Ministry's Al Jourgensen: We Finished From Beer To Eternity For Mikey
Al Jourgensen is 54 years old--a veteran in the metal scene--and has gone through more than most can fathom. He's sold millions of albums and endured a decade of habitual drug abuse. He's also been pronounced dead three times along the way, and has a ton of stories about roadie hazing, sex, tragedy, and meeting some of the most famous celebrities ever.
It's all cataloged in his new book, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. It's a thick read--almost 300 pages penned with esteemed music journalist Jon Weiderhorn. Which make sense, since Jourgensen has had a nearly 33-year ride through the music industry. Any page you open up to ensures entertainment. His meeting with Madonna and his thoughts on her body odor; experimentation with men and oral sex; an altercation with R. Kelly; his performance at the Viper Room when River Phoenix overdosed; groupies having sex with Dobermans; chasing Metallica out of his dressing room by dropping his pants; and humiliating Fred Durst in the studio when he got him drunk one night. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Yet here he is, still kicking and screaming into the mic, while being political, intelligent, and funny as hell. Oh yeah; and Ministry has a new album out as well, From Beer to Eternity.
Complete with a sea of riffs recorded by Scaccia prior to his death, Ministry's 13th album, From Beer To Eternity, was released on September 10. It combines just about every aspect that fans love from Ministry. There are melodic vocals and electronic industrial passages reminiscent of when the band kicked off in the '80s, as well as the sludgy riffs, thrash-y rhythms, and chunky guitars from their '90s catalog. It's also saturated with sample-laden tracks, dirty, industrial grooves, a bit of dubstep, and, of course, social commentary--demonstrated on the track "The Horror," probably one of the most disturbing things the band has ever taped.
Jourgensen has confirmed that From Beer To Eternity will be Ministry's last album--no, really. Guitar god Mike Scaccia suffered a massive heart attack and died onstage December 23, 2012, while playing a show with his other band, Rigor Mortis, to celebrate the 50th birthday of vocalist Bruce Corbitt. And with Scaccia no longer around, Jourgensen has adamantly decided that he is moving away from music. He refuses to replace the guitarist on stage or in the studio. In fact, he didn't really even want to do From Beer To Eternity to begin with; it was Scaccia who coaxed him on board. If it's the truth that this album is Ministry's last, then it is a strong departure for the industrial legends.
Up On This Sun talked to Jourgensen about meeting Obama and Lil Wayne, getting kicked out of the Grammys, and how Ministry's new album was super stressful but the memoir was easy.
Konnichiwa! This must be Lauren!
It is. How are you doing today?
I'm doing good, except I ate some recalled yogurt yesterday... it had mold in it. So I'm sitting around here drinking vodka, waiting to die from mold poisoning. [Laughs]
What's with all this food being recalled lately? It's terrible.
Yeah--Chobani. Make sure you get that out. They are on my official shit list now for poisoning me. I've been throwing up all day trying to get all the mold out of me, and now I'm talking to you so it's better.
My wife and doctor make me do a smoothie everyday with all these homeopathic powders and pills in it for all my ulcers. I started feeling sick, so we looked up the Chobani recall, and it turns out... mine was on it. What a horrible way to die for a rock star! Yogurt poisoning! I mean, really? So lame...
I'm gonna live through this one no matter what, because I don't want to go out like that.
I would hope not. Death by Greek yogurt.
[Laughs] Al Jourgensen...killed by Greek yogurt! So what have you got for me today. Give me some good questions! I'm so sick of fucking talking to you people! I'm just over it. Give me some good questions!
Well, right off the bat I want to talk about From Beer to Eternity. Anyone whose followed you guys--
This whole album is pretty goddamn good, you know, and I rarely like the albums I make. But I fucking love this album.
It's seems there's a little bit of everything from the band's catalog, rolled up into one record--synth-pop elements, industrial passages reminiscent of Twitch, thrashy like Land of Rape and Honey... How do you feel the development, or feel, is different from the rest of Ministry's catalog?
Well, after Mikey died in the middle of the record, I had to go speak at the funeral in Dallas, and it was really bittersweet and weird. My best friend had just passed and now I have to mix everything we just did. So I tried to tie it up in a nice bow of the Ministry catalog...yes, there's influences from early stuff and later stuff...
In other words, it's like, if you got a Christmas present under the tree without any markings on it, you wouldn't know what the hell it was. But this is a nice present under the Christmas tree with a nice little bow on it, and a tag that says, "R.I.P. Ministry."
What do you think would have been Mike's favorite track?
"Mikey's Middle Finger." [Laughs]
That's definitely a stand-out track.
That's a no brainer! [Laughs] He's been living here in the afterlife, kinda hanging around, checking around 'til the record comes out, knocking stuff over and being a pest as a ghost. But, ah, I think he's pretty cool with everything that's going on.
I really liked "Fairly Unbalanced."
Oh, all about old Fox News Network. I love those guys.