Ministry (band)

Ministry is an industrial metal band of the 1980s, 1990s and onward.

Alain Jourgensen began Ministry in Chicago, IL, in 1981. The original line-up consisted mainly of Jourgensen (singing and playing keyboards) and Stephen George (drumming), and Ministry's original sound was essentially techno that was more melodic than the music for which Jourgensen would become known. In the incarnation of Jourgensen/George, Ministry created four 12" singles on Wax Trax! Records through 1984 (anthologized on Twelve-Inch Singles). Their first LP, With Sympathy, was issued on Arista Records in (1983), and sold slowly. The music in With Sympathy, and the various singles that Arista issued in association with it, was melodic pop, unlike anything Ministry would record afterwards. Jourgensen has since expressed disappointment with the music he made in Ministry during those early years. Some of his preferred recordings from that era were collected into the CD Early Trax (Rykodisc Records, 2004).

By the mid-1980s, Jourgensen had become significantly less interested in pop music, and parted ways with George while rethinking the direction and sound of Ministry. Jourgensen performed mostly solo for Ministry's next LP, Twitch (1985), which didn't sell well. The music was danceable electronic music, but wasn't pop music, and the sound was harsher and more aggressive than what Ministry had recorded before. This would prove a pivotal move in the course of Ministry.

After Twitch, Jourgensen made the most pivotal change in Ministry's history when he became reenchanted with the instrument he had taken up years earlier: the electric guitar. He also brought Paul Barker into Ministry to play electric bass in accompaniment; Barker would remain Jourgensen's bandmate through what are considered Ministry's golden years. With the addition of drummer William Rieflin, Ministry recorded The Land of Rape and Honey (1988). The LP was a smash success in the underground music scene and is now considered a classic and the most important album in the subgenre of "industrial metal". The Land of Rape and Honey is arguably the best example of Ministry's sound, constructed of synthesizers, keyboards, tapes, jackhammer drum machines, obscure samples, dialogue exerted from movies, unconventional electronic processing, and, occassionally, heavy, distorted electric guitar and electric bass. The album was supported by a tour in 1988, and by the music videos for Stigmata (remix) (also issued as a single) and the title song of the album.

The follow-up, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste was as, if not more, acclaimed than The Land of Rape and Honey. Both albums included similar tight, thick soundscapes, but The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste was slightly harder with Jourgensen's guitar emphasized. The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste was supported by a tour through 1990, and by the singles Burning Inside (for which a video was made) and So What (a composition inspired by the movie The Violent Years).

Throughout the late 1980s Jourgensen and Barker expanded their ideas beyond Ministry into a seemingly endless parade of side projects and collaborations. Many of these bore Ministry's signature sound and the duo's "Hypo Luxa/Hermes Pan" production imprint. Foremost of these was Ministry's alter ego, the Revolting Cocks. "RevCo", as it was fondly referred to, was essentially the same band plus Belgian vocalist Luc Van Acker. Jourgensen and Barker also formed Lard with Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, Acid Horse with Cabaret Voltaire, 1000 Homo Djs with Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, PTP with Chris Connelly and Pailhead with Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi. Barker released his own material as Lead Into Gold and Jourgensen produced and played electric guitar on Skinny Puppy's Rabies LP. Ministry would also inspire and inform the industrial supergroups of the 1990s such as Pigface and KMFDM. The rarest recordings from these projects were later collected on the CD Side Trax (Rykodisc Records, 2004).

Ministry broke into the mainstream in 1991 with "Jesus Built My Hotrod" (co-authored by Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers and Michael Balch). The music video was a hit on MTV. As the single would have indicated, the sound of the following LP, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992), was the heaviest and harshest Ministry had put to record at that point, the focal point of the sound being Jourgensen's and new members Mike Scaccia's and Louis Svitek's electric guitars. Psalm 69 (the title printed on the record as the Greek word for "head", spelled in runes) became Ministry's biggest hit, with the support of the singles (and videos thereof) "N.W.O." (a protest of the Persian Gulf War and attack directed at then-Pres. George Bush) and "Just One Fix" (a collaboration with poet/novelist William S. Burroughs) in addition to "Jesus Built My Hotrod".

In spite of their growing success, Ministry was derailed by a series of arrests and drug problems. The band didn't issue a their next album, Filth Pig, until 1995. For Filth Pig, Ministry stripped all synthesizers and samples from their style and made the music almost entirely with ultra-noisey guitars, and the songs were played mostly at slower tempos than the very fast ones that were used for the compositions on their previous three LPs. Filth Pig was supported with the singles/videos Reload, The Fall, Lay Lady Lay (an unsual cover of Bob Dylan's old hit) and Brick Windows and with a tour in 1996 (the live performances were later anthologized on the Sphinctour album and DVD in 2002), but was unenthusiastically received and was thought by some to be a lazy effort. Jourgensen would later consider Filth Pig not one of Ministry's good records, and remembers the time as one marred by his habitual use of heroin.

