It was just about a week prior to my shotgun scheduled interview with legendary Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen when I received a copy of his new book “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen” in the mail.
I spoke with Jourgensen’s publicist earlier in the week, and she thought it was probably a good idea for me to get familiarized with the stories in this crazy bastard’s autobiography in an attempt to keep from coming across like the average cut-rate, jackoff music journalist that he has grown accustom to speaking with over the past three decades.
Hell, I couldn’t agree more – the truth is, I’ve never considered myself to be much of a journalist, anyway.
Where I come from, a journalist is some pretentious, Ivy League asshole with a $50 haircut. Whereas I am, and likely always will be, a three-legged, working-class mule just like the majority of red, white and blue collar America. Now, even though I grew up the wild child portrait for the pissed off American teenager, eating, drinking and screwing all of the heavy metal stereotypes, I still wasn’t very enthusiastic about the idea of haphazardly slipping into, what I considered, the pathetic role of a godforsaken rock n’ roll reporter.
Not only was I not interested in kissing ass with anything that resembled a rock star, but I also didn’t have any desire to resurrect the ghost of Lester Bangs’ boner and use it to disembowel the working famous while their backs were turned – it’s just not my style.
Yet, as I sat outside my home flipping through the pages of Al’s journal of junkie debauchery with one hand and wrestling with a couple of cold beers with the other, I found myself not only anticipating the opportunity to speak with this interesting fellow, but I also found myself overcome with a sense of raucous panic. Within the first few pages of his book, it becomes painfully apparent that Al Jourgensen hates doing interviews just as much as he appears to want to kill, fuck and devour everything that has to do with the music industry — and that includes us nosy shitstarters commonly referred to as music journalists.
I realized that I was no longer preparing to interview a true legend of the industrial music movement; I was about to become a pale, Irish lawn ornament for Texas’ answer to Vlad the Impaler — doomed by association and dangled on a sharp stick for the dogs to gnaw on.
Rather than have my ass handed to me by this supposed beast that claims to have experienced alien encounters, discovered a cure for herpes and played with a paraplegic groupies’ colostomy bag during sex, I decided to blindside old Uncle Al with a series of random questions that have absolutely nothing to do with Ministry, his new record “From Beer to Eternity,” or any other facet of Al Jourgensen’s professional career. Then just to hedge my bet, a couple hours prior to show time, I started drinking a shit load of Shiner Bock, which is a Texas beer Al talks about several times in “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen,” just to get on an even playing field with the Boogie Man of El Paso.
And it’s a good thing that I did, because by the time the two of us started talking, it was apparent that Mr. Jourgensen had obvious come up with a similar plan.
Al Jourgensen: I hear you’re drinking Shiner Bock.
The Smoking Jacket: I am doing that… and that’s on your recommendation too sir, and I’ve got to tell you – I like it.
AJ: Yeah, well, welcome to Texas. I’m drinking English beer today, man.
TSJ: What are you drinking?
AJ: Newcastle Brown.
TSJ: You know, I’ve had a couple goes at Newcastle – it’s not too bad.
AJ: No, it’s not bad at all… and it goes great with the vodka tonic that I’m having as well.
TSJ: [Laughs] So, do you want to just get started then?
AJ: Ahhh, sure.
TSJ: Or do you want to just sit here and shoot the shit and drink beer?
AJ: You know, we could do that. I’ve got a sparker too… I don’t know if you can do that virally, but…
TSJ: I think it’s an awesome idea. I’d almost prefer to sit here and drink beer with you.
AJ: Okay, well, shut off the tape recorder and let’s do that and we’ll do the interview another day.
TSJ: [Laughs] I think my boss is going to kick my ass if I do that shit.
AJ: [Laughs] You know what? I’ll kick your boss’s ass. How’s that?
TSJ: That is a quote I’m going to use forever. All right man, so this is going to be a real low key. It’s not going to be like traditional interviews. It’s more about…
AJ: What’s traditional energy?
