Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker met in Chicago, early 1981, when Jourgensen produced an album for Barker's band The Blackouts. Always game for a side-project or two, Al proposed to do a single for the Wax Trax! label under the name "Ministry"; a name which they take from the movie "Ministry of Fear". Cold Life is sort of a synthipop/new wave affair, quite different from the intense claustrophobic sounds that would characterize their later efforts. Shortly after its release, Ministry, now a proper band of sorts, released their full length debut With Sympathy on Arista. The album is laden with glossy synth pop with a slight Chicago House feel. Jourgensen, who commemorates the debut as 'an abortion', attributes this to intrusive involvement by the record company. A rather interesting question, and record industry joke, remains why Jourgensen felt the urge to fake a British accent on the album's lead vocals..
1988's The Land Of Rape and Honey first displayed the musical ideas that would earn the band a place in rock history. The Land.. succesfully combines grinding thrashmetal riffing with harsh industrial music, a genre rarely associated with guitars at that time, and
danceable electro beats. On the follow-up album The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste Jourgensen cs. consolidated their brave new style.
Ministry finally broke into the mainstream at the beginning of 1992 with Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed And The Way To Suck Eggs (an outtake from Aleister Crowley's Book of Lies) at the support of which they headlined the Lollapalooza festival. The record sports an even more grim and low down sound as their previous records. Psalm 69, considered by many to be their artistic zenith, offers an interesting collaboration with Butthole Surfers-frontman Gibby Haines in the form of the hit single "Jesus Built My Hotrod", alongside modern classics as "Just One Fix" and "N.W.O.". The single-version of Just One Fix gueststars beat writer William S. Burroughs on the song Quick Fix.
Drug problems pushed back the follow-up Filth Pig for another four years after Psalm's astonishing success. The album added little to what the audience already knew about
the band, with the notable exception of Bob Dylan cover, "Lay, Lady, Lay". Jourgensen, an avid country & western fan, intended to do a version of Glen Campbell's "Witchita Lineman" instead, but changed his mind when Urge Overkill beat him to it.
Apart from the unremarkable release of Dark Side of the Spoon and the suicide of guitarist William Tucker, Ministry didn't turn a lot of heads in the late 1990's. For a sustained period of time both of the band's official websites were dead. Their only life sign being a guest appearance in Stanley Kubrick/Steven Spielberg's A.I. as well as a soundrack contribution. The first signs of sustained life came in 2002, when the band signed to Santuary Records (a label notable for harboring former greats). After the release of the live DVD Sphinctour, the band announced that a new album, Animositisomina, is scheduled for release in February, 2003.
The members of Ministry have been involved in a virtually undocumentable number of
sideprojects, all with very colorful names. Below is a selection and description of the
most memorable ones, their most important members and some of their records.
Revolting Cocks (a.k.a. RevCo)Al Jourgensen
Luc van Acker
Jourgensen's most productive side project (with members of Front 242). RevCo have been operational longer than Ministry.
Beers, Steers and Queers
Linger Fickin' Good (and other barnyard oddities)
Psalm 69 era sideproject with Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra.
Pure Chewing Satisfaction
1000 Homo DJ'sAl Jourgensen
After Ministry released The Land of Rape and Honey, WaxTrax!'s labelmanager said only a thousand homo DJ's would probably listen to it.
Buck Satan & the 666 ShootersAl Jourgensen
Country meets thrashmetal. As of yet, none of it has been released on record.
Other Ministry-related projects: Lead Into Gold, Acid Horse, Murder Inc., Pailhead, PTP.