Despite the legal turmoil of the past year, Ghost founder and frontman Tobias Forge promises his group will be bigger and better when it begins its North American tour on May 5 in Riverside, Calif.
“It will definitely be an upgrade,” Forge, who will be introducing his new character Cardinal Copia, tells Billboard. He promises “a few songs we haven’t played in years” as well as material from the upcoming Prequelle album that’s due out June 1. And the ranks of the Nameless Ghouls have swelled as well.
“We have a bigger band now in terms of personnel,” Forge says, “so it’s way more live now. Before we were doing a little bit of the modern trickery, with backing tracks and stuff to make the whole sound a certain way. Now we’re taking that away so we’re a little more like a Springsteen or Guns N’ Roses sort of band with backup singers and everything. It feels great. It’s gonna be the best version yet — but there’s still a lot to come after that.”
All of this comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed during early 2017 in Sweden by four former Ghost members accusing Forge of financial misconduct. The action made public the carefully protected identifies of Forge and the other bandmates, which he now shrugs off as inevitable.
“I’ve always tried to point out that there is a great difference between being anonymous and being unmasked, and I still will put a lot of effort into preserving the latter,” Forge explains. “The thing that I tried to achieve originally and what I’ve been trying to maintain is the sense of theater rather than a classic kind of rock n’ roll (presentation). My idea is Ghost is basically a theater show that you could come and see, like Hamilton, and you don’t have to worry too much about the real stories. I guess I’ve become a little bit more of a normal rock artist, but now it’s my job to do my darndest to preserve the aesthetic and the theatrical qualities, and I’m going to do my absolute best to do that.”
But while we’ve only heard one track — the single, “Rats” — from Prequille, Forge promises his real-life tribulations have made it into the album. “Of course there was a great sense of urgency over the album,” Forge says. “I had a personal situation that urgently told me to salvage the situation and reclaim what is mine and also justify that it was mine to begin with. This was a record about survival through trauma. The end result is positive, but it’s about taking a very negative situation and forging it into something great that you can learn from.”
As for battling his former band members, Forge notes that, “It’s just growing pains, and all of this shit has been the result of things going well, not the opposite. You have to be glad with what you have and cherish that. That’s what I’m doing as we move forward.”
Ghost will be on the road in the U.S. through June 1 and has just announced its first two fall dates — and first-ever arena headlining shows on these shores — Nov. 16 at the Los Angeles Forum and Dec. 15 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with more dates expected to be announced. It’s also posted Chapter 3 of its latest video series, titled Back On The Road, depicting the group preparing for its upcoming world tour. “My mission has always been to take it further and forward,” Forge says. “That’s still highest on my priority list.”