Sunday, March 15, 2009

An old article- unedited, sort of

This was the original edited version of my interview with Al Jourgensen. You can read the published version here. I think you'll find the original a little better. It's a little more vulgar and keeps Al's round about train of thought intact. This version was the final, as approved by his exacting, totally overworked, and hopefully appreciated wife/manager/accountant, Angie.


In His Own Words:
Al Jourgensen
By Jenni Burton


Now that I got your attention…

I would like to introduce you to Al Jourgensen. For those of you who are Ministry fans, you know one Al: the crazy drug and alcohol fueled musician who made the 90’s a better time for us all. You know the Al who had the Depends endorsement (go to Uncle Pauly’s and buy him a drink and he MAY tell you that story). You know the Al with the liver of steel and the throat of bile. Okay, yeah, I know that Al, too, but anyway. To commemorate Ministry’s final US show, ever, in Chicago Sunday the 11th, I would like to introduce my readers to the Al that I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over the last six years. As some of you may know, my husband has worked with Al professionally several times over the last seven years, and in doing so, I met Al, the band, and his wife Angie. I was able to sit down with him for a couple of hours right before they loaded up for tour and he’s full of surprises. Read: Al on parenting, Al on animal husbandry, Al on gardening, Al on incest, Al on strip clubs, Al on Real Estate, Al on tour, Al on El Paso, and of course Al on music. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

“[Rehearsal’s] been crazy. People quitting, one guy, our guitar tech, I think he’s dead now…

[Tour Manager: No, you didn’t hear? He called me. He made it to Phoenix. He was in the Hospital. He’s doing better. He had a bleeding ulcer. He just wasn’t ready for this tour…]

“We keep a diary, ‘Dear diary, Day 28…’ no today’s 29. No, every day there’s some kind of weird crap going on.

“You know, I’ve got my daughter living with me now…She’s 22, now, she lives in El Paso, right around the corner from us, we’ve got those two houses there. She’s banging this singer in a local band. It’s grossing me out, the whole thing. I told him, ‘If you guys fuck and you don’t wear a rubber I’m going to beat your ass. I don’t want some two-headed baby with rabies comin’ out of you guys. Put it in her ass, put it in her mouth, or wear a rubber…’ I sat them both down. That was like the ‘father talk’. Christ. They were horrified. They had eyes, like, [gestures] that big.

“She loves it here, yeah. [She moved here] a couple of months ago- a month ago. She’s watching our house while we’re gone. Taking care of the rest of the animals. We’re taking our dogs with us, but the rest: the cats and the birds and whatever the hell else we’ve got. I wanted to take home that white dog that was out there [in the front yard of a the new studio at Sonic Ranch]… ‘Angie…can I have this?’

“ ‘No! No more strays!’ Like an idiot, I’ve been feeding it and now I’m starting to like the thing. It just kind of freaks me out. It’s a great dog. But the last tour, Raven, when he was alive, brought home this emaciated bulldog. A white bulldog that was shitting blood out its ass, and blood was comin’ out its nose, and I felt horrible for it, so I brought it to the vet - it’s a week before tour- we’re scrambling around trying to find a place for it, so we just said, ‘Fine Raven. It’ll live at our house.’ Because Raven was like, ‘No, no. I’ve got people who will want this. It’s a pure bull dog.’ It was. So it wound up living at our house, but on tour, it ended up jumping the fence and bit somebody. Me and Angie had to pay a thousand bucks. It didn’t bite a person. It got in a fight with a pit bull and kicked its ass. So they charged us a thousand bucks for- their pit bull was dead or something. And we were like, Jesus, we can’t keep this thing, so we found it- I don’t even know how this happened. We were in LA after the tour…you’ve been down Melrose, right? You know the store Necromancer, it’s the voodoo punk rock shop. So I’m in there and the lady’s like, ‘Yeah, I had two bull dogs and one of them just died and I’m really looking for a bull dog.’ So now this thing’s gone from completely emaciated and shitting blood to being completely pampered, with a pink diamond collar, living on Melrose guarding the shop…

