Al Jourgensen Comments on Ministry's "Relapse" and New Country Project Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters
Band Photo: Ministry (?)
Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen has made a career out of bashing the policies of the Bush family. In 1992, he released “Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs,” which contained sound clips of George Herbert Walker Bush’s famous “New World Order” speech. Eight years later, Jourgensen revisited anti-Bush songs on “Houses of the Molé.” This time, a different Bush was in office—George Walker Bush. Even though his policies were similar to his father, there were still differences. These similarities and differences were reflected on the song “NO W,” which showed Jourgensen rearranging the letters in the title of “NWO,” as well as building on a similar musical foundation.
“Rio Grande Blood” (2006) and “The Last Sucker” (2007) featured an album cover depicting G.W. Bush surrounded by various symbols of secret societies such as Masonic pyramids. The latter record portrayed our former president as a David Icke-type shape-shifting reptoid. These three albums were part of a Bush-blasting trilogy. It seems as if Al Jourgensen pens his best material when a Bush is in power. At the end of the Bush era, Al Jourgensen announced that the group’s 2007 record, "Last Sucker" would be Ministry’s swan song. With no Bush in the White House, Jourgensen tapped out of Ministry material. Five years later, the father of industrial metal returns with a new album, “Relapse,” available March 27, 2012.
Mike Scaccia urged Jourgensen to make another Ministry album when the two were recording “Biker’s Welcome! Ladies Drink Free,” Jourgensen’s anticipated country album. Scaccia previously played with Jourgensen on “Psalm 69.” Joining Scaccia on “Relapse” are his Rigor Mortis band mate, Casey Orr, Tony Campos (Static X) and Tommy Victor (Prong). Even though the Democrats are in power, the state of our country and the world has fueled Al Jourgensen with enough material to write one last album.
Al Jourgensen spoke with Metal Underground on the phone about recording the new Ministry album and his Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters debut, as well as touching on his love for tattoos, support of the 99 percent movement and doomsday predictions.
Darren Cowan: You said “Relapse” is not only best Ministry album but top 50 of all time. What makes it so great?
Al Jourgensen: I have to revise that statement. It’s not in the top 50 great albums of all time because that covers a lot of ground, but I think it’s in the top 50 STONER albums of all time! There’s a difference. I’ll definitely stack my chips against any other top fifty stoner albums. This is like stoner thrash. That’s how we did this record. I’m used to doing records either drunk, sober, on MDA, on heroin, on coke. This time, I just did it on pot, so it’s a total stoner-thrash album. The same thing with Buck Satan: That’s a stoner country album. Because of my back problems, I have legal marijuana. I’m totally stoned talking to you right now.
Cowan: A series of six You-Tube videos, webisodes, chronicle recording "Relapse." You and Mike are often seen getting tattoos. Did you have your tat artist on hand during the recording?
Jourgensen: Yeah, he does the whole band, and he’s on call. He comes by and if somebody wrote a good guitar part, they get reward with a good tattoo. That’s how we pay our players (laughs). We pay him money, too, but we get them hooked up. Every time they come to my house they leave with extra ink. I guarantee you. It’s part of the ritual of recording—Ministry, Revco, Buck Satan, whatever. You got to get tattoos, man! I have my guy on call. I’ll call him and say, “All the band members are here, you’ve got to come down.” As soon as they are done with their parts and we know it’s a good part, they get inked up!
Cowan: What was your first tattoo?
Jourgensen: The very first tattoo I got was in Houston, Texas and it was an iron cross.
Cowan: Where is it located?
Jourgensen: Upper-left shoulder, top of the arm. Yeah, it was Houston about ’88. Then after that, I got bit by the bug. My entire upper body is done.
Cowan: I saw that on the video. You even got your neck tattooed.
Jourgensen: I’ve got everything from hands to neck, chest to back, ribs—everything. The entire upper half is done. I’m going to start on the lower half next year.
Cowan: So you don’t have any tattoos on your legs or ass?
Jourgensen: Nope, not yet. My entire upper body is done. I’ll start on the lower body after the tour. I might get one in Europe when we’re on tour on the lower body, but I’ve run out of room on the top half. What can I say; (laughs), I’m running out of room, man.
Cowan: I have some friends out here who are tattooed all over except their face.
Jourgensen: I’m getting that, too. I’ve been designing something, not like a Mike Tyson thing. No, it’s going to be all Masonic. I’ve got face tattoos lined up with my guy, but I want to start filling up my legs and feet. By the time I’m done with this career, I’m going to be a circus freak. I don’t have to sing, play or do anything. I could just walk out and be like the Human Jigsaw Puzzle or whatever that Jim Rose guy was. It’s going to be awesome! I used to live two blocks away from Lifto (The Amazing Mister Lifto: Joe Hermann). He lifts up things with his cock ring like suit cases. I know the whole Jim Rose Circus. I know Circus Olay—all these carnie freaks.
