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Al Jourgensen on Turning 60, Next Ministry Album, Nine Inch Nails, and Industrial’s Big 4

on November 26, 2018, 3:57pm

Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen recently turned 60 years old, but he wants nothing to do with the “old-folk coupons” he keeps getting in the mail. The industrial music pioneer is still going strong, currently in the midst of a fall tour with Ministry in support of the band’s most recent album, AmeriKKKant.

We recently ran Part 1 of our interview with Jourgensen, where the influential rocker railed against the Trump administration and Republican policies, while urging us to do our “own homework” when it comes to politics, and not listen to celebs like Kanye West or Taylor Swift or even Jourgensen himself, for that matter.

In Part 2 of our interview, Jourgensen waxes philosophic about turning 60, looks back at Ministry’s The Land of Rape and Honey, and discusses his collaborations with Ian MacKaye and Jello Biafra.

Additionally, it’s no secret that Ministry were a big influence on Nine Inch Nails, and Al talks about his relationship with fellow industrial hero Trent Reznor, while offering his thoughts on NIN’s music. And, with thrash metal having its Big 4 of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, we were curious to know which acts would make up Jourgensen’s Big 4 of industrial music.

Jourgensen also gives us the scoop on Ministry’s next album, which the band will start working on right as the new year begins. Check out Part 2 of our interview with Al Jourgensen:

On recently turning 60 years old

Listen, man, I never thought I’d see the day where I opened up my fucking mail and the only thing in the mail was AARP benefits for a senior’s discount for an early buffet at Golden Corral, OK? I couldn’t fuckin’ believe it. I remember when I turned 50, and I said, “Wow, that’s intense, you made it to 50, that’s half a century!” But I never used to get senior citizen mail at 50 or at 40. The is blowing my shit away. These fucking people are relentless. They will not stop sending me shit.

Do you know that I get half off of any movie I wanna go see, just ‘cause I’m 60? I think that’s fucking depressing, man! I haven’t done it, yet. At least I should I wait until I’m 65 before taking advantage of these bad-ass deals they give old folks. I just feel like I’m shooting my wad too early if I start cashing in these coupons now. So, I’m gonna keep living like I’m under 60 until I’m about 65. Then I’ll start cashing in these old-folk coupons.

On the 30th anniversary of Ministry’s The Land of Rape and Honey

The impact is that it has withstood the test of time, which is surprising, because we didn’t know that at the time. Land of Rape and Honey was very special to me because it was the first album that I’d done where I wasn’t really seeking guidance or influence in my writing and production, from, say, other musicians, producers, or genres of music, for that matter. I was more fascinated with the cut-up literally style of people like William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, and how they would write a book, cut the book up into words, little pieces of words, throw it on the floor, tape it all back together, and then that’s how it read. And it still conveyed the message of what they originally wrote even though it was almost a fractal reassembling of it, where there’s no rhyme or reason. You literally are blindfolded, you pick up a piece of tape that you edited, throw on the floor, and you put it in on one of the songs, and it somehow works because the intent was there initially.

At least that’s the kind of thought process that Burroughs and Gysin had on how this works. Your original thought process is there, and you can scramble it all you want, and it’s still gonna be there. So, I was fascinated with that, so in that sense, that record just felt like I was going into a new frontier, breaking down barriers, not doing the same things that everyone else has always had, and write formulaic riffs or rock, as you will. In that sense, I can see where the album has withstood the test of time.

On the 30th anniversary of Pailhead’s Trait EP, Ministry’s collaboration with Ian MacKaye

It’s really funny you mention that, because three of those songs on the Pailhead EP were also recorded at the same time as Rape and Honey. What we did for Rape and Honey is we just bulk-recorded a bunch of music with a bunch of different people that came in and out of the studio. So we just locked ourselves in a studio for a year, did a bunch of songs, and then I took it for three months, cut it up into bits, threw it on the floor, and put it back together. The songs that I didn’t cut up wound up as Pailhead or 1000 Homo DJs, Lard, and also Revolting Cocks. So, there were so many songs at that point in time that it was hard to keep track.

Actually, I was in London recording Rape and Honey, the basic tracks, when Ian MacKaye walked through the door of the studio I was working at back in 1987, I think, maybe 1986. And we got along great. And then I had him come back to Chicago and sing on some of the songs that didn’t end up making it on the Rape and Honey record, so it’s interesting that you really latched onto that one, because it’s all from the same time period.

If you get a chance, check out Lard music, too. Because I have a feeling that next year, me and Jello Biafra are gonna do a couple of Lard songs. As a matter of fact, it’s not a feeling. I know that as a fact. So, we’re gonna kind of resurrect that. I haven’t been in touch with Ian for a couple of years. He seems to be doing great. He’s happy. Of course, I would love to work with Ian. And of course, I would love to do a Pailhead song or two with him. It was a joy and an honor working with him. But I think for this upcoming year, I know we’re doing a new Ministry record, and also dabbling in some side Revolting Cocks and Lard songs that we have depending on people’s schedules. That’s pretty much the plan for next year.