TSJ: Or interviews… you know where everyone is asking you about…
TSJ: Where they’re asking you every fucking question you’ve ever heard in your life. I’m going to try not to do that… I’m going to try.
AJ: Why? Those are easy to answer. You’re going to make me think? Fuck, I’m breaking out the vodka, then – fuck you!
TSJ: [Laughs] Here’s the first question – are you ready for it?
AJ: Are you taping?
TSJ: Yeah, I’m taping.
AJ: Well then, let me get a goddamned cigarette. I can swear on this, right?
TSJ: Do whatever you want, man. I don’t care.
AJ: You know, Angie [Al’s wife and manager] tries to put a collar around me on some of these live things, or whatever. I don’t know if this is live or not. I don’t know what the hell is going on. She just hands me a piece of paper and says, “Talk to somebody.”
TSJ: No man, this is just recording so I can write it out.
AJ: Well, she tells me, “Try not to swear too much,” and I actually do try but I don’t do a very good fucking job.
TSJ: [Laughs] Me neither. My wife tries to tell me, “Hey, you’ve got to be professional when you talk to people,” and I’m like “I’m really trying but I can’t help it — I say fuck a lot.”
AJ: Hey man, I think that is professional. What profession are we in? Okay, I would say that if I was going into a JP Morgan/Chase meeting, “Try not to swear too much,” but this is a rockin’ review, okay? So, when I hear that, I just find the whole thing paradoxical and just like freak out about it. But anyways, go ahead… shoot your best shot.
TSJ: In your book, you mention a great steak house down the road from the 13th Planet Compound, an Indian restaurant, pizza and Chinese food, but you never give any real indication where some of your favorite places to eat actually are. After travelling the world countless times and being introduced to many levels of culinary genius, where would you say is your all-time favorite restaurant and what on the menu would you recommend?
AJ: Alright. I would have to say that it’s in Amsterdam. And [calling out to his wife] Angie, what was the name of that place? Tiger, something? [Angie answers Al in the background] Tiger’s Kitchen…in Amsterdam. And just order the…they have a specialty platter, and it’s literally twelve courses. Like you have to tell them to stop bringing food, go in and do the good Roman thing and vomit and come back for more, as a glutton. Okay? So after about six courses, you’re already full and they still have the main six to come…and it’s all Indonesian, Dutch food – best restaurant I’ve ever been to.
Second best was Leo’s, which is no longer around in Houston, which was Mexican food, which was… you know the cover of “Tres Hombres” – ZZ Top? That’s the food from Leo’s. And guess what? That’s just their appetizers. So, all right, we’re talking two really good restaurants, and then of course, I’m from Chicago, so there’s pizza here, pizza there – deep dish, thin crust, whatever. You know, of course, you love pizza and you got your favorites, but I don’t know…
After clearing up a few technical issues with Skype, Al asks me to “clink beers” via our respective webcams before we continue with the interview. So we did and it was badass – bottoms up!
TSJ: You ready for the second question?
AJ: I didn’t even know we had a first.
TSJ: [Laughs] If some bizarre occurrence took place where the government declared some type of sonic Marshall Law and began seizing every American citizen’s record collection, which three albums would you go to great lengths to keep in your possession, even if being caught concealing these gems would result in your immediate execution?
AJ: Okay, that’s easy. Wire, a band from England – “Pink Flag”, Killing Joke’s first album and then there is a solo project from the singer of Wire, named Collin Newman, that had a record called “A to Z,” or “A to Zed,” as they say over there. And well, all right…all right…there’s a tie. And [I’d] also have to put a Buck Owens record in there, at some point. So there is kinda four – there’s a tie – like say Buck Owens’ “Greatest Hits” or something like that as a tie for third with the singer of Wire’s solo album, but the first Wire and the first Killing Joke are, yeah – those are my two favorites.
TSJ: In the forward of your book, Jon Wiederhorn talks about walking into your home, back in the day, and seeing an original piece of artwork by serial killer John Wayne Gacy. What would you say is your most cherished piece of art and how was it acquired?
