Ministry The End of Al Jourgensen

Ministry The End of Al Jourgensen
Photo: Allan Amato

Al Jourgensen has been tending to the Ministry flock for over 30 years. In the last decade, however, Ministry has come to an end twice, only to reappear with newer and better material. Now on the eve of Ministry's newest release, From Beer to Eternity, and in the wake of Mike Scaccia's passing, the threat of Ministry being buried once and for all is far more plausible. While fans are certainly disheartened by the news, Al seems to find a tremendous amount of peace with putting Ministry to rest.

How's everything on your side of the planet, Al?
My end is kind of fucked today. I just found out that the yogurt that my wife, who's Canadian, puts in my smoothies every day, with all the holistic crap, is recalled and I checked the barcode...

Oh no…
Ya, so I have mould in me now today. As we speak I may be dying.

You know considering all the things you've experienced I'm sure you can get through mouldy yogurt.
Well thanks to my fans and friends on Facebook they've all told me the exact same position that I was going to take anyways, which is to drink my way through it, man. So today, I'm going to try and hit a hundred pounds of vodka to cure my mould problem that I have from the yogurt.

I think that will work. That sounds like a solid plan to me.
If I'm going to die, if Al Jourgensen is going to die, I don't want it to be from recalled yogurt. Ya, so my day isn't going too good.

I have to say this is by far the weirdest start to an interview I've ever had. I don't think I've ever discussed the fatality rates of yogurt.
What? You've never interviewed anyone who's been poisoned before?

Not until now. Anyways, moving on from yogurt, you have a new album coming out, From Beer to Eternity...
Have you heard the record?

I have! It's a solid record. It saddens me that you're calling this your last one though.
Well ya. Thanks to fucking yogurt!

That being said, if there was ever an album for Ministry to finish with it's this one. It really is an incredible record.
Well, thank you. Me and Mikey were pretty happy with it when we were done the basic tracks. We figured this shit needed to be released. I really didn't want to do this record. I wanted to stop after [2007's] The Last Sucker. Ya, I did [2012's] Relapse and that was ok and all that, but Mikey had these riffs we were working on for a long time and he kept psych-testing me. He came out for 19 days and did this record and left with a smile on his face and just said, "This is the best Ministry record ever," and then he was dead two days later and I was speaking at a funeral in Dallas. This record is very bittersweet for me. I lost my best friend during this recording. I've listened to it a few times, and it's actually pretty fucking good. If you like the new album, then I'll take the praise, and if you don't like it blame Mikey because he made me do this.

What really caught my attention were the tracks that were composed of spliced Fox News and other media broadcasts.
Well look at the song Mikey's middle finger ["Side FX include Mikeys Middle Finger TV 4"], we are all inundated with social media of some sort and we're affected by this. So it was a no brainer to put all that stuff in a song. Each album is just a snapshot of that period. It's just a Polaroid snapshot — nothing more, nothing less.

You've always had a strong political voice within your music. Is that because your personal politics are something that's important to you or do you just find it makes really good material for music.
Well it's really easy material for music, but don't forget I married a Canuck. So I look at your government and then compare it to our government and go "What the fuck?" You guys at least have a decent and fair system. To that point, I'm glad I married a Canuck.

I'm sure the Canadian fans will appreciate that.
It's our 11-year anniversary tomorrow.

Congratulations!
Thank you. I'm giving a lot of daps to the Canadians today. She's kept me alive. She's been a huge influence on me and Thirteenth planet. So daps to Canucks today!

In your one track "Thanx But No Thanx" the opening is a spoken cover of William S. Burroughs' "Thanksgiving Prayer." Is that your voice reading the poem?
Nope. That is Sargent Major. That's his name; he even makes his wife call him Sargent Major. He was a drill instructor at Paris Island on the East coast and he was R. Lee Ermey's drill instructor. [Ermey is the former drill instructor turned actor most famous for his role in Full Metal Jacket.] I befriended this guy in El Paso, Texas and we've become good friends. He's in his last years and he's gone all hippie on me. He hates the government, he hates the military. I love this guy; I could sit and talk to him for hours. He's the new Timothy Leary in my life; some old guy that just gives the greatest advice. He's the one that read that poem. We got permission from the Burroughs camp first because I know the Burroughs camp real well. So he read it and just absolutely nailed it.

You've had a pretty steady career over the last 30 years with Ministry. When you first started and got nose deep in the sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll, did you think you would make it this far and having a career that spanned three decades?
No. Absolutely not. I always wanted to be a teacher. That's all I wanted to be. I wrote a few songs and they got printed up and published and they sold and then I realized that rock'n'roll pays a lot better than being a teacher. It's not my preferred career. I just wanted to be a quiet teacher and talk to kids and let them know about the asinine ways of our society. I tried to put a little bit of that into my music over the years and hopefully it worked; it's highly doubtful. When I'm onstage, all I see are just people in a mosh pit beating the crap out of each other. They don't really get the message. What I'm doing for the next two years is a college lecture circuit. I'm just speaking to kids. Mickey died on December 22, and there is really no point in touring or doing any other albums as Ministry because he was such a critical part of that project. So, I'm just doing college lectures right now and I'm happy for it. It's come full circle. The forum that I had was rather limited in scope as far as enlightenment. It was more of an entertainment kind of thing. I realized that a long time ago. I'm really happy to be blessed and be in the place I am in today. I'm not really changing stuff up, except now instead of doing music I'm just writing. I have two books coming out over the next two years. I'm in heaven right now; this is what I always wanted to do.

Could you elaborate on these books? Are you refereeing to your autobiography Ministry: The Lost Gospels?
No, the only reason why I did that book was because my Canadian wife got fed up with me telling old tour stories at social functions. I'd have a crowd around me and someone would say "Hey Al, tell us the time you blew up a tour bus!"

You blew up a tour bus?
Yeah of course! It's in the book fucker. I've been writing a novel called Mindfuck, which I have now been told it has to be called Persuasion. It's about a serial killer in Chicago in the mid-'70s, a fictional character I have been writing for about 28 years. On top of that I have a 13-part comic series about each Ministry record coming out and I have super powers. So I have now become a fucking super hero. Who could be happier? This is the shit, forget the music stuff.

So where do you see your future heading?
I don't know. I don't have my fucking crystal ball working today. I know I want to finish this comic series and this novel. I'm going to take a couple of years off music and be an author and that sounds like fun to me.

It's been an honour talking to you, Al. I wish you the best of luck with your literature and any future explorations you go on.
Right back at you man. I'll talk to you again someday on something else I'm working on. I'm not giving up, don't worry about that, it's just a different medium is all.