Tobias Forge – Ghost ‘A Debut Headline Tour For Spooky Season’

Ghost band

It’s time Aussie fans get the Ghost live set we deserve. We’ve been worthy fans ripping through their back catalogue and spinning fresh covers ‘Jesus He Knows Me‘ off forthcoming EP Phantomime and of course marvellous 2022 record Impera. After gawping at the masked ghouls at events like Download Festival 2019, Aussie fans are ready for the real deal.

Well, in case you missed it last night, it’s happening very soon. The Swedes will be flying down via Destroy All Lines for an east coast three-date headline run in October, starting in Sydney, moving to Melbourne and then winding up in Brisbane. Notably, the metallers are playing some significant venues which you can suss out below, along with early bird dates, links and the usual one-stop-shop for your tickets.

To celebrate the tour announcement, our good friend and publicity queen Tiana Speter sat down with vocalist Tobias Forge to find out what we can expect.

Tobias, I cannot tell you how excited Australia collectively is that Ghost are not only coming back here in 2023 – but it’ll also mark the first full headline tour we get to witness too. On top of that there’s a new EP coming out imminently next month as well. But let’s talk shows to begin with, Ghost have become a band that people say are a “must see” before you die, and there’s a lot of shows on the cards in 2023 for the band before you get here. As a band who are constantly raising the bar in a live setting, have you been planning anything new or crazy for your 2023 shows?

The shorter answer is yes, technically we have. But it’s also a continuation of the Impera tour, so it’s reminiscent of that, it’s a continuation. Without being too technical and boring people with practical things, there are a few things that we have changed around in order for us to be slightly more mobile. And that is also one of the reasons why we were finally able to come back to Australia and not do a festival.

That’s nothing against Download or, back in the day, Soundwave, and all that stuff. But we’ve done that, and I’ve always felt that it was irritating not to be able to do a full show. There’s no bad will there amongst anyone, it’s very practical and economical, and obviously the different crises and the distance have been issues too. But now – finally!

And our touring just continues, we go from the last show of the American tour over to Mexico, we do a Mexican show, then we go down to South America and then just head over the pond (laughs). 

Just casually sneak in a trip to the other side of the world on top of that, I love it! And interestingly you brought up Download there, the last time I saw Ghost play was at Download in 2019 which seems like a lifetime ago – but so much has gone on in the world since then, and in the world of Ghost as well. In and amongst all of that there’s been the new album Impera, and the new EP Phantomimeis on its way. But with regards to the making of Impera, given this Aussie tour will continue that album’s cycle – it’s album #5, nobody’s first rodeo by any means, but was there any trepidation in the lead up to making this album? Do you ever get that external expectation factor playing into things, or are you just able to bottle the magic and organically evolve?

I think it would be unnatural to not have those moments of doubt, or moments of standing at the crossroads pondering over whether to go this or that direction, especially when you have momentum going. As long as I’ve been making Ghost records, with the odd exception of the first one that was sort of written in a vacuum, as most debut albums are, they’re usually the purest because there’s very little outside influence…as soon as you’re releasing an album and then if you happen to gather a following – every album after that will most naturally have some sort of impact or be impacted by whatever’s going on around the band. And ever since I wrote the second record, I’ve been very adamant about not repeating what we just did – and not repeating myself. But also, of course, not trying to wash away any of those components that might be more DNA-based. But it’s like if I were a chef and I started different restaurants. You don’t wanna do a franchise. Of course, you could do a franchise, you could have a Tobias’s on every corner, equivalent to Tony’s (laughs). But usually the most renowned chefs, they have one sushi place and then they have one pasta place and one fusion place and all that. But they still have that through line, and that’s how I regard my records. It’s supposed to feel that it’s the same blood in there; but they are also supposed to be different, it’s supposed to be ever-changing.

I think I’ve managed to do that, but there are always moments where, you know, making a record is a timely process. And if I’m just speaking from this perspective right now and at this exact point in time – we’re about to embark on this tour. We’re gonna start on May 3rd, I think that’s when all the band members and everybody in the band and crew are coming here to Stockholm. We’re gonna rehearse and then we go out on tour until October pretty much. So, for some of the writing that I’ve been doing up until now, and it has been going on a little bit – but I’m shutting that down for a bit for a while. Then when I come back to the studio in October – then it’s full on, I’m gonna work full time until the next record is done at the beginning of next year.

Spontaneously, intuitively, I already know a lot of the things about the record already. I know what it’s gonna be called, I know the thematics of it, I know what the sleeve is gonna look like and all of the things I want to do. Sometimes, the idea may be intuitive, the idea might be solid. But between now and handing over the record to the record label next year, you go through so many moments of: “oh shit, this sucks!”. And: “this is the best record ever!”. It just goes up and down like that. And I think the trick is to just sort of know the signals and sometimes just go back and rely on what you felt about a song three months ago. It’s great, it’s just that you’ve developed hearing aids (laughs) so you don’t hear it completely anymore, you know?

