possibility of converting the business from the single company to an economic association, a limited company or a trading company. But "because Tobias Forge succeeded in convincing the other members that there was no time to register a joint association or joint venture, they chose to move forward with another GHOST model on the advice of Forge and the accounting consultants the band hired," they wrote. "The model was based on the fact that Tobias Forge, through his companies and as the band leader, would collect and invoice third parties for the band's live fees, merchandise revenues and record royalties. The other members of the band would acquire 'F-tax slips'" — which allow business and self-employed individuals to document responsibility for payment of taxes to the state — "and bill Tobias Forge for their share of the profits of the business."

The four ex-GHOST musicians also disputed Forge's claim that the band was formed in 2006, four years prior to the release of GHOST's debut album, "Opus Eponymous". They wrote: "GHOST operations began in 2010 when Simon Söderberg and Tobias Forge recorded the songs 'Ritual', 'Death Knell', 'Elisabeth' and 'Prime Mover' and made them available on the MySpace web site, followed by GHOST's first live show, which took place on October 23, 2010. The launch of GHOST was thus 2010, not 2006."

The musicians also denied Forge's claim that they were paid a salary by him. Instead, they claimed, an agreement was reached between the parties in 2013 that Simon Söderberg and Mauro Rubino would receive regular advance payments pending the final settlement. The advance payments received by the plaintiffs have varied from SEK 10,000 to SEK 30,000 (approximately $1250 - $3750) per month, depending on the member. This corresponded to a monthly net income (after tax) of between SEK 5,000 and SEK 15,000 ($625 - $1850). In addition, the members "received allowances on tours to cover rising living expenses."

The trial in Linköping District Court lasted for six days, and on October 17, 2018, a 108-page decision was released dismissing the case. The four former GHOST members were also ordered to pay Forge's legal fees, which at the time was said to be approximately $146,000.

In February 2019, an appeals court rejected the former GHOST members' argument that the judge who ordered the dismissal of their lawsuit against Forge had a conflict of interest in overseeing the case.

In May 2018, Linton blasted GHOST's then-latest album "Prequelle", saying he was "ashamed to have been part of that" and calling the music "a joke" and "mainstream shit."

PRIEST will release a new full-length album, "Body Machine", on July 15 via Cleopatra Records.

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