Ministry with My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Hanzel Und Gretyl at the Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East), tonight (Thursday, October 14). $32.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Al Jourgensen of Ministry is on the phone from Cincinnati in the middle of a tour that runs through the end of November. It's his 46th birthday, and so far he's spent the day doing press and talking to his agent, so he's itching to get out and do birthday-type things. Nobody's even given him any presents yet.
Other than that, the Evil Doer tour, which follows the release of their Houses Of The Molé disc and also features My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Hanzel und Gretyl, is going well.
And Ministry, says Jourgensen, is doing better than they have in a long time.
"We're doubling the audience we had on the last two tours. All the kids know the lyrics of the new songs. We're concentrating on the new record, and it's coming along perfectly."
The Evil Doer for whom the tour is named is, not surprisingly, George W. Bush. It's no secret that Jourgensen hates Bush and is about as outspoken against Dubya as you can get. Each of the tunes on Houses Of The Molé, save for No W, begins with the letter W. Samples of Bush pepper the record, much like Psalm 69's N.W.O., along with blasting guitars and relentless percussion, while Jourgensen spouts vitriol against the object of his disgust.
He has also aligned himself with Punkvoter and offers voter registration and education at each show on the tour (though "I doubt we'll be registering voters in Canada," he muses). Punkvoter's goal is to register 500,000 kids between the ages of 18 and 29, because only 33 per cent of that demographic registered to vote last time around.
"Punkvoter works like crazy to make sure that this cockroach doesn't get back into office. We ourselves have already registered over 4,000 just in our time on the road so far."
Ever politically minded, Jourgensen recently took the chairman of the board of directors and president of Urban Outfitters, Richard A. Hayne, to task for selling T-shirts that read "Voting Is for Old People." He wrote Haynes a letter that somebody, he says, got hold of and made public. Subsequently the T-shirts were pulled from the stores.
It's not, he explains, that he cares about the T-shirt itself, but he felt the need to call Haynes out on a little hypocrisy since Haynes claims to have no political agenda.
"The point is, don't go in Fortune magazine and say you have no political agenda when you donate a lot of your profits to neanderthal, neolithic senatorial candidates in the Republican party and your number-one-selling T-shirt says voting is for old people, discouraging kids from voting, when generally, as you know, kids lean more toward a liberal agenda. So I called him out on saying he has no political agenda."
Houses Of The Molé has been called the band's greatest album in over 10 years, since 1992's Psalm 69. In fact, Jourgensen tells me he likes to think of it as Psalm 70.
"It's very heartening to see that this band is actually climbing a ladder again. Our career's like a roller coaster sometimes. We've been around long enough to be flavour of the month and to be ignored, so I know a little bit about both."
When long-time collaborator, bassist and programmer Paul Barker left the band after the release of Animositisomina, many prophesied the end of Ministry. It's rewarding, says Jourgensen, to prove the naysayers wrong.
Without Barker around, the band found a different way of working.
"It was a way I hadn't used since Psalm 69 - recording with a band live instead of pacing around while Paul typed stuff into computers. It was nice to pick up the microphone, play the guitars and move on to the next song."
Five compilations of previous and never-released material by both Ministry and side project the Revolting Cocks were also released October 12 on Rykodisc.
It was pretty weird, says Jourgensen, going through all that old stuff to decide what and what not to put out.
"That was like the This Is Your Life show. It kind of made me feel old, but that's OK."