When I first discovered the Swedish theatrical metal band Ghost in 2010, I was sold before I even heard a note of their music. A band comprised of faceless ghouls, fronted by an undead demonic Pope, with outrageously gruesome lyrics and a flair for the Satanic. I had been waiting my whole life for this and I hadn’t even known it.
Over time Ghost have morphed into Grammy-winning, internationally respected megastars, touring the world with every rock or metal band worth their salt (or more likely, cocaine). They were even honored with their own Garbage Pail Kids card, which is the highest recognition one can earn in my opinion. Their sound and visual presentation has evolved dramatically, all the while floating four or five paces ahead of their peers.
With the release of their fourth record, Prequelle, I finally got my chance to speak with the mastermind of the group, who was just revealed in 2017 to be a man named Tobias Forge. The singer, whose persona within the band has changed with each album cycle, is currently portraying a character known as Cardinal Copia. For this interview, Forge spoke with me in his own voice about Ghost’s new music, his experiences with the paranormal, and the band’s upcoming tour which hits Express Live! on May 13.
You only recently gave your first interview under your real name, but you mentioned in it that your mom was a proud fan and had been spilling the secret anyway. What does she think of your new album and how would she rank it against your previous three?
I think she is very happy with it, she thinks it’s the best so far. I hope she’s right, that might just be her predisposition. But she likes it, it’s a bit different from the others. Have you heard the whole record?…‘Rats’ is a bit of a heavy metal song but some are very pretty. Some are much more pop. It might not have been her intuitive or natural feeling to enjoy the music but I think she likes that it’s not death metal. It’s heavy music for moms [laughs].
I noticed there is no opener on this tour, does that mean we’re going to get an extra long Ghost set?
Yes, we’re going to see how that works, we’re going to stray a bit from the normal concept of a metal show. We like to put people into a certain mindset at our concerts, and we like to do it in a theatrical framing. Usually we will bring one opening act but so many tours now have something like five openers, people just get too drunk or too tired by the time the main band goes on. We’re going to be doing two sets, we’ll do one hour and then give people an intermission to go drink a beer or do… other things. Then we’ll do another hour set. That doesn’t really leave much room for an opening act.
That’s exactly the answer I was hoping for [laughs]! Will you be playing a set of new songs and then bringing out some of the classic hits?
The album won’t have come out yet so people won’t know the new songs, we’ll only be doing maybe four or five new ones. But we’re bringing out some songs that we haven’t played before or haven’t played in a long time. We’ll be bringing out more songs from [2010 debut album] Opus Eponymous because that one got sort of swallowed up when Infestissumam  took off.
I have to ask, do you believe in supernatural experiences?
My younger, more imaginative side is communicating with my adult, intuitive side and I do want to believe. There is that place where my imagination meets my intellect, but it just doesn’t happen because my intellectual self says there must be logic. But I have experienced clairvoyance, though it may have been in very simple situations. It is very hard to predict weird things will happen, but it is very easy to know when someone will do something they’ve done before.
There was only one time in my life where something happened that I could not explain, and I remember it so clearly. I was 18 years old in Sweden, and it was the middle of the night. It was winter and freezing cold and I needed to get into my mom’s apartment building. I was stuck outside in just a leather jacket with my bullet belt, you know this was before cell phones or anything so I had no way of getting in touch with her. The nearest gas station or anything was probably twenty-five minutes away and if I had been out there even ten more minutes I would have gotten pneumonia. I looked at the locked door and just thought, “I have to go through, I need to go in”. All of a sudden the door just clicked and opened up, and I walked right through. It closed behind me and locked again, and to this day I have no idea why or how it happened. It just happened exactly when it needed to, and it still sticks with me. It was very weird.
Ghost plays Express Live! on Sunday, May 13, doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are still available for $35. If you also can’t get enough, the band plays Taft Theater in Cincinnati on Friday, May 11.