Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Jane’s Addiction: They all owe a large debt to Ministry, the pioneering Chicago band that combined elements of EBM, metal, synth-pop and thrash to create what is known today as “industrial.” The envelope-pushing wasn’t purely musical, however; Al Jourgensen and company are equally legendary for their daring political and religious statements, as well as their infamously debaucherous life on the road. The latter is extensively covered in the new film Fix: The Ministry Movie, which offers a glimpse of the band’s life on the road. CMJ will host a showing of the film on Wednesday, October 19, at 9:30 p.m. at Clearview Chelsea Cinema, followed by a Q&A with director Doug Freel and Ministry’s former bassist Paul Barker. We had a chance to discuss the film—as well as Ministry’s political and cultural legacy—with Barker. Read on for the full convo:
CMJ: What did you think of the film?
Paul Barker: It’s hard for me to watch. I don’t like that aspect of the film, and in some ways I don’t like the film, only because I was there and I understand what’s going on. There isn’t anything about the film that I would want to change. I don’t care to change it. I’m not the filmmaker. It is what it is, and I’m happy that it exists…but it’s not a fun film for me.
Do you think it’s an accurate glimpse into the world of Ministry?
Of course it is. Sure. I mean, it’s not everything, of course. It’s not the hours and hours of boredom, but it’s a glimpse of shit that happened.
What are you hoping the audience takes away from the movie after witnessing this spectacle across two continents and all of these different cities?
First of all, it’s not a performance movie. I mean, we already did one—the tour DVD [2002’s Sphinctour DVD]. So all of those “we’re out there crushing everybody, forming our music lives,” as powerful as that is, that’s all incorporated in that other film. So, what do I want people to come away with? I don’t know. Doing drugs is stupid. You know, in so many ways, given the talking heads and what they say, it’s a cautionary tale. People are going to do what they want to do and that’s not gonna change. And as far as I’m concerned everyone can do what they want. That’s what life is all about, emotional extremes. So I’m all for it. But I don’t know. What do I want people to come away with? I don’t know. It’s difficult for me to watch.
Walk us through the reactions you had while watching the film.
Well, I laughed, I felt sick to my stomach, I felt relieved to no longer be in that situation. I mean, all of that shit. I’m thrilled that that footage exists because I don’t live there. And so all of a sudden I’m thrust into what I was doing at that time. And you know, I’ve matured 15 years since that time, and so the first thing that I think is “Why the fuck was I there?” I know full well why I was there, but after the fact, when you’re looking back on it, it’s uncanny. But that’s really how I felt—it all happened, so there’s nothing shocking about it to me. All of my reactions are personal reactions to the fact that it was my life. I can’t really look at it objectively.
A little bit over a decade later, do you regret anything that happened?
No, I don’t regret what happened. I mean, do we wish that we made different decisions? Of course. I even wished that at the moment the decisions were made, you know? It is what it is.
Next page: More from Paul Barker