Legendary, Industrial music pioneer and all-around Rock Star Al Jourgensen has joined forces with British dark-artist Sam Shearon to create a series of comic books entitled MINISTRY: The Devil’s Chord – The Chronicles of Alien F. Jourgensen, a 13-issue comic book series targeted to premiere at next July’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Each issue in the series will be based on a Ministry album, including the Platinum-certified Psalm 69, the Gold-sellers The Land of Rape and Honey and The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, as well as Filth Pig, Rio Grande Blood, The Last Sucker and Relapse – all Top 20 albums on Billboard’s charts – among others.
The idea for a Ministry comic book was conceived by Al’s wife and Ministry manager Angelina Jourgensen. The story/script of the comic book, written by Sam “Mister-Sam” Shearon was inspired by conversations with both Al and Angelina Jourgensen about Al’s life, which provided the factual ingredients for Shearon to write this epic. Shearon has written the copy, created all of the characters and designed and illustrated the artwork for all 13 main covers as well as the inner illustrations throughout the entire series. According to Jourgensen, He’s, “been wanting to step away from music for a bit, switch gears…then I met Sam and then POOF! Sam turns me into a super hero. Yeah, I’ll sign up for that!”
I’ve interviewed Al on several occasions and have also dined and hung out with Al and Angie both in NY and LA, and I can tell you, based on my experiences alone, that they are endlessly engaging, charismatic and entirely charming people who have stories to tell beyond what you read in the media that would make your head explode. So, I know this comic book series is going to be amazing. Read the full press release and lots more quote from Al at This Link!
Keith & Me at Some Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles
Buckcherry Guitarist Keith Nelson Celebrates a Birthday today, February 8th! Keith shares his special day with Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil and former Ministry Bassist Paul Barker. Happy Birthday to my Aquarian Bothers in Rock!
And, oh yeah – please read my interview with Keith from way back in 2001 at This Link!
Now that we are just a couple of short weeks away from kicking off a spectacular New Year, full of art, music, pink things, bacon and free food, I would like to ask you, Dear Readers, how was your year? I hope it was awesome. As you can see from this Rad Blog you are now reading, I got to do some fun things in 2011, including going on my most fun vacation in many years when my sister and I took a 7 day Caribbean cruise, with three days in New Orleans on the front end. Holy cow, was that ever fun! Such adventuring! Such fine dining! Such ridiculous humidity! I’m still sweating.
What this all means is that it’s time again for the obligatory Year End Top Ten List, so, instead of going with the predictable, rote, yawnfest Top Ten CDs list I’ve decided to do more of a Pop Culture Mixed Bag, if you will. Because that is how I roll. Let’s get started.
Best Album: Manraze, PunkFunkRootsRock. Take guitarist Phil Collen from Def Leppard, team him up with drummer Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols and add Simon Laffy, the bassist from Phil’s former Glam band, Girl (because every power trio needs a bassist), and you’ve got a record that sounds, well, like a raunchier version of Def Leppard! We especially love Phil’sLemmy impersonation on “Over My Dead Body.” Record of The Year! Read my interview with Paul Cook at This Link.
That’s Me in the Back Row: Third in from the Left
Best Game Show: The Kostabi Show, where a panel of three Art critics and/or celebrities compete to title the works of modernist painter Mark Kostabi for cash awards, while a jury votes on which title suits the painting best. I had the opportunity to serve as a member of the jury for a taping this past summer and went home with $6 cash more than I had when I arrived, plus a Kostabi coffee table book signed by Mark. Bonus: free pizza! Kostabi, who is an accomplished pianist, also released a swell modern classical CD, The Spectre of Modernism, this year, which has been in heavy rotation on my iPod for ages now.
Best Beatles Thing: Dave Depper’s Ram Project, an authentically-covered version of Paul McCartney’s second solo album, complete with off-key Linda-esque backing vocals! So good!
Best Rock Book: Nick Kent’s Apathy For The Devil, a memoir of the British rock critic’s life and career in the 1970s. Everyone knows that all of the best music happened the Seventies, so I will admit that, as both a writer and fan, I certainly would have loved to have lived that life myself, save for the messy heroin addiction part.