The members of Ministry experienced greater devestation when former guitarist William Tucker committed suicide in 1999. Jourgensen and Barker having overcome their addictions to heroin, Ministry finally recorded and released their next LP, Dark Side of the Spoon (1999), which they dedicated to Tucker. For Dark Side of the Spoon, Ministry tried to diversify their sound by adding some melodic and synthetic touches, similar to the Jourgensen/George sound, to their usual electro-metal sound, but the album wasn't well received. However, the single "Bad Blood" appeared on the soundtrack album of The Matrix and was nominated for a 2000 Grammy award.

Parting with their longtime record imprint, Sire Records issued the collection Greatest Fits in 2001. During 2000-2002, record-company disputes resulted in the planned album Live on the Psalm 69 Tour on Ipecac Records from being canceled (although its contents had been compiled), resulting instead in Sphinctour apearing on Sanctuary Records.

With Ministry somewhat active once again, Jourgensen and Barker focused on developing songs for a new record during 2001 and 2002. Ministry issued Animositisomina on Sanctuary Records in 2003. The sound was pure heavy metal laden with voice effects, and matched the ferocity (if not upped the ante, with the song Animosity) of Psalm 69 (though it featured an almost-pop cover of Magazine's The Light Pours out of Me).

Barker left the Ministry for decidedly somewhat cryptic reasons in 2003, but Jourgensen freely continued Ministry with Scaccia and a roundtable of fellow musicians. For Ministry's next album, Jourgensen remade N.W.O. as No W, turning the composition into an attack on ex-Pres. Bush's son, Pres. George W. Bush; an alternate version, N°W, was placed on the multi-performer compilation Rock against Bush, Vol. 1. Ministry's new LP, Houses of the MolÚ (2004), contained the most explicitly political lyrics Jourgensen had yet to author, with songs in Ministry's classic punky electro-metallic sound played messier, more crudely and more freely than ever before. For Ministry's Evil Doer Tour in 2004, Jourgensen provided concert-goers with negative information on Pres. G.W. Bush and teamed up with PunkVoter to encourage more youth to register to vote in the upcoming national election.

See also: Revolting Cocks





  • Cold Life (1981)
  • I Wanted to Tell Her (1983)
  • Revenge (1983)
  • Work for Love (1983)
  • All Day (1984)
  • The Nature of Love (1984)
  • Over the Shoulder (1985)
  • Halloween Remix (1987)
  • Stigmata (1988)
  • Burning Inside (1989)
  • Jesus Built My Hotrod (1991)
  • N.W.O. (1992)
  • Just One Fix (1992)
  • The Fall (1995)
  • Lay Lady Lay (1995)
  • Brick Windows (1996)
  • Bad Blood (1999)
  • No "W" (2004)
  • Waiting (2005, second official single or not)

Box sets


  • In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up - Live! (1990)
  • Tapes of Wrath (2000)
  • What About Us? - Promo (2001)
  • Sphinctour (2002)


  • Al Jourgensen (voices and various instruments; always a member)
  • Stephen George (drums; 1981-1984)
  • Robert Roberts (keyboards; 1981-1983)
  • Lamont Welton (bass; 1981)
  • Marty Sorenson (bass; 1981-1982)
  • John Davis (keyboards; 1981-1983)
  • Robert Roberts (keyboards; live, 1981-1983)
  • Brad Hallen (bass; 1982-1986)
  • Mark Pothier (keyboards; 1982-1983)
  • Patty Jourgensen (keyboards, voices; 1983-1986)
  • Doug Chamberlin (Oct. 1983-Oct. 1984)
  • Paul Barker (bass, keyboards, programming, voices; 1986-Aug. 2003)
  • Bill Reiflin (drums, programming; 1986-Feb. 1995)
  • Roland Barker (keyboards, saxophone; tours of 1986 and 1992-1993)
  • Kevin Ogilvie (guitar, keyboards, voices; tours of 1988 and 1990)
  • Mike Scaccia (guitar; 1989-1993, 2003-)
  • Martin Atkins (drums; tour in 1990)
  • Terry Roberts (guitar; tour in 1990)
  • William Tucker (guitar; tour in 1990)
  • Michael Balch (keyboards, programming; 1991-1993)
  • Louis Svitek (guitar; 1992-2003)
  • Rey Washam (drums/percussion, programming; 1995-1999, 2003)
  • Adam Grossman (guitar; 2003)
  • Tia Sprockett (drums; tour of 2003)
  • Mark Baker (drums; 2003-)
  • Kol Marshall (keyboards; 2003-Mar. 2004)
  • Max Brody (drums/percussion, programming, saxophone; 2003-2004)
  • Darrell James (keyboards; tours in 2003 and 2004)
  • John Monte (bass; Jan. 2004-Sep. 2004)
  • Eddy Garcia (bass; Sep. 2004-)
  • Bryan Kehoe (guitar; May 2004-Sep. 2004)
  • Rick Valles (guitar; Sep. 2004-)

External links

fr:Ministry sv:Ministry pl:Ministry


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