All-Amerikkkan: An Exclusive Interview With MINISTRY Mastermind AL JOURGENSEN

By Ruben Mosqueda, Contibutor
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 10:53 AM

"You have to get to the root of the cancer in our society and that's what this album is about. It’s so much more far reaching than an ‘Anti-Trump' record. It’s taking a snapshot of what we've become as a society."

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Live Photos By Mike Lewis

MINISTRY’s Al Jourgensen immigrated to the United States from his native Cuba and has gone on to become one of the pioneers of the industrial rock. “I didn’t learn to speak English until I was seven years old,” says the dreadlocked frontman. Jourgensen put MINISTRY to rest after 2007’s Last Sucker touring cycle ended. He revived the band in 2012 with Relapse and has been writing, recording and touring since. Jourgensen has a new album due on March 9th titled Amerikkkant and he sat down with KNAC.COM and spoke to us about the new album amongst other things.

KNAC.COM: You put MINISTRY to rest after the Last Sucker tour. Why play the farewell card then come back again? Was the ‘retirement’ genuine at the time it was announced?

JOURGENSEN: It was! Dude, it’s spelled out in the book! (laughs) I had something like 13 bleeding ulcers, I was throwing up daily while on tour and I didn't think I had much time left to be honest! (laughs)

So was it genuine? Yeah, at the time it was but mostly due to health reasons. It just wasn't fun being sick and throwing up blood. The doctors finally figured out what was wrong, I had a couple of surgeries, I got well and here I am. (laughs)

KNAC.COM: MINISTRY has had ‘political’ messages in their music and in their live performances going back to the 90s; you have a song "Antifia" on the new album. The song is about the ‘Antifa’ movement, but do you condone actions not related to the protest such as rioting, destroying and vandalizing private and public property?

JOURGENSEN: Well, of course I don't. I'm all for people standing up for themselves and standing up to fascism. People in Europe stood up to Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. We’ve never had an overtly fascist president before, the movement is justified. Unfortunately, there are some people that then become the people that they hate. I’ll give you an example; you dress in black, you get drunk and you go out on the town beating up skinheads. You've become just as bad as the people that you’re against. Some of the tactics I'm not in favor of, but as far as the awareness? I’m all in.

KNAC.COM: The new album Amerikkkant deviates slightly from the MINISTRY blueprint. You incorporate a DJ on this album. What inspired you to do this?

JOURGENSEN: Funny you mention that, the two DJs that I have on this record who're still in the band The Arabian Prince [N.W.A.] and DJ Swamp [BECK], they were just telling me that my sampling inspired their scratching! (laughs) So, I guess it’s all come full circle. (laughs)

I think the scratching takes things to a new level. I think it makes the music more ‘streetwise' if you know what I mean? I think it was a natural progression and it fits the album nicely.

KNAC.COM: You have three tracks that hover at the 8+ minute mark: “Victims Of A Clown”, “Twilight Zone” or “Amerikkka” would fit very well in the set, but you’d have to sacrifice a handful of ‘hits’.

JOURGENSEN: (pause) I'm playing the entire fucking album, man. I really believe in this album. We’ll play some old stuff on the upcoming tour, it's going to be heavily focused on this record. As far as having a ‘hit’?! That shit is so 90s dude, I don't give a fuck! (laughs) That’s not why I make music, dude! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: You didn't overload this record with a lot of music. I like that it was kept to the classic formula of 9-10 songs.

JOURGENSEN: This album tells a narrative, that's why the songs are strung together. We did whatever it took to make that narrative; if was a DJ, a cello player, you name it. This isn't an ‘Anti-Trump' record for God's sake! I recorded three ‘Anti-Bush’ records! It’s not the figurehead it's the system! You have to get to the root of the cancer in our society and that's what this album is about. It’s so much more far reaching than an ‘Anti-Trump' record. It’s taking a snapshot of what we've become as a society.

KNAC.COM: You have been a guest on renowned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ show. Do you adhere to conspiracies such as the United States Government is being run by ‘Lizard People?’

JOURGENSEN: I've been on his show a few times, I'm his favorite Liberal. I run rings around him, I enjoy talking to him. It’s ridiculous. The only reason I'm his favorite Liberal is because of a song I had in the 90s called “New World Order”, he really took a liking to. He also liked “Lies, Lies, Lies” from Rio Grande Blood. He loves conspiracies. He thinks I'm a ‘Left Wing’ conspiracy freak and we go at it! (laughs) I've never actually met him, but talking with him is somewhat exhilarating because it’s like trying to communicate with someone that speaks another language! (laughs) It’s like getting dropped in the New Guinea jungle and trying to get my point across to some cannibals! (laughs) It’s fun!

KNAC.COM: Did you bust his balls about the ‘Lizard People?’

JOURGENSEN: Well, we share the belief that there are extraterrial civilizations that have been cohabitating our planet. Yes, he takes it a bit too far! (laughs) We have been visited and we continue to be visited. He takes it to the extreme, but it's his prerogative, so be it.

KNAC.COM: My personal favorites in the MINISTRY back catalog are Houses Of Mole, Rio Grande Blood, and The Last Sucker. I see those as a creative peak. The casuals [fans] see it as Psalm 69. What do you think is your creative peak?

JOURGENSEN: (pause) Listen, I don't do music for my fans...I create music because I believe in something and it's cathartic. It makes sense for me to get this fear, angst and anger out of me. I process it, I write about it and I record it. I don't give a fuck what fans think. I don't care if they don't show up for this tour or buy this record. Fine, I'm going to continue to write, record and tour for as long as I'm healthy enough to continue doing so. Guess what?! My health is fucking great! I'm like the Energizer Bunny right now! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Thinking back now what’s your thoughts on the [MINISTRY] Cover-Up record, The Buck Satan & The 666 Shooters record and the Surgical Meth Machine album? Which were hits and which were misses?