Cowan: You recently went on the Alex Jones show. How do you feel about your interview?
Jourgensen: He was all about shilling his gold sponsorship for his show. Everyone is worried about paper money not being worth anything, so they want to put their money into gold. In an apocalyptic situation, if you’re sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot trying to get supplies, and you have gold coins, you’re going to get shot a robbed. It’s like, what’s the point of this.
Cowan: I noticed that he and his followers have very different ideas about the way this country is going than you did.
Jourgensen: I just know that it’s heading for a free fall. Pardon the pun because I have a song called “Free Fall” on the new album. I’m just thinking that gold is not going to make a difference. Buy some guns, food and water. Stock yourself up. Buckle up and get ready for the ride because that’s what is going to happen. He’s talking about investing gold and all this shit. I told him gold isn’t going to do him a bit of good in a Wal-Mart parking lot with a bunch of freaked-out, post-apocalyptic, parking-lot people waiting to get supplies. It’s not going to help, especially with the price that it’s at now. It just doesn’t make any sense. What is it, $1,300 an ounce now? Really? Just get your food and guns now, hunker down and wait for the shit to hit the fan. Shut the fuck up because these people pushing gold are just playing on fears just like the Republican Party. People buy into it. I don’t buy into it. I don’t have any fears. When it becomes anarchist in a post-apocalyptic world, having wealth like that is just gonna get you killed. What does your $1,300 an ounce earn you then?
Cowan: I’ve heard you live in a compound?
Jourgensen: Yep, I have an eight-foot-high fence around my entire two acres. I have canned goods and weapons, and I’m just waiting for 2012. December 21st, let’s see what happens. I just got a tattoo on my chest saying “December 21st, 2012.” I got it in May, right before that weirdo guy declared the end of the world. I got my tattoo the day before the world was supposed to end. I went back to the tattoo shop and said, “If this apocalypse happens, I want my money back for the tattoo.” (Laughs) I was totally bitching at him, even though it was my idea because the world was supposed to end on that day and I want my money back. I wanted a different date or for him to change the date. I forget what I told him, but it was a pretty funny exchange. I also told him if it doesn’t happen on December 21st, 2012 of the Mayan Calendar then I want my money back, too, and I want my tattoo changed, so whatever happens I’m covered. They wouldn’t refund my money for this idiot guy who was predicting the end of the world.
Cowan: Did you seen in the news solar flares have already begun hitting the world?
Jourgensen: Big time! That’s what is going to happen on December 21st. It’s going to take down all of our satellites, all of our cable, all of our cell phones—everything! The world is gonna go into fucking chaos! A solar flair will probably blow up some grid lines and electrical power plants. That’s what I am thinking and I’m pretty prepared. I have no worries.
Cowan: Obviously, they (U.S. government) know it’s going to happen because they have built all of these underground cities.
Jourgensen: Exactly! They’re not letting us know exactly what is going on because they don’t want anarchy. That’s been documented in so many films about doomsday. I just want to sit there and eat my canned foods, hold my Glock 9 and watch the Aurora Borealis. (Laughs) That’s going to be my next Christmas.
Cowan: If it reaches that far south, then things are really messed up because you’re talking about the Northern Lights.
Jourgensen: It’s going to become the Southern Lights, too, after the magnetic poles shift. We’ll be getting the Aurora Borealis all the way down here in El Paso. I’ll have my canned goods and weapons, and everyone else can go FUCK OFF! I’m stocked up, we’re going to do one more tour, and I’m just waiting for the apocalypse. I really believe that on the Winter Solstice, December 21st of 2012 that the apocalypse will happen. I don’t think an asteroid will hit, but I do think a solar flair or magnetic shift in the poles is going to happen. If not, I get my money back on my tattoo. Either way, I'm good.
Cowan: Getting into conspiracies, I also want to talk to you about the New World Order. You wrote the song “NWO” on the “Psalm 69” album, which is about the New World Order.
Jourgensen: I also did “Thieves” in ’88, which is exactly what is happening now on Wall Street. It’s total 99 percenters. It’s a recurring theme, but people don’t heed the warnings. I did that song twenty-three years ago. I said, look, this is not sustainable. These people are evil thieves, corporate raiders and greed. I sang about that in ’88 and now it’s happening. Now I’m doing “99 Percenters,” “Kleptocracy,” “Blood Lust,” which is also about corporate greed. It’s about the same stuff, only twenty-years later it’s coming true. Instead of being ahead of my time, I’m actually right on time with this record, lyrically.
