Ghost’s infectious and devilish “Square Hammer” is Loudwire’s pick for the Metal Song of the Decade. In this exclusive chat with Tobias Forge, the occult mastermind explains how he composed the Popestar cut and how it helped transform Ghost into an arena band.

“The riff was the thing that sort of originated the song,” Forge describes. “Actually, I nicked it from one of my previous songs, but it was a picking thing, it was just the first phrase. It was just like one of those little melodies that I’m like, ‘That is way too good.’ The writing of the song went very quick after that.”

Johnny Perilla, Loudwire
“‘Square Hammer’ was definitely me thinking, ‘We need a big opener.’ We don’t have that.”

As Ghost progressed from the Meliora cycle, Forge found himself partway through a much needed transformation. The musician was pushing away from his Papa Emeritus II era of slow and foreboding gigs into the Papa Emeritus III era, which was much more flashy and energetic, built for larger venues and charismatic performances.

During the Meliora cycle, Ghost used “Spirit” as their opening song, but Forge wasn’t satisfied with the scale of their live, night by night introduction. “‘Square Hammer’ was definitely me thinking, ‘We need a big opener.’ We don’t have that,” reveals Forge. “We ended up adopting that [Uriah Heep] triplet-y thing, but I also felt that it doesn’t have the same effect as if we start with ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’ or just a straight rocker. We need an opening track, we need a new one.”

Loma Vista
“We planted a lot of funny little bits in there. I think even more than people have noticed, so far.”

“Square Hammer” is currently Ghost’s most viewed music video on YouTube, accumulating over 52 million views as of this posting. Steeped in classic horror imagery from Nosferatu and Metropolis, the clip also hinted at the next stage of Ghost’s lineage. “We planted a lot of funny little bits in there,” the artist claims. “I think even more than people have noticed, so far.”

As for Ghost’s list of achievements throughout the decade, Tobias ranks “Square Hammer” very high, explaining how his first No. 1 radio hit furthered the band’s career. “‘Square Hammer’ was definitely the one that put us in a position where we were a force to be reckoned with in terms of radio. You can have a career in America without the radio, but it definitely helps.”

He continues, “There’s an initial little suck-off contest that you need to do in order to sort of get into radio in the first place … When you’ve reached No. 1, the process is a little easier.”

Photo by Melina Dellamarggio

Watch our chat with Tobias Forge about “Square Hammer” above and click here to grab Ghost’s Popestar EP.

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