During a recent conversation with News Review, Ghost leader Tobias Forge was directly asked: “Are you a Satanist?”. The musician replied:
“From a strictly Christian point of view, if that means believing in a physical, half-man, half-ram living in the underground, no, I don’t believe there is such a thing. I’m not the opposite either.
“And you know, I’m sure in the eyes of the beholder, if I was put in front of true god-fearing Bible-thumpers, I would probably be regarded as a Satanist… just because I’m not a god-fearing Bible-thumper.
“But the concept of Satanism has many, many forms… In the last 50 years now, ever since [Anton] LaVey and pop-cultural Satanism, when that rose in the latter of the part of the ’60s with the Church of Satan, and Black Sabbath and Black Widow and Coven and that sort of hippie Satanism, which at the end of the day, heavy metal, black metal, all that is based upon that cultural Satanism…
“I grew up with that. So from that point of view, I would definitely say that culturally, I am definitely, for lack of a better way of putting it, I’m a devil-liking kind of guy.
“But, I wouldn’t sacrifice a baby to a half-ram that I believe to be living in the underground. And I would never ever encourage anyone to do that.”
In the ’80s, artists like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne were known for incorporating Satanic themes and upsetting Christians. But that was 40 years ago. Are there any ways that your music has offended people, that surprised you?
“I think that I have been personally more subjected to people who have said the opposite. Just coming from a traditionally more conservative background, and then being surprised that they are oddly in favor of what Ghost is doing.
“Maybe not 100% from a philosophical point of view, whatever that means, but it still resonates in a positive way among people who would traditionally not like ‘Satanic rock music.’
“I have theories about it, but I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact that heavy metal in the 1980s was way more of a household thing, and the gap between generations was bigger at that point, so you’d have the 15-to-25-year-old teenagers in 1980 or 1985.
“Their parents would have been 40 or 50 at that point and were potentially of a different breed than most of the 40-year-olds, 50-year-olds, 60-year-olds today.
“But it all depends on how you present yourself as a spokesperson for a band like this. I’m not here to shock people who are not willing to be shocked – if that makes sense. I’m not here to throw a grenade into the God-fearing home, trying to rip your family apart…
“I want them to come to the show and have fun and feel good about themselves, and want to live their lives, not to commit suicide or go kill someone. I want people to be happy and embrace life.
“I can imagine Rob Halford having never said anything unlike what I just said, nor Ozzy Osbourne.”