Mike Bax of Lithium Magazine recently conducted an interview with MINISTRY mainman Al Jourgensen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Lithium Magazine: I find it interesting a MINISTRY album has come out of a jam session centered on making a country album, Al.
Al: I know, right? It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? But that’s kind of the way it happened. Mike Scaccia (MINISTRY‘s lead guitarist) just kept pestering me and pestering me like, “Dude, these riffs are really cool. We’ve got to do this; you’ve got to write some lyrics”. So I was like, “Okay!” and my health has gotten better since a couple years ago and I said, “Alright, I’ll try it”. It came out really well; the album is really good I think.
Lithium Magazine: I love “Relapse”. I’ve played it through a few times, and I like the sound of all of it. I genuinely feel like that you’re going out on a high point.
Al: Yeah, I’m not doing another after this. MINISTRY is a lot different than all the other side projects I do. MINISTRY is very labor intensive (laughs), there’s a lot of thinking going on, whereas the other projects, we just get drunk and jam and figure it out later. It’s like the BUCK SATAN record is completely mayhem. That’s what’s great about that; it kind of replaces REVCO for me in the sense of having a party atmosphere for music. Whereas MINISTRY is, like I said, labor intensive and a lot of thinking going and a lot of production, it’s just too much, man. I can’t sustain that for that long, but the other projects are just a gas.
Lithium Magazine: Good, that’s cool. You’ve mentioned in other interviews that this is definitely the last nail in the coffin for MINISTRY as a band, so I feel pretty fortunate that you’re coming back and you made another album. I’ve been a fan for a while.
Al: Well, thank you, and like I said I was roped into this; I didn’t want to do it, but you can blame Mike Scaccia for this album. (laughs) He was all over my case, just cracking the whip, getting me to sing vocals and stuff. He really believed in the album and then when I hear the whole thing put together I’m like, “Wow, this is pretty good.” But no more man, I’m serious. I know you’ve heard this from me before but that was for health reasons, this one I’m healthy, I can’t do these kinds of intense albums anymore. I’d rather just jam and get drunk with a bunch of hillbillies.
Lithium Magazine: Lots of bands that have been in the music industry for thirty years have very little to say musically. They’ve been there and they’ve done that, but there are some bands in their triple decades that are pulling together some of their best material. KILLING JOKE, ANTHRAX and certainly MINISTRY‘s “Relapse” is now on that list as well.
Al: Yeah well, I think that to be honest with you, I think you get better with age; you just get less desire to record with age. It’s like you just want this long national nightmare to be over, especially if your health is bad. In that sense, I think that you fine-tune, you auto-tune, you know what you’re doing. For instance, Relapse is the fastest album I’ve ever done of any side project or MINISTRY or anything. We did it in three months, man. It was really great because you just know what to do. If you’ve been around the studio like I have, let’s see, I think I have a total of thirty-nine albums out including live and greatest hits. You get used to the studio and you get really proficient at what you’re doing. Of course, some of these bands release really great stuff later in their careers because they’re used to the process. Some people may take it as, “Well, you may be used to the process so it might be the same as the old stuff”, but this album certainly isn’t. I’ve spent three albums bashing Bush (former American president George W. Bush) and “Relapse” is like half personal experience and half social commentary. It’s more of a different beast, but still a lot of labor intensive work required to do Ministry albums as opposed to the other ones.
Lithium Magazine: So much of MINISTRY‘s material is rooted in negativity and anger, which must take its toll over the years. I would imagine this is a large part of why you’re going to pack that band in and move on to the fun stuff.
Al: Well, I’ve got other stuff to do, man. Like I told you, MINISTRY is so labor intensive it’s almost not worth it. This one was only because of Mike Scaccia, after that, I’m done; seriously done. It’s not a joke, I’m not going to make a comeback later. I don’t need the money, I’m done. I want to explore other things; I want to do a jazz soundtrack for the William Burroughs movie that’s coming out (The author of “Naked Lunch”, whom Jourgensen has collaborated with lyrically). I’m doing a country record and then I’m doing a blues record and then I’m calling it a day. I’m done with industrial. Seriously, my iPod collection at home has NO industrial music on it; it’s strictly jazz, blues and country. That’s kind of what I’m branching into.
Read the entire interview from Lithium Magazine.
Making of “Relapse” webisode #1:
Making of “Relapse” webisode #2:
Making of “Relapse” webisode #3:
Making of “Relapse” webisode #4:
Making of “Relapse” webisode #5: