Tobias Forge

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Tobias Forge
Forge performing with Ghost in his Papa Emeritus IV persona at Hellfest 2022
Forge performing with Ghost in his Papa Emeritus IV persona at Hellfest 2022
Background information
Also known as
  • Leviathan
  • Kopromancer
  • Gene Walker
  • Mary Goore
  • A Ghoul Writer
  • Nameless Ghoul
  • Papa Emeritus (I, II, III, IV, Nihil)
  • Cardinal Copia
Born (1981-03-03) 3 March 1981 (age 43)
Linköping, Sweden
  • Singer
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass guitar
  • drums
  • keyboards[5]
  • kazoo
Years active1996–present
Member ofGhost
Formerly of

Tobias Jens Forge (Swedish pronunciation: [tʊˈbǐːas ˈjɛns ˈfɔ̌rːɡɛ];[6] born 3 March 1981) is a Swedish singer, musician, and songwriter. He is the leader and primary songwriter of the masked rock band Ghost, performing live as their vocalist under the stage names Papa Emeritus and Cardinal Copia. Although the band was formed in 2006, Forge's identity as the Ghost frontman was only confirmed in 2017, following a lawsuit by former band members due to a royalty dispute. Prior to finding success, he was in several other bands, including Repugnant and Crashdïet, under the stage name Mary Goore.

For his musical accomplishments, Forge was awarded the 2019 Platinagitarren award from STIM, who explained "With one foot standing firmly on the metal floor, Forge is a composer pushing the boundaries of the genre." Jury member and journalist Jan Gradvall stated that Forge is among the "most visionary and creative in Swedish music history."[7] Due to "Ghost's epic progression from underground doom favorites to an arena phenomenon" in the 2010s, Loudwire named Forge the Metal Artist of the Decade.[8]

Repugnant and Crashdïet[edit]

Forge was a member of the band Superior under the stage name Leviathan in 1996. He fronted the Stockholm-based death metal band Repugnant from 1998, under the stage name Mary Goore, which Metal Hammer reported is a play on the name of Irish guitarist Gary Moore.[9] They recorded their only studio album Epitome of Darkness in 2002, but it was left unreleased when the band broke up in 2004, only being published in 2006.[10] Between 2000 and 2002, Forge was also a guitarist for glam metal band Crashdïet using the Mary Goore name. At some point he also played guitar for the punk rock band Onkel Kånkel.[11] Repugnant briefly reunited for the Hell's Pleasure festival in 2010.

Subvision and Magna Carta Cartel[edit]

From 2002 to 2008, Forge was vocalist and guitarist of the pop rock band Subvision. The group also included future Ghost members Martin Persner and Gustaf Lindström on guitar and bass respectively.[12] They released two EPs and one album, So Far So Noir (2006), before disbanding.

Forge, Persner and Simon Söderberg, another future Ghost member, were also members of the Linköping-based alternative rock band Magna Carta Cartel (or MCC) from 2006 to 2010.[13] Forge played guitar and bass, with Persner and Söderberg both handling guitar and singing duties. The band went on hiatus when all three began to focus on Ghost.[14] Persner left Ghost in July 2016 and reformed Magna Carta Cartel.[15]


Forge performing as Papa Emeritus I, 2012

Since 2006, Forge has acted as chief songwriter and business leader of the rock and heavy metal band Ghost, a project and role that contributed to a significant rise in his fame and popularity, following many years of involvement in other underground acts.[16] During live performances with the band, he performs as its singer. Each album has a 'new singer': originally Papa Emeritus I through to III—a demonic anti-pope—and then Cardinal Copia, who became Papa Emeritus IV in March 2020. Peter Hällje, a former bandmate of Martin Persner, claimed he designed the Papa Emeritus character in 2005, prior to the formation of Ghost. Hällje never performed as Papa Emeritus and agreed with Persner to let him use the character for his then-new band.[17] For recorded material, Forge seems to also play most of the other instruments in addition to vocals. For example, he claimed that the 2010 debut album, Opus Eponymous, was recorded with a session drummer and nothing else.[5]

