“I was furious...those kids were really, really upset”: Tobias Forge's reaction to a venue banning face paint at a recent Ghost show

(Image credit: Future (cover: Travis Shinn))

Back in August, reports surfaced that a venue in St. Louis, Missouri was ordering Ghost fans to remove face paint before entering the building for a concert being held by the Swedish party metal spooks as part of their Re-Imperatour 2023 US run. Anecdotes of disappointed fans hastily scrubbing off their Papa Emeritus-inspired make-up outside the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre quickly spread, prompting Ghost themselves to release a statement that read: "We'd like to apologize for a miscommunication about removing face paint. This was not directed by Ghost." The statement was accompanied by an additional message that read: "We wish to inform you that we will ALWAYS encourage creative expression, we will NEVER stifle it."

Speaking to Metal Hammer for their latest issue, Ghost mainman Tobias Forge has revealed his initial reaction to the fiasco. “I was furious,” he says. “The story that I heard was that it was an initiative taken by some of the security people, who didn’t approve of the band. They didn’t like what we were doing so they wanted to be mean to these kids, and those kids were really, really upset with that. They told them it was a band requirement. That was upsetting to me. We would never ask that of our fans. We want them to dress up, we want them to come and have fun.”

Forge evidently takes the relationship between Ghost and their fans very seriously: elsewhere in the interview, he discusses the ways in which Ghost shows have become a place where misfits and outcasts can feel welcome and safe. “Over the years, I’ve come to understand that a lot of our fanbase are, in one way or another, outsiders or that their lives are lonely or they’re struggling with something,” he notes. “It feels like there’s a lot of hurt among our fanbase, and I want to address that. They’ve found a kind of belonging being in this group of Ghost fans.”

Ghost recently wrapped up their latest tour with a trio of shows in Australia, finishing at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on October 7. Rumours abound that the band will soon enter their next chapter, usually signified by the 'offing' of frontman Papa Emeritus (played by Forge). As of yet, however, Ghost's next steps remain uncertain. 

Their latest album, Impera, was released via Loma Vista last year, receiving critical acclaim, with Metal Hammer's Dave Everley praising its "bolshiness, bravado and skyscraping songs" in a 9/10 review.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.