Ministry’s Al Jourgensen Is ‘Exorcising Demons From My Past’ Revisiting 40-Year-Old Song
He and Jackie speak about his latest single "Goddamn White Trash," and how he developed his finely attuned sense when writing about political themes and the state of the world. He also speaks about the collaborations on the new album and reveals why he's excited to dust the song "Revenge" off after not playing it for 40 years.
Check out the chat in full below.
On the show with us once again, the one and only Al Jorgensen. Happy to have you back on the show. We've got this new record that's been announced, Hopium for the Masses. It's coming out on March 1, and there's a new song out called "Goddamn White Trash." Can you tell us Al, how this song compares or contrasts on what we can expect from this new record?
The record is pretty slammin’ as you'll see from this track, so I think it fits right in the record. It's pretty much typical Ministry fair, a lot of political thoughts and ideas and observations and a lot of stomping beats and a bunch of shaking your fist at the clouds and telling kids to get off the lawn and, you know, basic grumpiness.
Have you ever had to say, “you damn kids?” I mean, I can't imagine you saying that.
Are you kidding me? I'm the grumpiest guy on the block.
Oh, man, your neighbors must love you.
Well, actually they do because I keep the kids in line.
Somebody has to do it.
Ministry, "Goddamn White Trash"
Ministry just finished the "Freaks on Parade" tour with Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper. What do agitators like yourself, Rob and Alice have in common?
Long hair. I don't know. I don't really know what motivates them. I can't speak for them. I know what motivates me is just waking up in the morning reading the news and going, it doesn't have to be like this and I'm sure that they've all gone through the same mornings as I have. So, I can't speak for them. But I just know that there's gotta be a better way for this planet to succeed.
And things are going to hell worse than they've ever been in our lifetime and I think you know, you've always been outspoken about what's going on in the world. How do you feel about the current state of things?
It's funny. It's cyclical, because I'm old enough to remember the '60s and Alice of course, as well, I was a little younger. But this almost seems like the '60s only the radicals this time are the right wing instead of the radicals back in the '60s on the left wings, but it is cyclical. Like every 40 or 50 years, everyone says that this is the worst it's ever been and unfortunately, it's pretty much just like the same it's ever been and that's what I rail against is that nothing ever seems to change.
It's just like, okay, maybe the left is out of control one decade and the right it's out of control on the other and people can't meet in the middle and discuss things and configure a way forward. So yeah, it's just the same old stuff man that's going on, and it's really frustrating. So, it's pretty bad right now, I gotta admit.
The new Ministry record Hopium for the Masses is coming out on March 1. Civic observation set to incendiary music is a pretty good characterization of Ministry. What led to you developing a social conscience?
You know that's a good question. I don't think there was like one sudden snap or anything that that made me go you know, damn, but there was just a buildup. I remember, like I said, I grew up in the '60s and I was literally a year away from being eligible for the Vietnam War, that draft. So that started getting my political knives sharpened, if you know what I mean. I mean, I'm already like a 15-year-old kid, like trying to plan an escape route to Canada in the early '70s. So I think that was probably the start of realizing that I may get drafted into a war across the world that I want nothing to do with.
I'm sure a lot of Russian kids are going through that right now. It kind of snaps you to attention when you're facing the premise of going to war and you don't even know for what or why and you're 15 years old with a whole life ahead of you. So, you start thinking about political stuff, you know? I think that was the catalyst but I don't think there was any one moment or anything like that, it's just a buildup.
The new single from Hopium for the Masses is called "Goddamn White Trash" and on tour earlier this year, the song was part of the setlist. Al, who do you hope this song offends most?
Well, I don't know if it's meant to offend. But it's meant to teach about the perils of being manipulated into being in a cult which is what a lot of these young, right extremists are. They're uneducated. They're bamboozled. They're grifted upon, they're angry, they don't have jobs, they don't see a future and then people step in and manipulate them into joining basically what's a cult and I'm talking about the MAGA brand.
Yes, I am and I'll say it and I don't care how much whiplash I get, pardon the pun. But yeah, so, it's basically meant as a cautionary tale. It's not really like hoping to incite them or anything, I just hope that they take pause for a minute and realize that they're being manipulated into into things that really aren't good for their own personal futures as has been exhibited with all the January 6 rioters that are going to jail while the people that incited them seem to stay out of jail. So, just a cautionary tale.
The new record Hopium for the Masses comes out on March 1 and there are some really cool guests on this record, including Eugene from Gogol Bordello, Jello Biafra and Pepper Keenan. You're no stranger to collaboration, having worked with numerous people as a musician and producer. Al, what is most invigorating when the creative process involves other people?
Oh, it's my favorite. It's better than being locked alone in your room with an engineer for like months at a time just the two of you because you start getting a little bit of cabin fever and start going kind of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, you know. You need some outside opinions and influence so I love collaborations and I think once new ideas are bounced around you roll with it and then that leads to 10 other ideas and leads to this and that. You kind of get in a rut without collaboration. I've had the same lineup, the same band for a while. I’m going on 10 years on this current lineup and we work really well together. There's really good collaboration within the band as well, so it's a good time to be in Ministry.
Al you have expressed interest in re-recording With Sympathy, the first Ministry album. What needs to be done to make that album finally meet your standards?
I think it needs a heavy dose of testicles, okay? Just big hanging and wrinkly testicles. Just slap them on there. Give it a dose of testosterone and maybe sharpen up the lyrics a bit. I'm not going to record the whole album but we are doing a song, an updated Ministry 2.0 version of the song "Revenge" from that album on this tour. It’ll be the first time we've played that in 40 years live and we're actually looking forward to it. It's kind of like exorcising demons from my past and taking care of business at the same time.
Ministry Perform "Revenge" Live
Our thanks to Ministry's Al Jourgensen for the interview. As stated, the new 'Hopium for the Masses' album is due March 1. Pre-orders are being taken here. And look for them on tour in 2024 at these stops. You can keep up with the group through their website, Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify accounts. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
30 Most Underrated Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists
Gallery Credit: Loudwire Staff