"Obviously, my muse for the past six years has been George W.," Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen admitted recently, "and he's going to be riding off into the sunset soon, so I figured I'd just go out with him."
That's right — Ministry's September 18 disc, The Last Sucker, will indeed be their studio-album swan song.
"Everyone seems to think I make sh--ty records when there are Democrats in office," he laughed. "Since I'm really on the top of my game right now, it would be nice to end on a high note instead of keep releasing sh--ty albums well into my 60s," he added.
Of course, Jourgensen isn't about to fade away without blasting a final cache of industrial-metal ammunition at the White House. The Last Sucker is venomous and brutal, filled with caustic riffs, political sound bites and ranting, distorted vocals. The new LP incorporates elements of Ministry's finest albums, including the mechanized precision of 1988's The Land of Rape and Honey; the blowtorch fury of 1992's Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs; the hazy, lumbering fear and rage of 1996's Filth Pig; and the shovel-to-the-skull thrash and anti-Bush bile presented on 2004's Houses of the Molé and 2006's Rio Grande Blood. However, while Jourgensen admits The Last Sucker provides a comprehensive closing chapter to the story of the band he formed in Chicago in 1981, he insists he wasn't making a conscious effort to write the equivalent of an on-the-deathbed flashback.
"Me, [Prong guitarist] Tommy Victor and [Prong/ Killing Joke bassist Paul] Raven just went in and jammed, and the only idea that we had going in was that we didn't have any ideas," Jourgensen said. "This is definitely a fitting end to it all, but that's just the way it came out. There's a couple songs left on a shelf somewhere in case I die in a plane crash and they want to release outtakes, but for the most part, we picked out the ones that made the record flow in a way that, as it turned out, encapsulated the Ministry sound."
Jourgensen and his cohorts started writing The Last Sucker in February and finished tracking the album in June. In part, the rapid pace of production was necessary for Jourgensen to adhere to his tight schedule. As soon as he finished the album, he started putting songs together for an upcoming disc of Ministry covers — some new, some old — called Cover Up. The disc will feature numerous guests, including Static-X's Wayne Static (singing "I Want You [She's So Heavy]" by the Beatles); Cheap Trick's Robin Zander (singing Golden Earring's "Radar Love"); Fear Factory's Burton Bell (Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb"); and Victor and Mountain guitarist Leslie West (Mountain's "Mississippi Queen"). Cover Up will also include previously released covers of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut," Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay," the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" (which is on The Last Sucker) and Magazine's "The Light That Pours Out of Me."
As if that's not enough, Jourgensen is currently producing and playing on the debut album by Ascension of the Watchers, Bell and Fear Factory keyboardist John Bechdel's new band. And Al is also getting ready to start working on the final Revolting Cocks record, which is due next year.
"In the '90s, I was releasing a new record every three years," Jourgensen said. "Now we do records in three to six months at most and just work our asses off. The old Ministry records took a long time partially because of drug-induced lethargy, but also because I was still learning my craft and experimenting with a lot of things. A lot of it wouldn't work and I'd scrap it and end up wasting, like, three weeks of time on a single thing. But now we're a bunch of old grumps and we know what we want, we know what we sound like, and we're pretty comfortable in our skins. So we can have a good time and still knock out a record really quickly that everyone's 100 percent happy with."
Ministry will support The Last Sucker with one final worldwide tour with a lineup including Jourgensen, Raven, Victor, guitarist Sin Quirin (Revolting Cocks), drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (ex-Megadeth) and keyboardist Bechdel. But while Jourgensen is looking forward to the tour, he also looks forward to putting the lid on the Ministry coffin.
"Man, I'm so looking forward to not being the front guy on a brand name," he said. "When I was growing up, I loved Led Zeppelin, and I always wanted to be Jimmy Page. But I ended up being Robert Plant by default. I was the singer and the frontman when I always wanted to be — like in 'Wizard of Oz,' the guy behind the curtain. I get so much more done when I'm on the sidelines, and it's more suited to my personality. I'm a studio rat. I always will be. And now I'll be able to do, like, six projects a year, so it's actually much better. You'll actually get more sick of Al Jourgensen faster than if I was to keep doing Ministry. So I view this as my second career, not a retirement."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Looks like Static-X will be touring the U.S. this fall with Shadows Fall, 3 Inches of Blood and Divine Heresy in tow. While confirmed, just one date has been announced for the trek: October 30 in Hollywood. More dates will be revealed in the coming weeks. ... They've been talking about it for months, and now, at long last, there's finally an official release date for the next Dillinger Escape Plan LP, Ire Works. Alas, we're all going to have to wait a little longer than originally expected: The record will hit stores November 13. ...