JOURGENSEN: I like all of them, they all served their purpose at the time. Rev Co is like the antidote for the seriousness of MINISTRY. I’m not all black and white, I'm not all serious all the time. Surgical Meth Machine actually paved the way for the new record because it talks about what we've become as a people and as a society. Does an artist need to explain everything that he paints?! These are snapshots in time.

KNAC.COM: You and Trent Reznor are pioneers of industrial music. What’s your relationship with Reznor these days?

JOURGENSEN: Well, he started out as our roadie…(bursts into laughter) He got huge. He's a great artist and a good guy. I'm happy for him. We both basically have things that we do. We might do something together at some point or we might not. It's not hostile or anything. We still talk occasionally.

KNAC.COM: In 2011 the documentary Fix about MINISTRY was released. Paul Barker [former bassist] was a huge part of the film. He did a Q&A at the premiere here in Portland. Have you watched the film? What's your thought on it?

JOURGENSEN: I never saw it. I have no desire to see that. I prefer to move forward.

KNAC.COM: Do you think our forefathers would have been in favor of citizens armed with semi-automatic weapons?

JOURGENSEN: No. You have to follow the money trail and it all leads to the NRA. No civilized society or any uncivilized society doesn't want their citizens armed with semi-automatic weapons!

When you're talking about Gregorian society that has muskets and you don't a system like 9-1-1 or an emergency system then I can see the need but we have that in place. There’s no need for that now. You don't need an AR-15 to shoot deer, don't give me that shit! Those are people killers! Listen, I’m in favor of people being able to survive and exist but, overkill is overkill! This society is all based on overkill whether it's guns or media or whatever.

KNAC.COM: Do you think we’ll see Martial Law in place while Trump is in office?

JOURGENSEN: Nothing would surprise me, now whether it's...you can have the power to govern but you can't maintain and eventually the people will win. Sure, he got in based on the electoral college and Russian meddling and all that, but I don't think it’s sustainable. You can call this a democracy, but it's in name only; the will of the people will win. He can try to enact Martial Law, but who knows he could also be impeached? He could even quit, there a lot of different scenarios that can play out. As history has shown us it's easier to conquer than it is to sustain rule over it.

KNAC.COM: How forgiving do you think the general public will be with guys like Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein when time passes?

JOURGENSEN: I think that some people are trivializing the ‘me too’ movement. I think we're all guilty of it, all of us. In some cases through no fault of our own...I'm not interested in who grabbed who, where and why. We've been taught that since birth in some cases. It’s gross. We are taught that men are enable, women are subservient, women make 73 cents on the dollar, women don't get into any position of power in any field. It’s a culture, it’s the system...it’s not Trump, he's a figurehead, it's not Bush he's a figurehead. It's the culture that has created the Matt Lauer's and the Bill Cosby's of America. The whole system is fucked!

KNAC.COM: At the present time there's a focus on the ‘opiate epidemic’. Heroin and opioids have been accessible for decades, why the focus on it now? Is it because it has made its way into ‘white collar’ households? Can America decriminalize drugs ever?

JOURGENSEN: Yes and yes! (laughs) This is a really complex question, it's a two prong question. First of all yes, there's a racial bias to it which is pretty much obvious. All we have to do is follow the money, because it's so easy to make money off of urban black areas, you get them hooked, then they get in the system, then they can't got to school then can't get a job and it's a vicious cycle. Now, it’s in the ‘white communities’ and it's through ‘big pharma’ and the money is there. There was a story recently that I was reading about, where something like 23 million pills were sent to a pharmacy in West Virginia with a population of less than 4,000 people?! And it's now that it concerns society because ‘poor white folks’ are all strung out?

KNAC.COM: Your book The Lost Gospels According To Al Jourgensen was released in the fall of 2015. The Fred Durst story was particularly amusing. How many stories didn't make the final draft? Can you share one?

JOURGENSEN: I really don’t. I didn't sit down and ‘write it.’ It was my ex-wife who got a journalist from New York to come sit with me with the condition that we down and have half gallons of vodka! (laughs) He was there for three nights, it was over a long weekend and I just sat there and told him stories. Then they spent the next 6 months running it through legal teams to make sure we wouldn't get sued and to verify stories. (laughs) They verified everything and they did their due diligence. Basically, that book was me, an MTV journalist telling stories on a drunken weekend! (laughs) If you can believe this, I have yet to read the book! (laughs) I have heard this and that made the book, so if it cleared the legal team it must be true! (bursts into laughter)

KNAC.COM: You have a distinct appearance between the tattoos, piercings and the dreads. Do you even try to disguise yourself when you go out and run errands?

JOURGENSEN: (laughs) I generally don't go out as far as in social settings; it’s quite amusing when I do run errands. I do my own grocery shopping, but that's my extent of social activity. I stay away from all those Hollywood events and shit like that. There's no point in trying to hide it anymore! (laughs) In fact, anymore I flaunt it! (laughs) I don't necessary try to ‘disguise' myself but I just wear the most ridiculous clothing just to go shopping! (laughs) I’ll be shopping in the middle of the afternoon dressed as a bag lady at Safeway or Ross or something. (laughs) Can you imagine? Me wearing a dress, with the boots, the tattoos, the piercings and the dreads squeezing peaches and oranges for freshness?! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: How would you define ‘patriotism’?

JOURGENSEN: I don’t. I really don't think that there should be borders of any sort. We’re all inhabitants of the planet earth. I don't believe that we should have nationalistic flags. Let me put it to you this way; if I was a football player I’d be fucking kneeling too.

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