Al Jourgensen Talks Ministry + Surgical Meth Machine, Rips Donald Trump and Plots Gig Near Republican Convention
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Al Jourgensen of Ministry fame as he promotes his new project, Surgical Meth Machine. With the album out April 15 on Nuclear Blast, Uncle Al chatted about the Ministry Boot Camp, the upcoming election with some scathing thoughts on Donald Trump and his newly changed stance on touring. Check out Part 1 of our interview below:
Where did the idea for the Ministry Boot Camp come from?
I mean, the thing is in this day and age everyone complains about rock stars, this and that and people are just like, living in a bubble. We just wanted to hang out with our fans for a weekend and have fun. Let them come up and jam with us. It kind of bypassed the whole Facebook thing and actually answering Facebook questions or something, just come down, drink with us, get to know us, jam your favorite songs. You're paying really good money for it, you might as well have full access to the band. Come up and jam with us, be a part of the band for the weekend. See what it's like. You can't get any more interactive than that, can you?
That's the point!
At Ministry shows in the past around election time, you've done a lot of voter awareness and activism. You've set up voter registration booths… do you have any plans for the coming election?
You have my Patreon site, which I do political commentary on an ongoing basis. It's a paid website, you gotta be on there. I'm not doing it for the headlines, I'm not doing Twitter tweets every f—king 10 minutes on what I think, this and that. It's kind of like an informed fanclub, if you will, on Patreon. There are various packages and I do entire video things on politics or I just say blurbs on it. I do everything on this Patreon site. Anything from recipes to movie reviews to flea market shopping with Uncle Al. It's a little channel with interaction with people that think it's fun to do. No big deal, it's not anything that's amazing but once again, it costs money to do, people pay for it. It's not something I'm promoting, it's just a reality. Some people seem interested, so we keep doing this stuff and it's fun to do. It keeps it going, that's about the only thing I have planned.
Although there is a rumor that we might be playing in a club outside of the Republican presidential debate in a midwest city. I can give you a few clues, but not entirely. Not a debate, I’m sorry, the Republican National Convention that's coming up. We're in negotiations with actually playing down the street from the Republican National Convention. You look up the city you can figure out what city we're negotiating with. Both Jello Biafra and myself are both planning on being there.
Do you plan on doing any kind of protest or organizing anything centered around that or just a ‘Hey, I happen to be in town, wink wink, nudge, nudge?'
It’s a way's away, anything can happen.
What are you going to do if Donald Trump is elected president? We might get another three Ministry albums.
[Laughs] I'll just become Vice President. [laughs] I'd think that'd be awesome! Vote Trump and Uncle Al! Making America great again!
You haven't thought about it? Just trying to push it out of your mind as much as possible?
Yeah, really I am dude. It's pretty indicative of what Surgical Meth Machine is talking about. This country is consumed with Facebook and Tweets. This guy is a f--king idiot. A complete idiot. This guy is a billionaire, but it started with daddy's money. Anybody with money can turn that money into more money. It doesn't take a f--king genius to do that. He's not really an entrepreneur. His entrepreneurship consists of all egocentric products like the Trump board game, Trump cologne, Trump sheets or whatever.
Really? He's like a rap star where they all have their own clothing line. How difficult is that? How intelligent do you have to be to go… I think Tony Montana in Scarface said it best when he said, "This world is a great big p--sy waiting to get f--ked. Someday I'm gonna have my name on chicks’ asses." That was his goal. That's kind of like Trump’s goal — voting for Trump is kind of like voting for Tony Montana. Which in pop culture terms would be really funny, but it's also really lame. I think, if anything, I'd love to be his Vice President just so I could keep him in check.
Circling back to what you were talking about with the overall theme of Surgical Meth Machine, just being social commentary on how everyone is consumed by this headline and hearsay. The whole thing is perpetuated by the news for absolutely no reason other than sensationalism. There's no integrity behind it.
You remember, Hollywood took off during the great depression. The big Hollywood stars happened then because people needed an escape, so once a week they’d go to a movie theater not only that, it was probably air conditioned and they'd get good popcorn there. It was a big to do. It was escapism and that's why people became so big because times were so s--tty.
