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It's been such a massive 2022 for Ghost, how could we not name them the Band of the Year? There have been AMA wins, MLB first pitches, viral TikToks and other mind-blowing career milestones — including Revolver's coveted Album of the Year title for the Swedish occult-rock troupe's latest full-length offering, Impera.
When we recently interviewed Ghost mastermind Tobias Forge about that last honor, we had to ask him to pick his personal favorite album of 2022. Which he did — kinda. By his own admission, Forge doesn't listen to a whole lot of new music, and when it came to spotlighting a single most-loved LP from the last 12 months, he messed up by a month, selecting a record released in November of 2021. So, technically, it's his favorite album of the last year and one month.
Still, it made for a fun, fascinating talking point, with plenty of insights into his influences and process.
LOOKING BACK, WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE ALBUM FROM 2022?
TOBIAS FORGE I am so bad at listening to other records, other band's records, I must say. Simply because I'm just too full of myself. [Laughs] No, but I'm just too busy listening to old records. I listen to a lot of music, but most of it is older. I just had my end-of-year summary of what I listen to the most on Spotify, and it turned out to be Marillion. But I think that in the year that has passed, the record that surprised me, the that most made me happy was probably the new ABBA [2021's Voyage]. That was a cool record.
THERE WAS A 40-YEAR WAIT BETWEEN THEIR LAST ALBUM AND THIS ONE. DID IT LIVE UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
Yeah, definitely. It was surreal hearing it because, in many ways, it was like hearing a new Beatles record. Obviously there are natural reasons why a new Beatles record wouldn't happen. But besides Björn [Ulvaeus] and Benny [Andersson] being ever-active, making musicals and just being prolific songwriters and artists, the girls [Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog] have been pretty much MIA over the years, almost to the point where it feels almost like they rose from the dead coming onto this record. So it almost had that sort of resurgence from a mortal perspective feel. Yeah, I think it felt like a very important event.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO GROW UP IN SWEDEN AND NOT BE AFFECTED IN SOME WAY BY ABBA'S MUSIC?
We have a big domestic scene of new music that doesn't necessarily reach out beyond the borders of Sweden. And I think a lot of those youngsters who are between 18 and 25 now, many of them to be completely superfluous of any music that's older than five years. So, of course you can do it, but obviously what they are not aware of — and they that will learn eventually — is that a lot of the infrastructure of Swedish music, and especially why there is to a higher degree an accessibility for Swedish artists, Swedish music writers, Swedish songwriters to reach out beyond the borders of Sweden, is very much because of ABBA. But from my generation, it's definitely unavoidable. ABBA was omnipresent and still is.
AND NOT NECESSARILY AS SOMETHING TO REBEL AGAINST, BUT RATHER SOMETHING TO BE INSPIRED BY AND RUN WITH?
Absolutely. Absolutely. I've always been influenced [by them]. I've always been a fan, and I've sort of found my way searching in some of their footsteps. We recorded Impera in one of Stockholm's oldest studios called Atlantis, and one of its big selling points is that ABBA recorded most of their records before [1979's] Voulez-Vous there. Most of their classic songs were recorded there. And that studio has been, except for some minor interior [renovations], it's been pretty much unchanged since then. It's still the same console, it's still the same outboard gear, it's still the same microphone, still the same to a degree instruments. The timpani is the same that they used on "Money, Money, Money," still stands there. You can play on it! We had it on the record. It's the same marimba that's on "Mama Mia." We used that also. And if you play ABBA's things on those pianos and stuff, you can hear it. It's the same.
There's a clip of when they're making "Dancing Queen," when they're sitting in the control room. And I mean, it looks exactly like that. That's the same console we recorded Impera on. And then at another point, we recorded some songs in a studio that's nowadays called Soundtrade. It used to be called Glen Studios. And that's where, when ABBA made one exception in the Seventies and made a record elsewhere, they made it in Glen Studios. And that was [1977's] The Album with "Eagle" and all those songs — "Name of the Game" and "I'm a Marionette" — that was recorded there in Glen Studios and we used that.
I mean, we've been following them, though we've never gotten to record in Polar, but we beat them one time. And that was recording Meliora, because we recorded that in Benny's studio, RMV, and technically we actually recorded that before they recorded the new ABBA record there. So finally, we were first. A lot of our recordings, a lot of the records I've made has been in the echo of nerding out about this. "Was this the thing that she sang in? Was this the thing they used?" Now they can do the same. [Laughs]