Al Jourgensen on His New Book, the End of Ministry and Learning to Love Facebook
Six months after the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia, the industrial music pioneer is paying tribute to his departed bandmate while looking back at a storied rock 'n' roll life.
Al Jourgensen recently joined Facebook and he wasn’t happy about it. His first status update was on July 23 and since then, he's been sporadically posting humorous items (the industrial music pioneer is vexed by the presence of raccoons in his yard), self-deprecating notes about how much he hates Facebook and some one-liners for his own amusement.
For example, on Aug. 9, Jourgensen wrote:
Did you hear about the drummer that locked his keys in his car and had to call AAA to come get his bass player out?
A tip for drummers: as long as you leave your drumsticks visible on the dash you are allowed to park in handicap
The man who refers to himself as “Alien Jourgensen” is a really funny guy and this comes out in his recently released autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According To Al Jourgensen (DaCapo Press). He’s a danger-level genius and whatever his demons may be, or may have been, he remains wonderfully entertaining as ever. If he was a summer blockbuster villain, he’d be Alan Rickman in Die Hard or Gene Hackman in Superman: The Movie. But the thing about Al Jourgensen is simply that he’s not a bad guy at all.
Jourgensen appeared via Skype from his compound in El Paso, Texas to speak with the Hollywood Reporter. “This is so much better than that cell phone crackle-crackle nonsense," he began. "Especially when we’re way out here and I’m trying to talk to someone from Europe or Japan and (they cut out) it’s ‘What?’, ‘What?’ Plus I can see everyone and they can see me.”
Wearing a red, gold and green tam over his dreadlocks, and sporting a healthy amount of face piercings, Al Jourgensen might frighten the little old ladies of Peoria and Pasadena, but he is all smiles and wisecracks. Indeed, he has a lot to smile about. In July, he released his book, penned with music journalist Jon Wiederhorn; and on Sept. 10, he will release his band Ministry's 13th studio album, From Beer To Eternity. Also later this month, on Aug. 27, Ministry will release Enjoy The Quiet - Live at Wacken 2012, a DVD featuring material from the final show of their RELAPSE tour. Shot at the Wacken Open Air in front of 75,000 people, the project is a collaboration between 13th Planet Records and UDR/Wacken Records GmbH.
When asked how his book stacks up in the genre of rock celebrity autobiographies, Jourgensen laughs, “You know what? I feel my book is kind of pointless. I didn’t want to do a book; but rather than tell the same old stories over and over when my wife Angie and I are out at parties, I could just hand out a bunch of books and she won’t have to hear them ever again.” Pausing for a moment, he reflects. “Lemmy’s was pretty good. You’ve gotta go back to Bukowski to laugh, but there’s a lot of jackass shit going on in this one and I’m happy with the way it turned out.”
The jackass shit Jourgensen refers to could include any number of episodes, recalled and thoughtfully restated in this “as told to.” Among the highlights are tales of drug use and debauchery, career ups and downs and some TMZ style tidbits: Jourgensen on meeting Madonna and his assessment of her profound body odor; he was playing at the Viper Room when River Phoenix overdosed; his brief dalliance with singer Aimee Mann; a physical altercation with R. Kelly; and a particularly revealing account of a drug-fueled homosexual encounter with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult singer Frankie “Groovie” Mann. His book has the makings of a great biopic.
When asked who would play him, Jourgensen doesn’t hesitate. “It’s an obvious, obvious answer. I was in a band with Johnny Depp 25, 30 years ago, looking like this. Now I recently had eye surgery where I had to wear a black patch, and I couldn’t leave the house without some little kid going, ‘Captain Jack! Captain Jack!’ -- it was ridiculous. And since when has Keith Richards ever had dreadlocks? Me and Johnny had a falling out but I think turnabout is fair play.”
Along with his book, Jourgensen is releasing a new Ministry studio album, From Beer To Eternity. His previous album with the band, 2012’s Relapse, was supposed to be the final album the group would do; but following the 2012 death of longtime guitarist Mike Scaccia, Jourgensen pulled together some unfinished tracks that Scaccia had written and finished them as a tribute to his late friend, who died from a heart attack after collapsing on stage. “He was my best friend… I lost my best friend when Mikey died," says Jourgensen. "I wasn’t going to do anything but at the same time, I had to. “
The new album is almost a departure from the relentless hyper-speed thrashing sonic metal attacks Ministry released in the first decade of the 2000. Audio samples and curious effects are still an important aspect of the music of Ministry, but the album seems fresh and more experimental, like his early efforts with Twitch. The single from the album is the blistering “Permawar;” but the album’s true standouts are the closing tracks. Weird combinations of heavy dub, industrial and metallic riffing, the eight-plus minute “Thanx But No Thanx” and seven-plus minute “Change of Luck” will doubtless please longtime Ministry fans who savor Jourgensen’s strange and wonderful audio trips.
With three new releases in three mediums out or forthcoming, as the year winds down, Jourgensen is just getting warmed up. He’s planning a trip to Australia and then, he says, “I’m planning to do a series, college lectures. Not like spoken-word, but actual classroom lectures.” One thing he is not doing is touring the album, for Ministry as we know it, is finished. In the meantime, Al Jourgensen is finishing up interviews and learning to cope with all the raccoons. “It is what it is,” he says.