Stepping outside the usual music media circle, Ghost architect Tobias Forge sat down with Dr. Michael Friedman for Psychology Today to discuss his path to Satanism, how Christianity shaped him from a young age, and other influences that acted on him and inspired the Grammy-winning (and newly nominated again) entity he's created in Ghost.
Forge begins the interview discussing his "very liberal" mother and how she fostered a sense of independence and open-mindedness in him as a boy. "She has never been religious … spiritual but not religious. However, she worked in art, and had a very avid interest in art and culture," he says, "So she presented church to me as more of an archeological or more museum-like institution … more from a historic perspective." She passed on her love of art to her son through visits to art museums and cathedrals in Paris, treating the more religious locations as what he calls a "fictional art explosion."
Forge goes on to relay how he grew up in a very Christian area, so his experience with religion was not limited and he was exposed to movies and stories of Jesus at a young age. Countering those influences was his older brother, who introduced him to Twisted Sister, Kiss, and Motley Crüe albums, leading Forge to own his own records and guitar by the time he was eight years old. Older band that impacted him include Pink Floyd, the Doors, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones. He remembers, "You can go to a galaxy far, far away. And you can go into the Pink Floyd world and you can travel to Hyde Park in 1969 and watch the Rolling Stones pay tribute to Brian Jones."
However, the real turning point in his turn to the dark path came after experiences with a strict Christian teacher and his stepmother. He saw Satanism as a rebellious alternative to the oppressive ideologies of "not so nice" Christians. "As a young teen, Satan, and the idea of some sort of world that you could be in touch with that could empower you was very much the symbol for freedom," he tells the interviewer, continuing, "When adolescence was knocking, there are another set of emotions that come into play. And the idea of the Devil and the idea of dark powers from beyond that continue in any way or form is a very interesting thought for a twelve-year-old who wants to lose his virginity, and who would like to defend himself against the bigger kids and who is also a big worshipper of rock music ... Everything sort of coincided."
Despite this interest in Satan, Forge doesn't identify strictly as anti-religious or even as an atheist. He claims he supports the right to believe in whatever one chooses, and believes in the existence of Jesus as a person. "I do believe in the idea of a historic person named Jesus that was a kind of chill dude who was just telling people to chill and be nice to each other. And he got penalized for that," Forge states. "I definitely believe that tormenting other people because of the Bible and for that to be — for lack of a better word, Gospel ... I think that is not very nice."
Read the full interview at Psychology Today, and for more on Forge's background and personal/creative evolution, check out Revolver's in-depth cover story from earlier this year.