Al Jourgensen survives his own legend – El Sol de México

Rarely do you have the opportunity to chat with an artist who has pioneered a musical style. Beyond the talent and transcendence of each person, there are few who can boast of having laid the seed for the development of an entire musical movement.

And Al Jourgensen is one of them. Known for his long career alongside the band Ministry -which he founded exactly 4 decades ago- the Cuban-American musician has developed a career with ups and downs, in which, however, you can find at least three albums that have already won a primordial place in the history of alternative rock: The Land of Rape and Honey (1988), The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989) and Psalm 69 (1992).

His music, along with that of bands like Killing Joke and Skinny Puppy, helped develop the musical current known as industrial metal, without which the emergence of later bands like Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein or Marilyn Manson, among many others, would not have been possible. others.

Al Jourgensen is a survivor of rock… And of himself. He has lived and tasted it all, so he is one of those figures whose permanence can be attributed to a miracle.

In these four decades he has done everything, even announcing his retirement, bordered by the weariness of how the world of music works. And although it has been several years since he retracted to give himself the opportunity to continue making music, the Covid-19 pandemic made him value all his possibilities again, as can be seen in his fifteenth album, Moral Hygiene, which was recorded precisely during the quarantine in his own studio at home.

They were days in which, he tells us, he had enough time to reflect on everything that society becomes in the midst of a crisis like this, as he recounts exclusively for The Sun of Mexico:

“Basically (the new album) is about what happened in the years of the pandemic and all the other things that happened in the world at that time… During the quarantine I could only see the front door of my house while the world outside it was falling apart, so I wrote about it,” he says.

One of the songs that stands out on this album is “Believe me”, because it takes us back to the synthpop sound of the early years of Ministry.

Yeah, over the last couple of albums I’ve been incorporating some of my early style into some pieces, which makes it suddenly sound a bit more melodic, but I feel comfortable doing it, as all the Ministry eras are finally part of it. of me and, therefore, I can return to them when it comes to the case.

Now we hear you a little more focused than on some of the previous albums, as if everything is falling back into place. Do you think the lockdown helped make this happen?

Absolutely. It really saddens me to say that quarantine was a great thing for me. Obviously it was something very bad on a global level, but since I didn’t have anything else to do, and I have my recording studio at home, I started working more, because apart from everything I didn’t have a deadline to deliver it. For me it was like, “Well, we’re going to be stuck here for a couple of years,” so getting into that habit of working was good, instead of thinking about all the shit that was going on in the world.

Great musicians accompany you on this album, among them Jello Biafra, on the song “Sabotage is sex”… Does that mean there will be a possibility of new Lard material?

Yes! We already recorded four or five songs for a new album. Since I was on the road we were emailing each other where we traded riffs and vocals, we’ve been working and building that new Lard album so I’m pretty sure it’ll be out within the next year.

What good news. And speaking of Lard, will there be a chance to resurrect your other side projects?

I don’t think so though. The one with 1000 Homo DJs couldn’t be, because Mike Scaccia died a few years ago, and that was a project of both of them. As for Revolting Cocks, I think that project went as far as it should go, I’m very happy with the six albums we did, but I’m going to keep it that way… The only thing for sure is that we have Lard on the way!

There is currently a growing debate about the viability of streaming services, as many musicians say they are not profitable for them. What is your position on this?

What is horrible! I don’t understand how musicians can make a living. If I were starting out now, there would just be no way I could make as many albums as I have. I don’t know where the money goes… Well, everything goes to the pockets of the owners of Spotify or Apple, but it doesn’t reach the musicians, and that’s impossible. Artists are really important in the advancement of society, but they are being killed by the greed of a few people… It’s horrible, really. I am 63 years old and I can tell you that this is the worst time to be a musician, because it is almost impossible to make a living from it, these are very difficult times… This whole system needs to be changed.

Let’s talk about nicer things. Are you proud of the influence you’ve had on various generations of artists, from Nine Inch Nails to Ramstein, among many others?

Sure, it feels good. Especially since I know them all and they’ve all told me something like, “Without you, we wouldn’t be here.” So of course it feels good.

Many of your songs are inspired by social and human situations. Have you ever thought about going into politics?

No! There’s no way that would happen. Starting because there are many photographs of me from the nineties that would not favor me at all, but well, times have changed and I have been clean for more than 20 years. On the other hand, I think that if I tried it quickly I would be disappointed, because the system is not really about helping people. Sure, you might come in with that kind of thinking, but once the machine catches you and spits you out, you realize systemic and societal changes are needed. Fortunately, there are many ways to advance society beyond politics… Politics is owned by large corporations… And the system is broken.

How do you see the world situation now? I’m asking because I know you mentioned that you have some hope.

Yes, because I think we hit rock bottom… Or so I hope. I don’t see how it could get much worse, especially after this pandemic. I believe that there should be an awakening, that we have a real opportunity to change. I mean, outside of global warfare based on greed, I think once you hit rock bottom there’s nowhere to go but up. In that sense, I am hopeful.

This month they began a tour of the United States, with which they are celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of their iconic albums, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste.

Yeah, actually it was supposed to be two years ago, when he turned 30… Now it’s 32 and that’s why I didn’t want to do it anymore, but hey, we’re doing it and at the same time we’re performing some of the songs from Moral Hygiene… I’m actually more excited about that than playing old stuff, but hey, it’s exciting to be on tour again… I never thought I’d say this, but I actually missed touring, the same ones I used to hate… And now I think it’s fun again.

Speaking of anniversaries, this 2022 also marks the 30th anniversary of another essential album: Psalm 69. How do you remember that time, between the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties, when they made these albums?

Look, if someone tells you that they remember the eighties or the nineties, then they really weren’t there… I don’t remember! So I don’t know how to answer that, we were just there.

Well, but you can’t ignore the fact that some of your most popular songs belong to Psalm 69.

Sure, that was an interesting album, because of the way it was put together, I think there have even been books written on how that record was made… It was crazy! The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and Psalm 69 They were really crazy records to make, I think we were lucky that they turned out so well, even on a cosmic level, because we did everything we could to destroy ourselves in the process, we didn’t even speak when we did it, we actually took turns, so we wouldn’t have to see each other while we were recording it, that’s how it was. Now everything is fine, and we are friends, but they were very difficult albums to make, so I have no explanation of how they turned out so well.

Will they return to Mexico with this tour?

I would love to, although we would have to see how to do it. The shows are expensive to put on and it’s not like just taking a plane and plugging in, but if there’s demand, I’m sure we can go to a club in Mexico City or Guadalajara. I also love Mexico, I go on vacation at least once a year.

What is your best memory of this country?

I remember when we went to the Azteca stadium, in Mexico City. When we did the sound check there were already people there, in the stadium, and while we were playing “Thieves” there was a fight and the ambulances came, so we thought it could get worse during the show, but it didn’t happen, it was just something that happened during sound check, which seemed strange to me. Also when we arrived at the airport in Mexico City there were about 1,500 fans waiting for us, and we had never experienced that before, so it was crazy. It took us three hours to get out of there, after the pictures and autographs. But yes, I would love to go back… Please someone take us back!

I hope so. Is there anything else you want to add?

Yes, harass your promoters to take us to Mexico, write emails and make phone calls for someone to take us, we really want to go back to play there.

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