Ghost’s Tobias Forge Reveals Other Music Job He Might Have Taken if He Wasn’t a Musician

Ghost’s Tobias Forge was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show, stopping by to chat about his new covers EP, Phantomime.

Within the chat, Tobias and Jackie speak about walking the fine line between entertainment and social commentary, what roles musicians play as social influencers and he digs in by pulling back the curtain on his creative process.

In addition, Tobias shares one aspect of the music industry that he feels might have been an alternate job had he never achieved his goals as a musician. What is it? Read on to find out:

On the show with us is Tobias Forge from Ghost. Let’s talk about the track “Jesus He Knows Me,” your Genesis cover on the new Phantomime EP. It’s smartly relevant. Tobias, how thin should the line between entertainment and social commentary be for Ghost?

I think it’s always been important. Even on the first record, that is slightly more fantasy, I guess, a little bit more classic occult rock with black metal lyrics. There are hints of social commentary in that as well. “Stand by Him,” that was the first song I ever wrote for Ghost that deals with the whole concept of witches, not from a supernatural point of view, but more from males accusing females of being witches because they’re not doing what they want or that whole dilemma.

From the first album to the second, there was definitely a shift where I started writing. I needed more substance and I ended up sort of creating that more realistic but sort of wrapped in linguistic treatment that sort of made it appear as occult, but it has multiple meanings though.

So yeah, of course it’s important. I think that there’s this myth and there’s a wish especially nowadays for a lot of how rock music in so many ways started as this big rebellion now it’s just because of the age span and its history, it’s obviously covering and embracing several generations and so there’s a great deal of conservatism within the rock music community and I think that there is this wish for “Never talk politics, don’t talk about that.” It’s sometimes uncomfortable but it’s interesting how rock started as a rebellion and nowadays in some circles the most provocative thing you can do within rock is to talk about real [shit] [laughs], so, it’s full circle.

People act in accordance with religion and politics. Even for entertainers like yourself, what responsibility should come with being a social influencer?

If you’re a rock musician, I think your responsibility is to entertain. I don’t have a responsibility to be telling you how to live your life or what to think. But as a writer, I think that even if you have half a brain, you will write about what you see and what you hear and what you feel and that’s how things have always been within rock music and I think it went up and down with the times a little depending on what the state of the world was at that point and sometimes, when you write really, you’re fantasizing lyrics about Dungeons and Dragons and stuff. That’s more of an escapism, which I’m all for.


Look at us. Obviously it’s very much about escapism, but I think that most people cannot help but to get influenced by what is occupying their mind. I see that in a lot of music that I have listened to throughout the ages and even when you listen to Morbid Angel, a lot of Dave Vincent’s lyrics back on the classic records, Altars of Madness, Blessed Are the Sick, Covenant, there’s a lot of commentary in there. It’s just that it’s sort of mired in this mist of sort of occult language. There’s a lot of that in a lot of music that I like. So, I try to just go in that tradition.

You hear about the world and it’s different beings and it’s errors and what to sing about if you’re not talking about the state of the world. It’s just happens to be right now be a very tumultuous time where a lot of these different subjects has come to the crossroads where it’s very unclear what is good and what is evil. But that’s what makes it interesting as well, I think. To revert back to your question, my responsibility, my job is to entertain people. I want people to have fun and I want people to come to our shows and feel good about themselves and have fun with their friends and you don’t have to think about anything, I just want you to feel good.

Unlike Impera, which was crafted and meticulous, this new covers EP Phantomime seems purely intuitive, maybe even a bit impetuous. Why is that creative recalibration necessary, particularly now?

At the time, I had just come from the recording of Impera feeling not burnt out, but it was just that Impera was an intense period. When you’re writing a record the way that I want to make records, which is meant to be this sort of rollercoaster of feelings and different tastes. If you compare it to the cullinaric world of being a chef, it’s kind of like making a record.

For me, it’s kind of like starting a new restaurant with a 10-course tasting menu. It’s supposed to be the sort of thrill and this journey and when you’ve done that, sometimes you just want to have a barbecue and make hot dogs and beef and that’s what I felt I wanted to just recalibrate a little and just make a rock EP of a different sort than the record just to go back to simpler form. Because obviously, sooner or later, I have to make a new record and I always make records influenced practically from by previous productions and what I feel right now is that making a new record would probably leave some place in the middle of those two, a little bit of the Phantomime process would mix with a little bit of the Impera process but in a new way.

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