There’s a lot of original footage in the film from some of Al’s heroes—you know, Timothy Leary and William S. Burroughs. Do you think that these thinkers rubbed off on the sound and philosophy you guys had while you were on tour?
Not specifically while we were on tour. I can’t speak for Al [Jourgensen], but I read Burroughs and knew about Timothy Leary—I never read any of his books—but perhaps as counter-culture figures? Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, it’s much more interesting than like Anita Bryant or whatever. So yeah, of course. You say thinkers, yes. Those perspectives on American society were part of, you know, what made me do what I did and undoubtedly Al do what he did. But that’s not tour-specific. We’re the same people, but we’re just in a different environment. We’re no longer in a creative type of mode; we’re in a “replicate our music” type of mode.
There’s a lot of stuff going on politically that makes the timing of this film really appropriate. There’s the Occupy Wall Street protests going on and a lot of pent-up frustration and dissatisfaction with the status quo, and a lot of that was channeled into the industrial scene that you guys pioneered. What’s your take on the political legacy of the band?
I don’t know where to start. We were very aware of the hypocrisies of politics and big business and what was going on and how it affected people. Now, I personally feel that as an artist you cannot not reflect the environment you live in. And when I say environment, I don’t mean “I’m living in Austin, TX, and now I’m going to make country music.” I mean, OK, I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, so that is the shit that formed my life. All the stupid, the whole fucking Reagan era and trickle-down economics and Iran Contra—it’s all a giant fucking mess, and these kinds of aspects of things start to filter into your knowledge. So when you start growing up, you start realizing that not everything is the way that it’s portrayed. As an artist, when you are creating stuff, well, those are the things that are relevant when you’re working, when you’re creating. So I think that as far as a political legacy goes, I’m thrilled that the band has a political history. It’s more interesting than being a teenybopper band. Of course there’s nothing wrong with love. But I just think that obviously, not everyone is interested in politics, but we are interested in politics, and it just became second nature for us to talk about it and to use that as part of our art.
Here’s the thing. When we were making that music, we were distinctly aware of not moving to L.A., not moving to New York. We wanted to remain outsiders. We didn’t care about Grammys. We didn’t care about how many records got sold; these kinds of aspects of what it means to a band that suddenly becomes popular. We didn’t give a fuck because we’re punk rockers at heart. We want to stir shit up. Although we were aware of stuff like hair metal, it wasn’t interesting to us. First and foremost, we tried to have our own voice. We wanted to make a sound that was unmistakable, which I think really is the most admirable thing you can do as an artist, is to create something that is unmistakeable. It’s incredibly difficult, and even bands that I don’t like, I respect because they’re able to do that.
What’s coming up next for you?
I have a new body of work, which should be coming out shortly. We’re still working on the paperwork aspect of it. It’s going to be another Flowering Blight record. And I’ve worked on a new I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness record. And Duane Denison, Johnny Rabb, Gary Call and I worked on a new U.S.S.A. record, and that’s done. Unfortunately the label we were on [Fuzz] went under, but those projects are done and waiting to see the light of day.
Fix: The Ministry Movie will be shown as part of CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival on Wednesday, October 19. The film will be screened at 9:30 p.m. at Clearview Chelsea Cinema. A Q&A with director Doug Freel and Ministry’s Paul Barker will follow.