As most of the music industry’s artists hide behind their silence in fear of offending or worse, losing their fanbase, Ministry’s Al Jourgensen is doing the opposite! His 14th studio album ‘AmeriKKKant‘ will be set free on March 9th and as the infamous frontman gears up for another round of finger-pointing from the mainstream, Overdrive decided to get in under the covers and get a real sense of what is making Uncle Al tick these days.
OD – So, we have the new album ‘Amerikkkant’ coming out on March 9th and let it be said, you’re not holding back on your thoughts on the current state of your homeland. I wish other artists would do the same as they all seem to be hiding behind a kind of invisible mask, afraid to offend. Would you agree?
AL – I know this much. You have to do your art within your own comfort zone. I’m quite comfortable speaking my mind about political things because I feel educated on it. I’m not trying to be political, I just am by nature. I’m very curious, so I feel very comfortable in this zone. But for people that are not, I don’t think they have to do political albums to be viable.
If they want to sing about some emotional trauma that they’ve had splitting up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, then that’s fine, as there’s a place for that too, but I know that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in that format and my comfort zone is exactly where I’m at.
I went to school for many years to study political science and history, so that’s part of my essence, part of me and that’s why it comes out in the music because that’s my true self.
OD – The material on the album tells a tale of almost disbelief, however, this is your/our reality. When you got the inspiration to put this album together were you just soaking up the media frenzy that was surrounding the evolution of Trump’s rise to the Whitehouse?
AL – I actually went on hiatus. After he was elected, I knew right before the election – my girlfriend was up all night watching it and she was saying “oh my God this is actually happening” – I knew two or three days before because it’s not just America, this is systemic to the whole globe right now. Look at all the right-wing governments all over Hungry, Poland and Philipeans, not forgetting Russia – which is just pure hypocrisy.
I predicted all of this building to a head because of this particular cycle that we go through periodically, but we haven’t seen this much of a rise of the right wing since the 1930’s at the onset of groups like Antifa and all of that, which was before World War II. Here we go back and forth, right-wing than left-wing and it switches up again and back and forth.
This is all fine and good, this is typical history that has been documented throughout time and not just since the 1930’s, but there have been uprisings in the past. If you look at the Renaissance, for instance in Florence, against the Medici’s and the Vatican’s control of Italy. It’s the same kind of thing and has been periodical throughout history, but the problem is we really don’t have much time left because we have actually raped our resources and the earth is dying as a result.
So, while we squabble amongst left-wing and right-wing ideology, we simply have no resources left. Just look at Cape Town in South Africa, they are expected to run out of water by the end of May this year! I’m living here in Los Angles and I can see it myself as drought is a constant reoccurring situation here. Are we next? Will we have to go to the military to get our daily basic needs, such as water? These are all of the things that are currently happening, all the while we are waffling on about right-wing and left-wing politics and nobody actually wants to cure the Earth.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your right, left, gay, straight, black, white or whatever. We are all part of this fucking planet and the planet is falling apart. This record is about so much more than Donald fucking, orange, gibbon Trump!
OD – In essence, what would you say the album is about?
AL – ‘AmeriKKKant’ is about where society is gone and where it is going. It’s kind of like that show Black Mirror. This is kind of like the audio equivalent if you like. I wanted to hold up a mirror to society and take a moment to say “okay, this is currently where we’re at and this seems to be where we’re going. Are you happy with that, because I’m sure as fuck am not!“.
In a sense, this album is like the poisoning of the internet. Taking things from the age of information to the age of disinformation with an agenda in mind. The internet is the most weaponised instrument that we’ve ever had to polarise the populace and to divide and conquer, which is right out of the fascist playbook.
The fascists realised exactly what the internet was, well before the left-wing did. The left-wing was like “Oh, this really groovy! We can make our own art like the old punk rock days were everyone can have a band in their garage.” The internet has been taken and it’s been weaponised because they quickly realised the potential of it and turned it into a lethal fucking weapon.
OD – Do you really see the internet as being a serious daily threat to our safety?
