Ministry's Al Jourgensen wasn't the first person to utter the phrase, "The more things change, the more things stay the same." But when you look at the whole aural enchilada that makes up the electro-metal avatar's career, the boomerang effect is simply brutal. Ministry's first platinum record, 1992's Psalm 69, sported "N.W.O.," a steel-fisted track peppered with samples of then-President George W. Bush's pronouncements of world domination. Ten years later, Jr. Bush is playing with his train set in the Oval Office, and the world is in turmoil. So, although the title of Ministry's second disc for Sanctuary, Houses Of The Molé, invokes metal masters Led Zeppelin and traditional Mexican cooking, the content, however, is more deserving of the title All Fluxed Up.
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"There's a Republican in the White House," says Jourgensen, "and I only write good records when that's happening. The rest of them suck. I can't wait for Jeb Bush to run so I can write my next platinum record!"
Clearly, Jourgensen is both a wiseguy and wise beyond his years as the fulcrum of America's premiere industrial-rock unit. Throughout his 20-plus year career, he's been challenging the expectations of his fans, his detractors and most of all, himself. Since starting out as a sonic one-man crime wave in Chicago's post-punk alt-rock scene in 1980, Jourgensen has left indelible marks on genres from dance music to death metal. From the throbbing noise of Twitch (1985), the original industrial-rock blueprint The Land Of Rape And Honey (1988), the proto-metal Psalm 69 and last year's plasma-burning Animositisomina, Jourgensen has always hitched a ride on his aural avalanche, without ever really knowing where it was going to end up taking him.
Following the success of Animositisomina and its subsequent tour, Jourgensen's longtime partner, bassist/programmer Paul Barker, gave his notice and left the band. "Barker's leaving got my ass into gear, and I decided, 'I'm going to do a balls, punk-rock record;".
So, the rock-n-roll wolverine returned to El Paso's Sonic Ranch, where Animositisomina was recorded, and home to Jourgensen's favorite mol . Now reconnected with guitarist Mike Scaccia, Jourgensen enlisted bassist John Monte (Mind Funk) and drummer Mark Baker (Fear) to help throw down Ministry's Houses Of The Molé, fueled by a political annoyance at hand that significantly colored the proceedings. The same annoyance responsible for such buzzwords as "Patriot Act," "weapons of mass destruction" and, um, "strategery."
"Down here in Texas, it's 'Bush-Bush-Bush' all the time," says Jourgensen. "It's pretty gross. It does piss us off. But it's cyclical. Here we go again: we've got another Bush in the White House. I don't care who you are, everyone's life has been changed by this guy." And Al's not paying lip service: He's aligned himself with the voter registration movement Punkvoter.com, and made many newswire services when he publicly called out Urban Outfitters chief Richard Haines for selling t-shirts reading VOTING IS FOR OLD PEOPLE. Says Jourgensen, "I think I've added a few more pages in my FBI file!"
When you take a tour of the neighborhood where Houses Of The Molé are located, you can tell Jourgensen didn't kick back for some light gardening. Ministry built this city on hate and bile -- and numerous nights surfing the White House website for soundbites. "No 'W'" is the first mortar fired in Ministry's sonic arsenal, with our President and Orff's Carmina Burana getting recontextualized for maximum evacuation. "Warp City" is a nitrous-burning rave-up that modifies the hot rod that Jesus built (if you catch the drift) with a sequel to Suicide's classic death vibe, "Frankie Teardrop." Ministry has added another wrist-snapping sequel to their "TV Song" series ("WTV") that's both chilling and hilarious. And "Wrong" may be the most scathing indictment of the current administration (check out the ominous Dubya soundbite in the bridge). There's a "W" in every title, and a whole lotta history in every spoon of venom.
"There are a lot of in-jokes on this release," says Jourgensen about the Houses that Bush helped build on Ministry's tungsten foundation: "It's high in fiber - half the carbs and twice the protein."
The June 22 release date isn't all that's going on in Ministry's immediate future. Ministry have enlisted guitarist Bryan Kehoe (Les Claypool's Frog Brigade) for their summer tour in support of the new disc. In addition, Ministry's notorious adjunct band, the Revolting Cocks, will be finishing a new album, Purple Head, intended for release on an internet-based label run by Jourgensen, in the style of the legendary Wax Trax! imprint he helped launch. These days, Jourgensen is feeling confident about his art, his role in today's music scene and the hopes of a new regime change in America. Wait, scratch that last line; Al is always ready for a fight.
"Four more years of Republicans?," he asks. "We'll have a couple of platinum records, then. There just won't be an economy to sell them in."
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