Ministry's Al Jorgensen on Mike Scaccia, the Grays and Why He Wrote A (Terrifying) Memoir
Don't spend too many late-night hours reading longtime Ministry leader Al Jourgensen's memoir. It's a dark, dark nightmare. Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen is harrowing tale of drugs, sex and, of course, rock 'n' roll, inspired by the artist who influenced a generation of musical pioneers like Nine Inch Nails to take metal to the next level.
But the writing process was anything but therapeutic. "It was grueling and made me almost throw up every day," Uncle Al says. "This was not fun. This was not a glamour project. I've lost some good friends -- Mikey, William S. Burroughs, Tim Leary -- and did some fucked-up shit that I'm now realizing was fucked-up shit."
For those of you who never heard of Uncle Al: For three decades he and his band Ministry have been bringing their message to the masses with masterpieces like The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989), Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992) and Rio Grande Blood (2006). (Filth Pig was my personal favorite, but it's a dark, dark album that takes a certain mindset to appreciate.) Twelve studio albums have garnered several Grammy nominations, critical acclaim/confusion and exposed a whole generation to metal.
Ministry's 13th studio album From Beer to Eternity will be released in September.
In the Lost Gospels, Uncle Al along with his co-writer Jon Wiederhorn take us back to the streets of the Havana in the 1950s when Fidel Castro was taking homes from the rich, then to the Cuban communities of Miami in the early '60s where Uncle Al first entered this world and, finally, to the skyline of Chicago in the late '60s where Al witnessed the power of the Rolling Stones. "They had this raw, primal energy I had never seen before, even in sports," he explains early in the memoir, "and they were way more transgressive and dangerous than Elvis or the Beatles."
In the early '90s, Bush I was sending his army of Patriot Missiles across a Middle Eastern desert, ATF agents were surrounding a Waco cult's compound and LSD was flowing like wine from Timothy Leary's broken bottle, and Uncle Al was drinking it from a jagged glass and pioneering and perfecting his new sound of industrial metal. "If you remember the '90s, you weren't there," he says. And yet somehow Uncle Al manages not only to remember that decadent decade but also provide some in-depth accounts of shoving vegetables in places I'd rather not imagine, stealing Courtney Love's heroin and playing mind games with little gray aliens in his bedroom.
"If you're into UFOs and extraterrestrials, you know the Grays are these little fuckers from another planet who come down to earth every once in a while to check it out. They've been keeping an eye on me from an early age. I didn't get the name 'Alien Jourgensen' for nothing."
Remembering other drug-induced antics would have been a challenge for many recovering addicts to accomplish. "I just got drunk and spoke into a microphone," says Uncle Al. "Two drunken weeks and three or four sober phone calls [with Wiederhorn] later I got a book." His wife and manager Angie was the catalyst behind his trip down memory lane. "She was tired of hearing me tell the same stories at the same parties. She goes, 'Just put it down in a book.'"