Ministry Aims To Wilt Mohawks With New Album

As Ministry's Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker contemplated their sixth studio album together, the two sought to get back to the blistering sonic form that produced 1988's groundbreaking electro-industri

As Ministry's Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker contemplated their sixth studio album together, the two sought to get back to the blistering sonic form that produced 1988's groundbreaking electro-industrial set "The Land of Rape and Honey" and 1992's influential "Psalm 69." In order to do that, they knew they'd have to cut out the infighting, record company problems, and the creative and chemical input from friends that hampered previous recording sessions.

"Our last record was a nightmare," Barker says of "The Dark Side of the Spoon," the band's final release for Warner Bros. "We were really unhappy with virtually everything."

For the forthcoming "Animositisomina," due Feb. 18 via Sanctuary, the duo barricaded themselves inside Sonic Ranch, a remote desert studio 30 miles outside El Paso, Texas. Just a short pickup ride from the Rio Grande, the river that separates Texas and Mexico, the location had all the amenities and none of the distractions of big city studios.

"Out in the desert we were forced to work, forced to get along, because there was no other options except to sit out in the f***ing desert with the coyotes and the chupacabras and the wild scorpions and s***," Jourgensen says. "It reenergized us and it refocused us."

After three and a half months -- a lightning quick pace for the band -- Barker and Jourgensen emerged with the 10-song "Animositisomina." The album marks a brutal return to the jackhammer tempos and screaming guitars for which the band is known. From the opening sounds of the heavy metal guitar crunch and distorted vocals of the title track, there's no mistaking Ministry for the legion of lesser imitators.

"It's animosity forwards, animosity backwards," Jourgensen says of the record's title and theme. When asked where the middle-aged group finds its source of animus, Jourgensen points to the religious conflagrations raging all over the world. "Look around you," he says. "You got your Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. You got your Jews, your Arabs, your Christians. There's no shortage of animosity."

One also gets the sense Jourgensen and Barker feel they have something to prove after watching scores of younger bands gain popularity with sounds that borrow heavily from Ministry's dance/metal/industrial hybrid.

"The new stuff you hear [on the radio] is infinitesimally banal as far as I'm concerned," Jourgensen says. "I can't tell the difference between one band and another." Jourgensen points out the irony that there was more diversity in music 30 years ago, when all rock bands had at their disposal were guitars, basses, and drums. Now that they have seemingly unlimited technology at their fingertips, there's less original sounds than ever.

"You have to be raised in a petri dish, like Britney Spears, or have Julio Iglesias as a father, just to get played anywhere," Jourgensen snarls.

The group is currently readying itself for an extended tour of Europe, Japan, Australia, and the U.S., and Jourgensen promises that things will be different this time around. For one, he recently eloped to Graceland with Angelina, the keyboard player in the band, which should provide somewhat of a calming influence on the irascible singer. Jourgensen also reports he's kicked heroin, the drug responsible for much more chaos and disappointment than actual creativity.

"We're doing a two-hour show," Jourgensen says of the upcoming tour. "If I was on [heroin], there's no way I could make it through a set like that. It's blazing."

Jourgensen has already scoured Ministry's back catalog for the 23-song set list and finalized an eight-piece lineup for the tour. Joining Barker on bass and Jourgensen on guitar will be two drummers, two keyboardists, and two additional guitarists. Samples and prerecorded sounds, if any, will be kept to a minimum.

"We're taking this tour seriously," Jourgensen assures. "So tell those f***ing kids to get in shape. There's going to be a lot of wilted mohawks up front when we're through with them."

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