Lou Brutus of HardDrive Radio recently conducted an interview with GHOST mastermind Tobias Forge. You can watch the chat in three parts below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On planning GHOST‘s “A Pale Tour Named Death”:
Tobias: “Well, that’s a big ordeal. I always hate starting tours, especially when it coincides with an album coming out. And also, there’s a slight schizophrenic element there as well, because you’re technically doing it with the characters that you don’t know. And, also, we are in the fortunate position that we are growing, but we’re not growing exactly the same speed — the trajectory is not always as clear everywhere. Meaning that sometimes you have to start a tour playing… Half is really good venues — the venues that you wanna play in — and then there are some venues that you don’t necessarily wanna play in that [don’t] allow for the production to be there. So you have to be something that, from a production standpoint, I don’t like to be, and that is somewhat elastic. I don’t like that — I wanna be very, very non-elastic and do the same thing every night. This tour was better now because, obviously, I regard ‘A Pale Tour Named Death’… In a way, we started that already in May. We just called it ‘Rats On The Road’, because we only had the song ‘Rats’ out [from the new album], but technically, the tour started there. And that was a lot of the bigger, more emergency… growing pains were there. Whereas this tour is quite… it rolls quite well.”
On whether he came to appreciate some of the older theaters GHOST has played during this tour:
Tobias: “I do. I mean, some of these… the more aged theaters are definitely charming. They do have a vibe. I don’t know how many venues I’ve been to that are older than 30 years old [which], I have been told, are haunted. Every place is haunted, apparently. And, you know, a lot of these older theaters are, as I said, very charming… They definitely possess a vibe and may even be possessed by a ghost or two. But especially when you’re doing it on not the summer months, it’s kind of cold and that aging is not always practical. As long as the place is a GA, a general admission [venue], meaning standing crowd, I’m fine. I’m not very fond of seats, which is a little bit of a thing on this tour we’re playing. Because of our production, we have ended up in a lot of rooms that cater to our production, but still have a seated crowd. People generally have a tendency to stand up, so that’s good, but the ideas of having seats and rows and people having to be confined to their designated seat is a definitely breaking up the overall audience vibe you want on a show.”
On the lyrical concepts found on the band’s latest studio album, “Prequelle”:
Tobias: “Being European, I think that the plague — the great plague [Black Death] of the 1300s… There had been more plagues than that, but the great plague of that is definitely something that is still in the inherited collective memory, because that was something that was deeply tumultuous for anyone who both perished and survived, I guess. And, obviously, on the upside, it was extremely life-affirming for those who survived. And I think for anyone who’s interested in the more morbid aspects of life, the idea… Especially when you’re into metal, plague and death and the black death, specifically, is definitely part of black metal lingo. So it doesn’t feel very far-fetched at all, coming from my aesthetic, cultural background, playing in death metal [and] black metal bands. I wanted to make a record that was loosely tied to the dark, medieval ages, with the idea of a plague questioning your existence without sort of physically explaining the medicinal, physical aspects of the Bubonic plague — more from a philosophical point of view and humanistic point of view. Because it functions as a good symbol for the end of the world, because the end of the world has happened many times, of course. It keeps on happening.”
On the visuals — including album art and tour posters — that GHOST produces:
Tobias: “Over the years, I have been very, very… I can be, I guess to [the point of] annoyance, particular. But looking through our entire sort of catalog of stuff, a lot of the things that we do, especially on the shirts, are not always things that I am an initiator of. Because nowadays, we have so many fans and so many people around the world that actually just sort of do things, so we have a tendency to… You know, if we see someone, an artist who just does magnificent art, and especially if they’re already doing GHOST-related art, we just reach out and start collaborating. But when it comes to the record sleeves and the tour posters, I’m usually quite particular. For the posters, for example… On this tour cycle, ‘A Pale Tour Named Death’, which is gonna stretch for a while, and it’s gonna be called similar things and it will sort of evolve, it’s good to have a format that you stick to. But it will change, depending on where we’re playing. It’s an old trick, which is fun that you sort of work with city landscapes and typical landmarks, but you still want it to look a certain way. I have a tendency to find some artists, not really thinking intuitively how I want them to think. ‘Cause I usually try to do a little bit of a napkin composition: ‘This is where I want Papa [Emeritus]. This is where I want, in this case, the Cardinal [Copia]. This is where I want the koala bear. And this is where I want something like that. This is where the logo should be.’ And sometimes I’m super-specific with other t-shirts that I wanna have made, and sometimes it just… as I said, artists just take their own initiative. So it depends. But I’m very, very specific with our album art, because where the t-shirts and the posters and a lot of the artwork that we have on tour, as with the live show, it’s slightly more tongue-in-cheek, it’s slightly more comedic… Whereas on the records, the actual recordings, I tend to not want to be as comedic — I don’t want it to be funny that way. I want the records to be serious. I like to compare it to… It’s the scripture, so that’s the bible, and the live show is sort of the interpretation of it. So it’s slightly more loose. It’s more of an interpretation of the ritual. So when you are trying to conduct a ritual, you sort of fuck up a little and everybody starts giggling and everybody is a little bit nervous. And that’s the point. That’s why I want the records to be a little bit more rigid and a little bit more firm. That’s sort of the serious side of it. And then the live show and our interpretation and our re-enactment of these songs are a little bit more fun.”
“Prequelle” came out in June. The disc 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).