On the Ministry tour bus, deep into the morning of April 10th, actually. The end of my first day on the “Sphinctour.”
I’ve been called by my friend and producing partner Jeffrey, to fly out from LA and begin shooting some scenes of the opening leg of this tour. We are on the band’s home turf, playing the second sold-out date of a two-nighter in Chi-town.
I’m meant to spend 3 or 4 days with Ministry, and more specifically, its front men; Al Jourgensen, aka Alien, aka Hypo Luxa, aka Rod Munch, and his partner for some 15 years, Paul Barker.
When I met him for the first time, Al Jourgensen was familiar to me in perhaps the most perverse kind of way - junkie to former junkie. Him, active, me dormant.
The pasty white and shiny pallor, with “expert” darting eyes. I can’t help but admire that he’s so damned comfortable being this wasted. And I admit to being a little surprised/worried that I’m this comfortable sitting beside him, as he’s clearly been speed-balling (coke and heroin, together), while I’m just nursing an after dinner beer.
My family, my doctors/counselors, friends, and any psychics on my wavelength, would be terrified for my future at seeing me here. I have just 6 months clean from my own, years long, heroin habit.
I didn’t discuss my sordid past with Al… Not yet.
Al was skeptical that what Jeffrey and I are there for is even possible. That is: Warner Brothers Records needs some “on tour” footage for electronic press kits (EPK’s). Some live, on stage stuff, and some candid backstage, or on the bus interview stuff.
Al told me that, with just a couple days to shoot, I may get some shit, or on the other hand, maybe I’d merely get shit upon. Just depends on which three days. And: “Which of me you encounter.”
I’ll be armed with the latest in pro-sumer cinema, the mini DV cam. This one’s a Sony VX 1000. Almost nobody carries these, or tape for them yet. B camera is a mid 1970’s Canon super 8. Anything that needs light gets lit with a hand held sun-gun. Two hands, no waiting…
I met Paul Barker, who told me to pace myself… And also that every ridiculous story about this band is true: “What ever you’ve heard about Ministry… It’s all fucking true… Check it out. Make something up right now… See? Fucking true!”
It was a pumped up hometown show. Although I hadn’t seen Ministry live before, it’s obvious that this new album they’re touring, “Filth Pig,” is a challenge for the fans. Simply put: the old stuff is fast – a freight-train to hell, while much of the new stuff is painfully slow, durge-like – flaming quicksand. Either way, they make what most people call Heavy Metal seem almost pop, playfully light, even silly.
The bus is pretty quickly out of the party zone, and rolling toward Detroit. Everyone just sort of disappears behind a dozen bunk curtains. And me too, remembering this day down on paper.
Something darkly sweet is burning behind the one door to the back of the bus… Where Al lives, and I’ve yet to be invited. It smells of heroin cooking.
As I crack another beer, and write this, I should be more worried for my health than I am. We’re all pacing ourselves it seems.
Sphinctour dialogue of the day: Al and my first brief encounter:
Al: When’s your birthday?
Me: October 20th 1958.
Al: Another Libra on the bus! And I’m two weeks older than you.
Me: Yeah, and I’m a slow learner, so I might be way younger than that even.
Al: You going to stay clean on this bus? Might be tough.
Me: I’m clean today, and glad of it.
Al: I’ll tell you what… No matter how you beg, I won’t give you any of mine. That should help. (laughs)
Me: Thanks. I believe you.
Note from the future: It’s 11-15 2010, and this first diary entry from over 14 years ago, is going public today. I’ll be adding a couple more a week – starting 11-30 2010 - until next spring, when FIX is released. Meanwhile, the final editing, scoring, graphics, etc., are carrying on apace, so that my extreme backstage experience can make it to a theatre near you March 2011.