Photo credit: Mikael Eriksson
Ghost's brand new album Prequelle is out now! In the leadup to its release, we were lucky enough to get our mate Dave "Higgo" Higgins on the phone with mainman Tobias Forge to discuss the record, theatrics, and the possibility of a return to Australia. Scroll down to read it all now, and take a listen to Prequelle while you're at it.
Listen to Prequelle now.
Higgo: How much was it a deliberate decision to move into that theatrical world? I read that you’re into theatre and wondering what drew you to it?
Tobias: It was definitely an intention of mine to explore a little bit more of the instrumental side of the band, now, on this record, because when we made Meliora, we had the idea that even Meliora was gonna contain a little bit more instrumental passages and maybe full-on tracks, and we never really got to do that for some reason, we just ended up with a little bit more of a song record.
And then, as we were finishing up Meliora, I definitely felt like ‘ugh, next record’, you know it felt like Spoksonat and Devil Church was our token prog little one minute instrumental pieces, whereas I definitely wanted to do a little bit more of that, so I sort of decided, making the next record (Prequelle) there were gonna be more instrumental excursions, so that was definitely a point.
Now obviously the record contained two and it’s almost ten minutes of instrumentals but we might not do that next time.
Higgo: Well the other one you talk about, and I’m sorry if I pronounce this wrong, Helvetesfonster (I pronounce it phonetically, which is wrong, Tobias tries to teach me in his native tongue and it sounds way more impressive, loosely translated, 'Hell Window'). That song could very well be the one that sends traditional Ghost fans into a tailspi. What a glorious near on 6 minutes it is, it’s just so much fun to listen to.
Tobias: I’m glad you like it, yeah it’s very much a prog.. (pauses).. I listen a LOT to prog music, I listen a lot to instrumental music, and a lot of film scores.
I like the free form of writing instrumental music as well, ya know, even I get very tired of my voice sometimes, and I like listening to music that doesn’t necessarily have to be narrated by words, but has a bit more of an association narration, with the melody, and the sounds leave a little to the imagination. I think (Helvetesfonster) was very compelling ya know. You can’t really write a song like that, at least not in my opinion, vocally it’s hard to fit anything in there that doesn’t turn into some sort of, ya know Spinal Tappy pastiche thing.. yeah I’m losing the plot a little here, but yeah.
Higgo: So the song dictates where it’ll take you, so you don’t always feel the need to include a vocal, Is that right?
Tobias: Usually when I write, there’s always some sort of vocal line in mind. In both cases (on Prequelle) of Helvestefonster and Miasma the melodies themselves, they were written on an instrument.
Miasma was written on guitar, and Helvetesfonster was written on a piano or synth. Usually when I transpose, I adapt an instrument melody to vocals, it doesn’t really work out very well because usually I want the vocal lines to come intuitively, and ya know I wet my finger and put it in the air and tried to feel out. Like, would Miasma for example be a vocal usual track? It didn’t work out because the riff itself it’s like a very…. If I sing that, it turns into something that doesn’t sound like Ghost. It works as a melody playing it on the guitar, but it does really really work as a vocal melody. Not for me, maybe for Bruce Dickinson, but not for me, it doesn’t work in the same way. It was pretty clear that this was gonna be an instrumental track, because it does so very well on the guitar.
Higgo: Did you find (when writing the album) that you had some ideas that didn’t quite make the grade, or that ideas that didn’t quite suit what you were doing that may, in fact, be used for a future album?
Tobias: Oh yeah I do that all the time. When I make a record it’s like slaughtering the babies, like left right and centre, haha. That’s the big process when I'm putting together the record. I’m very brutal. Songs that don’t immediately flesh out and that don’t work, I put them on the backburner and just see if I can use some of it in something else.
There were definitely songs that I already had on the table before Meliora, that ended up being on Prequelle. Even stuff that pre dated Opus, was on Meliora. I always have a big bulk of material to take from, and what used to be a chorus, might now be an intro, and a vocal melody that I don’t find is strong enough I might use that and record it once using it as a guitar lead, and ya know, a bass part might all of a sudden become a guitar part or a keyboard part instead, and then a keyboard part might all of a sudden become a bass part, so there’s a lot of tossing around.
That’s very hard to do as a band, because people playing their own instruments are usually not very fond of you doing that. They don’t want their things being thrown around and switched. And that is really one the great upsides of not really working in a traditional band way.
Photo credit: Mikael Eriksson.
Higgo: Well it’s a great message for bands though. Don’t throw out the ideas because you don’t know where they could end up later down the track. KEEP EVERYTHING.
Tobias: RIGHT! That’s true though, you don’t have to realise EVERY idea when making the record. Sit on a few, and ya know, you pick out the flowers that are in bloom. The ones that are not, let them stay. Or ya know, pick seeds of it and plant it again. A little bit more botanical I guess.
Higgo: I like it. So when are you gonna come back to Australia? Are you gonna come back?
Tobias: Yes. I won’t promise this.. but we are REALLY aiming at March next year. We hope that it will materialise. We are really looking forward to coming back - it’s been way too long, and I’m saddened by that. But now with the prospect of possibly coming back, I’m really looking forward to it. Gonna be very very cool.
Higgo: I would like to see the full, IN DARK show because last time it wasn’t quite dark enough. It was like dusk, and I want the theatre of it all, to really get the most out of the music I think.
Tobias: Right right right right right… let me put it this way, we won’t come back unless it’s in the dark. That’s been one of the problems, so yeah, we will stick to that.
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