“Tommy [Victor] quit after I beat him with a dead skunk…Of course, I beat him with it, and then I threw it at his head. The day his girlfriend got here, the last day of rehearsals, both of them are sleepin’ and I just break in and hit them with this dead skunk. He got pissed. He went to Fabens and pouted for a while, and came back. I literally have it written down. I think it’s back at the house with Angie. ‘Day 12- ate a worm from the Mezcal bottle. Day 16- people quit, people died, people got hit with’- It’s been nuts man. But we sound good...

“That Europe trip [a long story involving a bus going through the Alps during a heat wave without air conditioning, breaking down, driving limos through Scotland while the entire band got car sick- Justin has it all on DV tape] was a nightmare. That was a fucking nightmare. That was FUBAR. That was the definition of FUBAR, but we survived it. So this isn’t bad. Tommy calls this Ministry Ultra-Lite, because there’s only been one death so far…the guy’s in the hospital- he had to be helicoptered out of here…”

I asked Al the question that I’m sure was on your minds: Why didn’t you book a gig in El Paso?

“This town is screwy. It’s like, you have the Coliseum, you’ve got the Haskin’s Center and 101 is the next thing down. [What about Club Blu?] That’s too small too. We’re right in this middle section between huge places and clubs, so the town has to have something to accommodate that. So…we’re doing the Sunshine again in Albuquerque- it’s the closest we’re getting here- and that’s like 1700 I think. We’re right in that 1700-2000 range. Some cities, like 2500.

“We called [Abraham Chavez] and they said no. We called them and they said, “No, we’ve never heard of you.” We tried to get a show here- we really did.

“You know Jenni, I’m actually happy that we’re not playing, only because I really like my anonymity here. Nobody knows who the hell I am. I mean, there’s a few of you guys that know I’m a maniac and all this stuff, but I basically just go to Uncle Pauly’s, or Lloyds, and go home. It’s close. It’s a few blocks away. Nobody really gives a shit that it’s Ministry or whatever. I’m pretty much left alone, ya know? I like that. I don’t need- God, if I lived in LA I’d be puking right now. It’s just like, everybody knows who I am or thinks they know who I am. I can’t walk down the street without seeing five people that look like me- exactly dressed and shit. I like El Paso and its anonymity…”

For the last three or so years, Al has been using his garage on the Westside as a recording studio, and has housed the bands who record their in their home. Al will soon be moving to La Mesa, NM where he has plans to build a studio complex to accommodate the acts who record under his label Thirteenth Planet.

“I have it- I have the pamphlet…Wait till you see the inside. The guy built it by hand- it’s this weird sculptor guy that got a job in Galveston working for Exxon to build sculptures for Exxon- all their major offices. And the guy hates corporations- and they’ve already paid him in full, so he’s building all these perverted-like a giant steel cock going into a mouth, and shit. They don’t even know…Me and Angie were just freaked out…It’s three acres. We’re building a band compound here with a full studio. I need to talk to Justin’s dad because I want him to build the live room like he did over there [at the Ranch]. I want it the exact same dimensions as Tony’s big room…

“We’re building a four-bedroom band compound with a live room- like their main room over there- like the back lot. And then the garage is going to be like my little mix studio. I’m buying another SSL board. I’m going to have two studios going, and this place is unbelievable. The guy built it like a Goudi place. There’s not a single square room on the entire premises- it’s all curved…it’s crazy- it’s a crazy place. It’s in New Mexico… It’s upper valley, basically…

“We’re stayin’. That’s it. Isa- this guy that works with the label- his dad built all those rock walls for the City. He’s been doing it for 30 years. The entire city. So he’s doin’ like a 14 foot wall around all three acres of the compound…That’s what I’m working for right now. I found my place. It’s my last tour. There’s no zoning out there. We can drill our own well. We can go solar. We can go wind. It’s a big deal. We’re completely off the grid…

