Ministry (1981-2008, 2011-2013)
Al Jourgensen (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard) 1981-2008, 2011-2013
Mike Scaccia (guitar, bass) 1989-1995, 2003-2006, 2011-2012
John Bechdel (keyboard) 2006-2008, 2011-2013
Sin Quirin (guitar, bass) 2007-2008, 2012-2013
Aaron Rossi (drums) 2007-2008, 2011-2013
Casey Orr (bass) 2012-2013
Stephen George (drums) 1981-1985
Robert Roberts (keyboard) 1981-1984
Brad Hallen (bass) 1983-1985
Paul Barker (bass, keyboard, vocals) 1986-2003
Bill Rieflin (drums, keyboard, guitar ) 1986-1995
Chris Connelly (vocals, keyboard) 1987-1993
Nivek Ogre (vocals, guitar, keyboard) 1988-1990
Louis Svitek (guitar) 1992-1999, 2003
Duane Buford (keyboard) 1995-1999
Zlatko Hukic (guitar) 1995-1999
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Ministry started out in 1981 as a new wave outfit. Having signed with Arista Records, they released their debut album, With Sympathy, in 1983. Front man, Al Jourgensen, severely dislikes this album. He told Mark Prindle: "That's the only album that I don't like, and that's basically because it was written by producers and by record company people. I just signed the contract and didn't know any better and did what everyone told me to do, and then after that I just kinda said, 'Well, fuck you. I'm gonna do it my way.'" Jourgensen continued: "To this day, I've never listened to it since I got it done. I was fed up with it. I almost quit music because of it." It was not until 1988, when they released their third album, The Land of Rape and Honey, that Ministry turned to the industrial metal they would become know for.
Al Jourgensen has formed and played in many side-projects including: The Revolting Cocks, alongside Belgian musicians Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker, Lard, alongside Dead Kennedys
front man, Jello Biafra, 1000 Homo DJs, alongside Nine Inch Nails front man, Trent Reznor, and Pailhead, alongside Minor Threat and Fugazi's Ian MacKaye. Jourgensen also has a country side-project called Buck Satan & the 666 Shooters. Jourgensen
spoke to us about his country influences: "George Jones
, Hank Williams
, Patsy Cline, Ferlin Husky, Roger Miller
, you name it, the list goes on and on and on and on. It's just these CDs that I collected when I was in my teen years and drove a truck for a job. I was driving an 18 wheeler. I had a Class D license. And they never had any decent music in these when you had to refuel at the truck stops. So I started buying country and I got addicted to it. That's the entire thing."
In 1992, Ministry released their fifth album, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs
. The title of the album is taken from chapter 69 of The Book of Lies
by the occultist, Aleister Crowley. Crowley used the expression "The way to succeed and the way to suck eggs" as a pun for the 69 sex position. Psalm 69
spawned the hit single, "Jesus Built My Hotrod
," which featured guest vocals by Butthole Surfers front man, Gibby Haynes. Al Jourgensen spoke to us about the track: "That was insane. That was the most insane song ever. First of all, Warner Brothers gave us a $750,000 budget to do a record. We, of course shot it all up our arms and put it up our noses and didn't have a single song to show for it. They were freaking out. So on Lollapalooza 1, the Butthole Surfers played and Gibby (Haynes) was in town, and I've met Gibby before on my trips to Texas from Chicago. I brought him into the studio because I had this song - for $750,000 I had one song done. It was ridiculous. And not only that, I didn't have vocals on it. I didn't know what to do with this song. Because it was a crazy 5-4-7-4 beat. So Gibby came down completely drunk off his ass to the studio we're at in Chicago. He couldn't even sit on a stool, let alone sing. I mean, he was wasted. He fell off the stool about 10 times during the recording of that vocal. He made no sense and it was just gibberish. So I spent two weeks editing tape of what he did, thinking it still was better than what I was thinking of doing with the song. And then we sent Warner Brothers that and they had to figure out if they wanted to double down and give us another $750,000 bucks or whether they wanted to cancel the whole project." Jourgensen said Warner Brothers disliked the song, but changed their minds once it started to sell: "They were like, 'What is this? This is stupid. I thought we hired Ministry, instead we get this bing a bang a bong bing bing bing bing, you know, this hillbilly stuff.' And they hated it. But it started selling, surprisingly."
Author, William S. Burroughs, features on the Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs
track, "Just One Fix
." Al Jourgensen told us a surreal story about when he went to Burroughs' house to take heroin with him: "So then I'm sitting there, and he pulls out this like 1950s Pulp Fiction kind of tool belt with needles in it. Like old school, 1950s, huge needles. And he meticulously took that out, found a vein - I don't know how you'd find a vein in a 70 year old guy, but he knew what he was doing. So we all shot up together and we're all stoned on his couch in his living room. And I notice there was a letter on his desk in front of me that was from the White House. Okay? And I'm like, Bill, it's not even opened. And I'm just like, 'Are you going to open this?' He goes, 'Nahhh, it's probably junk mail.' It's from the White House, and we're all completely stoned on heroin. So I go, 'Do you mind if I open it?' He's like, 'Man, I don't care.' So I open it and there's a letter from President Bill Clinton asking him to speak at the White House during some Naked Lunch excerpts or whatever. So I was like, 'Man, this is big.' And the only thing he said was, 'Who's president nowadays?' He didn't know. He didn't even know Bill Clinton was president. He was just so in his own world that he didn't even know who the president of the United States was, and he didn't open the envelope."
