Mick Stingley of Rocksalt.mx recently conducted an interview with Al Jourgensen of MINISTRY and REVOLTING COCKS about Al's BUCK SATAN AND THE 666 SHOOTERS project and Jourgensen's recent health scare. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Rocksalt.mx: It's great to hear from you. After MINISTRY I had no idea what you were up to.
Al Jourgensen: Well, neither did we. That's the beauty of it. I tried to get a bunch of country people, you know, big names like Dwight Yoakam and stuff like that on there. And I was even scheduled to have dinner with Buck Owens before he died. Literally, he was in the hospital with pneumonia the next day. We had a dinner in Bakersfield, we were going to fly in from Vegas where MINISTRY had just played the night before — we had a day off — so were going to go Bakersfield and eat dinner with him and then he went to the hospital with pneumonia and the next thing I know he's dead three weeks later. At any rate, I was trying to get a bunch of country people on it. So I wind up, at the end of the day, with me on pedal steel — and harmonica and stuff, banjo; Mike Scaccia from MINISTRY and RIGOR MORTIS – speed metal maniac, right? – on guitar; Rick Nielsen from CHEAP TRICK, on the other guitar and leads — feature pop star; on bass, Tony from STATIC-X — Mr. Industrial, whatever, second-generation MINISTRY kinda stuff; and then all the drums are programmed! So what started out as a country record became this weird mish-mosh, which is what makes it sound so cool! Because, I seriously think out of that entire roomful of people — Oh! And then the two fiddle players, the girls from Houston, completely classically trained. I asked them, because they'd did a classical version of "Just One Fix" that they do live a lot when they play around Houston and stuff, in Texas. And they said to me, "Wow, this is great!" I said to them, "I'm looking for fiddle players, do you play country?" And they're like, "No. Never tried it." (laughs) So even my fiddle players had never even done it before. And, uh, I don't know; somehow we made it work! That's the beauty of it. That's why it doesn't sound like, you know, anything else. We were trying to make a country record and it just sounds like a pretty goddamn good record, I think.
On his health scare:
Al Jourgensen: I've been puking up blood and stuff for the last six years and didn't know why — I just thought that was all part of being on a rock tour! (laughs) Seriously, I'd tell my wife, Angie, and she'd say, "You've gotta see a doctor!" And I'd say, "I'm fine! I've been doing this for years!" And I had no idea; I just thought that's the way it was supposed to be. So last year, last March, about maybe a year ago last week — I bled out. I lost sixty-five per cent of my blood and it turns out I had thirteen ulcers. Perfect number, thirteen — 13th Planet Records (Al's record label. – Ed.) — thirteen ulcers! And one of them exploded in my lower intestine. So all the blood would collect there and then come out — I was bleeding out of my nose, my mouth and peeing blood. And then blood was pouring out of my ass. And if I would try to stand up, I would faint and pass out; my blood pressure was — well, by the time I got to the hospital, my blood pressure was thirty over twenty.
Al Jourgensen: Yeah. The last thing I remember I woke up out of a seizure; I was going into seizures and I woke up and I saw them getting that goddamn defibrillator ready. And I looked over at Angie and I go, "I don't think I'm gonna make it this time, am I?"
Al Jourgensen: I've died a couple of times, you know, back in the day, when I OD'd, and had defibrillators and stuff like that. But this would have been my third time. So I'm figuring third time's the charm because I was pretty surprised when I woke up. I was in this room with a bunch of tubes in my arm and I got the full Keith Richards treatment, man — they gave me one hundred per cent new blood! A complete blood transfusion; so I was in the hospital for a while. When I got out of there, I figured that was a pretty close call, and I just made a promise to, like… fans and friend and foe alike that before I die I'm gonna do this goddamn country record that I've been talking about for thirty years! (laughs)
Rocksalt.mx: (laughs) Oh my God…
Al Jourgensen: Well, people were starting to think I was full of shit, you know? I did a couple of shows and this and that, but I just figured that this close brush was a sign and I'd better do this now. Or forever hold my piece. So I started going about getting that together. And meanwhile… I started drinking again. Like an idiot.
Rocksalt.mx: Was that related to the cause of your ulcers and seizures?
Al Jourgensen: Oh yeah. When I got out of the hospital, I didn't drink — I couldn't or I would just get physically sick or throw up. There was still plenty of blood in my stomach and all this other stuff. So I had to wait a while; but then I started out, just a beer here, a beer there. Then a bottle of wine. Then two. Then three. Then when we started this record up, me and Mikey (Scaccia) really started knuckling down — on the BUCK SATAN record. Then it went up to four and five bottles. And when we got done with this record, I was puking up blood again. Just the same shit was happening and I'd split open the ulcer again. And we got done on literally the stroke of midnight this past January and I was in rehab on the second of January. Kicking liquor and getting my ulcer treated, and I've been sober ever since.
Al Jourgensen: And now I'm working out and healthy and no more blood and everything's great. But I just find it so typical of my fucking career that once again I do something bass-ackwards! I did the record that I liked the most, of all I've ever done — last! Instead of first, okay? I drink myself to death and write the perfect drinking song — which is so great for jukeboxes in shit-kicker bars — and then I stop drinking! (laughs) And — I mean — I started out doing pop songs — like MILLI VANILLI — on Arista Records! And then I wind up owning my own record label, (13th Planet), doing whatever the fuck I want to do – some kind of metal hybrid… and just a grouchy old guy, political and all this kinda shit… and it's just like everything's backwards!
Read the entire interview from Rocksalt.mx.
Al talking about BUCK SATAN AND THE 666 SHOOTERS (audio):
Al discussing his health scare (audio):
BUCK SATAN AND THE 666 SHOOTERS "Medication Nation" audio stream:
BUCK SATAN AND THE 666 SHOOTERS "What's Wrong With Me" audio stream: