Tobias Forge wrote Ghost's first song "almost as a joke"

Ghost, Phantomime EP promo photo
(Image credit: Jimmy Hubbard)

Few metal bands have exploded in popularity across the last decade like Ghost. Be it filling out arenas, winning awards or going viral on TikTok, it's seemed like Tobias Forge's spooky party starters are unstoppable right now. Amazingly, in an exclusive interview in the latest issue of Metal Hammer, Forge reveals that the very first Ghost song he wrote wasn't necessarily meant to be taken entirely seriously.

"Ghost started with a song, Stand By Him, which ultimately came out on our first record," he explains. "I wrote it spontaneously, as an experiment – almost a joke, if you will, in 2006. When I recorded it the first time, I had no equipment in my home, so I had to go to a friend’s house. We did this very rough demo. He said it was great. He’d been in Subvision, Repugnant and Crashdïet with me, but we’d stopped playing together. He was like, ‘Can we form a new band?’ and I was like, ‘This song is the only thing I have. If I can come up with two more songs and there’s a pattern, then of course.’ But they needed to be as playful and spontaneous, and sure enough they were.”

The rest is, as they say, history. Ghost would go on to become one of the biggest metal bands of their generation - though as Forge reveals, there was another early bump (or should that be bumps?) in the road that threatened to put a halt to his dreams of making it big in the music industry.

“Around 2008, when Ghost were first getting properly started, my girlfriend told me she was pregnant with twins," he says. "I never said it out loud, but I was preparing for my dream not coming true – maybe I wouldn’t become a rock star, I’d never be successful... So I had to at least have something that I could live with, a hobby that I could feel strongly about and get all my inclinations filtered through. I wanted to play metal, but also write pop music, have this horror rock show with theatre... Still taking inspiration from Venom pictures in 1982 where they looked like bikers surrounded by smoke and red lights. Ghost felt like a combination of all those things. Lo and behold, when I didn’t have all the time in the world, like I had before and gotten nowhere, when I could only put so much effort in, everything changed.”

Ghost are currently midway through their US tour, which wraps up next month. Read more from Tobias in the latest issue of Metal Hammer, out now. 

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.