“Right now, it’s completely a buyer’s market. In LA- if you can even find three acres- that’s a $7-10 million compound. It’s insane…

“You know the singer of The Cocks [The Revolting Cocks] moved here. The keyboard player is moving here. The guitar player is moving here. Billy Gibbons wants a ranch. In the next couple of years this place is going to be fun… I’ve traveled around the world man, and there’s only one other place else I’d move and it’s Southern Spain, which is very similar to this. It’s the same thing. It’s the same weather, the same topography… I love it here. I really do. I tell people that and everyone gets confused about that…

“I’m on a mission. I’m on a fuckin’ mission. I can’t believe this place. There’s only one other place that I’ve seen like this where people were really ashamed of where they’re from and that was Cleveland, when the lake caught on fire and shit in the 80’s. ‘Why did you move from Venice Beach?’ Because a) I didn’t have to pay some slumlord $5000 a month, b) I like the weather better, and it’s just cool. I like it here. When I’m in LA it’s not like I go out to all the trendy places. It’s like, God, this is a nightmare for me, because they know who I am. Here nobody knows who I am- they don’t give a fuck.

“That’s what I like about El Paso. It’s always been a city of outlaws where nobody asks questions, because everybody has issues. Green card issues, or murder issues, or crime issues- know what I’m saying… I think it’s perfect for me. You remember that guy from the Clash that lived here. Remember that guy-Paul Simonon? He knew what he was doing. I talked to Joe Strummer about it before he died, and it’s like- he was telling me about El Paso before I even moved here, and then he died. But, he’s all about it. This place is for outlaws. This is the place that you go to be quiet and not bother anybody.

“Man [Michael] I met you when you were smaller than her [Ari]. You don’t remember but, you were running around Zanaida’s kitchen at the studio- you barely could walk. I barely could walk too, but I was drunk. You had an excuse- you were a kid.

“We went up Redd Road, me and Angie, with this Real Estate agent and we were like, ‘Well, here’s the deal. We’re building a studio and a band house. And I want solar and wind and I want to be off the grid and drill my own well,’ and all that and she looked at me like I was from Mars. I’ve been talking about this for like three years. Three years Angie and I have been talking to Real Estate agents and we finally found the perfect place.”

Al and Angie weren’t able to book in El Paso, so they arranged a caravan from Uncle Pauly’s on Shadow Mountain to Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque.

“What we want to leave from Pauly’s parking lot [the ABQ bus]- we want the ‘special’ bus with the little stop sign and stuff, like they have for retards- the short bus. But we wanted it to leave from Pauly’s. We’re setting it up with Pauly’s to buy the tickets there, take a bus from there and then drive you there and back so you don’t have to worry about drunk driving and all that other stuff.”

If you have an experience on the Short Bus that you’d like to share, please submit a letter to the editor.

Justin and I really wanted to be in Chicago for the last show, but, as usual, Justin’s work schedule didn’t pan out. Chicago is Al’s hometown, and when I proposed the idea, his eyes lit up.

