Ministry’s Al Jourgensen After Meeting Madonna: “Everywhere you go, it stinks” – 2022
Back in the ‘80s, were you into any arena rock or hair metal stuff?
No, not at all. I didn’t know any of… to this day, outside of “Girls, Girls, Girls” or something, I couldn’t even name you a Mötley Crüe song. That’s not something that I would listen to. I’m sure it’s really great and all that, but when I say arena rock, I don’t mean that this album’s going to be a hair-band fucking album. I mean, it’s Ministry, right? I’m just saying that the chord progressions and the sound of it is just much more… we don’t go off on eclectic tangents as much. These are hard-hitting beats that are in your face, and that you could visualize 20,000 people knowing the lyrics to the songs and chanting along. So the music lends itself more towards a larger stadium atmosphere.
So you’re not a Crüe fan, is what you’re saying.
I’ve met them – we played with them in Australia and this and that, and they were a nice bunch of folks. But I listen to a lot of different kinds of stuff than that. I pretty much kind of quit listening to that kind of stuff back in… it shows my age, but back in the ‘70s. ZZ Top, Foghat, those were my hair-metal bands, if you will.
Bands where the big hair was mostly on the chin.
Pretty much, yeah, right. [laughs]
Here’s another artist from your past: The Police. Early in Ministry’s career you did some dates opening for them on their Synchronicity tour.
Oh, that was very, very, very early. We’re talking 1982, 1983. At that time we were a fucking product of Arista records. They wrote our songs, they dressed us, it was pathetic. And then they put us on the road with the Police. They also put us on the road opening for Culture Club, of all people. Obviously, it was exciting playing in front of that many people. I mean, Ministry had done maybe 10 shows total, in front of, like, 150, 200 people. So it was kind of cool, but it was also just really, really bizarre because we weren’t allowed to play the stuff that we wanted to play. We had to play what the label had provided for us.
Ministry eventually moved from Arista to Sire Records.
Sire’s signings… their very first signing was Climax Blues Band, out of England, I believe. Then they had Talking Heads. Around the same time they signed us, they signed Madonna.
Ever hang with her?
I met her once, literally on the night that I signed the Sire contract. [Label founder] Seymour Stein introduced me to Madonna at some show at Irving Plaza in New York. And I just remember every time she was around everything smelled like dogshit. Then she’d leave and the smell would go away. So I finally chased her down and I said, “Did you step in some dogshit or something?” And she thought I was an asshole. But I was just really curious. I was trying to warn her. Like, “Dude, everywhere you go, it stinks, you know?” I thought I was doing a good deed and instead she got all pissed.
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