Ghost Frontman Tobias Forge Dishes On Their 2019 Tour With Metallica

Grammy award winning Swedish rock band Ghost is preparing to hit the road next spring on a European tour to support Metallica. The tour kicks off in Lisbon, Portugal on May 1 and wraps up in Mannheim, Germany on August 25. We caught up recently with Ghost frontman Tobias Forge to talk about the band members’ face concealing costumes, some of his biggest musical influences and why he always knew the band would be incredible.

Tobias ForgePhoto Credit: FR PR

Can you talk a little about why anonymity has played a major role with the band?

I think a few things I was missing from myself and that made me lose interest in a lot of contemporary bands. At the time and going further back into the later 90s, there was an overexposure. Bands started to expose themselves more. Before the whole mania, the public profile was sharing pictures of where you are and what you are eating, which all sort of appalled me. It was something I wanted to go back to traditional entertainment. When I go to the theater, I buy into the story and tie that in with how I regarded bands growing up. I think that might have struck a chord when Ghost started out. I had to use my imagination when we were starting out. I think that played a major part for people in getting hooked. I had an idea in the beginning that we weren’t going to do interviews. I quickly learned that would handicap us from getting a greater audience. As we started to get recognized, we ended up doing a lot of photos that I didn’t want to, but at the end of the day, I’m still an entertainer. I think we found a middle ground there. I don’t have to tell you what I ate for dinner and think that’s something fresh and enticing for people, trying not to expose myself.

How has Ghost evolved since that bittersweet day back in 2010 when you first posted the band’s songs to MySpace and your brother suddenly passed away?

I thought we’d be incredible, but didn’t think we’d achieve the commercial successes we have. I thought we’d be regarded as more of an art rock band. I didn’t think Ghost would be a heavy tour band. For example, I thought we’d do five nights in New York and then five nights in Berlin like a special events band. I definitely saw it as being boosted in terms of product. What I didn’t think of was in order to get to that situation, there were a lot of dues to pay. We were given a lot of opportunities we weren’t aware would be on the menu.

Tell us a little about how the 2019 tour with Metallica came about.

We have played with Metallica before in various different scenarios and over the years, we have gotten to know them. They told us they were going to do a tour and asked if we wanted to support them. We have never done a consecutive tour with them. We have such a strong thing in North America, so to play the 25 stadiums with one of the biggest bands on the planet, there is an enormous amount of exposure. When you are starting out, if you are a small band, you might play in front of a few people and end up playing a lot of empty rooms. It is never bad to play, but it could be a little of a wash. When we supported Iron Maiden, it was the perfect setting for us. We have always played after the doors opened, so by the time we started it was half full and by the end it was completely full. The key is to play big places in front of big audiences. Hopefully, the European tour with Metallica can have a similar effect. That’s an achievement in itself to get people to show up earlier and it’s a big honor to be playing with Metallica.

Who have been some of your biggest musical influences throughout your career?

I’ve had many, but keep getting back to certain ones. I’m a bit torn as myself as a songwriter and myself as an entertainer as far as on-stage influence. From a musical point of view, I listen to 60s music and have always been a big fan of The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Queen and Alice Cooper. From an on-stage persona, ones who have influenced me are Freddy Mercury, needless to say, and Alice Cooper. I have been very influenced by Bruce Springsteen for his energy, aura and voice as well as David Bowie. I love KISS and numerous heavy metal bands. I like eclectic music too like Pink Floyd. Ghost is a bridge between eclectic music and radio friendly AOR (album oriented rock). I love old American FM rock. I wanted us to sound like the guitarist from an American rock band of 1975 with good harmonies.

What are you most looking forward to when visiting Boston next month?

Over the years, we have played various places and ended up in different places. The show is going to be two and a half hours long and is done in two acts. We will play 26 songs. That alone will be difficult. I spend a lot of time resting during the day. Last time we visited Boston, we played at the House of Blues, but it’s going to be a bigger production this time at the Boch Center Wang Theatre.