AJ: Well, here’s the funny thing – this is where Wiederhorn’s wrong, and he’s usually not. He’s pretty good at due diligence. But he just looked at…he never asked me about it. But that’s not an original Gacy piece. It’s a piece that my six-year-old daughter drew with her nanny on the wall of my loft of a clown. She didn’t know he was a mass murderer and my nanny, that was looking after Adrienne was…she was the first one that came out with the mass murderer trading cards, you know – like playing cards. And Gacy was one of them and they drew that because my daughter thought, “Oh, what a nice looking clown.” And so they drew it on the wall of my loft in Chicago and when I moved out of that loft and moved on to Texas, I actually cut out that artwork from the wall and re-plastered it and put it back so I wouldn’t get charged for it… painted it white and all that…and took it with me. So it’s this big ass thick piece of plywood that’s like this six-by-six [foot] Gacy painting that my six-year-old did with her nanny and it’s awesome… it’s my favorite piece of artwork.
Well, that and I got this eight-foot-by-six-foot Rasputin painting that I bought for a half ounce of coke. The guy was hard up, and this artist, and he showed up on my doorway. It’s Sunday morning — I had to go to the ATM and pull out everything I could – whatever they’d let me out of the machine – and buy this eight-foot-by-six-foot Rasputin that he did, that was awesome, but he was just all coked up and you know, whatever. Those are my two favorite pieces.
TSJ: What does Al Jourgensen read in the bathroom?
TSJ: [Laughs] Do you really?
AJ: Yeah. Fuck, yeah! What else would you read in the bathroom?
TSJ: I have no idea. You see, I can’t do it without jerking off.
AJ: Yeah. That comes with the territory.
TSJ: Are you a bathroom jacker?
AJ: Well, you know, there’s people around here all the time. I’ve got a recording studio in my backyard, and there’s always people around here. And if I just decided to do it out in the open and just like, “Hey man, I want to read some porn and jack off in the middle of the day” – I’d have a lot of pissed of clients. I don’t know, maybe they’d like it – I don’t know. But my wife really hates it when I do that in public, or in front of anyone, so I go in the bathroom to do that.
TSJ: I understand, man – I’m in the same boat. My wife hates it when I drink anything but light beer and jerk off – those are the two things. Other than that, I’m good.
AJ: You know, why do women hate when men jerk off? I don’t understand that.
TSJ: I don’t get it either, man.
AJ: God, I love it when women jerk off – I think it’s great!
TSJ: As a man with Cuban heritage, Chicago roots and some redneck influence, tell me, what are some of Uncle Al’s favorite foods to cook up in the Jourgensen kitchen?
AJ: I cook my ass off! Actually, because I’ve been in Texas for 15 years – I’m a really good Mexican cook. My recently deceased guitar player, Mike Scaccia, was an amazing Italian cook. And between me and him, in this entire compound, we took care of the cooking duties. I mean, it was either Mexican or Italian. And we were thinking about like, you know, if these records don’t sell – with all these tattoos and piercings and shit, I can’t get a job at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. So, we might as well start a food truck, and that’s what me and Mikey were actually planning on – starting a food truck of Italian Mexican stuff, because we’re both really good. But you know, well, he’s dead – I’m not – let’s keep going with the interview.
TSJ: I had a feeling you were a good cook.
AJ: Hey man, creativity in music is no different than creativity in food – okay – or creativity in sex….or creativity in sports, or creativity in anything. If you’re a creative person, you’re going to do creative things…period – in whatever medium that you’re in. You know, I could read some cookbook and get some recipes but I’m not satisfied with that. I want to throw in extra spices and things like this and try out…and same thing in the studio. It really is similar. I should have my own fucking cooking show really, is basically what I should do.
TSJ: Hugh Hefner says he has slept over a thousand women; Lemmy from Motorhead claims around 1,200, while guys like Mick Jagger and Gene Simmons have revealed having sex with somewhere between 4,000-5,000. What is Al Jourgensen’s number?
