Al Jourgensen's 11 favourite side-project tracks

Al Jourgensen from Ministry holding an arrow to his head
(Image: © Eric Lothrop)

Known primarily for his work with Grammy nominated legends Ministry, Al Jourgensen also has a vast back catalogue of magnificent side-projects under his belt, ranging from country music to punk rock, and all points in between. He’s worked with everyone from acid guru Timothy Leary to Jello Biafra, and, even more remarkably for a man once known for his gargantuan drug intake, he actually remembers making those records. So we decided to delve a little deeper, finding Mad Uncle Al wide awake and raring to go, at the ungodly hour of 10am on a Monday. “I’m already on my fifth beer, so let’s get on with this!” he cackles. Typically, when asked to pick his top ten side-project tracks, he picks eleven!

Lard – Forkboy

Fork Boy’s an interesting tune, I like that one. I think they used that one on Natural Born Killers during the prison riot scene. I just remember, when we were doing that one, (Paul) Barker could not play the bass; I came up with the guitar riff, and it was super fast, so I wound up having to play bass. I was actually kinda pissed off about having to do that song because I had to do all the work. But then Jello (Biafra) came in and his vocals were just spot on. Originally we were gonna try it as a Ministry song, but Jello happened to be in the studio, and it just sounded better with him singing on it. There’s a lot of Lard ones that hit the mark, and Fork Boy’s a good place to start.”

Revolting Cocks – Crackin’ Up

“That one was just so tongue-in-cheek because, at the time, we were all a bunch of crackheads anyway. There were two rooms at the studio in Chicago; one of them was all the house and hip hop stuff, and the other one we basically block booked for a year at a time and worked on Lard, RevCo, Ministry, Pailhead, Homo DJs, and all these other bands. We’d have the A room, and the B room was all these hip hop and house guys who were all crackheads and crack dealers. It was pretty fun doing that song. We ended up bringing in the hip hop people from the B room to give us suggestions, and I remember doing a lot of funky, James Brown type guitars on that song. It was quite a party doing that song, and it’s my favourite one from that album.”

Revolting Cocks – Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?

“That has to go on the list! The making of the video for Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? was just ridiculous, man, over the top! We were at a right-wing survivalists compound, about half a mile away from the siege at Waco. We were shooting that week, right before they stormed the compound and burned out David Koresh and his followers. It took a whole week to film the video, and we’d get done filming and go to the site, which was literally about half a mile down the road, and we’d hang out with FBI agents, tripping balls on MDA from shooting the Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? video. We’d ask them every day, “Are you gonna storm it today?”, and we brought our own cameras just in case, but unfortunately we got done with the video, and they stormed it about two days later. Chris (Connelly) did a really good job on changing the lyrics, and it’s funny because that was one of the reasons he left Revolting Cocks. His girlfriend, who then became his wife, convinced him that he was a misogynist and he had no concern for women’s rights. He was like, ‘We can’t put that one on the record’, and I said, ‘Dude, when you got into this band, what was the name of the band? Revolting Cocks! And it’s just dawned on you now that it might be misogynist!’ And here’s a little fun fact: they actually have their own Grammy awards for strip clubs and the adult industry, and that version and that video was the most played strip club song in the entire United States! I know that whenever I was dragged out to a strip club, for sure that was played at some point. Since I’ve never actually won a Grammy – and I’ve been nominated five or six times – at least I know I’ve got the strip club’s hearts!”

Revolting Cocks – Gila Copter

“Tim Leary was hanging out at the studio; he was staying with me in Chicago for about a month, and we just hung out and had a great time. A lot of MDA went into doing Gila Copter and Tim was pretty stoned! Tim wrote those lyrics on the spot; there weren’t any lyrics written down, he just went off into this weird psychedelic ramble, which I heard many times during the years that I knew and hung out with him, but it was on the spot stuff.”

1000 Homo DJs – Apathy

Apathy was the first song that was ever recorded for Homo DJs, and it wasn’t a band or anything back then. We recorded that while we were recording Twitch in like ‘86, when I was living in Wood Green in London and hanging out with the Crass people, recording in Southern Studios. The day that we were recording that, the Neubauten folks were in town, checking the studio out to see if they wanted to record there, and that’s when I got to meet them and hang out in the studio with them. We played them what we were doing and they were just shaking their heads, like, “We don’t know what to make of this!”, in their very stoic German way. The saxophone on that song is really super distorted, which I really fell in love with. I know everyone goes for the Sabbath cover (Supenaut), but my vote goes for Apathy as a Homo DJs song.”

