So the only one thing that I could do was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long
—Ministry, Jesus Built My Hotrod
Ministry was the Trope Maker for the genre of Industrial Metal back in The Eighties and helped popularise it along fellow Trope Codifiers Nine Inch Nails. Both bands also have something else in common, having just one mastermind and constant member. In Ministry's case, this is a man named Al Jourgensen.
The band's had a High Turnover Rate of members. These have included:
- Al Jourgensen - vocals, guitar, keyboards, multiple instruments
- John Davis - keyboards (1981-1982)
- Stephen George - drums (1981-1985)
- Robert Roberts - keyboards (1981-1983)
- Marty Sorenson - bass (1981-1982)
- Shay Jones - vocals (1982-1983)
- Brad Hallen - bass (1983-1985)
- Paul Barker - bass, keyboards, programming, vocals (1986-2003) - classic lineup
- Bill Rieflin - drums, keyboards, programming, guitar (1986-1995) - classic lineup
- Chris Connelly - vocals, keyboards, guitar (1987-1993) - classic lineup
- Mike Scaccia - guitars, bass (1989-1995, 2003-2006) - classic lineup
- Louis Svitek - guitar (1992-1999) - classic lineup
- Michael Balch - keyboards, programming (1991-1992)
- Zlatko Hukic - electronics, guitar (1995-1999)
- Rey Washam - drums, percussion, programming (1995-1999, 2003)
- Max Brody - drums, percussion, programming, saxophone (1999-2004)
- Mark Baker - drums (2004-2005)
- John Monte - bass (January 2004-September 2004)
- Paul Raven - bass, keyboards, guitar, drums (2005-2007)
- Tommy Victor - guitars, bass (2005-2008)
- John Bechdel - keyboards (2006-2008)
- Sin Quirin - guitars, bass (2007-2008)
The band was formed in Chicago in 1981. Their initial material was largely New Wave Synth Pop, as shown on their first album With Sympathy. Jourgenson considers the album as Old Shame and Canon Discontinuity, referring to Sympathy as "an abortion of an album" and blaming Executive Meddling for its existence. Fans largely follow the Word of God on this one, although it is notable that the follow up and somewhat looked down on album Twitch was a harsher-sounding industrial album with no traces of the "Synth Pop" sound that was so prevalent on the previous album.
Ministry as we know it began when Jourgensen decided to add aggressive Heavy Metal riffing and recruited who would become his main collaborators for a while, Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin. The resulting album, The Land of Rape and Honey, proved to be a landmark recording, combining harsh, electronics-heavy production with loud metal guitars and lots of Sampling from old movies. Its follow-up, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, refined this formula by hardening the sound even further and introducing a political slant. This period also saw the band adopt its now-famous leather-clad cowboy/biker appearance.
Also in The Eighties, Jourgensen and Barker formed a flurry of side projects. These included the more light-hearted, absurdist Revolting Cocks (which essentially has the same lineup as Ministry, plus Luc Van Acker and Richard 23 at first), Lard (a collaboration with Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra), Acid Horse (with Cabaret Voltaire), 1000 Homo DJs (where Trent Reznor contributed vocals to a cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut"), PTP (with Chris Connelly), Pigface (an Industrial Metal Supergroup) and Pailhead (with Minor Threat guitarist Ian MacKaye).
Ministry finally had its main breakthrough with Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs. Besides providing the best example of their balls-out Hot-Blooded Industrial Metal sound and the triple guitar attack of Jourgensen, Mike Scaccia and Louis Svitek, it showed the band's sense of humour through the Crazy Awesome hit single "Jesus Built My Hotrod" (with nonsense vocals by Gibby Haynes of The Butthole Surfers) and provided arguably one of the first Stupid Statement Dance Mixes with "N.W.O." Psalm 69 gained them a mainstream audience and would prove to be their most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album.
After Psalm 69, the band almost got derailed by the members' severe drug addictions, culminating in a 1995 raid of their Texas headquarters and Jourgensen's arrest for possession. He received a five-year probation sentence and subsequently struggled to overcome his addiction. Around the same time, Rieflin and Scaccia left the band. Their next two albums, Filth Pig and Dark Side of the Spoon, stripped away the industrial elements from their sound (synthesizers, samplers, electronics) in favour of straightforward guitar-bass-drums noise. The reception from both fans and critics was poor (although both albums have since gained supporters), and the band's lineup continued to be unstable. A guitarist from this era, Zlatko Hukic, had a solo career as a Rap Metal artist and a stint in the group Dark Lotus, under the name Marz.