“I was just there, like, two weeks ago- me and Angie. The Chicago Blackhawks flew us up, put us at the Hard Rock Hotel, in the Penthouse Suite- $1500 bucks a night- you have to have your own key in the elevator to get up there- it’s your own elevator, it’s just like- the view of the city…I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ We were freaking out. It’s because we wrote the theme for the Blackhawks, their new hockey song. And they flew me up there to do press with ESPN and FOX and all this other stuff. They treated us like kings. Kings. We sat in the owner’s booth during the game. I’ve known the owner for 20 years. This kid used to be my personal assistant. He said he wanted to learn the music business from the ground up, so I go well, ‘I’ve got plenty of ground here. I don’t know about the up part.’ So he’s a billionare- these people are billionares, right? They own the biggest liquor distributors in the United States… Bismark. Anyways, he literally was like my butt-boy for two tours. And then he got a job in New York, moved to New York, and started from the ground up this publicity company. And then he moved to London and got a job running an independent label. I mean, this guy really has done it from the ground-up. He didn’t just want favors because he’s a rich kid. I love this kid for that. He was the best man at my wedding. I love this kid. So I’ve known the people who own the whole building- the United Center, so it was a natural fit. So the last thing that me and Raven worked on was this song that sounds like a Gary Glitter song. It sounds like a hockey song. So that’s the last thing that me and Raven did before he died. We went up there for Angie’s birthday just to go shopping- the Magnificent Mile. You’re going to love the city. If you’re going to do a road trip, that’s the one to do. And they just added a fourth night. We’re going to be there for, like, 6-7 days...

“You’ll fall in love. You’ll fall in love. And you know what else? We have a thousand balloons every night with Ministry logos coming down off a net. Then we play, ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ by Louie Armstrong. We’ve got a balloon drop every night… This is going to be fun. They added a third show in New York. We’ve got three in LA. Four in Chicago now. Two in San Francisco. They’re all sold out. Everything’s sold out. Literally the entire tour. It really makes me feel good after all these years, ‘cause people are really starting to realize that I’m serious- I’m over it. I won’t even leave my compound unless I’m in my scooter wheelchair going to Western Beverage. I could be a recluse.

“It’s just nice that everyone’s comin’ out. We’ve got Neil Young in London that’s going to play with us. Keith Richards in New York’s gonna play with us…We’re doing ‘Under My Thumb’ with him. Billy Gibbons in LA. Joey’s flying out from Slipknot to do the whole first encore with us in Chicago. Rick Neilson and Robin Zander from Cheap Trick. Everyone’s comin’ out of the woodwork. It’s awesome. It’s the way I wanted to go out-on my own terms…On top of that the band- we’ve got like four different roadies that have been with us for about five years or so- they’re listening to us rehearse, and they’re like, ‘Dude- this is the best you have ever sounded. Your band is stellar…’

“We got the Static X guy, Tony, he fits right in. There’s no learning curve or anything. He just fits right in personality wise. He’s awesome. New drummer, new bass player, the guitar player was seamless because he played on the record, because Mikey [Mike Scattia]- who knows he wigged out. Nobody knows where he’s at-

“He does that. Every two years he storms off, and freaks out and disappears for a year, only this time it’s been two years. We call him, we send texts…nothing back. Isa saw him at the airport in El Paso, apparently he’s playing with some members of Pantera- some ex-members. I assume he’s living in El Paso. I heard he moved to St. Louis for a while. He’s got three kids right now- plus two from a previous marriage.

“We’ve got these VIP tickets that Angie set up that are like $100 bucks and include meet and greets and get a drum head or a poster or something signed. It’s ridiculous, expensive tickets, but their all sold out. The whole tour. There’s still tickets left for general admission but the entire tour of 40 dates is sold out of all the VIP tickets- there’s a hundred VIP tickets a night. Angie did a great job. She kicked ass. I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory. It makes it all worth it…


{“We’re flying one of our assistants out, Kevin- that’s the guy that’s fucking my daughter [What’s Kevin’s last name?] Two-Headed Grandkid. [Why? Does he smoke a lot of dope?] He’s an idiot. [Is he at least good-looking?] Oh, yeah. He’s a singer in a band-he’s all hot. [To tour manager] Do you know the name of Kevin’s band?

[Tour manager: you’re kidding. I don’t know. Some stupid-]

“Jack’s Smirking Revenge.”[]…}

“I have this garage that I like to work in because I'm doin’ soundtracks now and mixing stuff in a garage. The exact same garage I have now. I’m moving that [mixing suite] into the new garage and then I’m getting a whole nother set of SSLs.

