6 Things We *Didn’t* Learn from Al Jourgensen’s Memoir
October is Metal Month at Radio.com. Throughout the month, we’ll have artist interviews as well as mini-documentaries about metal, metal fans and the birthplace of metal. And book reports: reading is fundamental, even for headbangers, and we’ll have reviews of some of the best recent metal biographies and retrospectives. Horns up!
Generally speaking, there’s no such thing as “TMI” when it comes to rock star autobiographies. We want to hear it all! Al Jourgensen’s new memoir, however, may be the exception to that rule. In the third paragraph on page xxiii (this is just the prologue!) of his book, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen, he describes sitting on the toilet while bleeding out of every orifice. Now that’s an, um, explosive way to start a book.
While there are tons of great stories about his bands (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Lard and Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters), his friendships with William S. Burroughs and Timothy Leary, some downright bizarre sex romps and smack-talk about Robert Plant, Henry Rollins and nearly every former member of his bands; we still had some questions about stuff that didn’t make the book.
Happily, “Uncle Al” took our call to discuss what didn’t make his tell-all.
1. He engineered a Lee “Scratch” Perry album.
Which album? “I don’t know! I don’t even know what the album is called!” How did it happen? “I was living and recording in London, and I was engineering at a studio owned by [British punk band] Crass. I was engineering Lee Perry sessions.” That’s a lot of crazy. “You’re telling me! The Lee Perry stories didn’t make this book. That’s a whole ‘nother book: Just me engineering a Lee Perry album. There were, like, 10,000 pounds of marijuana in the studio. Back then I didn’t smoke at all so I was getting this contact high just being around these people. It was an interesting experience.”
2. The secret origin of his collaboration with Ian MacKaye.
In the book, he references Pailhead, his unlikely collaboration with Fugazi and Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye. Unlikely because, by then, Al was using any number of drugs, while MacKaye was a standard bearer for the straight-edge movement. In the book, Jourgensen says that MacKaye was onto him but was never judgmental about his drug use. But he never mentioned how they actually got together.
Jourgensen tells us: “So I was in London, and Crass and this guy John Loder had a record label and a distribution center. Ian used to come there to record. This is when he was in Minor Threat. I wrote this song that I thought was cool, ‘I Will Refuse,’ it wasn’t called that yet, I didn’t have lyrics. I just had this riff that I thought was cool. And this kid Chris Connelly [later of the Revolting Cocks and Ministry] comes up from Scotland and starts singing about weeping nuns. I was like, ‘I don’t know about this…’ And Ian happened to be in the studio after Chris Connelly left. I immediately replaced Chris Connelly’s lyrics, and had Ian sing it and we got along great. I love that guy to this day, I have nothing but respect for that guy. I even got him to drink a beer, or a few beers one night. So that was really cool. A little peer pressure never hurts!”
3. And, once and for all, he has no beef with Trent Reznor
The Nine Inch Nails frontman was, at one time, a Revolting Cocks roadie, and as detailed in the book, took quite a lot of crap from the band. Years later, Al and Trent did a recording of a Black Sabbath cover together (“Supernaut”) as 1000 Homo DJs, and it’s all good between them. “You know what, I love Trent. I know people think we have this big feud. We don’t! It’s such bull****. I love Trent, I would love to work with him again if he ever wants to.”