On May 14th, 1999, Ministry's former guitarist, William Tucker, committed suicide. Ministry's album, Dark Side of the Spoon, is dedicated to Tucker.
Ministry cameo in the 2001 Steven Spielberg movie, AI: Artificial Intelligence
, performing "What About Us?
." Stanley Kubrick had originally intended to direct the film, but he died before the project got underway. Al Jourgensen revealed to us it was Kubrick who wanted Ministry in the film: "But yeah, that was all initiated by Stanley Kubrick who called me up out of the blue and said he was a big fan and he had this screenplay that he sent me and he wanted us to be the band and to write the music for it." We asked how it felt to be called up by Kubrick: "Well, first of all, I hung up on him. I thought it was a crank call. His secretary was calling and I was like, 'Yeah, right.' Click. And then he called back personally and then talked to me, and I was just freaked out. I mean, who wouldn't be freaked out? Here's this eccentric American God living in the countryside of England, and he's calling me up in Austin, Texas, and saying he wants me to do the music for his film and he wants me to be in his film and he's famous and all that. I didn't even believe it." Spielberg took over the project when Kubrick died. Jourgensen revealed to us he and Spielberg did not get on very well at first: "We were on set for three days; I saw Spielberg while we were onstage and we were doing rehearsals, but we didn't meet, so they set up a meeting with Spielberg, his handler, and the whole band. And it was kind of like meeting the queen. You couldn't talk to him, you couldn't look him in the face unless he talked to you. I was at the end of the line of the fans, and he got down to me, and I just blew off all the protocol, and I told him, 'Hey, Steve, baby, what's the deal? I thought A.I.
stood for 'Anal Intruder' and this was supposed to be a porno film.' I told him that. 'This man's gotta walk. We're quitting today.' I was kidding. Just break the ice. But his handler freaked out and Spielberg took it personally and I had to chase him down in all my costuming and all this crap that I was wearing and just go, 'Look, I was just kidding! Just relax!' They were so uptight about it. After that, every day on the set, Spielberg would come up and name a new moniker for A.I.
Like, I think his first one was 'Animal Indecency.' So every day he'd come up and he'd name a new porn title. And then he finally started wearing my cowboy hat and started jamming with us on stage. So I love Steven, man, he's great. But we had kind of an auspicious start."
Al Jourgensen suffered with heroin addition for 20 years. In 2001, he nearly lost his arm after he was bitten by a venomous spider. Jourgensen claims this event caused him to kick his heroin addiction: "I was sleeping on some heroin dealers couch and I got this spider bite. The doctor wanted to take my f**king arm off. I was at death's door; I'd gone through all my savings and pawned off all but one of my guitars. I'd hit rock bottom." He continued: "I'd also stepped on the tip of a broken hypodermic needle when I was using. The needle tip went up into my boot, and the wound got infected. It went gangrenous so they had to amputate. A light bulb went on over my head and it all made sense. If you want to die, die today. Trust me there were lots of reasons to quit heroin." Jourgensen told us he is clean nowadays, although he is partial to legal pot: "But lately I've got these back problems and back spasms and knee problems and foot problems, and so I got this legal marijuana in New Mexico, so now I'm just stoned all the time. I'm on pot, and it's legal. And it's great...it takes away my pains, my groans and moans. So pot's a good thing. I never smoked pot before. Not even in high school. I went straight to heroin. I went to psychedelics and heroin and coke. I skipped over the pot part. So I'm getting into the pot part right now. Like, I'm stoned talking to you right now. It takes away my pain, it allows me not to be a pillbilly."
In 2007, Ministry wrote "Keys To The City
" for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. Al Jourgensen told us he is a big hockey fan: "Since I was 6 years old I've been going to Blackhawks games. I know the owners of the Blackhawks. The son of the owner was my best man at my wedding. I wear Blackhawks gear everywhere, I'm a hockey freak and that's all I do in my winters. I don't even really watch football - big people go slam each other around. But hockey to me is like a mixture of chess, ballet, and UFC. You can't find a better sport, man. I'm a total hockey fan and I'm married to a Canadian whose godfather was the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers for a long time, Bob McCammon, and so yeah, I've got a long hockey history and it ain't going away soon, I'll tell you that."
In 2007, Ministry released their so-called final album, The Last Sucker, and embarked on a farewell tour. Jourgensen told us a severe illness prompted this initial break up: "Well, I got really sick. I had bleeding ulcers and I didn't understand why I was puking up blood for the last 8 years and shitting out blood and peeing out blood and having nosebleeds and stuff. And it turns out they found, accordingly, 13 ulcers in my stomach and esophagus. Six of them were still active. And I was bleeding out. And I had to take at least about a year and a half off of just lying on my back because I was bleeding profusely. And that's why I quit the band. But as soon as the doctors fixed me up, it's like, hell, let's just jump back in the saddle." In 2012, Ministry reunited and released their twelfth album, Relapse.
Guitarist Mike Scaccia suffered a heart attack on stage and subsequently died on December 23, 2012. The tragedy prompted Jourgensen to pull the plug on the band again, after releasing one last album, From Beer to Eternity, as a testament to Scaccia's legacy. Jourgensen commented "Ministry was his life almost as much as mine, and I'm afraid it has to die with him".
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