“I’ve gotta play you something…I’ve gotta play you some of the new Cocks record. The Prong album was recorded here [at Sonic Ranch] and mixed at my place. I did the Watcher’s record- which is Burton’s solo band…the soundtrack for this thing called ‘Wicked Lake’, this horror movie that was filmed in El Paso, and I did all the music score for it. ‘The Last Sucker’, the Ministry cover album, and I did a Revolting Cocks album- all in the last year… ‘Rio Grande Blood’ was [tracked in the garage] and mixed in Phoenix. That was [tracked] on that little Digitech board…Ever since then, that was the last thing that we ever had demo equipment with. Ever since then it’s all been SSL. We did seven albums once we got the studio up and running. Seven albums in less than 14 months…crazy…Angie’s a little stressed about it, all the promotion for the label…

“This Cocks record is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. [plays me some of the master] I don’t know, I finally did an album that I can listen to later, and I can’t say it sucks. Everything’s amazing on it. Every song’s a hit. Josh lives here. Clayton’s moving here. Sin’s moving here. It feels like a band. It’s unbelievable… We have ridiculous songs on here. We have a song about Josh getting caught fucking his cousin at summer camp when he was eight, and his dad beats his ass. Ridiculous stuff…sex robots, the Red Parrot…we’re doing a video for this [plays song about the Red Parrot] at the Red Parrot…just listen to that cowbell…It’s the first time in my life I had something sent back from mastering and I had nothing to bitch about…

“There’s this new place we’ve been going to. It’s called Extreme Fantasy. It’s the size of this kitchen. The father plays a Casio [keyboard]. The mother meets you at the door and serves you drinks and two of his daughters dance. It’s horrible. [Wow, I thought JB’s was the worst strip club in town] I did too! This is worse. This makes JB’s look like Vinny’s Place in Dallas…He’s playing, like, ‘Girl from Impanema’ while his daughters dance…[continues singing]

[song about the Banditos biker crew comes on] “I met the leader of the Banditos the other night. I drank with them at Pauly’s. I didn’t know who they were. I drank with them all night, and I said, ‘Don’t get mad at us. We wrote a song about you fucks, that we out-fuck you.’ They laughed their ass off. An entire table full of Banditos at Pauly’s.

“This is the cousin one. [sings] This is like Flock of Seagulls…I gave [the band] to these three guys: Clayton, Josh and Sin…I made them sign a contract that says that they have to give it away to three other idiots, cause it started with three people…I made them sign a contract that in five years, just find anyone else that you want I’ll produce them. I’m not in the band anymore. And then they have to give it to three idiots that they find…It’s like Menudo…Here it is, the dad catches him fucking his cousin and tells them, ‘This kid will be born with rabies,’ and beats his ass [sings ‘born with raabiiies’]. He’s Canadian, right, the singer of this band- he’s from Vancouver. Here’s what I found out from Angie. I go, ‘That’s the most ridiculous line I’ve ever heard. “Born with rabies”..’ She goes, ‘You don’t understand. In Canada we don’t have the birds and the bees. They tell us to go out and watch the dogs fuck.’ Born with rabies…I almost crapped my pants…

“[The Cocks are going on tour] in October. It’s coming out in October…They’re going without me. I’m not going. I make merch money.

“We’ve really worked our asses off to make sure that we can stay here- forever… I’m so happy- you have no idea. You’ve never seen me like this. This is the happy Al.”

Al and Company will be hitting the road again for Ministry’s final European tour. Al and Angie have some more plans in the works. They’re in negotiations right now with MTV for a reality show called, “Gardening With Evil” in which Al, who is an avid gardener, teaches gardening tips to other stars. It should be immensely entertaining.

I’d like to thank Al for taking two hours out of his day (terribly hung-over, by the way) to sit down and talk on tape. I wish I was able to be there in Chicago for the show (sniffle), but I know they had a great gig.

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