In 2012, during a concert in the band's hometown of Linköping, Sweden, Papa Emeritus was seemingly retired and replaced by a new vocalist, Papa Emeritus II, but this was actually Forge in another costume.[18] The band's second album, Infestissumam, was released in 2013. Due to a legal dispute over the band's name, they were forced to release the album using the name "Ghost B.C." in the United States.[19] Forge performed as Papa Emeritus II for this album, as well as the subsequent EP, If You Have Ghost (2013). Papa Emeritus III was introduced in 2015 to coincide with the release of the band's third album, Meliora.[20] Papa Emeritus III was retired at the end of Ghost's 2016–2017 Popestar Tour (being physically dragged off stage at the end of the final show), and a new character, Papa Emeritus Zero (now known as Papa Nihil), was introduced immediately afterward.[21] Forge is credited as Papa Nihil on the two-track release Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, which is purported by the band to have been recorded in 1969.[22][23] For Ghost's fourth album, Prequelle (2018), Forge adopted another new persona, Cardinal Copia. During the final show of A Pale Tour Named Death, Cardinal Copia was anointed and introduced as Papa Emeritus IV.[24]

Despite anonymity being one of Ghost's biggest themes, Forge's identity as Papa Emeritus was revealed following a lawsuit in April 2017 by former Ghost members over a royalties dispute.[25] They also claimed he was trying to transform Ghost "from a band into a solo project with hired musicians" in an "underhanded and shameless way".[26] Forge has disputed this, claiming that Ghost "was always sort of… I guess a Bathory sort of band, where there was people playing live, and the people playing live [were] not necessarily the same that played on the records."[5] Forge claimed that "no legal partnership" ever existed between the other members and himself; they were paid a fixed salary to perform and execute the band's image as he instructed as "musicians for hire."[16]

Other work[edit]

Forge performing as Papa Emeritus III in 2016

Forge, as Papa Emeritus III, appears as a guest on Candlemass's May 2018 vinyl-exclusive version of "House of Doom".[27] As Cardinal Copia, he joined members of Candlemass and Vargas and Lagola for a live performance of "Enter Sandman" in front of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia of Sweden during a ceremony on 14 June 2018 honoring Metallica with the Polar Music Prize.[28] Cardinal Copia also makes a featured appearance on the song "I'm Not Afraid" from Emigrate's November 2018 album A Million Degrees.[29] On 22 January 2021, Papa Emeritus IV joined the Hellacopters on the Swedish television game show På spåret to perform a cover of "Sympathy for the Devil".[30] Papa Emeritus IV also appeared at Guaranteed Rate Field on 22 September 2022 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians baseball game.[31][32][33] Forge also appeared in the last episode of Netflix series Clark, that aired in May 2022.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Forge is married and the father of fraternal twins, a son named Morris and a daughter named Minou.[35] Minou sings in "Ashes", the opening track to Prequelle.[36] Morris is featured on Ghost's cover of the Metallica song "Enter Sandman", which Forge recorded to support Camp Aranu'tiq, a summer camp for transgender youths. [37]

His brother Sebastian, who was thirteen years his senior, had a large influence on him and introduced him to film and music such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kim Wilde, Rainbow, Kiss, and Mötley Crüe at a very young age. Sebastian died from heart disease on 12 March 2010, the same day that Ghost released their first demo songs online.[38]

Forge stated that as an adolescent he "unquestionably [threw] [his] hands into the hands of Satan."[38] He cited a strict stepmother, the alienation he felt at her home, and an even stricter religious schoolteacher for making him run "headfirst into the arms of the devil."[38]

Forge is a member of the Swedish Order of Freemasons.[39][40]



