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Ministry's Al Jourgensen: "I can suck my own cock!"

Interview: Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen on getting old, fat and lazy... and on the benefits of being double-jointed

In the summer of 2008, as he approached his 50th birthday, Al Jourgensen announced the end of his band Ministry. “Rock’n’roll is for the young idiots, not an old fart like me,” he declared, bringing the curtain down on a debauchery-filled career spanning three decades. Or so we thought. Since then Ministry have released two more albums, Relapse and From Beer To Eternity, and Jourgensen is very much back in the game. But, given his prolific workaholic nature – his lengthy CV takes in projects such as Lard, Revolting Cocks, 1000 Homo DJs and country rockers Buck Satan And The 666 Shooters – he was never really likely to go quietly into the night.


You credit the film Scarface for giving you some of your biggest life lessons

It’s a film that’s very close to my heart. I’m Cuban-American, and when I was growing up my uncles were just like Tony Montana. They’re respectable businessmen now, but back in the day they were in gangs, they were dealing drugs and they were heavy guys. That’s what I grew up around, so of course I’m going to take some life lessons out of that film. I tried to pass those lessons on, too: from when my daughter was six years old, we would watch Scarface on Christmas Day every year without fail. She hates that film now.

You originally wanted to be a teacher. But what’s the most important lesson rock’n’roll has taught you?

Yeah, teaching was my goal, and then this rock thing got in the way. The most important lesson I’ve learned is not to drink wine without a cork. I had a horrible twistoff cap bottle once, so now the wine has to have a cork and it has to be from France. That’s all I have learned. I have the odd regret: this job sucks sometimes because I have to talk to knuckleheads like you guys every time I’m done with a record. Teaching brings in a lot less money, but it can be a lot more fulfilling: I’ve done guest lectures at universities here in the US, and that’s much more intense than doing a rock show in front of 200,000 people.

You spent the two decades attacking the Bush administrations. Do you consider yourself a protest singer?

Well, yeah, there’s definitely some social commentary in my lyrics, so I would say I’m a folk singer. That’s an astute observation. Music can’t change the world on its own, but I do think that music can help shift some paradigms and nudge our world in the right direction. I’m the Woody Guthrie of industrial metal.

What are the best and worst drugs you’ve ever taken?

The worst is speed. That’s just horrific, man. I don’t understand why people would want to have a heart attack every time they get high. The best drug ever was heroin, but I stopped doing that 10 years ago. Now I just smoke pot, drink wine and get fat, old and lazy and just introspect on life. I have a legal prescription because I have back, knee and foot problems. I don’t want to be a pillbilly, doing Oxycontin, and Xanax and all that, so I have one hook-up in New Mexico for legal pot and that cures all my ills. It’s a miracle drug, I swear to God. I was never a pot-head growing up, but now I’m just screaming about how medicinal this stuff really is. I’ve missed out for the last 40 years!

You’ve technically died three times. What does death feel like?

The first two times it was really cool. I was floating above my body, watching people work on me, watching the paramedics defibrillating me on my floor. So I know there’s an afterlife. But the last time was creepy. I have no recollection of it, no out-of-body experience, nothing. When the doctors fixed me up I thought, I’ll do another Ministry record. And I’ve been promising our fans for 30 years that I’d do a Buck Satan record before I die, and I’m not sure how much longer I’ve got.

Do you believe in God?

Yes. Well, with a caveat. I don’t believe in a grey-bearded guy ruling over our lives like the Christian God, but I believe in positive energy and negative energy and I pray every day to the spiritual energy that surrounds us.

What unique talent do you have?

I can suck my own cock. I can, honestly! I guess I’m double-jointed or whatever, and I can throw my legs over my head and… well, if my wife Angie has a migraine and doesn’t want to suck my cock I’ll suck my own cock. It’s pretty good, too.

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What’s going on your tombstone?

‘He was a good dude.’ There’s people who think I’m Satan, but people who know me know that I’m just a kitten. I’m so much more comfortable in my skin than I used to be. When Ministry got huge I freaked out and I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I immediately tried to escape through drugs. Success gets really weird and it can be hard to understand. But now I understand this life. I’m just a mellow old guy now.

What is the meaning of life?

It’s just to get through it. There’s other planets and other lives, so just get through it. This planet is really weird. I’ve watched it for 53 years and I’m not sure that I like it. Get me to another planet! There’s a big campaign here in America against bullying in high school, and one of the big themes they have is‘It Gets Better’. But I tell you what, it doesn’t get better. It really doesn’t. That’s a nice negative message to end on, right?

This interview originally appeared in Classic Rock 169.

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