Interview: The Whole Shithouse Goes Up In Flames: Saying Goodbye To Ministry

Would you say this is where you think things are going to go? A number of musicians are starting labels, would you say artists are going to be the ones taking over?

We have to. These knuckleheads don’t know what the fuck we’re doing. Literally, we have to. Here’s the skinny on artists—I hope I’m not dropping a bombshell on you—they’re basically vain, egotistical idiots. When I go on tour, I hang out with the road crew. (laughs) Much more intelligence there than most of the band people. They really think they’re all that. The idolatry of the situation of a live show starts playing with your head, and you start really thinking that. With that in hand, you don’t have to actually learn anything about business, mortgages, life, or the way that the real world actually functions because you live in a fantasy bubble. And they’re basically idiots.

At 13th Planet, the people we have on our label, we’re re-educating them. (laughs) It’s basically like a Khmer Rouge camp, we’re showing them how the real world actually works. All of our artists are really happy. We have a sign right above the studio that says, “No artist on 13th Planet shall have a day job.” And that’s our motto. In the ’90s, you would have gotten laughed out the fucking door with that motto, but nowadays, everyone actually thinks we’re pretty fucking cool. (laughs)

Well, it’s not like you’re touring with the bands that you were years ago, at least with RevCo, you were in it, and with this tour, I can’t imagine Meshuggah are huge egotists.

No, Meshuggah is really cool. We wanted to go out with a bang. The thing about those guys is they are so good, that every night it’ll push our own little inner ego to be better. Healthy competition. They’re insane. I saw on our website the other day somebody posting, ‘Leave it to Al to get the best band in the world to open for him.’

And they were pretty pleased. That’s cool, that shows confidence. Of course, we’re not totally confident. Those guys are great, that totally spurs us to be the best we could be every night, because they’re just kickass. I love those guys.

After this tour is up, you’re just going to be doing 13th Planet stuff, just producing?

That and some soundtracks and stuff. Pretty much. Literally, I’m booked in the studio solid for the next three years. After this tour, I have to go right back in the studio, and I’m doing three years of studio work with various bands. I’m very happy and I’m very fortunate, very blessed to be able to do that, you know, and I don’t have the circus that I so much loathe with the touring and the tv shows and the blah, blah, blah. Look, dude, it was fun when I was 23, but it’s kind of old now, and I really just like being at home with my kids and my dogs and my studio.

It’s kind of like a Captain Beefhart thing, I’m basically moving into this compound, moving out of Texas into New Mexico, right across the border. I’m moving there next year, we have a whole compound being built. I’ll be like Captain Beefhart, only he lived in a trailer park in New Mexico (laughs) and he didn’t do much production or anything. So it’s like half- Beefhart, half-Garbo. (laughs) Being in the public eye by proxy. In other words, I’ll let all my artists do the interviews and go on tour and all that. I’m just quality control consultant.

Do you still have any interest in doing the Buck Satan project?

Of course. I won’t tour with it, but I’ve always promised my fans—and I’ve always kept my promises—when I say Ministry’s done, it’s done. Do you know what’s going on with the Revolting Cocks?

Aren’t you basically resigning from it?

Yeah, I’m franchising it! (laughs). It’s awesome. It’s like Menudo meets the Blue Man Group. I’ve got these three knuckleheads—Josh, Clayton and Sin, that are taking over the Cocks, I produce their stuff, but they go on tour, they do all the stuff. Eventually I’d like to set them up in Vegas. (laughs) I’ve signed a five year contract with them, so in five years, they have to find three knuckleheads to turn it over to. But they have to find the right knuckleheads. Now, all the old Cocks are immortalized in these Mexican velvet paintings, so whenever they do a photo shoot, it’s like the founders of the bank kind of thing (laughs), behind them.

Or the dogs around the poker table?

(laughs) Yeah, something like that. That’s the whole legacy of the Cocks, you have the bank founders immortalized in velvet paintings behind your photo shoot, and you stand in front of those. And then they’ve got to find three other crazy people. These people that I’ve found are perfect Revolting Cocks material. They’re pirates. They’re insane. So I’m really happy to turn it over to them, and then they in turn, in five years, turn it over to three people that they pick, and the Cocks go on in perpetuity. So in other words, there will always be a Cock in your life.

Do you see yourself doing any other solo stuff, anything down the road maybe, after the Buck Satan thing goes through?

My crystal ball is a little cloudy today (laughs), I can’t see the exact future. I don’t count it out, and I don’t count it in. I know for the next three years, I’m already booked. After that, who knows? There may be an Al Jourgensen solo record, which would probably end up sounding like old Residents or something. (laughs) I don’t know. We’ll play it by ear. I’m quite happy putting this to bed now. I think it’s the perfect time at the perfect apex of our career. It’s all working.

Bands these days don’t retire, they break up and then get back together to tour when they need money.

You know, look at the state of the industry. I’m disgusted by it. I’m almost ashamed to be an artist anymore, so it’s something that we’re trying to break the mold on, and trust me, that ain’t going to happen with us.

Well, we loved you while you were around, let’s put it that way.

(laughs) Right? Way to go, James Dean!

Cover Up and The Last Sucker are out now. Ministry will be performing their last dates at the Fillmore at TLA in Philadelphia on April 29 and Irving Plaza in NYC—(“a great room”—Al) on May 1 and May 2. For more, visit or

Photo Credit: Ash Newell