During his first public “unmasked” interview, which took place at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum on May 1, GHOST frontman Tobias Forge discussed his original vision for the group and how it evolved over time.
“Originally, the idea was to have, technically, a band, but playing a show that would be closer to a musical or theater,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, I always liked going to musicals like ‘Cats’ and ‘[The] Phantom Of The Opera’. There was something very enthralling… you know that the show starts at a certain time, and then the story’s over at a certain time, and you don’t have to think too much about what happened before and after. It’s a snapshot, and there’s a beginning and an ending, and then it’s over. The only thing that you’re able to have insight into is [if] you buy a program. You can look — ‘Oh, who scored this?’ You can see who’s the understudy. There’s pictures — you can see everyone, and you can see who played the violin and designed the costumes. That was what I was trying to get to. That was what I was trying to create.”
As GHOST‘s music began to take shape, Forge believed that creating a theatrical image was key. “[GHOST] started with a few songs,” he explained, “and then the lyrics sort of spoke to me at that point, like, ‘This is not going to be a band that looks like this [gestures to himself].’ I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to create this thing where it was a complete make-belief.”
Forge quickly had to adjust his way of thinking, however, as the demand grew for GHOST to tour. “At that time,” he said, “I was naively thinking that if we can just get a record deal, we can go out and we can headline, and we can do, like, five shows a year. They’re going to be great, and they’re going to be big and sold-out. Obviously, that didn’t work. When the project transitioned from an idea to something that had a record out, all of a sudden we were asked to play a lot. We managed to skip a few steps in the beginning and start at F, but then came G, H and all that. We started touring, and quickly, this whole anonymity thing, it worked to a point, but there’s a clear distinction between being masked and being anonymous… I think it’s up to me — it’s my job — to put the majority of the focus on the show.”