Tobias Forge: "I Always Wanted GHOST to Sound Like The One Band from the 70s You Haven't Heard."
Are Ghost the hottest band in metal right now? (Or rock, depending who you ask).
Not like Hansel, he's so hot right now hot, but like momentum, like rising stock hot – that upward trajectory you only get when you're shot out of a hypothetical cannon.
They're the band on the tip of every tongue, with the most wild outlandish stage shows, the most buzz worthy videos and the marketing to rival shit that would have given Shakespeare ulcers.
Whether you love them or hate them, there's honestly no denying that Ghost are nuclear hot in 2018, and that's likely not going to change as the band trudge forward on their Rats! on the Road Tour.
Mad genius behind Ghost Tobias Forge caught up with Metal Injection ahead of the release of the bands' fourth studio album, Prequelle.
"I most definitely have a good feeling about the album and the cycle," he says. "It feels like this was the defining moment, for many reasons, making it of course. If you're a band on the rise, each album, each tour, each cycle, is just another part of a lengthy process. Everything is built upon the previous step. The higher you climb the riskier it gets and the more important it gets.
"There's definitely a sense that there is space now in the contemporary rock climate," he adds. "On one hand, as a fan, I feel sad about it. There's a lot of bands that pass on. They either quit or perish. That, from a rock fan point of view, is a sad thing, knowing that a lot of the old rock guards that we used to know are a dying breed. On the other hand it means, for new bands, there is a window opening up. It seems like one of those opportunities are ours, which you also have to work very hard for. You have to fit those pants.
"I like that, I've always had a very sort of grandiose idea for Ghost. I haven't thought of it so much commercially, that was not the point, but definitely from a show point of view I wanted this band to be a big theatrical instillation. As years went by and we toured a lot, the laws of physics sort of caught up with us as well, even though we went really fast. We went from small, small clubs to bigger clubs. It went fast, but definitely we had to climb up. Now we've come to a point where people are expecting us to deliver a show. Promoters are expecting us to step up into the big boys realm. It's a challenge, but it's enticing, it's fun, it's cool."
The Ghost mythos has progressed since the band drew the attention of the masses with 2010s Opus Eponymous. Come and gone are three incarnations of Papa Emeritus, and in their place is the outlandish Cardinal Copia.
For his part, Forge admits to having had a loose vision of what would become the Ghost machine from day one, although he could never have imagined the size and scope to which it has grown.
"You can never plan everything, it doesn't work," he says. "That's part of having a career. Marital arts is not only about kicking cool and hitting. It's about dodging punches and re-working the other persons' energy. A rock career is pretty similar. It's like how to tackle different obstacles and move with the punches. Roll with the punches, basically, and make it look like you're dictating it. I had a naive picture in my head of the band, of what I saw in front of me in my head, was a big theatrical performance. I thought we were going to be way more marginalized in the sense there would be a predominance of metal enthusiasts liking the band. I figured maybe we could go to New York and play three nights in a row in some theatre. Half a year later we'd do two nights in the Opera House in Sydney. Playing a little here and there, not because I was afraid of touring, quite the opposite. I just never thought there would be that interest in the band. I thought we'd be able to put off really big shows, but playing art fucking city festivals. I thought it was going to be more of an art installation here. Very high horse. But that's basically what I thought, I didn't think there would be a big interest in what we're doing."
Prequelle has a vibe that is, well, distinctly Ghost, albeit with a throwback flavour. There's a decidedly 80s pop rock feel to the retro "Dance Macabre", leadoff single "Rats" has the same addictive ear-worm quality that made "Square Hammer" a monster (and the bane of diehard metalheads), while another recent live debut, "Faith", has more of the edge that made Meliora a worldwide hit.
"The recipe has always been some sort of cocktail of underground extreme musical riffage combined with some sort of AOR adult oriented classic rock vibe." he says.
"You have on one hand the classic Pink Floyd and The Doors. Even though we don't sound remotely like the Stones, there is a lot of Rolling Stones influence in my life. Also The Beatles. A lot of 60s, sort of all the classic ones. Sonically, the amount of detail in terms of vocal arrangements and just the hi-fi qualities of what I try to do, it's very 70s. A lot of grown up bands – Foreigner, Kansas, stuff like that. Well produced, harmonized. Queen. Thought out, smart music. Don't get me wrong, I listen to a fucking lot of punk rock as well. I always like to have that little light in there. There's supposed to be something skewed as well. I've always wanted Ghost to sound like the one band from the 70s that you haven't heard. If there's a reason Ghost sounds like it does it's because I've been such a fan of 60s, 70s and 80s music. There's a lot of things in there, except for maybe King Crimson, some stuff over the records wouldn't be written in the 70s, because it's from someone who likes Necrophagia and Morbid Angel and stuff like that. You don't have riffs like that, they weren't made up in 1977."
The Rats! on the Road Tour rolls on through the summer. Prequelle is available everywhere June 1st, and can be pre-ordered above.