Cowan: Are the new songs a continuation of songs such as “NWO” and “Thieves?”
Jourgensen: No, life is a continuation. It’s what I was saying twenty-three years ago. Look, corporate greed has to be stopped! The middle class has flat lined. The oligarchy has gone through the roof on profits, and there really is a 1 percent versus a 99 percent. I never understood the Holocaust. Why couldn’t the 30,000 Jews in a camp over run the one guard? If you’re going to die, die trying not passively. That’s what this 99 percenters movement is about: We’re not going to die passively.
Cowan: You said the song “99 Percenters” is your way of contributing to the movement. What do you think these protesters need in order overcome the apathy in this nation and mockery that the media seems to want to make of them?
Jourgensen: Nothing! Just keep showing up. I’ll be there eventually. I promise. As soon as I get done talking to you knucklehead press people, I’ll be in New York getting pepper sprayed and arrested. I promise you! My engineer is from New York. He wants to go back and protest. We’ll dress up as matadors, wave a red flag in front of the Merrill Lynch bull, get pepper sprayed and arrested. I’m looking forward to it, but we were behind on schedule for this record. I had to have it done by Christmas. Because we couldn’t make it out, I figured the least I could do is write a song for the guys to rally around. I think I accomplished that. I think it’s a pretty good punk rock anthem. I expect to go there, protest and get peppered spray. It just comes with the territory. That’s what brave people do. That’s what the brave people of New York, Oakland, London, and Chicago are doing right now. They’re being brave because they know fascism is coming down on their heads, but they still do it because they believe in a conviction. You can not beat conviction with force, as has been shown in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya—you can’t fight it with pepper spray. People are too brave! Look at Syria. That can’t be sustained. The people are pissed, and when the people are pissed the government has to respond. If the government doesn’t respond, the people get brave and coalesce. It’s civil disobedience. It’s awesome! It reminds me of when I was growing up in the Sixties. The Sixties were really tumultuous here. I was there. I was in Chicago for the Democratic riots (1968). I ran away from home to go to the Democratic riots. We went down there and I got pepper sprayed when I was ten-years old! Then, I went home after being pepper sprayed and got grounded for a month for running away from home because I was only ten (laughs). Shit happens, but there needs to be turmoil in society to enact change. In other words: You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
Cowan: How do you feel about the SOPA and PIPA bills?
Jourgensen: All of those suck. Anything that restricts free movement of thought and intellect is bogus. I know they are trying to clamp down because the Internet has changed the landscape so much for politics. People are getting busted for their lies, everyday. All of these candidates.
Cowan: We have available the most information in the history of mankind.
Jourgensen: Exactly, so they want to cut it off. I don’t agree with that. I think Wiki Leaks is the most transparent thing to ever come out. I don’t support anything, ANYTHING that restricts the freedom of ANYTHING! That includes from the Internet to abortions. Just leave people alone!
Cowan: Changing gears into the Buck Satan album. “Bikers Welcome! Ladies Drink Free” is hilarious. It seems like that’s something lacking country music.
Jourgensen: Exactly, country music is just pabulum. What people don’t realize is that country music in the late Fifties and early Sixties was the true punk rock. Forget Johnny Lydon and the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, the 1970s, the Ramones. The true punk rockers were people like Buck Owens, Johnny Cash and George Jones. They were like complete punk rockers. People have to put it into historical perspective. I hate sounding like Newt Gingrich, (laughs) but it needs to be in a historical perspective.
Cowan: What do you think about Hank III?
Jourgensen: I love Hank. I love Sheldon. He’s a friend and I love him. Our schedules didn’t arrange for him to be on this album, but I asked him to be on it. I asked Buck Owens to be on it and then he died two weeks later. I tried to get Dwight Yoakam. Eventually, we just wound up with all of these people outside of me and Mike Scaccia that had never heard a country music song in their life. Rick Nielsen, Tony Campos, the two girls from Houston—they were classically trained. They had never heard country. Rick didn’t know a country song to save his life. Tony Campos from Static-X knowing country! I don’t think so! Mikey and I were like the blind leading the blind. We had no country people, so we just forged on. I think the reason the record is so good is because there are no country people on it. It makes it a little different thing.
Cowan: It’s definitely not your typical country album.
Jourgensen: First of all, we have programmed drums.
Before following up on Jourgensen's statement about programmed drums, our interview came to an abrupt end, so he could pursue a radio interview. Make sure to pick up a copy of Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters “Bikers Welcome! Ladies Drink Free." Minstry’s “Relapse” drops on March 27, 2012.
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