Who here caught Ghost at Download Festival and thought they were bloody outstanding and definitely worth a better slot than competing against Slayer? Well, you’re not alone, we were blown away by the band’s onstage personas, especially that of frontman Tobias Forge aka Cardinal Copia who we caught up with the next day for an unmasked, stripped back, chat and a half.
During the conversation, the topic turned to the band’s performance the night before (competing against the thrash metal icons mentioned above) and Tobias was quick to point out his distaste for music festivals, revealing:
“I think it [the performance] went down as good as it could have been… Frankly, I really hate playing festivals in the first place, I really don’t think that it’s a very good presentation for any band, alone, any band that has any sort of agenda like bringing forth any sort of theatrical or any sort of production that is beyond a drumkit and a few amps.”
Interviewer Jim ‘Plugga’ Birkin also brought up the band’s infamous performance at Big Day Out in Perth back in 2014 when a similar thing happened as the band were competing against headliners Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg and Flume, unfortunately being a relatively unknown band in Australia during that time, the turnout wasn’t as good as predicted, but as Tobias elaborated, it turns out the band only perform at festivals (more in particular, that tour) because they have to, adding:
“Doing these shows, apart from the rekindling with the crowd that we do have, from a political point of view, it was just one of those necessary ‘suck offs’ that you need to do, in order for the sphere of arrangers to understand that yes there is a reason to bring Ghost here and so I knew beforehand that this is not gonna be good.”
Now, those who think, “why doesn’t he just play earlier in the day so they’re competing against the major headliners”, for that, we have to take you back to the band’s early conception where the idea of their performances were first born and someone who had been there, in the beginning, was AJ Maddah (@iamnotshouting) who gave us a glimpse of what Tobias and co. were like in the early days:
“I had the privilege of being around Tobias at the very early stages of Ghost’s development and his vision was extraordinary. He is like a George Lucas type character who has had this whole story arc and narrative from the very beginning. The evolution of the band has not been by accident, but by immaculate design. While musically dazzling, the band also relies on imagery and a visual component that requires playing in darkness for full impact. Unfortunately this has made it difficult for the band in a festival environment. Do you play in front of a massive audience earlier in the day, or put on the show that you really want to deliver, in darkness, but also against the headline artists (and therefore a smaller crowd)?”
The question that has plagued attendees of Download Festival, Big Day Out and Soundwave (2013) for years, may now be put to rest. Would you attend a music festival if Ghost were headlining? Are they big enough to be a headliner or co-headliner? We think so, but others not so much. But if thats the only way we can get the band down under, then we’ll take it for now.
Revisit our extensive coverage of both Download Festival Sydney and Melbourne right here