Tragic Details About Ghost's Tobias Forge

Ghost was never like the other bands. Founded in 2006, the Swedish "group" is actually a one-man project of Tobias Forge, who's behind the music, the imagery, and the painted mask of the ever-changing "Papa Emeritus" frontmen. A high-concept, poppy metal project that flirts with satanic imagery, Ghost has seen great success, but the road to fame has been rocky. The project took several years of gestation between its founding and the release of its first album, "Opus Eponymous," in 2011. Ghost's nature as a Forge-centric project has also been disputed by former "Nameless Ghoul" bandmates, who slapped him with a royalty lawsuit in 2017, outing their identities in the process — and effectively forcing Forge to publicly come out as Ghost's creative force in an interview with Radio P1 Sverige

And that's just the band stuff. Forge's own life before he got his big break involved multiple false starts. In an interview with Metal Hammer, the musician detailed numerous unsuccessful bands he had played with over the years, as well as the deadbeat jobs he'd held. "At that point in 2009, I was at a point of desperation," he described his situation, shortly before Ghost started gaining traction. "I was one year into parenthood, facing the fact that, f***, we need more money. So I decided to do something."

Much of this, of course, is fairly generic struggling musician stuff — but don't think for a second that Forge hasn't gone through his share of true tragedy, as well.  

His brother died of a heart disease just as Ghost was breaking through

For Tobias Forge, one of his band's greatest moments will forever be connected to one of his greatest personal tragedies. In the Metal Hammer interview, the musician recounted the awful situation surrounding the first time Ghost received notable attention. In 2010, several of the songs that would later be released on Ghost's first album "Opus Eponymous" made waves online, and Forge had decided to fully commit himself to the project. The Ghost train was about to leave the station, but a truly shocking tragedy coincided with the first time the world was subjected to the band's music: The completely unexpected death of Forge's older brother on March 12, 2010. 

Forge's brother perished after midnight without warning, due to a heart ailment no one knew about. He was 13 years older than Forge, and the person who introduced the future Ghost superstar to rock music in the first place. The news arrived just after Forge had realized that the Ghost songs he'd uploaded in MySpace were going viral, and he received a record deal shortly after the incident.

The cruel irony of the situation wasn't lost on Forge, who remains driven by his loss. "It felt like some weird trade: the band for my brother," the musician said. "It was like, 'This has happened, there's nothing I can do with it, I've just got to take the ball and run with it.' And I've been running with it ever since."

A broken home and a bad teacher left him feeling like an outsider

In his interview with Radio P1 Sverige (via Loudwire), Tobias Forge reminisced about his unhappy youth. His father and mother were separated, and he didn't exactly gel with his father's new family, feeling like an unwanted outsider whenever he was with them. "I hated that I, every other weekend, was forced away, and it felt every time like being picked away from my own life where I had full freedom to dream away," Forge described the situation. "I was instead to be forced into their new world, where they have chosen each other, they loved each other." 

Young Forge already appreciated the Christian imagery he'd later play with in Ghost, but his stepmother was a genuinely religious and stern person who was known to invoke Christ while ordering him around, per Revolver. It didn't help that he also had a teacher cut from the same cloth. The dual attack of severity and religion left a mark on young Forge, who stopped seeing his father's family at the tender age of 10, and dropped out of school at 16. 

While Forge patched things up with his family in adulthood, his negative experiences as a child certainly played a factor in the spiritual direction he ended up picking for himself. "The devil became my companion, we went unconditionally hand in hand throughout my puberty and teenage [years], he was exactly the pointed finger in the air I needed when I was the most angry," Forge said.