GHOST‘s Tobias Forge was interviewed backstage at this year’s edition of the Graspop Metal Meeting, which was held earlier this month in Dessel, Belgium. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On what inspired him to form GHOST:
Tobias: “It’s a myriad of different things, but over the years, having spoken at length about the various influences and things that have in one way or another inspired myself or this whole project, I think the best way for me to understand it myself is that it’s a lot of my childhood, actually. I grew up in a very music-loving home with a lot of records, a lot of TV, a lot of radio, a lot of video — VHS cinema, basically. A lot of the things that I’m doing today are things that got my motor humming when I was five. Even though I’d like to say that a lot of the singular influences and things I’m inspired by, or things that in one way or another alter my way of doing things, [are] a little bit more sophisticated — and obviously, I listen to a lot more things now — but at the end of the day, when I was five, six, seven, eight years old, what did I listen to? PINK FLOYD, Alice Cooper, KISS, [THE] ROLLING STONES, stuff like that that I’m still holding with high regard. The first records that I got when I was very little was KISS, TWISTED SISTER and MÖTLEY CRÜE. It’s not very far from that. I’m not trying to imitate any of them [in] what we sound like, but at the end of the day, what I’m looking for is that same, ‘Oh yeah!’ feeling that I got when I opened up… I remember when I was a kid and I had ‘Shout At The Devil’, and you see Nikki Sixx, this completely androgynous monster at the time. That just looked so incredibly cool, and they sounded so dangerous, whereas actually it was just bebop rock n’ roll.”
On whether he thinks today’s young rock fans look to GHOST in the same manner:
Tobias: “I hope so. If kids out there have a similar feeling or experience that I had watching a lot of these bands… [there’s] nothing more purposeful.”
On whether GHOST fits in at “metal” festivals such as Graspop:
Tobias: “I don’t know. That in one way insinuates… I guess there is a norm — a ‘metal’ norm — that is represented by a majority of bands in the ‘heavy metal/[hard] rock’ section that I think we might differ from a little in our ways of mixing things up. There are certain things in my writing that I guess [are] a little bit different from some other bands, but if I look at a band like BLACK SABBATH, for example, I am very inspired by BLACK SABBATH. I’ve listened to BLACK SABBATH for as long as I can remember. I want GHOST to be a lot like a band like BLACK SABBATH and what they were when they made, in my opinion, their best records in the mid-’70s — very experimental, very progressive, very brave. I think that even though BLACK SABBATH get a lot of [praise] — obviously, everybody loves BLACK SABBATH, and they get so much credit — I think that sometimes, it’s annoying that they don’t get credit for how fucking brave they were in 1973, 1974, 1975, when they made ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, ‘Sabotage’, ‘Vol. 4’. Those records were so… I am way more influenced by those than I am [by] their two first records. I want GHOST to be a band like that. I don’t want to sound like BLACK SABBATH, but I want my band to be as brave and progressive. Unfortunately, in this day and age, I think that once metal became a little bit of an establishment, it also [showed] a side that is quite conservative and has a lot of dogmatic rules. Heavy metal is embraced by a big span of ages, so you will always have the elders who are protective and teaches [sic] the younger people of how things should be. If we get started on mid-’80s death metal, I will be extremely anal. I am myself also responsible for that sort of onesidedness, I would say. But it is what it is, and I think we’re a metal band at the end of the day.”
On whether he has a “bucket list” of people he’d like to work with:
Tobias: “Yes, but I’ve learned to be very elastic with that over the years. When I was sort of on the outside looking in, my bucket list was way bigger or way longer, but now, a few years into the career and I’ve done a few things on that bucket list, especially when it comes to recording and writing, I’ve learned that pedigree is not necessarily… it doesn’t equal a good result. Making a record, writing a song or finding the right manager or the right agent or the perfect band to support is very much like having a relationship with someone. Sometimes, it can result in a fantastic month of a summer romance or a fantastic one-night stand, but sometimes, it just rubs off wrong and it doesn’t feel good. One thing in the school of rock that I think you should always have in mind when you sit there with your possibilities is that look always to what someone has done other than the record that you like, because most producers and most people working, they have done so much more, so you have to regard that record with the circumstance of the time as well. It might not only have been the producer – it might have been the band that was on the top of their game, or the other way around. Sometimes, a lot of producers get a lot of credit for having worked with bands that are just fucking phenomenal, but if you look at the rest of the list, what have they done? Maybe it’s just, like, completely mediocre shit. I’ve gotten a little bit reserved when it comes to stuff like that. I love to meet people – that’s always nice. Shake their hands and give credit where credit is due, but that doesn’t mean that we should sleep together.”
Upon its release via Loma Vista Recordings earlier this month, “Prequelle” landed at position No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, shifting 66,000 equivalent album units during its first week of release. Of that sum, around 61,000 were in traditional album sales.
GHOST‘s first-week tally benefited from a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer in association with the band’s spring U.S. theater tour, as well as a pair of arena dates later this year.
“Prequelle” was tracked last year at Artery studios in Stockholm with producer Tom Dalgety (OPETH, ROYAL BLOOD) and mixed in January at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood, California with Andy Wallace (NIRVANA, SLAYER).