Ministry remains industrial strength
Metal subgenre pioneer bringing Gary Numan to May 6 show at Clyde
Industrial metal in Fort Wayne?
It does happen from time to time, so when a tour featuring one of the bands that helped define the genre rolls through town along with an electronic music pioneer, it is an event that fans are not going to want to miss.
On May 6, Ministry stops at The Clyde Theatre, with special guests Gary Numan and Front Line Assembly for what is sure to be a special night.
Ministry dates back to 1981 when frontman Al Jourgensen founded the band in his adopted hometown of Chicago.
At their ’90s peak, album sales of 1992’s Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs and 1995’s Filth Pig were on par with the likes of superstars Prince, Madonna, and Depeche Mode. However, commercial success brought its own set of problems as Jourgensen fell into the trap of drug abuse, which plagued him for years.
Now 64 and drug-free, Jourgensen likens himself more to world-renowned documentarian Ken Burns than to the previously mentioned superstars, continuing to use Ministry albums to document historic moments over the last four decades. His hatred of former presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump has fueled several albums, but he confesses he has become more reflective on the world as a whole, which is evident on 2021’s Moral Hygiene.
Putting politics aside
Ministry’s 15th studio album, Moral Hygiene received acclaim from critics and fans as Jourgensen unleashed a fresh set of scathing social commentary. His penchant for precisely fusing precision-edged technology and brutal riffs with melody to make each song memorable is fully on display here, with standout tracks “Alert Level,” “Good Trouble,” and the unique cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” of particular note.
While he is still passionate about the subjects, Jourgensen mostly puts aside politics on Moral Hygiene, preaching respect for each other and love of the planet instead of shooting his arrows toward specific public figures.
“As a songwriter, it’s low-hanging fruit to continue to write about politics,” he told Loudersound. “You have to be careful and pick your spots. So Moral Hygiene is more like a ‘what the (heck)’ moment of how did we get here, how do we fix it, and how do we go forward?”
Another in a long string of cleverly titled albums, Moral Hygiene stays true to the motif by emoting the required amount of Ministry doubled-edged humor. However, Jourgensen has said in several interviews that was not the original title of the album. It was supposed to be called Truth Decay, he has said, but former president Barack Obama popularized the term by putting that line in his own book, making it less effective.
“I’m always two weeks ahead and a dollar short,” he told Heavy Consequence. “I was having a lot of dental work done during quarantine. I was getting drilled on every day in my mouth, so instead of oral hygiene, we made it Moral Hygiene. A lot of the subjects on this album are rather apropos and prescient as it turns out.”
In addition to Jourgensen, Ministry’s current lineup consists of drummer Roy Mayora, guitarists Cesar Soto and Monte Pittman, bassist Paul D’Amour, and keyboardist John Bechdel.
This tour comes as a sequel to last year’s Industrial Strength Tour. The setlist will serve as a career retrospective of the band’s greatest hits as they enter their fifth decade.
Chances are you’re as likely to hear “Jesus Built My Hotrod” and “Psalm 69” as you are to hear “Just One Fix,” “Deity,” and a few selections from Moral Hygiene.
Jourgensen is inarguably considered among industrial metal royalty, but surprisingly singing is the one part of his job that he absolutely cannot stand. He has often stated that his passion is playing and producing, while singing was something that was forced upon him out of necessity.
“It’s the worst job on Earth,” he has said. “I always wanted to be Jimmy Page, not Robert Plant. I just wanted to be in the studio, writing stuff, like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. It’s just a ridiculous paradigm to be considered a lead singer. I’m in complete inner turmoil every time you put a microphone next to me.”
Being the singer may not be without its benefits, however. While he clearly loathes it, he does believe it helps fuel his rage, keeping him firmly on the edge, right where fans love him to be.
“I get so angry at having to be the singer that I just start yelling,” he said. “People like (Cheap Trick’s) Robin Zander can actually sing, but I just get up there and rant and rave over a guitar part I wrote. And hopefully, somebody somewhere picks it up and thinks it’s cool.”