It's the same in the whole wide world.
January 11, 2014 4:51 AM   Subscribe

That's somewhat interesting, but my sense is that only true Ministry fans would find it quite interesting if they don't already know all of it. I really like The Land of Rape and Honey through Dark Side of the Spoon (and, in fact, couldn't pass up the opportunity to listen to Stigmata for the billionth time) but I don't really think I'm that fascinated by a few scattered details about Jourgensen's career.

I sort of lost interest in Ministry post-Spoon. It's all part of the industrial mid-90s era to me, and I really love a lot of that music, but basically none of those bands where able to keep my interest post-2000 even though I still listen to their 90s music. I have zero interest in speed metal and all the other variations of metal, but I do still like music that is metal- and industrial-inflected, if that makes sense. I just tend to find it elsewhere in newer music and music that's not so ossified.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:12 AM on January 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Ivan's experience mirrors my own (right down to stopping reading to listen to Stigmata again). I think I've heard Ministry albums since Spoon, but I'll be jiggered if I can name a single track.
posted by Shepherd at 5:28 AM on January 11, 2014

I've never been a huge fan of Ministry proper, but as a teenager growing up not too far outside the local orbit of Wax Trax!, the label and its music were super-important to me in the late '80s and very early '90s. I've been far more interested in Jourgensen for his "shadow involvement" in all the weird little pseudonymous projects and one-offs for which Wax Trax! were famous; I always kept an eye out for those production/remix credits by Hypo Luxa (Jourgensen) and Hermes Pan (Paul Barker). And although I'd much rather have a nice, solid book on the subject, I have high hopes for the Wax Trax! documentary film that's due to premiere this year.
posted by mykescipark at 5:55 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I loved Animositisomina, which seemed to be something of a return to form (Filth Pig disappointed after the rabid glory of Psalm 69). Haven't really kept up since then. I think that was the last album Barker was on, too.
posted by Decani at 6:23 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

The versions of "Stigmata" and "So What" on In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up were the official you-have-angered-me-and-must-now-listen-to-my-rage-music-through-the-walls-and-floor anthems of my adolescence.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:52 AM on January 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

That's somewhat interesting, but my sense is that only true Ministry fans would find it quite interesting if they don't already know all of it.

Well, I've got all of one Ministry album, but I find the stuff about Keith LeBlanc and Tackhead very interesting.

Because I knew SFA about them apart from the recordings I've heard.
posted by pompomtom at 7:13 AM on January 11, 2014

The first two Ministry albums I heard were With Sympathy and Filth Pig.

That is some mix there. Some mix.
Personally, I started with Psalm 69 (it was big at the time, and while I have some small affection for it, until I saw a VHS of ICYDFLSU I never really saw the attraction of Ministry.

Anything post Psalm 69 under that label seemed to be re-hashing their biggest moments, so I lost interest. And I see the article agrees with my take, which is a bit sad. But, hey....
posted by Mezentian at 7:37 AM on January 11, 2014

I didn't know Ministry was the name of a band. I saw the title and was intrigued, thinking I was about to get a really interesting perspective on how Christian ministry has changed over the years.

I was wrong.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, they did sing about Jesus.

Soon I discovered that this rock thing was true
Jerry lee Lewis was the devil
Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet
All of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world
So there was only one thing that I could do
Was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long

posted by Mezentian at 8:07 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Filth Pig is highly under-rated, in my opinion.

We saw Fix: The Ministry Movie at the Music Box, with a panel that included Paul Barker and Greg Kot & Jim de Rogatis. Jourgensen was fighting the distribution last I heard but it's available on Amazon, so that was either his usual stunt or just a weak legal position to take.

It's an interesting movie. In my mind, it tries to take the audience to task for thinking "rock stars" are like their songs every minute of every day, but does not quite get there, because there's a certain amount of "you know, that really happened" and evidence of real addictions and some stupid shit going on in these people's lives.