Times are so s--tty now that people get their escapism five minutes at a time all f--king day long on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter. This is our new Hollywood stars. As far as I'm concerned, Donald Trump is doing no different than what the studios did with Clark Gable and [Greta] Garbo in the ‘30s. It's all escapism, and that's where we're at now. We've dumbed down the populous so all we want to do is get instant gratification and take our minds off the misery of living in this society.
I think it was “I Want More” with #youreadouchebag - there's a lot of activism nowadays that's centered around a hashtag and nothing more.
Branding and name recognition. You have no soul anymore, you are a brand.
What are your thoughts on hashtag activism versus everything that you've done over your career, fighting the system and lifting a huge middle finger?
I don't know man, maybe I'll get off the phone today and start #UncleAl. I didn't even know there was hashtag activism. [“I Want More”] is very personal. That's about me and other bands getting ripped off by a promoter in Australia. I was lied to, we were ripped off as were all other bands. I'm not going to mention names, I think you can do your own research and find out who I'm talking about.
I think I've ranted about this before that it makes it difficult for bands to even travel in this day in age, which is the only bands can make money because they don't make money unless you're Adele, U2 or Madonna or a rap star, you don't make money on f--king records, everyone downloads them for free. You only make money on merch and playing live and then when you start going to different countries and have to spend your own money to get there, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and you get there and the promoter says, "Well, i'm broke I can't pay you," not just to me but every other band on this festival. Then we find out f--k, everyone got f--ked and this guy lived a wonderful life, snorting coke, being Tony Montana for a while on everyone else's money on their backs and hard work. Then we get there and find out you can’t - musicians can't make money on playing live, they certainly can't make money on releasing records… why do we even have musicians? People are just going to starve.
I just find it really insulting, and that's why I wrote that song. It's a completely well, f--k you, I'll just go bankrupt and nobody can do anything about it. So, meanwhile, 30 something bands got completely ripped off, lost f--king money, wasted their f--king time and that's the only way musicians can make money! There's a few governments that subsidize the arts, the Scandinavian countries, Canada does, but they certainly don't do it here. So, it's a dog eat dog world and then when you have these millionaire promoters that just say well I'll just bankrupt this corporation that was supposed to pay you, I'm still rich, I'm still having fun.
As a matter of fact, the f--ker has a new festival coming out and I'm sure he'll have no problems finding desperate musicians filling up his roster to get a new festival and he'll probably pay them for the first year just to be on the up and up, then the next year he'll start ripping other people off until he goes bankrupt and get another festival. The whole system is really f--ked up and it's skewed towards anybody with creativity. Creativity in an artistic sense, unless you want to call embezzlement and fraud artistic, there are a lot of good ones at that.
You said before that you don't really enjoy touring or playing live. Has that changed getting out of rehab or moving to California and getting a medical card?
Especially now! [laughs] Well rehab is not why I got healthier. Going to a hospital emergency and dying, and having them fix my stomach lining before I got healthier but do I enjoy touring more? Actually, yes I do. I'm much more comfortable being on stage with the fans that we draw to our shows. I feel like I can have fun with them at this point, I'm not trying to prove anything. I don't really give a f--k at this point, why should I? If I survived 33 years in this f--king business, there's really nothing I haven't seen or done or that would shock me. It becomes less of a stress test on the road, you can have fun. Let your f--king hair down at this point in my life. I enjoy it more a lot more than I used to.
I used to f--king loathe it. I use to be like, two days before every tour, it'd be like, a bottle of Valium and a handgun in one hand and [laughs] the tour schedule on the other hand. Which one seems like a better choice?
Thanks to Al Jourgensen for the interview. Surgical Meth Machine's self-titled debut is out April 15 on Nuclear Blast. Pre-orders can be placed here. Be on the lookout for Part II of our interview where Uncle Al discusses the Surgical Meth Machine album, how much he hates social media and the possibility of a new Ministry album.
Check Out an Earlier Interview With Al Jourgensen
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