Unmasked Ghost Frontman Says Grammy ‘Meant the World’
In his first interview as himself, Ghost's usually masked frontman, Tobias Forge, spoke about his writing process, the band's influences and what it means to be recognized with a Grammy award.
The band, which has a new album called Prequelle due on June 1, performed at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where the interview took place. The Swedish musician revealed that he struggled for many years before finding his groove with Ghost.
"It meant a lot," he said of the band's 2016 win for Best Metal Performance (via Blabbermouth). "It meant the world. I guess it means a lot to anyone, but from a Swedish standpoint, it was a great recognition, because frankly, there's not a whole lot of Swedish artists that gets it. I was 29 when we sort of broke through with Ghost. Let's just say that I've spent a lot of time being not very successful. When you're not successful as a musician, you are oftentimes unemployed. Many, many occasions in my life, I've had that weird [conversation], 'So, what do you do?' 'I'm a musician. Okay, I'm unemployed. That's what I am, all right? Fuck that. I'm 24, and I'm not going to make it. Great.'
"I've had a very, very forgiving and a very, very supportive mother who never really gave me a hard time for going in and out of slackerdom," he added. "I think that one of the things it really meant getting that accolade was that I was legitimately a songwriter [and] artist now. You can take that home to your mom."
Forge's mother provided early musical influences like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but then he discovered Kiss, Alice Cooper, King Diamond, Uriah Heep and Iron Maiden -- artists who impacted his own writing and performing.
"In my head, it's always, like, big piles of stuff that you try to distribute," he said. "Since I'm constantly thinking about this record being one out of several, it's easy to just put something aside [for future use]. I am writing the next [album] now. Whatever that record will turn out to be will be determined over the course of two years. Right now, I'm just piling stuff up, and I might be going back to an idea for this or that song. Sometimes, I just take what feels like a song and pull out a section, and [say], 'Okay, this is going to be the intro.'"
Last week, Ghost began a U.S. tour that will run through the release of Prequelle, which they explained is a pre-apocalyptic record about U.S.-Russia relations. Coming from what Forge calls a very Americanized country, he's always had a great interest in the U.S. "We have a strong tradition of Americana, and always had non-dubbed American television and [embraced] American culture a lot, so I always knew that I wanted to go to America," he said.
"At that point, when we were in the whole troublesome situation with that canceled tour [with Enslaved in 2011], I just felt like, 'Well, if we're going to put our eggs in some basket anywhere, it needs to be over here.' Because I think that here is where shock-rock, in many ways, started."