On the timeline for the next Ministry album

This [fall] tour pretty much closes out our touring on AmeriKKKant, and then we immediately, as of the first of the year, go into starting to record the new Ministry record. I have a studio in my house that is currently under construction to make it ready for next year. So when I go back, we’ll go right into production on a new Ministry record and just record for like the next six months, very similar to what we did for Rape and Honey, and just record a bunch. If Jello wants to come down to L.A. and sing a couple of songs …

That’s why I don’t know how long the Ministry album will take, because we might get sidetracked, we might do side projects with Revolting Cocks or Lard. My neighbor right down the street is Gary Numan, so we may hook up together on some stuff. We just talked about that the other day. That may happen, so who knows, it may take a full year, maybe two years before the Ministry record comes out, but we start recording January 1st.

On his relationship with Trent Reznor

Our relationship is great. I saw Trent when we opened for them at Riot Fest in Chicago. You can go online, you’ll see a bunch of pictures, me and Trent together. This is just last year. He remains busy. I remain busy. I would love to work with Trent on anything. I respect what he does.

On Ministry’s influence on Nine Inch Nails

Trent is a very talented artist and has impeccable taste in the people who he’s been influenced by. You could see a lot of David Bowie. And he toured with Bowie with Nine Inch Nails. You could see his influence from us, you could see his influence from a lot of different industrial bands, and that’s great, because what he does is that he takes things that he hears and he puts his own stamp on it, and makes it Nine Inch Nails and that’s basically the criterion for being a good artist.

Art will eat itself, because there’s only so many places to go. I’ve credited my influence as William Burroughs, a writer, and Trent has so many influences, but at the end of the day, it sounds like Nine Inch Nails. It doesn’t sound like Ministry or Bowie. There’s some similarities but he puts his own imprint on it, and I think, good for him. He’s great.

On who, in addition to Ministry and NIN, would make up the Big 4 of industrial music

Well, you gotta throw Skinny Puppy in there. So that pretty much covers three out of the four [including Ministry and Nine Inch Nails]. After that it gets kind of dicey. Is Rammstein industrial? Because you’d have to put them in there. Laibach? Einstürzende Neubauten, of course, who were the pioneers. You’d have to consider KMFDM. There’s just so many bands that are really good that I’m not even sure there is a Big 4.

I just think that it’s a genre of music that’s just been largely forgotten, but it’s funny, on this last record AmeriKKKant, I had some turntable work on the record, and one of the DJs was Arabian Prince from N.W.A. It was quite an honor to work with him, and he said, “No, no, no, sir, the honor is on me, because your early industrial stuff got a lot of the hip-hop scratchers to recreate noises that you were making on your records.” That was interesting to hear, right from the horse’s mouth. Like I said, we all just gotta work together, and just try to keep making music fresh, and more exciting, instead of formulaic.

On the potential for an industrial festival featuring bands like Ministry, Nitzer Ebb, KMFDM, Front 242 and more

You know what’s funny, I had actually meetings with a major promoter about that very thing. You know what they told me: “There’s no market for it. Nobody’d want to see that.” The entire budget for the festival would be $100,000. And that includes renting the space, the crews, the bands, everything. It may sound like a lot of money to you but trust me, in this day and age, $100,000 is about one-quarter of what Nine Inch Nails gets paid for one show on their own. So, they absolutely think there’s no market, and that people don’t like this music, and there’s no use for it. They want to promote rap and pop music, and that’s all there is to it. Don’t hold your breath. That’s what I’m saying. The corporate powers that be don’t think that’s a good idea, for whatever reason. But, just like they say write your congressman, write your promoter, and say, you know what, that’s bullshit, dude. There’s a lot of people who would love to see the exact concert that you just mentioned.

Our thanks to Al Jourgensen for speaking with us. Pick up Ministry’s latest album, AmeriKKKant, via Nuclear Blast Records or iTunes, and see the band’s remaining 2018 tour dates below.

Ministry Remaining 2018 Tour Dates:
11/27 – Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre
11/29 – Joliet, IL @ The Forge
11/30 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
12/01 – Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theater
12/02 – Toronto, ON @ Rebel
12/04 – Rochester, NY @ Anthology
12/05 – Washington, DC @ Fillmore
12/06 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
12/07 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
12/08 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
12/10 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
12/11 – Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theater
12/12 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey
12/13 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
12/14 – San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theater
12/16 – Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee
12/18 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
12/20 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda
12/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda

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