Founding Bassist Paul Barker Leaves Ministry

Band hires former Mind Funk member John Monte as replacement.

After 18 years with industrial-metal pioneers Ministry, co-founding bassist Paul Barker has left the band.

Though the news is just now surfacing, Barker told frontman Al Jourgensen in August that he was uninterested in remaining in the group, and he had been contemplating leaving for months before that.

“Last summer Al was extremely enthusiastic about the possibilities of what the band could do, and I wasn’t as excited. I thought, ‘What are we going to do and what am I going to get out of it?’ and I realized that now would be the perfect time to bow out,” Barker said.

Barker will also cease working with Jourgensen on the pair’s side projects, which have included Revolting Cocks, Lard and 1000 Homo DJs. His decision was cemented by the death of his father, which came when Barker was in Helsinki, Finland, on the final night of Ministry’s summer European tour.

“When something like that happens, you tend to reassess what the hell you’re doing and wonder what it’s all about and whether it’s ultimately satisfying,” Barker said. “I kept thinking, ‘What have I learned in the past 18 years?’ ”

Barker said Jourgensen didn’t do anything to spur his departure. “Over the years we’ve had strained relations as well as good times, and the last tour was no different than any other tour,” he said. “That means it was extremely difficult and very intense and lots of fun.”

Now that he’s out of Ministry, Barker plans to produce other groups and write music on his own. Last year he worked with drummer/programmer Max Brody on the experimental side project Pink Anvil, which released the avant-noise album Halloween Party in April. While Barker will continue collaborating with Brody as well as other musicians, his solo music will be more structured and rock-oriented.

“I wanna make big, ugly, heavy music because that’s what I love,” he said. “But it’s pop music. It has verses and choruses. It’s not abstract and experimental.”

Ministry have hired John Monte (ex-Mind Funk) to fill Barker’s work boots, and they’re in the studio in Tornillo, Texas, working on the follow-up to 2003′s Animositisomina. The new disc, due in the spring, is currently called Houses of the Molé, a tweak of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy.

In a post on the band’s Web site, Jourgensen described the album as “all Ministry, all the time, with a dash of sinister Southwest flavor and half the carbs.”

“I’m curious to hear what the new Ministry record will sound like, and I look forward to it,” said Barker. “I have talked to Al since I left, and everything is cool. We seem to be on pretty fair terms.”