Paul Barker was really interesting to listen to, actually. I felt his experience of Ministry and reaction to the movie were a lot like mine. You know, fun and exciting when we were young and it was new, but people started taking it too seriously and expecting it to be an ethos and a lifestyle and you know, at some point, you get too invested in yourself and your life for that shit.

I was at the Land of Rape and Honey tour, in Austin, my very first industrial show ever. It was the most frenetic, wild, and thoroughly safe place to be explosively angry at nothing at all I have ever been in. I was 18, at the most, and it was completely exhilarating. The thing that always stuck with me was the mosh pit. Completely out of control--which everyone needs sometime. People flinging themselves off one another, limbs flying, everyone just trusting the mass to keep them upright, but when someone fell, either someone who could helped you up, or they made body barriers until you got up. I'm sure someone got hurt, but no-one got trampled. And there were no lit cigarettes in the pit.

It got less and less like that over the years. Like people stopped realizing that it was just acting out. It got deliberately violent, instead of being a string of chaotic moments, held together by a shared experience. It's hard to express.

Jourgensen says something in the movie about it being a caricature but that it takes over because it's how you make your money and it's how people see you.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:30 AM on January 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I started listening to Ministry sometime around Mind. I really liked a lot of the early stuff off 12" Singles and Twitch (which I still think is a really underrated album), but then I love Depeche Mode and Cabaret Voltaire and the other early danceable synthpop acts of that time. I was still a fan through Psalm 69 even though they were starting to get a little more metal than I really cared for. Nothing past that ever caught my attention again. The band completely morphed into a sort of White Zombie-clone, even to Al ripping off the gothy hilbilly look. This article was really interesting in that it revealed that Al was probably a bit of a hack all along. Don't get me wrong, they did some great work, but, yeah, you can definitely see how Al responded to others in his orbit by lifting from their work. Twitch sounds a lot like early Front 242. "Over the Shoulder" sounds like it could have been put out by Cabaret Voltaire. Al seemed to constantly be disavowing his earlier work and promising to get "harder" on the next album. Too bad he ended up sounding just like so many other 90s alterna-metal acts. That quote about him hating his fans was some real truth. There's probably more than a little self-loathing there, too, covering up that he once wanted Ministry to be more like The Cure than he can admit.

Now it's sad to see that Al's become an Alex Jones acolyte with this whole biker masquerade and dumb rock bro garbage like this. (Further reading here. ) I'll always sing along to "Everyday is Halloween," but I can't really connect that to what Ministry has become.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:34 AM on January 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I sort of lost interest in Ministry post-Spoon.

IMHO, you missed out on some good stuff! If nothing else, From Beer to Eternity was a good swan song, sort of like a mishmosh of Psalm 69 and Twitch.

I think I've heard Ministry albums since Spoon, but I'll be jiggered if I can name a single track.

To each their own. "Ass Clown" is my jam.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:00 AM on January 11, 2014

Got less than half way through and created a Pandora station based on "Revenge". I've made peace with my tastes.
posted by bpm140 at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

It was the most frenetic, wild, and thoroughly safe place to be explosively angry at nothing at all I have ever been in.

Could not be more perfectly phrased.
posted by nev at 9:41 AM on January 11, 2014

Ministry has been one of my favorite musical acts for ages. I was in a band that did an ironic acoustic cover of Stigmata back in the late 1990's. I always found their music very funny, and have enjoyed all of their albums.

I liked the article, but wish that it had gone on longer and delved into their later material in more depth. At some point (psalm 69?) Ministry became very political and politics became a main focus of their music, including doing at least one album in which I think every song was an anti-Bush song. That differentiates them from the "speed metal formula" that this article unfortunately dismisses. I also would like to know more about their collaboration with William Burroughs, which brought Beat poetry to a Goth/Industrial/Metal audience, which is pretty cool and weird too.

Guess I'll have to read the book...
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:51 AM on January 11, 2014

I was a huge Ministry fan starting in 1990 when I discovered Mind and In Case. I still hold the position that In Case would be one of the top five concert films of all time, in as much as you can call it a concert film, were it not for the horrid closing performance of Land Of Rape And Honey.

