Finding Solace In The Dark: A Conversation With Dennis Mikula of Ghost Bath

From the Beksiński cover to the somber visual identity, we talk all things 'Self Loather'.

ghost bath
Still from 'Convince Me To Bleed' (2021) Video by Austin Scherzberg & John Olivier

Insular yet accessible – it's a unique contrast present in many of music's most powerful and long living records. Though the musicians themselves didn't intend for a particular message or feeling to be shared, the human experience allows for listeners to engage with the material in ways only they can understand. Upon release, the composition no longer belongs to the musicians but to the audience, who breathe new life into the hymns embodied within through a communal effort of likeminded interests. Records known to have this dynamic exist beyond themselves and speak highly of the heartfelt substance they carry.

In the case of North Dakota's Ghost Bath, black metal serves as a canvass for their inner turmoil. a turmoil privy to those who find musical and emotional comfort throughout the band's grim lyricism. It's here that Ghost Bath find a common ground with their audience despite every bit of their compositional endeavors originating from their own creative ambitions. With a daunting cover illustration by the revered Polish painter Zdzisław Beksiński, their latest album, Self Loather, arrived last fall via Nuclear Blast and Northern Silence Productions to great acclaim from longtime fans of the band's melodic efforts and newcomers as well, who find much to enjoy of the varied craft. Differing ends of the musical spectrum coalesce in seamless nature and Ghost Bath present one of their most cohesive efforts yet. Self Loather is insular yet accessible at a time where loss is prevalent.

We welcome frontman Dennis Mikula to an expansive conversation detailing the band's approach to cover selection, the band's creative process, establishing a musical persona, Self Loather, and more:

Despite their separate timelines of inception, Beksiński’s work and ‘Self Loather’ exist as one with the music itself building on the painting’s desolate tone. Dennis, what drew you to this particular Beksinski painting and where do you feel that it coalesces with the album’s larger themes and concepts?

Dennis: As with all of my album art, usually the entire album is either done or it's mostly done by the time I find the cover. So with this one, the title and all the music were finished before I found this particular art piece. I've kind of been using this method since ‘Funeral’ (2014). I’ll listen to the material and then search around in different forums, like Google and what have you, and as soon as I spot something that I think fits with it, it just clicks with me, like right away. With ‘Moonlover’ (2015), I was looking for a piece for maybe a month until I found the one by Luiz Gonzalez Palma. As soon as I saw it, I was like, “This is the piece that fits.”

Luis González Palma
'La Luna' (1989) by Luis González Palma

I know a lot of people prefer to have a piece created specifically for the album, but for me, I just feel like I'm too picky for that. Instead of going back and forth and disagreeing with how I want certain things to look, I prefer to find something that already exists and is already perfect for it. Sometimes, it just takes a while to find it. With this one in part