Jourgensen finally kicked his habit after almost losing an arm to a venomous spiderbite in 2001, and with Barker and new drummer/saxophonist Max Brody began working on 2003's Animositisomina. After touring for the album, Paul Barker left and with guitarist Mike Scaccia back, Jourgensen began work on a follow up and formed a new lineup. Reclaiming his old Industrial Metal sound (but adding Thrash Metal influences) and setting his sights on George W. Bush's presidency, Ministry released a trilogy of albums about how much Bush's presidency sucked: Houses of the Molé, Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker.
Jourgensen finally retired Ministry in 2008 after recording the covers album Cover Up. He spent the next few years focusing on running his record label 13th Planet Records and concentrating on his side projects Revolting Cocks and Lard. However, as of late 2011 the band is active again (with old standbys Scaccia, Bechdel and Quirin, plus new guys Aaron Rossi and Casey Orr), and a new album is due in 2012.
- With Sympathy (1983)
- Twitch (1986)
- The Land of Rape and Honey (1988)
- The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989)
- Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992)
- Filth Pig (1996)
- Dark Side of the Spoon (1999)
- Animositisomina (2003)
- Houses of the Molé (2004)
- Rio Grande Blood (2006)
- The Last Sucker (2007)
- Cover Up (2008)
- Relapse (2012)
- Appropriated Appellation:
- Revolting Cocks got their name from an incident where Jourgensen, Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker got drunk off their arses and started a bar brawl. The owner threw them out and shouted "I'm calling the police! You guys are a bunch of revolting cocks!".
- When Jourgensen played the demos for what became the first 1,000 Homo DJ's release, Wax Trax! label owner Jim Nash said "No one's gonna buy this. It'll take one thousand homo DJs to play this for one person to buy it."
- The title of Filth Pig was taken from a speech by a British MP attacking Jourgensen.
- Black Sheep Hit: The song "Everyday is Halloween" is probably the only evidence to younger fans that they ever played Synth Pop, and one of few songs of that period that Al Jourgensen still keeps in print.
- Cover Version: The entire Cover Up album.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Same as Trent Reznor, Al Jourgensen in Real Life's an okay dude. Well, to be fair, Ministry isn't as angsty as Nine Inch Nails...
- Darker and Edgier: Twitch, which exchanged the campy electronic pop of With Sympathy for a harder Industrial sound.
- Early Installment Weirdness: With Sympathy, as previously stated, sounds very little like the rest of the catolouge, while Twitch is arguably heavier than what comes after it. See Genre Shift below.
- Epic Rocking: "Cannibal Song", "So What", "Scare Crow", to name a few.
- Genre Shift:
- From Synth Pop to Industrial for Twitch, and straightforward industrial to Industrial Metal for The Land of Rape and Honey.
- "Test" in "The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste" is a strangely upbeat rap-rock-metal song.
- Cool Shades: Al Jourgensen.
- Iconic Item: Al Jourgensen always wears sunglasses and a bandanna or a hat. Always.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Jourgensen is addicted to distorting and processing his voice at the expense of understandable lyrics.
- Industrial Metal: Trope Makers
- Lighter and Softer: "Test" - at least, for Ministry. The lyrics are standard "be who you want to be" fare, relatively free of violence.
- Lyrical Dissonance: It sounds like somewhat standard Ministry fare, but the lyrics are lighter.
- New Sound Album: The Land of Rape and Honey, Filth Pig, Houses of the Molé
- Old Shame: With Sympathy is pretty much this trope summed up for Ministry.
- Punny Name:
- Albums: Dark Side of the Spoon, Houses of the Molé and Rio Grande Blood.
- Tours (for both Ministry and Revolting Cocks) since 1996: SphincTour, CliTour, FornicaTour MasterBaTour, C-U-LaTour (Ministry's last tour), LubricaTour.
- Rearrange the Song: Nearly every song they've covered.
- In 2010, they remade their old Synth Pop single "Everyday Is Halloween" in a more Industrial Metal style (although the result is still more melodic than much of their other recent material).
- Sampling: Mostly from old movies.
- Rio Grande Blood and The Last Sucker cut and pasted together samples of speeches by George W. Bush, resulting in ridiculous Strawman Political statements that make Bush sound like a Complete Monster.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Ex-bassist Paul Barker's glasses occasionally.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Revolting Cocks.
- Check the "Fix: The Ministry Movie" trailer on Youtube. That is all.
- Shrouded In Mystery: The video for the unreleased song "Same Old Madness", an extremely rare song from 1982, predating the release of With Sympathy by one whole year. If it wasn't because the video appeared on YouTube on 2006, the song and its video would've been largely forgotten by now. As a side note, its the only video with the original line-up.
- Supergroup: Pigface.
- Take That:
- A lot towards George W. Bush, especialy with Rio Grande Blood.
- "N.W.O." (New World Order) is about "Papa Bush", according to Al.
- ↑ Is now known as Marz, a rapper who was best known from his days with Dark Lotus.