AJ: About 1,000 – I can’t top those guys, but I also don’t seek it out like those guys. I mean, those guys – they’re obsessed. I’ve got a guitar player in my band – Sin Quirin, right? [He’s] Just the most amazing guy – he doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, just a sweetheart of a guy, but he loves sex, man. Just on our tours alone, probably at least 2,000 women – just on Ministry tours, let alone the other stuff he does. I mean this guy is like – he’s top notch. And when I say top notch, I mean (extends his hands to show me how long Sin Quirin’s pecker is) top notch (laughs). I’ve pee’d in a urinal next to him and I’m like, “Dude, you’re in the wrong profession. I don’t care how good you are on guitar, you are the new fucking ‘Boogie Nights’ dude, man – ‘Boogie Nights 2’. Let’s get going on that, all right. You know, quit waiting around for Ministry to fucking make it – let’s get into the porn business.” He’s good. I’m just your basic thousander kind of guy.
TSJ: That’s nothing to sneeze at, Al – 1000 chicks – that’s a lot.
AJ: Hey man, I’ve been on the road for 33 years – what does that come out to?
TSJ: I’m no good at math.
AJ: Nah, I’m not good at math either, but I know it ain’t like Gene Simmons and shit.
TSJ: What was the last surprisingly good movie that you watched, but really hate admitting that you liked it?
AJ: That’s a good question. I’d probably have to say that stupid ‘Battle: LA’, or whatever. I went to [see] that with my daughter, and the whole time I was thinking this is the dumbest most made up Hollywood movie ever – it’s like listening to a Limp Bizcut record, or something – But, but I wish it would happen. That’s all I kept thinking was like, God if this was true, this would be so fucking cool.
TSJ: Charles Bukowski enjoyed playing the ponies; Hunter S. Thompson liked to shoot guns and blow shit up, while Keith Richards sometimes enjoys sailing when he’s not being a Rolling Stone. What does Al do when he’s not busy being Al Jourgensen?
AJ: I just shoot my fucking crossbow. I’m pretty good. I mean I’m not Olympic good, but I can hit a target from pretty far away. That’s why I don’t have guns. I’m pretty good with the crossbow, and it’s a good crossbow. I’ve got targets built around my studio and my backyard and I just sit out there…and it doesn’t bother the neighbors cause it doesn’t make any noise. They don’t get freaked out and think there’s some Satanic rocker with, you know, semi-automatics in the compound. I just shoot my crossbow. You know, I don’t wear a loincloth like Ted Nugent and hunt deer or anything. I just shoot a target, you know? It’s fun.
TSJ: I like to shoot, too. But I live in the city and I can’t shoot shit.
AJ: Oh’ yeah you can, but you must pay the consequences.
TSJ: If the fiends in Hollywood were to ever muster enough guts and money to approach you about doing a film adaptation to your book, what actor do you feel could best play the role of Al Jourgensen?
AJ: They’re already talking about it, and well, there’s only one. It has to be like, look, karma. It’s all about karma…turnabout is fair play. I used to be in Johnny Depp’s band 30 years ago – okay – The Viper Room.
I was in his band P. I looked the same way I do now. Now, I can’t go out of my fucking house without being called Captain Jack, or something like that. And what was the worst is that I had eye surgery last year and had to wear a patch. And then it was ridiculous. I wouldn’t even go out to get a gallon of milk or anything – I just stayed in my house. Wherever I’d go it’s like “Captain Jack, Captain Jack!” And then that douchebag says he got his look from Keith Richards…
I looked like this when I was in his band 30 years ago and not only that, the last time I checked, Keith Richards doesn’t look like me. And I’m not asking for royalties or money, but I’m just asking him to tell the truth. The reason that he won’t admit that you know, it was based on like my character is because he’s mad at me over that whole… What’s his name? Phoenix River, River Phoenix kid, or whatever.
TSJ: Yeah, River Phoenix.
