Ghost on the 'Tremendous' Honor of Grammy Nominations & Dropping the Mask

Mikael Eriksson


Ghost has an unblemished Grammy Awards track record. And Tobias Forge, founder and frontman of the theatrical Swedish hard rock group, is hoping it stays that way on Feb. 10 in Los Angeles.

After winning best metal performance in 2016 for "Circle," Ghost is up for a pair of awards -- best rock album for last year's Prequelle and best rock song for "Rats" -- at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. "It's a great honor -- very, very joyous," says Forge, who's also won three Grammy Awards in Sweden and will fly in from Ghost's European tour to attend this year's Grammy ceremony. "You'd think that anyone who experienced being nominated and winning one maybe wouldn't care so much about getting another one, but I can really vouch that is not the case. I have felt tremendously overjoyed with the first nomination and then it completely blew my mind when I won it last time. And now when I got nominated again, it definitely feels like tremendous."

Further exciting Forge is the fact that he's not the only Grammy nominee from his small hometown of Linköping. Forge is joined by Ludwig Göransson, co-writer of Childish Gambino's "This Is America," who's up for four Grammys for that along with work on the Black Panther soundtrack. "It's fucking unbelievable; From our little town in Sweden we have two guys who are nominated for six Grammys," Forge notes. "That's pretty cool from a city where everybody thought nothing would ever happen to anyone."

Ghost's Grammy nods are the product of a significant year for Ghost, one that saw Forge come out from behind the mask of his various characters -- the three Papa Emerituses and Prequelle's Cardinal Copia -- and acknowledge his identity as Ghost's leader. He also prevailed in a lawsuit filed against him by several former Ghost members (the Nameless Ghouls) and enjoyed a No. 3 debut on the Billboard 200 for Prequelle, Ghost's best showing yet.

"I definitely preferred not having anything written about me, in a way," Forge says of the changes. "It has been a little bit of a growth process, coming to terms with it. It's not as if I was a complete unknown before, and now everybody knows me. It's annoying sometimes, but most of it is great. I got to spend a few years, at least, working undercover, having the luxury of being somewhat anonymous, or masked. I've definitely felt the joy of being able to go in and out of being a celebrity, which I do like a lot. Sometimes you get reminded that you cannot escape from it; That's the sort of thing I have to quickly sort of get used to, but I am not in any way saying it's painful or anything. It's not."

Forge and Ghost have a jammed year ahead, with touring in Europe, the U.K. and Australia and a lone North American date right now on May 18 at the Chicago Open Air festival. Ghost also plans to continue its popular, and humorous, Prequelle video series, whose "Chapter 6: The Visit" came out Jan. 11. And Forge is also focused on Ghost's next recording project, which he says he's been "working on for months now," with plans to be in the studio again by the beginning of 2020 with a release later that year.

"Luckily this time around I feel very certain as to what I want to do," Forge reports. "I have tons of bits and pieces and stuff written, and I know that once I really start working that there's going to be a record which feels very inspired. The dramaturgic nature of the records and the stories are getting more and more intertwined nowadays, which I like. It's almost like working with a series, I guess; You have your characters and you can still fuck with them and add new things and take things away. You can do whatever you want, which is always enticing from a creative standpoint."

2019 Grammy Awards