Vassil Varbanov of Bulgaria's Tangra Mega Rock recently conducted an interview with MINISTRY mainman Al Jourgensen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Tangra Mega Rock: Let's now talk about your upcoming album, "The Last Sucker", which is promoted as the last-ever album by MINISTRY. Obviously, it's a very American record... so why should we Europeans pay attention to it?
Jourgensen: Because it's a world economy, a world society, one hand affects the other, and our policy is obviously affecting the rest of the world... as do other countries' policies. It's all connected now — exactly what they said in the '90s would be a new world order.
Tangra Mega Rock: So how should we think about The Last Sucker" — as the funeral album or the swan song?
Jourgensen: Neither. View it as a really kick-ass MINISTRY record, because that's what it is, that's what we set out to do. We didn't set out to do this a big dramatic send-off rock opera and a seven-year tour and then a reunion... It's just a kick-ass MINISTRY record. We work good at what we do, we know our MINISTRY sound and we just do it, and the reason is that I said two years ago it's gonna happen, so I've been preparing for this for a while. I mean we didn't take it any differently. We just said, "Let's make a kick-ass album to leave with." Tommy Victor has PRONG going on, Paul Raven has MOB RESEARCH and KILLING JOKE, I have a record label, 13th Planet Records, and I'm producing like 3-4 other bands, I have one more REVOLTING COCKS record to do... We're so busy that we just figured to leave when we're on top as opposed to the bands that hang out too long. I really feel that this album hits the MINISTRY sound right on the mark, and I think anything after this would be downhill.
Tangra Mega Rock: You've been around for quite a while now. Was MINISTRY cloned over the years? Do you know of any bands that copy your sound?
Jourgensen: I don't know if you believe this or not, but I really don't listen to this kind of music in my house, so I wouldn't know. It's actually really funny when I meet some kids in the recording studio in the room next door and they apparently sound like a billion records worldwide. I don't even know who they are, and they're telling me I'm a big influence and all that and I'm very flattered, but to be honest, I wouldn't fuckin' know them from a hole in the ground.
Tangra Mega Rock: "The Last Sucker" has two sides — one is the music side, the other is the political one. Do you only point a finger at your government this way, or you also wanna prove that you guys in America still have the freedom of speech?
Jourgensen: That's what they tell us, but I'm not so sure it's so free anymore. That's the whole irony — our whole political agenda is to promote freedom and democracy across the world, yet the more the more they promote it, the more they take it away. People are afraid to voice their opinion, people are being spied upon, people are being wiretapped... It's not good.
Tangra Mega Rock: Last year we had this talk with guitar player Al Di Meola. He said that every artist in America stands against the presidency of George W. Bush. However, he's been elected, which means there are enough people to vote for him. Does it mean that...
Jourgensen: Right, but you have to understand how prevalent media manipulation is. I have a theory about this. I was in complete shock for two weeks after the 2000 election, and I was in shock for about six weeks after the 2004 election. I couldn't fuckin' believe there were that many stupid... no, not stupid, but gullible people! Then I realized that everything's so fucked since he's taken office that people have to work two, three, four jobs, and by the time they come home they don't wanna fuckin' think about politics or anything — they just try to make ends in this economy, in this American society, in this new millennium. They just sit there mindlessly like a sponge in front of the TV and are completely manipulated by the media, which are all owned by really fucked up greedy multinationalists. People are completely manipulated and too tired to fight back.
Tangra Mega Rock: Can we say that today America is divided in a way?
Jourgensen: I'd say right now America is in classic "fall of the Roman Empire" stage. And can we say it's divided? Absolutely! There's like 25-30% of the people who, no matter what you tell them, consider it a sin or treason to speak out against your government if you're not happy. That will never change. Everyone sees how corrupt this government and this system have become. It says it's a democracy on paper, but it's been completely commandeered by money and greed. I can see people disillusioned with it, but there's also been a period of time when people rise up and take that power back. That's what we're ringing the bell for. People like Jello Biafra and Noam Chomsky have been doing this for years, as it is possible to take the power back. Of course, it takes effort, information and awareness, and that's what's not going into it right now, and I can see why - because people are too exhausted.
Tangra Mega Rock: We know your wife works for your label, too, so you can spend more time together. Do you see this as a chance for a better family life?
Jourgensen: Absolutely. When we go on tour she comes with me anywhere, so when we do a MINISTRY tour, it's very difficult to do label work or to deal with other bands... I mean, this is so much of a better situation for me. Today, for example, I have STATIC-X flying in to sing on one of the songs on the cover record that I'm doing. If I was on tour with MINISTRY now, I would have missed this opportunity, and it's not easy to get all these people's different schedules in line with yours, so if I'm pretty much in one spot — in the studio or the label upstairs — it becomes much easier for those people to find me.
The entire interview is available in text and audio format at Tangra Mega Rock.