Ghost Frontman Tobias Forge Shines a Light on Evil on New EP – ‘I’m Not Slandering the Idea of Being Religious’
When Ghost released their fifth studio album, Impera, on March 11, 2022, frontman Tobias Forge was ready for a break.
"If you had asked me in 2018 or 2019, I was under the impression that we were going to have a new record out in 2020 and we were going to tour for two years and then right about now, I would have had sort of some time off," Forge told Chuck Armstrong on Friday Night's Loudwire Nights (May 19).
Because of the sudden and uncertain disruption of the last few years, though, Forge's—and the world's—expectations changed.
Bands had to cancel or reschedule tours and albums were delayed or completely scrapped. Ghost released their EP, Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, in 2019, and then Forge was forced to adapt to a new way of life.
Now, more than a year since the release of Impera, Forge finds himself in the middle of those two years of touring on the Imperatour and recently announced Re-Imperatour. As if that's not enough to keep Forge busy, Ghost are celebrating the release of their latest EP, Phantomime, as well.
"There was a little bit of a gap in between the recordings," Forge explained about the time between Impera and Phantomime. "[But] I've always been one that loads the cannon with a lot of additional material and additional ammunition just to be able to—once we're going, I want to be able to do it for a long time. Because it takes so long for the records to be made and for distribution, you can't ever do anything spontaneous unless you're a pop act that just sneezes out songs overnight onto the streaming world. We don't do that. You need to be able to plan things. Right now, obviously, I'm very much preparing to go on tour again, but I need to have a plan for what's happening next."
Though Forge wouldn't reveal too much, he did say he has a plan for more music even as the world is just now getting its hands on Phantomime.
"I have something, yeah," he told Chuck. "It's enough for me to know there's going to be a record and roughly what it's going to be like. I think I know how it will differ from the previous one—I have a rough idea of scheduling and practically how I'm going to make it."
Tobias Forge Has Always Wanted to Entertain Fans
Loading the cannon, as Forge put it, is a necessity given the way the music industry works, but it also seems to be his personal preference on how to approach his job.
"I do like it, because for as long as I can remember—at least for as long as I've been able to read—I've always been fascinated with the idea of touring, the concept of being in a band and all that has to do with it," Forge said. "I think I've always been interested in entertainment and show biz, so for me, coming up with ideas is not always just the aesthetics of things, it can be practical."
For Forge, this process is like building a house. As he explained to Chuck, "Building a magnificent house in a fucking amazing location isn't just about coming up with the idea of the house. There are a lot of [practical things] there ... It's a very multifaceted thing that a lot of artists don't care about. 'You should book me and I'll come, or maybe I won't.' No, I am attracted to touring and becoming better."
Forge admitted that while he can focus on several different things at once, when it comes time to do something specific, that's all he does.
"Once [I'm] in the studio, my job is to make a record. Once I'm onstage, my job is to be onstage. You put your different hats on depending on what you're doing."
Introducing the World to Father Jim DeFroque
On Easter Sunday this year, Ghost revealed details for the latest thing that Forge had been working on, their five-song covers EP, Phantomime. More than a simple press release, though, Ghost hosted a Sunday morning radio revival of sorts with Father Jim DeFroque, who later starred in the music video for the first single released from the EP, Ghost's cover of Genesis' "Jesus He Knows Me."
READ MORE: Ghost Never Thought They'd Cover Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'
The music video is very not safe for work—in fact, you can only watch it on YouTube due to the age restriction—as it shows a dark and conniving side of Father Jim, a side that takes advantage of those he is employed to lead and care for. Though the sentiment is captured in an entertaining music video, Forge believes it's prevalent in our world and he wants to continue to call it out through his music.
"What I'm trying to do and what I believe Phil Collins and the other guys were thinking when they wrote that song," Forge explained, "is that I've always tried to convey the idea that I'm not singing about having faith or slandering the idea of being religious. I'm trying to shine a light on the idea or concept that there are a lot of people who are benefiting from exploiting people for monetary reasons and power reasons and tricking them. Obviously, James DeFroque is a character from the same universe as all [of Ghost's] other characters, but there are a lot of people like that who are just exploiting people's vulnerabilities for the benefit of themselves."
Forge was fired up talking about this as he noted, "I lack negative superlatives that you haven't already heard that would go into mere name-calling about how utterly despicable and evil that is. And I think the most evil thing a lot of people on that side do is tricking their believers into thinking that it's the opposite of evil. It's good. It's the good side."
He caught himself for a moment as he thought about that.
"It's hard to fathom. We can speak in broad terms or we can use this song and the idea of James DeFroque. It just happens to be that James is a preacher. He could have been a politician. Same thing."
Watch Father Jim DeFroque's "Jesus Talk"
Tobias Forge joined Loudwire Nights on Friday, May 19; the show replays online here, and you can tune in live every weeknight at 7PM ET or on the Loudwire app; you can also see if the show is available on your local radio station and listen to interviews on-demand. Stream Phantomime at this location and then check out Ghost's full tour schedule.