Ministry’s Al Jourgensen Talks ‘From Beer to Eternity,’ Mike Scaccia, Gay Marriage + More
When you’re talking to Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen, you never know what the man will offer. Always entertaining and confidant in his belief system, Jourgensen showcases his individualism whenever he speaks, and during our latest chat with Uncle Al, those sentiments were firing on all cylinders.
We recently posted a portion of our Al Jourgensen interview where the industrial icon stated that if he hadn’t made his living as a musician, Al would have been a teacher. In the rest of our discussion, Jourgensen speaks about Ministry’s next album, ‘From Beer to Eternity,’ late Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia, the “bi-polar” nature of the United States Supreme Court + much more.
Enjoy our exclusive interview with the one and only Al Jourgensen.
First of all, congrats on your beloved Blackhawks winning the Stanley cup.
[Laughs] I thought that’s all we were going to talk about today. The rest of this stuff is consequential. Yes, the Blackhawks – that would be my beloved Blackhawks. I’ve seen 48 Stanley Cups in my life, 13 of them personally and I’ve never seen an ending like that. I’m just now starting to get the feeling on the entire left side of my body back. I think I had an aneurysm somewhere around eight minutes left in the third period when Boston scored. Everything seemed to go numb. I think I had a stroke. It’s all good now.
I guess we should talk about music. I’ve gotten to hear the new record. I think it’s really awesome, it’s dirty, and it’s constructed really well, and this is Mike Scaccia’s final record. Do you think this will act as a perfect parting shot for him, his skills and his character as a guitarist?
Well, I think there’s a couple of parting shots that people will be surprised about. Not only is it Mikey’s last parting shot; it’s my last parting shot. I’m not doing another Ministry record without Mikey. Zero. None. I’m sure there will be some live thing or some greatest hits or some kind of crap like that coming out. That’s it. I think that’s our 15th … actually it’s our 12th album together or something, it’s time to get done. We’re just finishing up on this that we signed on 13th Planet called The Dusters, which is a band from Nashville, which is more is more in the Buck Satan vein, which I did with Mikey.
You know, Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters. He does some amazing guitar playing on that, I do some slide and harmonica on that. It was just really great for the last year for his life. We’re working on stuff we’ve always wanted to work on, we had fun with and we were doing good stuff. So yeah, in a way it is a parting shot but I consider it more a Christmas present under your tree with the actual bow tied on the wrapping paper. Ministry, Mikey; it’s done. It’s over. That aspect of what we both did is over. Well, all is aspects are over right now. [Laughs]
This time it is unequivocally the end?
Yeah. I know on ‘The Last Sucker’ I really wanted to stop because Bush was leaving the office and I was singing about Bush a lot and picketing in the streets and stuff. But while we were doing a Buck Satan record, me and Mikey, we would just jam around between country songs and we kept coming up with these riffs and Mikey kept going, “Man we’ve got to put this out.” I kept telling him Ministry is done, but he’s like, “No, seriously dude. These riffs are cool; we have to put this out.” I kind of went into it begrudgingly and now I’m really quite happy with the result. I think this album came out like a great middle finger from me and Mikey as the final blow. So, I’m pretty happy with it.
That’s even part of one of the songs — ‘Side FX Include Mikey’s Middle Finger.’
[Laughs maniacally] We had that overdubbed a little bit because we would only let him use his middle finger. So, he had to do a few overdubs with just one finger to do those leads, which is cool.
Ministry albums tend to paint a portrait of the political and social spectrum of the time since the band’s last release. It sums it up into a little box. So, on this one, what would you say the main themes are?
Different President, same corrupt system, pretty much. I could scream and yell about W all I want, Cheney and all this s—t, buts we see with the surveillance and drones, it’s still … the President is not the most powerful man in the world. He’s working for the most powerful people in the world. It’s the same system. Whether it’s Putin, Obama or Bush or whoever; it’s the same thing. I found myself, when I was doing ‘The Last Sucker,’ I actually let up off the gas pedal from ‘Houses of the Molé’ and ‘Rio Grande Blood’ and I almost kind of feeling sorry for him. You know? It’s the entire system, like you see in places like Brazil and Turkey right now.
Obama might as well be president of Turkey or Brazil; it does not matter. It’s the system that is absolutely flawed where 25 or 35 or 50 people make multi, multi-billions on building Olympic structures while people live in Barbados and have no roads or clean drinking water. There’s something pretty inequitable there. So, there is a political message on this Ministry record, although it’s not as overt or blatant as what was so obvious during the Bush years. That was low-hanging fruit. In other words, this one, I had to climb up a little higher on the tree to get to the bottom of some stuff.
Mikey’s shredding on that ‘Side FX’ song is awesome. I really enjoyed how you interloped a lot of the samples on that song in particular. Did you just get a whole bunch of clips from pharmaceutical commercials?
We’ve been doing that for years. We’ve been doing a song called ‘TV1,’ ‘TV2,’ ‘TV3,’ and ‘TV4’ over the years. This one is 4. On the re-mix album, ‘TV5’ comes out. We’ve been building these up since they first started running pharmaceutical commercials, knowing that this was going to be a fucking disaster. The very first pharmaceutical commercial I ever heard was 15 seconds of the product and 45 seconds of side effects, so I know that this cannot be good for you. I’ve been collecting these over the years and finally we got most of them out of the way. I’m absolutely right. Are the side effects really worth it?
Just for, like I said, for the 35-50 people to make an extra few billon dollars? How much is enough for these people before they finally have to just make health care affordable to keep people alive and have some kind of standard of living that just doesn’t include hopelessness.
You’re always very socially active and informed in your opinions. What is one news story or event that’s happening right now that’s pissing you off and what’s one news story that’s making you extremely happy?
Well, the strike down of DOMA absolutely makes me happy because that’s just Pandora’s box. Now all the other 37 redneck states, they don’t have a leg to stand on in court. That’s great. But the day before, you talk about bi-polar. Not only a conservative and s–tty court, but also a bi-polar court. To strike the main parts of the 1965 civil rights voting act down was, just to me, heart wrenching. Talk about highs and lows within 24 hours. Do these people know what the f— they’re doing? I mean, they took a s–tload of civil rights away one day and then gave it back the next. Who are these people? Who are they to do that? Take it away or give it back? Who are these people? They’re not even elected.
Thanks so much for taking some time today to speak with me. I really appreciate it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
It’s not the end of my music career. It’s just the end of Ministry. The next band will not sound like Ministry nor will it sound like Buck Satan or RevCo or Lard. It’ll be something new and different and if the kids like it, great. If they don’t, great. I don’t care because I had fun making it. And not only that, I love producing other bands. I love doing film soundtracks and working with directors on how they want the scene to be portrayed on audio as opposed to visual. I like the collaborative effort of working with people. I’m not gone. I’m not retired. It’s just that this phase has got to be done with. Mikey’s death, if that wasn’t a signal, then I don’t know what is.
‘From Beer to Eternity’ will be released on Sept. 6. To grab a copy of ’Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen,’ click here.