AL – Totally! We are under nuclear attack every day through social media. This is the place/society we are currently living in and that’s what this album is really about.
OD – Do you see Donald Trump as being a kind of embodiment of the current state of global decline?
AL – Trump is very symptomatic and is just a figurehead of what is currently going on. He’s really not the obvious problem. People are being kept in a mild state of fear within their local neighbourhoods and in general society. It’s like they are being controlled to fear anything that doesn’t look or sound like themselves.
OD – Do you think that the power of social media simply fuels the fire and widens the gap between social and ethnic groups?
AL – If you look at the concept of the internet being weaponised, the constant feed of fear is being suggested in one way or another. While all of this is going on, social media provides these little pockets of social benefits like, “Oh my, look I’ve got 55 likes today because I posted a picture of a rat taking a shower or a cat playing the piano.” It’s fucking insane! So, this shit is more important to you than a government that’s taking away pensions, health care all the while giving more money to the rich! This is actually happening while the mass population is more concerned about how many fucking likes or share they get on their stupid fucking social media platform.
OD – Of all of the material that was written for the album, is their anyone track that you feel really is the epitome of the current situation?
AL – Well, the first track on the album “Twilight Zone“, pretty much sums it all up. This is the stuff of fiction books, man. It’s like Philip K. Dick’s (American science fiction writer) worst nightmare.
OD – When you have tracks such as ‘Victims of a Clown’ and ‘We’re Tired of it’ it’s pretty clear that you are not afraid to speak your mind.
AL – Absolutely! The artist community seemed to be afraid of the potential social backlash, once again, a product of the internet being weaponised. Believe me, some of the album tracks have surfaced on the net and the trolls are out in force already and that’s fine.
I can see in so many situations where artists have been afraid to come out and speak their minds because they are terrified of being blacklisted and trolled, which will have an impact on their financial status.
OD – Would you agree that it’s become much more difficult to survive as an artist/musician, even though we the tools at our fingertips to create and promote?
AL – Nowadays, artists can not make money! I remember the days where you could make money off merchandise, but most of that stuff is all bootlegged now. There’s also no actual digital product as most of the younger generation expect their music for free. So, how the fuck are we supposed to survive? It’s not a matter of greed, it’s a matter of sustenance.
It’s such a shame because I know there are so many really rad bands out there that are making great music and have fantastic artistic values, and they are literally struggling to survive.
OD – Have you had any altercations with people over the message on ‘AmeriKKKant’? I ask that because people are so fucking precious these days and easily offended.
AL – (laughing) More-so than ever and the albums not even out yet! There are robot trolls all over the internet with their weaponised agenda trying to squash this record and I’m okay with that. When I did my anti-Bush albums in the early 2000’s, oddly enough, I was audited three different times by the IRS. Every time I released a record I was audited and I had never been audited before that. So, I’m expecting all of that kind of pushback but I never thought I would get the social media pushback, that I’ve gotten on this album because I did “Surgical Meth Machine” (2016) and we had a little bit of a backlash.
It’s basically the same concept with reference to a black mirror type of thing, where I’m holding up the mirror again and saying, “Hey, this is where we’re at!, What are we going to do about it?“. But for whatever reason, that album didn’t get the pushback that I’m getting now from ‘AmeriKKKant‘, which is fine with me, I’m comfortable with it.
OD – Have you had any positive feedback on the album as of yet?
AL – Yeah, I’ve had someone refer to it as being the “closest thing to ‘Punk Floyd‘ as you’re going to get” (laughing). So, in that sense, it’s kind of like a concept album of a dystopian society.
OD – ‘AmeriKKKant’ is your 14th studio album but am I right by saying that it’s the first that you’ve recorded with a full band since ‘Filth Pig‘(1996)?
AL – Yes, indeed! You’ve done your homework (laughing). The thing is, this is the first time in 25 years that I’ve actually been in a recording studio with a live band.
OD – How did that come about as I’m sure the loss of Mike (Scaccia) was a part of the decision?