Photo Gallery by Mick GoddardInsta: @mickg_photography

That’s an incredible insight into your creative process, especially coming from someone who has been part of this journey for a very decent amount of time now and already has such a strong legacy in their wake. And outside of touring and writing new music, as I mentioned earlier, there is, of course, a new EP PHANTOMIME out in May, a five-track collection of epic covers. It’s not your first entry into the covers arena, but is there any inkling about whether we may hear some of these new tracks from the EP live in action in October? Or are you guys sticking to the set list that’s been stamped out so far on the Impera tour?

Most likely, yes. I don’t think we’re gonna play more than one or maybe two of them, because we still wanna focus on Impera, you know, Pantomime is an extension of that album first and foremost. And especially now that we’re heading into territories that we haven’t been to in many records (laughs), many albums ago! The focus is gonna be to update everyone on the core of the new self-made material. But, Jesus Knows Me, the latest single, that feels like an immediate hit which I believe is gonna go down very well on stage. And I think we’re gonna play it really well – so why not play that!

I don’t doubt it for a second. And I think if the music video is anything to go by, we’re in for a very memorable time. And before I let you go today, in honour of the ecstatic news that Ghost are returning to Australia this year – what are some of your own fondest memories from your previous visits to Australia, this is definitely not your first down under rodeo in 2023!

Oh, several! Ever since we were there the first time, which was for Soundwave, and we also did Big Day Out as well. I think you’ve heard this many times before, but the one thing that was synonymous with Soundwave was the fact that you came down and did five shows across the country. The tours included Adelaide and Perth, but somehow somewhere down the line, I don’t know if something changed, but I’ve understood that you don’t do those long treks anymore. Or to the extent that it was. But back then, since the shows were only on weekends, Perth was one weekend and then you did Adelaide and Melbourne one weekend, then Sydney and Brisbane or the Gold Coast…you were there essentially for over two weeks with a whole heck of a lot of days off. And you had time to do a lot of these things that you don’t normally do on tour, you know, full on touristy things. You can go to the beach, you can go anywhere, essentially like a normal vacation. 

I think if you ask any band who was active in the last 20 years that was part of Soundwave or Big Day Out, they would say the same thing. It was amazing! All of the bands were staying at the same big hotel and were very taken care of. And all over town, all these bands that were in town did these sideshows. Because we were all in bands, most of us just went back and forth between Frankie’s Pizza or Cherry Bar and went to all these shows, seeing all these bands playing small clubs or theatres, and some bands played bigger places as well. 

I have a lot of good memories there, and I got to know a few people there who are nowadays very close friends of mine, in Sydney in particular. And that now is very much part of my personal trip, coming down to Australia means hanging out with them. 

I only have fond memories from the shows we’ve done there, I believe I’m correct in saying that we’ve done one headline show in Sydney…or was it Melbourne?! I don’t remember this because that’s almost 10 years ago, so I don’t remember exactly what we did. We did one sideshow I remember, maybe it was part of the Big Day Out. And we did a sideshow last time in Brisbane which was phenomenal. And not a small club either, it was a huge venue.

There’s a lot of good memories from both aspects on and off the stage, but what makes up for really great touring down there is obviously the weather and the people, the people’s attitudes are just remarkable. Everybody’s so nice, everybody’s so positive. I don’t know what it is, there’s just something very joyous over there. But it fucking breaks my heart hearing that Frankie’s Pizza is not there anymore.

I was gonna say, we lost an institution there, I’m still grieving that loss. What can we get you to do down here in October to make up for it, is there anything still on the bucket list?

I always go to Utopia. That’s my go-to store. But with Frankie’s gone, I don’t know, is there anything else that would be the equivalent now? What is the new place instead of going there? Where do you go?

See, I just moved back to the Gold Coast from Sydney so that is a very good question because I’ve been asking myself the same thing. There’s a heap of fun record shops that have bars attached, and there’s a little prohibition bar close to where Frankie’s was that has hot jazz and waiters dressed up in flapper dressers and suspenders…it’s cute, but it’s just not the same kind of dive bar experience. There’s a very big gap in the market it seems, maybe we need a Ghost bar?!

Don’t tempt me! It’s unbelievable, I mean obviously we’re talking about someone else’s shop here right now. Isn’t it owned by some investment group that does several bars? I mean, if their lease was up or anything like that, they should just move all that stuff to a new location. Then, hear me out people who own that, I don’t remember the name of the group…but I know they have several other different restaurants, fucking open Frankie’s again somewhere else!

Written by Tiana Speter @tiana_elena

Early bird pre-sale tickets on sale Wednesday 26 April @ 9am local time – register here

General tickets on sale Friday 28 April @ 9am local time

Ghost Australian Tour

Ghost Australian Tour 2023

Tuesday, 3 October
Hordern Pavilion

Wednesday, 4 October
MC Arena

Saturday, 7 October

Tickets here