New Orleans sludge-metallers Eyehategod have lined up a handful of live dates, but if you want to catch them, you'll need to head South. The band plays September 14 in Metairie, Louisiana; September 27 in Lafayette, Louisiana; September 28 in Austin, Texas; September 29 in Fort Worth, Texas; and September 30 in Monroe, Louisiana. ... Cattle Decapitation will head out in October with Arsonists Get All the Girls, the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and Veil of Maya for a brief U.S. run that will start October 13 in West Hollywood, California, and run through October 29 in Tucson, Arizona. A mere nine dates have been scheduled so far, but more will be announced as they're confirmed. In related news, an unmastered version of the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza's newest track, "I Am the Ocean," has been posted on the band's MySpace page. It's from the group's upcoming album, Danza II: The Electric Boogaloo, which will be in stores October 16. ...
Between the Buried and Me will tour this fall in support of their forthcoming album Colors, which is slated for release September 18. The trek, which kicks off September 26 in Greensboro, North Carolina, will also feature Horse the Band, Animosity and the End. Dates are scheduled through November 2 in Worcester, Massachusetts. ... The American Black Lung and I Am the Ocean kick off their Your Vultures Need Swallowing Tour on Friday night (August 17) in Salt Lake City. The tour runs through September 15 in Tucson, Arizona. ... Animosity's upcoming Animals LP will be chock-full of awesome guest spots. The record, out October 2, will feature singing by Cattle Decapitation's Travis Ryan, the Red Chord's Guy Kozowyk and A Life Once Lost frontman Bob Meadows. ...
In October, All Out War will begin recording an EP set for release through Innerstrength Records sometime later this year. Purity Through Annihilation will include five new songs, along with two covers and several demos dating back more than 15 years. ... Exodus, Arsis, Goatwhore and Warbringer will join forces this winter for a U.S. tour that is expected to kick off in West Hollywood, California, January 21. The tour is due to wrap in San Francisco on February 24. ... A brown recluse spider sunk its fangs into the Acacia Strain's Daniel "DL" Laskiewicz, forcing the metalcore act to cancel several shows — including the final date on this summer's Sounds of the Underground Tour. The band's future tour plans are up in the air as the guitarist undergoes treatment for the bite. ...
Speaking of bites, another one bites the dust, as they say: Sacramento, California's With Passion have called it a day — but they intend to take the stage one last time, on September 22 in Roseville, California. "We have been struggling to keep afloat in the business side of music for at least two years now," the band said in a statement. "We had high hopes that our new album would pull us out of that struggle, but instead, our album was released with less-than-expected promotion and distribution, and we ended up unable to even get on the road to support it. It simply seems ridiculous for us to continue on under this name since, as many of you have noticed, the last original member, [bassist] Mike Nordeen, departed the lineup about three months ago to go on to bigger and better things in the Human Abstract." Rising from the ashes, however, are Conducting From the Grave, the former band featuring several With Passion members. The group has been revived and plans to record soon. ...
The date has been set for Pennsylvania's Metalfest II: September 9. Here's how the lineup is shaping up: Full Blown Chaos, A Well Thought Tragedy, At the Throne of Judgment, Dim the Lights, Upon a Shallow Grave, Regain the Heart Condemned and Seas of David, plus several others. The shindig will start at 1 p.m. inside the Masonic Temple in Milton, and admission will set you back $15. ... Saosin will headline a U.S. fall tour, with Norma Jean and Alexisonfire opening. The trek launches October 1 in Fresno, California, and, 17 gigs later, wraps October 21 in Atlanta. ... Maryland Deathfest VI has been set for May 23-May 25 in Baltimore and will feature the likes of Monstrosity, Impaled, Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition, Hellnation, Martyr, the Day Everything Became Nothing, Engorged, Behold ... the Arctopus and others.