Acid Horse – No Name No Slogan

“The Cabaret Voltaire guys visited Chicago, I guess they were playing in Chicago, and they had some days off and decided to come down to the infamous Trax studios and hang out. That one was very clinical, and it was a very different side-project in the sense that those guys were all about business, so it was kind of a sterile atmosphere. There was no Mike Scaccia, or Timothy Leary, or Jello Bifara, none of my friends were there. It was Paul Barker, Chris Connelly, and the Cabaret Voltaire boys, and I was like the hammer on a Rorschach test – like you have four babies and a hammer, and they ask you which one doesn’t belong in this picture. It came out good, in a real clinical sense, but you’ve got to remember that my favourites are not always my favourite songs, but the one’s I had the most fun making. But I can understand the appeal of Acid Horse.”

PTP – Rubber Glove Seduction

“PTP and Acid Horse were very similar in the type of music they are. It’s very clinical electronic music, with some guitars. PTP was basically started because I did original score music for the disco scene in the very first Robocop, where Robocop comes in and pulls the criminal out of the disco. Right after he gets reanimated into a bionic man, he starts having flashbacks about the people who put him in that situation and goes into a club to arrest the guy that his memory chip says was the one who shot him. Paul Verhoeven, the director of that movie, was a Ministry fan, so he had me do the score for that. There was no real lyrics or anything, it was just music for that scene, but then, when I got back to Chicago, having moved back from London, I started working on PTP. That was a completely accidental band that came from working on Robocop and just deciding to make a band out of it. PTP and Acid Horse are in the same vein in that they’re both clinical, and you’re somewhat coherent while you’re doing them. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but they stand up over the years, like a blast from the past.”

Buck Satan And The 666 Shooters – I Hate Every Bone In Your Body Except Mine

“That’s my favourite album that I’ve done, as far as side-projects go. That was just such a joy to make. If I have to pick one track, I would have to say, on Buck Satan, just because of the ridiculousness of it, I Hate Every Bone In Your Body Except Mine. It was almost like a Revolting Cocks country song! But it’s really hard to pick a favourite song: I love every song on that record, and I doubt there’ll ever be another one. What was awesome about that band was we sold so many t-shirts 20 years before the band ever got around to doing music, so it was like a merch line that created a band. We’d been talking about it for years and everyone knew the name, and we kept saying, ‘Yeah, next year…’ And then, finally, about 27 years after the first t-shirt came out, we actually did a record for it. It lived up to the hype for me, and I can’t say I’ll never do another one, but it’s gonna be another 25 years before I get around to it!”

Pailhead – I Will Refuse

“I think that whole EP is pretty good, pretty solid for the time it came out. That was also recorded in Wood Green in London. Ian MacKaye was on Southern Distribution for all his DC hardcore stuff, and he knew all the Crass guys, too, which was the money behind Southern Studios. He was just visiting, checking up on his own stuff for Minor Threat, and we just hit it off for whatever reason. There happened to be some tracks floating around, because the way I record is I just bulk record a bunch of stuff and then figure it out later. I played him some stuff and he really liked it, so he sang on it, and everything came out great. Me and Ian worked absolutely great together. We both knew where we were coming from; he was straight-edge and I was not, but there was a mutual respect that made the whole thing work.”

Surgical Meth Machine – I’m Invisible

“I think there’s a choice of five on this record, which I rarely say. I usually hate my fucking stuff, or at least 60 per cent of it, but on this record I’m having a hard time hating even half the record! Invisible, I think, is preposterous in that it’s going back to Revolting Cocks sarcasm, and it’s a fun song. If you want side-projects, there’s nothing more sideline than that! I mean, if you’ve listened to Ministry and you wanna know why this is a side-project and not Ministry, then that would be the track to go to!”

Lard – Drug Raid At 4am

“That was another fast riff I came up with, and Jello just nailed it. He said he had some ideas, came in 20 minutes later and said, ‘Hey, can you guys bring up some sort of sample of a police raid or siren?’ So we dug around and came up with it, and about 20 minutes later we had the track. That one went really fast, and the back-up vocals are always a great punk singalong. You have to get drunk for the back-up vocals! It sounded like a parking lot after a Millwall game!”

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