  1. ^ a b c "Ghost Bio". AllMusic.
  2. ^ Lawson, Dom (11 April 2013). "Ghost: Infestissumam – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  3. ^ Arnold, Neil. "Ghost – Infestissumam". Metal Forces. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  4. ^ Roche, Jason (3 July 2017). "Iron Maiden Defy Age, Which Is Why They're Still One of Metal's Best Live Acts". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on 20 April 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Tobias Forge (a.k.a. Papa Emeritus): 'Ghost Was Never Formed As A Band'". 22 April 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Tobias Forge (Ghost) Sommar i P1 - 17 Augusti 2017". YouTube (in Swedish). 17 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Tobias Forge får Stims Platinagitarr 2019" [Tobias Forge gets Stims Platinum Guitar 2019]. STIM (in Swedish). 14 November 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  8. ^ Hartmann, Graham (9 December 2019). "Ghost's Tobias Forge Is the Metal Artist of the Decade". Loudwire. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  9. ^ Travers, Paul (19 December 2022). "The true meaning behind Ghost's Mary On A Cross". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 2 March 2023.
  10. ^ "Tobias Forge Laments Lack Of Success For Pre-Ghost Outfit Repugnant: 'If I Look Back On How I Did Things, It Was Unprofessional'". 27 May 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Tobias Forge - Sommar & Vinter i P1". Sveriges Radio (in Swedish). 17 August 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  12. ^ Ellenberger, Kurt (6 December 2017). "Ghost of a Chance: A New Paradigm for Pop Music Success?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Ghost Unmasked: Nameless Ghoul Known as Omega Reveals His Identity, His Name Is Martin Persner". 2 March 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  14. ^ "MCC [Magna Carta Cartel]". Facebook. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  15. ^ Childers, Chad (2 March 2017). "Ex-Nameless Ghoul From Ghost Identifies Self, Reveals New Band". Loudwire. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b Childers, Chad (8 June 2017). "Ghost Frontman's Response Claims 'No Legal Partnership' Existed With Bandmates". Loudwire. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Mannen bakom Ghosts huvudkaraktär: "Jag är alltså den förste Papa Emeritus – inte Tobias Forge"" [The man behind the main character of Ghost: "I am thus the first Papa Emeritus - not Tobias Forge"]. BaraMetal (in Swedish). 14 June 2017.
  18. ^ Shaw, Zach (17 December 2012). "Ghost Introduce "New" Papa Emeritus During Hometown Show… Wait, What?". Metal Insider. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  19. ^ Hartmann, Graham (4 February 2013). "Ghost B.C. Unveil 'Infestissumam' Release Date + 2013 North American Tour With Ides of Gemini". Loudwire. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  20. ^ Childers, Chad (16 July 2015). "Ghost Unveil 'New' Leader Papa Emeritus III". Loudwire. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  21. ^ Childers, Chad (1 October 2017). "Ghost's Papa Emeritus III Plays Final Show, Transition to New "Papa" Begins". Loudwire. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  22. ^ Schube, Will (29 August 2022). "Ghost Share 'Slowed + Reverb' Version Of Viral Smash 'Mary On A Cross'". UDiscover Music. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  23. ^ Kennelty, Greg (22 September 2019). "GHOST's Tobias Forge Has 50 New Song Ideas; Says Two New Songs Not Indicative Of New Album's Sound". Metal Injection. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  24. ^ "Ghost Introduces Papa Emeritus IV At Final Concert Of 'Prequelle' Album Cycle: Video, Photos". 3 March 2020. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  25. ^ NeilStein, Vince (6 April 2017). "Four Former Members of Ghost Reveal Identities, Speak Out About Lawsuit Against Tobias Forge ("Papa Emeritus")". MetalSucks. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Former Ghost Members Accuse Singer Of Trying To 'Shamelessly' Turn 'Band' Into 'Solo Project'". 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  27. ^ "Ghost's Tobias Forge To Guest On 10-Inch Vinyl Version Of Candlemass's 'House Of Doom'". 10 May 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  28. ^ "Metallica Honored With Polar Music Prize; Ghost And Candlemass Members Perform 'Enter Sandman'". 14 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  29. ^ "Hear Ghost's Cardinal Copia Croon on Rammstein Side Project Emigrate's New Song". Revolver. 30 November 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  30. ^ Graham, Hartmann (23 January 2021). "Ghost's Papa Emeritus IV Makes First TV Appearance, Sings the Rolling Stones' 'Sympathy for the Devil'". Loudwire. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  31. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (23 September 2022). "Ghost's Papa Emeritus IV Throws Out the First Pitch at Chicago White Sox Game". Spin. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  32. ^ Arcand, Rob (23 September 2022). "Ghost's Papa Emeritus IV Throws First Pitch at White Sox Game: Watch". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  33. ^ Garro, Adrian (23 September 2022). "Ghost's Papa Emeritus IV fires a ghoulish first pitch". Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  34. ^ "See Ghost's Tobias Forge Get Beaten With Fiddle in New Netflix Show". Revolver. 5 May 2022. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  35. ^ Hickie, J. (13 May 2022). "Ghost: "We're not a nostalgia band; I refuse to be there yet"". AP. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  36. ^ Prequelle. (CD liner notes). Loma Vista Recordings. 2018. LVR00383.
  37. ^ Hickie, J. (31 March 2022). "WHY GHOST ARE COVERING METALLICA'S "ENTER SANDMAN" TO HELP TRANSGENDER KIDS". Revolver. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  38. ^ a b c Bennett, J. (29 May 2018). "Ghost: The True Story of Death, Religion and Rock & Roll Behind Metal's Strangest Band". Revolver. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  39. ^ Prütz, Jerry (2 December 2019). "Musikaliska murare – inte bara Mozart, del två". Frimuraren. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  40. ^ Prütz, Jerry (21 December 2020). "Regeringens pris för utomordentliga insatser for svensk musikexport 2019 går til frimuraren Tobias Forge". Frimuraren. Retrieved 5 April 2023.

External links[edit]

Media related to Papa Emeritus at Wikimedia Commons