TOBIAS FORGE Says Some Of GHOST's Former 'Nameless Ghouls' Were 'Uncomfortable With The Idea Of Not Getting Recognition'
September 27, 2019
GHOST leader Tobias Forge recently spoke with Cassius Morris of "The Cassius Morris Show" podcast. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's recent touring:
Tobias: "I'd say that this tour — this tour cycle, album cycle — has been very smooth. At least from a band point of view, it's been very sort of harmonic, which is very nice. Over all the years before, we've always had people coming and going and quitting and being fired. There was always a bit of traffic going in and out of the band, which was a little unnerving, because all of a sudden, you had a new person in the band, and it might be really good or maybe not so good, and you didn't have the time to pick the right person for the job always, or you got someone in that was just there for a temporary [period of time] — a one-tour basis or something. That led to an inconsistency that I didn't find very entertaining, whereas this tour, we've had the same band now for a few years, which is really great, and that leads to a consistency. Right about now, when this band has done... I don't know exactly how many shows we've done, but it's in the hundreds. You can really tell that we've jelled, and that's a very nice feeling, and that's not something that just comes overnight. It takes time. It's kind of like a hockey team. You just need to know your positions. You need to know what people are doing, and it takes some time to get a groove. I think that we have that groove. The biggest step on this tour cycle — especially for me as an initiator and overlooker of things with the goal and the plan, and especially on this tour, which I'm immensely proud of — is the fact that we're able to bring the same production to anywhere. Everywhere we're playing, we're giving everyone an equally good show. I'm talking about the production values — we're bringing our stage, our lights, the bombs, the fire, the fog, the confetti, everything. Up until this tour, that has been quite inconsistent. Because of the laws of gravity, it's very hard to do that, and we enjoyed several years on the theater circuit, which is great. I love theaters — don't get me wrong — but there are a few things when you're playing theaters that are not ideal. One, you have seats, and seats in front of the stage gravely disrupt the energy of the show. Second, because of many of the theaters being old, historic, great, this, that and the other, you cannot have fire; you cannot have pyro. There are limitations... It is a little bit rocky, and at the end of the day, you end up being on the expense of the crowd. The tickets are essentially the same everywhere, and people come there expecting to see whatever they heard about, or whatever they saw on YouTube. If what they saw was filmed in New York, they might have seen all the bells and whistles, and then, all of a sudden, when there was supposed to be a bomb or there was supposed to be a confetti ring or whatever, it just doesn't happen. That has been very annoying for me. I'm striving for consistency. I'm a control freak — I want it to be the same for everyone, regardless if you live in Pullman or Portland. You should get the same thing. You're paying the same money... You want to bring the best. You want to do what we do well."
On the turnover among the group's "Nameless Ghouls":
Tobias: "I think that the overall audience don't [sic] care. They don't know. Even in an un-anonymous band, they wouldn't care too much. I dare say that all the hundreds of thousands of people that go to see Bruce Springsteen, even though his band is not anonymous, I think that if he shows on the poster [by] himself, that's 100 percent fine. If it says THE E STREET BAND, that's also fine. If someone in THE E STREET BAND is missing, I don't think people notice, unless it's, like, Steven [Van] Zandt, generally. I think it's the same thing for us. I don't think that all those thousands of people even know my name, because they're there to be entertained. It's the entertainment of the week or the month or the day. Many of them might not even have heard all our songs — they might have heard 'Square Hammer' and 'Dance Macabre', whatever songs are on the radio. That's fine. Then you have a smaller portion of the crowd knowing everything, or thinking that they know everything... The anonymity, or the mask situation, has to an extent made changing members [and] changing musicians easier, but again, getting new people in the band is not easy. I draw the parallel to sports. You can have a star of one team, and you'd think that that person, if we just buy the big scorer of that team, he or she will come into our team and do an equal amount of goals. You might have disregarded the fact that maybe it was the chain that he or she was part of that created that, and that he or she always needed that backup... Especially when you don't have time, that was something that very irritating in the first six years of the band. A lot of those changes happened mid-tour, and you had two weeks to find someone. That led to recruitment being based more on proximity than ability sometimes, and that was annoying, because three weeks into a tour, you sort of noticed, 'This is not working out. This is not good.' And then you had to ride it out for eight months and fix it when you got home. On the other hand, I think the anonymity and the masked premise is not always stroking cats the right way, because most people — myself included — put a guitar on my body originally not only because I loved playing, but partially because you wanted to be seen. That has definitely been a problem over the years. People have a tendency to feel uncomfortable with the idea of not getting recognition. People want to be seen, and that is sometimes a problem. Some people I've had in the band and now have in the band are perfectly fine with that. They love the idea of being able to go up on a stage, play as if you were a big rock star and then be able to hang that on a coat hanger, and then afterwards, you don't have to deal with the idea of being recognized. Some people prefer that, and some don't, and sometimes, that is a problem."
On the perception of his own role in GHOST:
Tobias: "If anyone wants to make me sound like I'm asking for recognition, I would say that is untrue. If someone would claim that I would have mantled a position above the others, that would be perfectly natural, because I started this band in 2006. No one that has ever been in the band, except one person that was in the band for the five first shows, was ever there with me. I started this band. I've taken all the risks and own the thing. I've paid everyone that was ever in the band to be here. I am the only one responsible for having moved this whole operation along. That doesn't take any effort away from anyone else, but just because you were in the band for a couple months, I won't let you represent the band with the media... If anyone that has been in the band for half a year and just done shows and never contributed or never paid a check or never taken any responsibility, it's such a joke talking about it... You just ride that out. It sorts itself, and I don't mind that much, because time proves those things, and my job is not go into polemics about that. My job is to be out here touring and entertaining people and making new records the same way that I've always made records."
On his plans to record a live DVD/Blu-ray:
Tobias: "I can't really say as to when that would be. That's been in the works for years, but every time that we've been honing in on an opportunity to tape anything, there's been some sort of salt in the machinery, partially because I'm a perfectionist. I really want the show to be 100 percent, and when it comes to making such a film, it is of great assistance if you're playing a venue two days in a row, just so you have enough footage to cover. Otherwise, you're betting all your money on one horse, and that can be a little risky. What if you have a shooting issue? Something might not work well. Maybe the pyro went off wrong. There might be a lot of things. You want to have a little bit of options and material to choose from... It takes a few stars to align in order to do such a thing, and I have not so far flt that we've had that opportunity. But now, we're closer than ever from a production standpoint."
GHOST is continuing to tour in support of its Grammy-nominated 2018 album "Prequelle". A "limited deluxe collector's edition" of the album, "Prequelle Exalted", was released on September 27. Among other collectibles, it includes a seven-inch single featuring two previously unreleased songs, "Kiss The Go-Goat" and "Mary On A Cross".