AL – After Mike died, I was thinking to myself, “I just don’t want to do Ministry anymore.” as he was my best friend and I didn’t want to deal with it. So, I did “Surgical Meth Machine” with just me and an engineer in a studio and that was it and I was quite happy with that. Then about halfway through making “Surgical Meth Machine“, I found out that our ex-booking agent had booked us on this whole tour of Europe as “Ministry” and had I cancelled, I would have been sued and forever bankrupt (laughing).
So, I begrudgingly put this band together, and about halfway through the European dates, I started realising “Fuck! We sound pretty good! When we’re done with this tour, let’s get into the studio for a week and see what it sounds like.” Within that one week, we had about 75% of “AmeriKKKant” was done, or at least the skeleton of the record was put together.
OD – There is definitely a different sound off of this album when compared to previous releases.
AL – This is a very different sounding Ministry album from anything that I’ve done over the last 2o years. There is a very organic sound on this album due to the collaborations from a number of different people that contributed. The whole experience was very refreshing for me personally and I’m very happy with the end result.
OD – Was it a very strange experience doing this album without Matt by your side?
AL – Without a doubt. I really felt like Matt was there on all of our shoulders saying “This is what you’re supposed to be doing fuckers! Why don’t you get out of the studio and stop being some hermit with an engineer, and get out there and so shit!” (laughing) It was a very cathartic experience which looking back on now, just feels like the right thing to have done in the right way, at the right time.
OD – Having read your book, there is no question that you have lived life on the edge or what most people consider to be ‘the edge’. With all of this behind you and you still attached to your mortal coil, do you believe that you have experienced things that most people simply can’t understand?
AL – Yeah, I guess you really can’t understand life until you’ve really lived it! Through various circumstances, whether it be fate or some bad judgement on my behalf, I’ve lived a lot of life and have not one regret. Not one! It is what it is and the reason that I am where I am right now is because of all of the shenanigans that went on before. I guess there is a purpose in there somewhere.
OD – And how is Al Jourgensen doing at present?
AL – For the first time in a long time, I’m in a really good head space. Even though the world is falling apart I’m doing well. Typical as I seem to do everything in reverse (laughing). I started out as a silly pop and end up with Ministry and now that the world is falling apart, I finally have my shit together. (laughing)
OD – Will you be planning to tour this album or will it just be a studio offering?
AL – Absolutely! We are planning a huge tour schedule for this album more than any in the past. I have a really great line up for this tour. On drums, I have Joey Jordison (Slipknot, Vimic) and since I’ve got so much guitar on the album, Burton (Fear Factory) will be helping out with the vocals. I’ve got Tony Campos (Fear Factory, Soulfly) on bass duties and DJ Swamp, so this is a really fucking tight line-up, not forgetting Cesar Soto and Sin Quirin (guitars). Sin was pretty much Mikey’s understudy for many years.
So, yes, we are going to be taking this tour everywhere we can with a full production set all the visuals and it’s going to be fucking epic. I’m really excited about it all.
OD – If there was one thing you could fix with regards to the business of music, what would it be?
AL – Well it’s not just music, it’s everything, it permeates all of society. I would like to see things become more equitable. I really enjoy the fact that some of the Scandinavian countries and Canada, provide artist grants so artists can continue to create instead of having to get two-day jobs and submit to the whims of whatever plastic agenda they want you to appease the servantry masses.
I would like it to be more equitable so people that have talent and education can focus on teaching art and create positive thinking in schools rather than all of this fake news that they teach us every day and the rehashing the same cinema, music and art. Most of the shit we see is just rehashed stuff that’s done quickly for mass consumption and profit because people need to eat and they do what they think society would like without any thoughts of their own.
It’s just like pop will eat itself kind of thing. Kind of like a snake eating its tail. So, that’s a big change that I would love to see change. I believe that day is coming soon. If we can get our shit together, I see a new enlightened age coming and I’de like to be at the forefront of that.
Ministry’s “AmeriKKKant‘ will be released on March 9th via Nuclear Blast pick up your copy here. Tickets for Ministry in Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre on July 24th are on sale now via Ticketmaster. Please check DME Promotions for updates. Support from Chelsea Wolf.
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