Went to Lollapallooza '92 just to see them, and they blew me away. (LSD helped.) But I didn't get Filth Pig, and later material just didn't evolve and grew tedious. Went to see the "Farewell Tour" in... 2008?... and every song was anti-Bush and boring. They did "Thieves" which was great, but that was one song out of two sludgey ranty sets.

Agree with Cookiebastard that I wish the article hadn't glossed over Mind and In Case (and other later less interesting stuff). Wasn't aware of Fix, thanks for that.
posted by waraw at 10:19 AM on January 11, 2014

I'm another one that had to stop and watch the video of Stigmata. (That song is pure addiction, and if I live to be 100, I will still be playing it as loud as possible on repeat at least once a year.) I had forgotten what it was like to be in Medusa's standing in front of that video taking up the whole wall and all of us (the 15 year old girls like me included) moshing for our lives. The joy of despair!

Later I saw them in Indiana and that was more frightening than the Chicago proper scene. The show was in a hotel, and I remember wooden chairs being smashed and broken. The moshing, which had always been dangerous, was a lot less ... collective and definitely more violent.

Somewhere along the way I stopped listening (RevCo, Lard, Pigface, yes! Primus ... no!) Saw Fix at The Music Box and while I expected to not be impressed w/Alain, I did not expect how impressed I still would be with that cultural moment in time.
posted by january at 3:07 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nothing says "it's the holidays" like the classic song stylings of Alain Jourgenson.
posted by markkraft at 3:30 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm blown away to discover his connection to Keith LeBlanc's MAJOR MALFUNCTION, one of my favorite records of the era.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:02 PM on January 11, 2014

I loved Land of Rape and Honey. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
posted by doublesix at 6:31 PM on January 11, 2014

I went to a Ministry show last year, it was one of the saddest, depressive performance i've ever seen.
Do yourself a favor if you have even the slightest love for early Ministry don't see them live now, it's a tragedy.
Jourgensen is clearly in very bad shape, he collapsed mid-show.
He was struggling from the very begining of the show to stay conscious yet you could still hear his voice singing perfectly, his vocals are all playback now.
Eventually the staff went on stage to carry him in the back, he was clearly in no shape to be standing up.
As he was being carried offstage, you could still hear his voice on the P.A, the backing band kept playing and didn't look concerned at all. They finished the song, without him as if it was the most natural thing in the world, still rocking out.
Then an announcer came to say the show was cancelled because Jourgensen was a bit "jetlagged".
posted by SageLeVoid at 8:41 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Good god, it's like Sesame Street introducing a new Scary Grandpa muppet!

Part of me wants to say, what do I expect, these guys I loved back then are old now, and you can't expect them to be the energetic fountains of rage and creativity they used to be. But, while Al's turning into a puddle of giggling, pierced goo, Nivek Ogre is looking great, and having quite the little renaissance with Skinny Puppy (and Ohgr too...I thought Undeveloped was one of the best albums of his career).

(Meanwhile, I happened to listen to KMFDM the other day, and they have chosen the other path to longevity, still putting out the exact same album, over and over and over. Good for them!)
posted by mittens at 6:25 AM on January 13, 2014

Ogre's great. They're touring right now, and he did a pretty cool streaming chat with some folks. Seems like a decent guy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:35 AM on January 13, 2014

(Meanwhile, I happened to listen to KMFDM the other day, and they have chosen the other path to longevity, still putting out the exact same album, over and over and over. Good for them!)

KMFDM! Doin' it again!
and again!
and again!
and again!

posted by mykescipark at 9:50 AM on January 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

When I was in college (Class of '01), my thesis adviser was from Chicago and it somehow came up in conversation that her favorite band from her teenage years was Ministry. She then said that she hadn't heard any of their stuff or seen them since 1985 and asked me if they were still around. I hated to break her heart like that.
posted by snottydick at 9:17 AM on January 14, 2014

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