Veteran industrial metallists Ministry return with their 12th studio album, Relapse, due March 26th and available on label 13th Planet Records' website. It's their first new studio release since 2007's The Last Sucker, which had been advertised as their final album. And as the group's leader, Al Jourgensen, tells Rolling Stone, he had considered retiring the group for health-related reasons.
"For the last four tours, I've been puking up blood," he says. "When I'm at home, I don't drink or anything like that. But when you're on tour, everything's crazy. I never said anything about it because I just thought that was part of getting old and going on a rock tour – you puke up blood!
"But after the 'C-U-LaTour,' I came home and the bleeding didn't stop. And then one day, an artery exploded in my stomach and I flat lined. They had to defibrillate me. I went to the hospital in an ambulance, I was in seizures, I lost 65% of my blood. So it was a good call to suspend Ministry for a while," he says, laughing. "But then the docs patched me up – they did some laser surgery in my stomach. I'm leading a healthier lifestyle now."
As it turns out, the impetus for Relapse came from wanting to take a break from a side project. "When I did the Buck Satan record [Bikers Welcome Ladies Drink Free], the country record, me and my guitar player, Mike Scaccia, just to get out of country mode for a day, we'd jam around some metal riffs, not expecting to do anything with it," Jourgensen says. "After the Buck Satan album was done, I got a call from Mikey, and he's like, 'Dude, these riffs are killer. We have to do something with it. This has to be a Ministry record.' And I'm like, 'Nah, I quit.' He kept psycho-dialing me for days, until finally, I acquiesced and said, 'OK, let's do this.'"
The album's leadoff single/video is "99 Percenters," which Jourgensen says is very politically charged. "It's about the people that are being exploited by the oligarchy that we have as a government, the 99 percenters," he explains. "People are fed up. I did those three Bush albums in a row, and I've got to say, I had to comb through hours and hours of that dope's speeches to get my samples for those three records. And by the time Last Sucker came around, I was almost feeling sorry for the guy. He absolutely did not run the government – probably locked himself in a room and played with crayons and Tonka Trucks and Etch A Sketches. But Cheney and the oil lobbies and the insurance lobbies, I realized then that they truly do run this country – the president is almost inconsequential."
Beyond Relapse and the upcoming U.S. and Euro tour dates, Jourgensen is unsure of Ministry's future. "I don't have my crystal ball out, so I can't predict the future," he says. "I'm not discounting it, I'm not counting on it."