AJ: Yeah, we were onstage that night – that was in the book – and I was crazy and he got mad at me and he’s never talked to me ever since. And so, he blames his look on Keith Richards. Well, Keith Richards has never had dreads and stuff like that. It was ridiculous. It was so demeaning. I didn’t care about the surgery – I had cataract surgery, but it was about having to wear the patch for about a month, and that was ridiculous. I couldn’t go anywhere without everyone like you know… I mean it’s okay on Halloween, but everyday having to go out with a patch with dreads and stuff and having all these little kids – six-year-olds – come up and point at you and go “Captain Jack, Captain Jack.” And what am I gonna do? Get into an argument with a six-year-old kid and tell them, “No, no, no, no, no – you don’t understand.”
TSJ: [Laughs] It’s Captain Al, motherfucker!
TSJ: In your book, there is mention of you screwing Courtney Love, a paraplegic and a rotisserie chicken — three separate incidents, of course. If your cock could speak to you, what do you think that bastard would say?
AJ: Thank you.
TSJ: [Laughs] Next question!
AJ: [Laughs] My cock is happy for anything. It’s so used to my right hand that anything different, whether it’s a rotisserie chicken or Courtney Love – it’s happy to be somewhere else.
TSJ: I don’t know what mine would say.
AJ: Wait, wait, wait… first of all, you’re talking about it like it’s completely independent of you. Like if Courtney Love showed up with her legs spread, your cock would revolt? It would just go “Absolutely not, no way!?”
TSJ: No! I’ve got to tell you Al, if you showed up here, my cock wouldn’t revolt.
AJ: All right… point yours. I got it. But rotisserie chickens and Courtney love – same thing to me.
TSJ: Except you would eat the chicken.
AJ: Ahhh, yeah. You know what? That’s why I knew I liked you from the start. You’re a very smart, astute young man.
TSJ: No, I’m an idiot, man. I just got lucky.
AJ: [Laughs] You got lucky on that one.
TSJ: In you book, you mentioned almost getting into fight with Henry Rollins and Rob Zombie.
AJ: Well, not almost – I mean no, they’re douchebags. Well, Henry is. Rob’s just – it was a weird thing because his ex-girlfriend [White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult] was going out with me and that was kind of weird… and I can understand that, kinda like state of testosterone, but Henry Rollins is just a misogynistic douchebag whose dad, which was an admiral in the Navy, made him do too many push-ups when he was a kid and so he fucking hates women for whatever reason push-ups make you hate women. You know, [he’s] just a douche bag. I mean there’s only two douche bags I’ve met in my entire thirty-something, whatever, year career and that would be Henry Rollins and that asshole in Slayer – what’s his name?
TSJ: Kerry King.
AJ: Yeah. The guy on the Jager commercials. Those are the only two douchebags I’ve ever met. The rest of the people — okay, everyone’s got their quirks – I’ve got no problem with them. I’ve got my quirks [and] they’ve got no problem with me – live and let live. Those guys are douchebags, all right. So, let’s leave it at that.
TSJ: What one guy, in all the bands that you’ve met and played shows with, would you never fuck with because he’s actually a certified badass?
AJ: There’s not a single person I wouldn’t fuck with – are you kidding me? I mean that was a wasted question on your part. So I’ll give you extra time on the interview because that was wasted. There is nobody I wouldn’t fuck with – I’m Al fucking Jourgensen! Who you gonna send at me, some UFC fucking guy? What’s he gonna do – kick my ass? Whoa! I haven’t got my ass kicked before. Whew-whew – I’m totally scared… really?
TSJ: All right, I fucked up – I asked a stupid question.
AJ: All right, all right – I’ll give you an extra one.
This is where I told Al that I didn’t have another question and that I just wanted to drink beer and shoot the shit with him. He was kind enough to oblige. We talked for another half hour about all sorts of things – things I’ll keep locked up in my personal archives until the day comes when Al gives me the thumbs up to turn them loose out into the world.
Ministry’s new album “From Beer to Eternity,” featuring the single PermaWar is in stores now.
Al Jourgensen’s book, “Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen” is available now on Da Capo Press.