Ministry's Al Jourgensen: Everyone Needs A Mentor To Help Figure Things Out
Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk to Ministry's legendary frontman and all-around heavy metal veteran Al Jourgensen. We had a slightly concerning start to the interview (Jourgensen was sick from food poisoning caused by Chobani yogurt that had since been recalled, and was sitting around, drinking vodka and waiting to die), but I say only slightly because 54-year-old Jourgensen has been pronounced dead three times before by far worse culprits.
After brushing that off, the musician began badgering me for some solid journalistic questioning before suspiciously asking what I thought of his new album. Not that he cares--From Beer to Eternity was only completed for Mike Scaccia, Jourgensen's long-time pal and band mate that died from a heart attack during the recording sessions.
Two Metal Mondays ago, the first half of the interview was published--it was just too damn long to keep 45-minute segment together. And to my heavy metal, tap-dancing fingers' delight, I received such a solid response that I am posting the second half of the interview in this week's episode.
Check out the first half of our conversation here, where we chat about the new album, what Scaccia's favorite track would've been, and his new memoir, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. Oh yeah--we also talked about the influence of Rachel Maddow on his song writing, shaving Trent Reznor's head, meeting Obama, and the morning he drank with Lil Wayne.
Believe it or not, Jourgensen has a ton of other projects on his plate besides a new album, new book, and new concert DVD. He's also working with British-born illustrator Sam Shearon (he's also worked on comics for KISS and art design for Rob Zombie) on a comic book series called Captain of Industry. In the comic Jourgensen is a superhero who stands up for musicians. Think a customized Flying V guitar on the back, and super hearing. So if some black metal band in Norway is getting screwed over by a record label, he'll be able to "fly" there and prevent the band from getting ripped off. Yup: A big f-you to the music industry. And I'm guessing there will be lots of booze involved.
Check out the second half of the Jourgensen Metal Mondays files, where we talk about his love for ASU Sun Devils, his Beat Generation poet mentors, his ideas about running for mayor, and upcoming tour plans--to lecture at colleges.
So you're not one of the rock stars kicking around Obama? The "talking heads" they throw out there, whether it's a president or prime minister, are already hogtied by corporate financing and things, and uh, so I really pay no heed. I actually feel sorry for Obama; I think The Onion said it best when he was re-elected. They said, "Black Man Given Worst Job in America." What a surprise, okay? It's pretty much like that.
I even started feeling bad for George W. towards the end of his ordeal. He was just in over his head. He wasn't running things. The President of the United States is not the most powerful man in the world--he's probably just the most duped man in the world, while the old guys are running things in a system that is fairly... [long pause] Unbalanced. Pardon the pun.
It can be depressing how issues are only taken in context of the politician's best interest. I have a suggestion. For homeless people who are on the street with a fucking coffee can, trying to get coins just to eat, have a separate coffee can just to buy a lobbyist to get into Washington.
I'll be sure to take that information to the local shelter. [Laughs] Start saving your fucking coins man! It's like what happened in ancient Egypt like when the so-called High Priest took over. And they just blasted him because they were losing their power. I see the Republican party now is just a bunch of old white guys gasping like goldfish in a bowl for their last minute of power. The world is changing! So get over it.
Have you ever considered getting in there? You know what? I've thought about it. But I have way too many felony arrests and a box-load of Polaroids that I never want seen, stored in my attic. And, uh, I don't think I'd be a very good candidate.
Although I think my ideas are in line with most people. You understand what I'm saying? I could never run man, there's just so much dirt on me... and thank God there is! Because I wouldn't want that job. I've actually had people here in El Paso that want me to run for mayor... but no. The last thing I need is that boxful of Polaroids exposed. I'd be like Anthony Weiner... times 10.
But here's the good thing--you just put our all the dirt on yourself in your book, so you're saying there's even more behind that? Well yeah... I guess that book kinda precludes me from running for office forever.
Well, doing college lectures is a part of your immediate game plan, right? Yes, I'm doing college lectures for the next two years. Just talking to kids--not doing any rock tours, not doing any music. Just finishing my book, a fiction book that I've been writing for 28 years. I have a comic strip coming out on me [also], where I have superpowers blasting away the oligarchy. Things like this interest me right now.
I'm just happy this record came out and Mikey is just smiling somewhere right now, because he knows this record is good.
So with the comic strip Captain of Industry, are the musicians you're going to be fighting for fictional or real figures? Both. The comic strip is fucking hysterical. You're going to love it. It's the anti-superhero. And my super powers are awesome--I love it. I'm looking forward to that.
And this fiction book you've been writing for 28 years, tell me about the development of that. It was originally titled Mind Fuck but now I've been... talked into... diluting that into a book called Persuasion. It's about a serial killer who kills people just by talking them into killing themselves and, what's the judicial system going to do with that? There's First Amendment speech rights, but this guy, he sits in his room surrounded by obituaries of the people who he's "killed."
He just hangs around dive bars, it's a very Bukowski-like kind of thing. He talks to people and gets them to see how useless their lives are, and talks them into killing themselves and then he has another trophy, an obituary, to hang on his wall.
I'm not going to say anymore--I can't give away the ending! It's really cool though, where he gets it in the end. So the judicial system doesn't get it, but someone else does.
When are you looking to put that out? I'm finishing the end right now. So the comic book is about a year away.
You've been touring for such a long time. So, when you're going to talk to these colleges, what exactly will you be talking about in the lectures? Well, it varies. I've had various colleges ask me to speak on political science, history, and of course on the state of the music industry, and business in general. I have a lot of different topics to tackle. But I am really looking forward to it.
Is there already a schedule up for that? That'll be out in the next month. It will be on our web page, my "college tour," so to speak. I know my first one is at a music convention, like an "Inside the Actor's Studio" type of thing. I have a moderator. I just hope to fucking God this moderator is as creepy as James Lipton--I love that guy!
Come through Tempe and stop by ASU! If you have any connections there, tell them those kids will have a blast for an hour with Uncle Al. I'd go to the Sun Devils any day, man. I'm down here! It's real close! I could even drive there if I wasn't so goddamn drunk.
So, speaking of lectures and literary talents, years ago, you were friends with Beat Generation icons William S. Burroughs and Timothy Leary, which I find really unique. What is something taken away from those friendships-- No, no no. Stop there. [Long pause] Everything. They were my mentors, okay? Not my dad, not my religion or whatever. Those were my mentors.
They taught me everything I know about life, and I owe everything to them. My production skills go to Adrian Sherwood. Music skills I guess I owe to the universe for blessing or cursing me with these things I dream up at night, and come up with the next day in the studio. I'm very blessed to have known those two and many others who have been mentors in my life. Trust me. This is a team effort.
Everyone needs to go out and find themselves a mentor. One of my mentors was actually El Duce (Eldon Hoke) from The Mentors, who taught me how to be absolutely degenerate, and still get paid, which is really cool. I've taken away something from every really cool person I've met in my life, and people should do that as they go along.
They don't have to be famous--just take away things, you know, that will help you figure things out. Pick a part of the good and throw out the bad.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.