Best Fashion-Related Museum Exhibit: Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Four words: Crown of Thorns Headdress. The Savage Beauty Exhibit set all kinds of ridiculous attendance records for the Met and was just insane. Insane!
Best Homage to Eighties Alternative Goth: Chris Connelly’s Artificial Madness. David Bowie Meets Killing Joke plus Bauhaus sautéed lightly with Magazine and a little Ministry on the side. Homage!
Best Rock Documentary:Fix, The Ministry Movie. Kids: Don’t Do Drugs. Or do a lot of them. One or the Other.
Best Seventies Southern Rock: The Sheepdogs, Five Easy Pieces EP. Bonus points to the band for their fan-winning appearance on the most recent season of Project Runway!
Reality TV (Competition): Top Chef, because Celebrity Chefs are the new Rock Stars!
Pop Culture as Art: The Suckadelic Art Toy Universe Retrospective and Pop Up Store at Boo Hooray Gallery (NYC). The judges and critics on the second season of Bravo’sWork Of Art didn’t really dig the SuckLord’s artwork too much, but his parodies of Star Wars toys served up with a serious side of snark made for one of the most subversive, hilarious and memorable art shows of the year! Art!
Honorable Mention: Kasabian’s Velociraptor, MGMT Live at the Guggenheim, The Zombies at City Winery, Single Fare Please Swipe Again at Sloan Fine Art, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, Jeremy Dower’s Canis Mortuus Familiarus at Bold Hype Gallery, American Horror Story, Maurizio Catellan’s All Retrospective at The Guggenheim, Patti Smith at Webster Hall, The Wyld Olde Souls’ Ensoulment, Jeremy Fish Listen & Learn at Joshua Liner Gallery, Robot Chicken, Tosh.0.
In contrast to the ethereal, romantic, midnight cabaret vibe of Blonde Exodus, my favorite album by Scottish expat Chris Connelly, Artificial Madness, the latest from the ex-Ministry/RevCo vocalist is fierce, briskly paced and vibrant with frenetic energy. Oh Chris, why did you stay away so long?
While the undeniable bombast of Connelly’s impressive musical pedigree is in full evidence over the course of these eleven tracks, he’s also imbued these tunes with the essence of eighties-era bands that, in effect, carried the torch for all that came along in the nineties. “Wait for Amateur” would sound right at home book-ended by “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” and “Dark Entries” on a Best-of Bauhaus album and “The Modern Swine” resembles an aural bow to Howard Devoto’s Magazine, whether intentional or otherwise. As always, Connelly’s sublime Bowie-esque croon takes even Peter Murphy’s embodiment of the Thin White Duke past the realm of homage and into the arena of a vocalist whose imprint is arguable matched only by Bryan Ferry among those currently recording. If you enjoy music with a serious pulse, there is no reason not to add Artificial Madness to your collection.
Chicago-area fans can catch the Artificial Madness record release show on Friday November 18, 2011 at The Hideout. For this show, Chris will be joined by the those who backed him on the album including producer Sanford Parker (Minsk, Nachtmystium), Noah Leger (The Karl Hendricks Trio, The(e) Speaking Canaries, Head of Skulls), Will Lindsay (Indian, Nachtmystium, Wolves in Throne Room), and Dallas Thomas (The Swan King, Circle of Animals, Asschapel).
Malevolent, beautiful, creepy and compelling all at once, Artificial Madness, out on Relapse Records on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, is one of my favorite releases of the year.
I don’t imagine that many individuals would disagree with a statement made by Ministry front man Al Jourgensen close to the beginning of Fix – a profoundly gritty and utterly compelling documentary of which he is the primary focus – that the best job to have is one where you’re paid to be yourself. Possibly the single most influential musician of the Industrial music genre and an undeniably notorious and outspoken character, Jourgensen has never “posed” nor compromised for the sake of his art. In fact, he’s pretty much always earned a pay check for the talents involved in just being Al Jourgensen. Fifteen years ago, while Ministry was touring the world in support of the Filth Pig album, Al was a relentless junkie who was equal parts devil and messiah to everyone who entered his orbit. Someone on that tour bus was a filmmaker with a camera. Fix: The Ministry Movie is the resultant documentation of the full immersion into Al’s world of someone who was, essentially, just along for the ride. Most of the journey isn’t very pretty.
