After 25-plus Years of Debauchery, Al Jourgensen Has Decided to Shut Down His Ministry

The end was sadly inevitable. After nearly three decades of bashing any Bush who has happened to be president and helping create an entirely new genre of music along the way, Al Jourgensen has decided to end Ministry.

With such landmark recordings to his band's name as The Land of Rape and Honey and Psalm 69—works that fused punk, metal and electronics into a powerful amalgam that came to be labeled "industrial"—Jourgensen says he found the momentum difficult to maintain. Although 2007's The Last Sucker was one of many valiant efforts at reclaiming past glories (this final tour will even bring back the construction of a chain-link fence separating band from audience), Jourgensen feels that it's finally time to close up shop.

And he's not joking.

Al Jourgensen: Your parents' original rock 'n' roll nightmare.
Al Jourgensen: Your parents' original rock 'n' roll nightmare.

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Ministry performs Thursday, April 17, at the Palladium Ballroom.

"This will not be like The Who coming back for 80 years, or Anthrax who have been on a farewell tour for a decade," Jourgensen says from his tour bus. "I have a record label to run. I produce a lot of bands; I'm booked for the next four years. And rock 'n' roll is for the young idiots, not an old fart like me."

Too bad.

Years before Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson dressed up his ideas in much make-up and self-conscious pretense, Jourgensen was the legitimately scary guy your mother warned you about: an intense, tattooed boogeyman whose music gleefully conjured up images of pollution, rape and sacrilege. Add in Jourgensen's infamous history of drug abuse and confrontational stage presence and it's no wonder the guy wants out.

"I never want to be in that stage where a band ends up playing state fairs and casinos," he says. "I am not willing to go out shooting up Botox and eating corn dogs while judging pig contests."

Jourgensen is also keenly aware that with the impending end of the Bush dynasty—the impetus for many of Ministry's raging rants—there will definitely be something of a void in his standard muse.

"Without either Bush, Ministry would have definitely sucked," Jourgensen says. "That's another reason why you can guarantee that this band is done."

Though Jourgensen says he'll stay busy producing other bands and scoring movie soundtracks, he admits that the last few turbulent years of his rock career have forced him to re-evaluate his priorities. Before The Last Sucker, Ministry's recent output was denied the critical and popular reactions of the band's earlier releases. But Jourgensen pushed through, found his way back on track (he's been drug-free for some time now), and now looks forward to performing for his fans on this final go-round.

"I got bit by a brown recluse [spider] in Austin a few years back," Jourgensen says. "I told that doctor that I was the guitar player for Ministry, not the drummer for Def Leppard—so he better make sure to save my arm!"

 
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