Directed by Douglas Freel (an award-winning music video director now working in feature length films) Fix is a straightforward, unapologetically graphic and unflinchingly brutal look into the behind the scenes minutia of Ministry’s 1996 Sphinctour. Adding depth and amazing color to what would have been outstanding subject matter even if simply left as a tour documentary (see Sphinctour 2002) are extensive “Talking Head” interviews with musical luminaries and Jourgensen devotees such as Trent Reznor, Ogre of Skinny Puppy, Dave Navarro, Maynard James Keenan, the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra, Jonathan Davis of Korn and Jesus Lizard front man David Yow (who is also extensively fully naked in the film. You have been warned). These heavy hitters – many of them former addicts and alcoholics themselves – not only freely praise Al’s creative genius and often beguiling personality but also closely examine his addiction as being almost expected given his chosen work environment. As both insiders and critics, they universally offer wide-eyed wonder that Al could abuse himself to such an extreme degree and not be six feet under. Ultimately, Fix explores how far beyond sanity it is possible to go under the right circumstances and still manage to come back alive.
Also invited to shine a light on the claustrophobic inner workings of the band is Al’s long time creative partner Paul Barker, as well as then-Ministry touring members Duane Buford, Zlatko Hukic, Louis Svitek and, in what I would call one of the films “significant supporting roles,” drummer Rey Washam. Washam, an amazing drummer and obviously a very smart guy, openly discusses how the pressure of being a part of the Ministry machine drove him to heroin addiction. His occasional voice over narrations and on-screen time provide some of the best moments in the film. Other highlights include Reznor’s comment that it was so refreshing to hear a band doing something that couldn’t be directly linked to the influence of “The Beatles or Black Sabbath” and Dave Navarro’s hilarious confession that, while he and fellow Jane’s Addiction members Perry Farrel and Eric Avery were certainly full on Junkies during a shared tour bill with Ministry, at least they weren’t “as bad as Al.” Various record label executives from Ministry’s tenure on the Warner Bros label also chime in with insightful and deeply candid personal accounts of what it was like working with Ministry and Al. One gentleman remembers that it was never possible to have an appointment to hear samples of Ministry’s progress in the studio on one day “and make it to work the next day.”
Seeing Ministry live is comparable to being on a battle field, and that’s the closest I ever want to get to going to war. I’m a fan, but if you’re not familiar with their music, let’s just say that it makes Nine Inch Nails (generally considered by the mainstream to be a rather challenging listen) sound like Ace of Base by comparison. While there are many concert clips in Fix, the music really takes a back seat here, as fairly often there is less than a minute of music featured in each of over a dozen or so songs. That it seems like much more is testament to the music’s immense, battering-ram-to-the face emotional impact. Last but not least, every second of the video footage is pristine High Def quality and scattered shots of the tour bus travelling through a gorgeous open dessert landscape or along the shore of some unnamed locale stands in sharp contrast to multiple scenes of Al tying off and looking for “a good vein” so he can fix while telling the camera that what he’s doing isn’t any worse than getting drunk. Freel also switches back and forth between color and black & white stock, to great artistic effect. You can’t miss this film.
Unrated for adult content that includes sex, nudity, adult language and blatant drug use, Fix is definitely not for children (say 15 and over is a safe guideline). Visit Fix The Ministry Movie Dot Com for more information on Fix and to find a screening in your area.
One of my favorite people in the world, former Ministry bassist Paul Barker, celebrates his Birthday today, February 8th. Please enjoy reading my 2003 interview with Paul and the always amusing Al Jourgensen at This Link. Happy Birthday, Paul!
Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana, and singer / guitarist for the Foo Fighters was born on this day in 1969. I met Dave once, in the crowd at a Ministry concert in Seattle over ten years ago, and he was really nice. Happy Birthday, Dave!