Interview with Ministry drummer Joey Jordison

- Aug 11, 2006 at 02:10PM
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Okay, so it’s safe to assume that if you’ve ever been a fan of metal, you’ve heard of Ministry. I mean this group has been around for over 25 years and is still going strong; a track record that very few bands boast. Headed by frontman and all around musical genius Al Jorgensen, Ministry has now found itself with its most appealing and strongest lineup ever. Filling out the rest of the all-star group is: Paul Raven (Killing Joke bassist), Tommy Victor (ex-Danzig and Prong guitarist) and Joey Jordison (Slipknot drummer). Needless to say, Ministry now has the balls necessary to kick some serious ass on what is now confirmed as their last years a band (only one more album to be released). Fortunately for yours truly, when these maniacal musicians swung through Toronto, Canada during their "MasterBaTour," I managed to speak with group young buck Joey Jordison and ask him a bunch of question pertaining to his involvement with the band, his own musical projects and ambitions, and the skills necessary to drum like the machine that he is. Please note that this interview will not actually make you drum better!

Ministry’s touring lineup includes Al Jourgensen, Paul Raven, Tommy Victor and yourself. How does it feel to be playing and touring with such a legendary lineup?
Joey: That’s what makes it one of the best tours I’ve ever done. These people I’ve been listening to for so long, Prong, Killing Joke and of course Ministry, you know, I’ve known all of them for like... periodically at different times but it’s like the stars aligned, all of us getting together. I mean, everyone has finally seen the show; it’s like the best Ministry lineup ever. Playing with these guys is absolutely amazing because I grew up with them and now being able to back them up... I couldn’t ask for anything more man. I’m having a blast; it’s just been fucking killer!

You’re the rookie on the tour. What is that like for you, touring with the older guys, the generation above you?
Joey: Yeah it’s funny, when I first got to Al’s house, like I literally flew in and we had a photo shoot like two hours later. It was kind of awkward, he was like "what the hell are you doing with us crusty old fucks?" [laughs] I’m like "yo I’m here to learn." So it’s been fucking amazing man. I mean, I’m no rookie to touring or anything but these guys have been touring for twenty five fucking years... seen and done it all, you know, everything dude. And it’s really interesting to see the history of Ministry and just hearing the stories and playing these songs that I grew up on and just seeing Al up there, it’s really fucking weird. But we’re all blessed; I’m really blessed to be where I am right now.

So was Ministry a big influence for you as a musician?
Joey: Absolutely!

Do you have a favorite song or album?
Joey: You see Al doesn’t like it, because he’s really into the fucking agro shit. He hates the With Sympathy album, but you know I had that and Twitch and the 12" Singles. But once you know, The Land of Rape and Honey started and you know that’s when I really started to get into them and The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste; I grew up with Ministry you know? My whole life man!

Sweet!
Joey: My favorite song... it’s almost impossible to list dude. Some of my favorite songs are the ones on the new album. I think the new album’s like the best Ministry record in a long time.

Yeah it’s pretty brutal!
Joey: It’s brutal as hell... wait until you see us! I don’t want to spoil anything but dude... it’s bludgeoning!

I’m not sure, but did you actually drop drum tracks for Rio Grande Blood or you just toured with them?
Joey: That’s mostly... all that fast double kick and all that stuff, was supposed to be me playing. But we [Slipknot] released 9.0 Live and I had to go tour in support of the 9.0 Live album. So all of that drumming was actually programmed with me in mind because he wanted double kicks and shit. So actually I didn’t get a chance to record on the record, so Al programmed all that fast real drumming, but I do all that stuff live, it’s not on keyboard pads or anything, it’s all on my feet.

It might be way too early to foresee, but do you think you’ll contribute to what is now rumoured as Ministry’s next and final album?
Joey: That’s the last album called The Last Sucker and I will be on that. I’ll probably help Al write some stuff on it too.

Amazing! What was that encouraged the Ministry lineup change and how exactly did you become part of the equation?
Joey: Um, first time I met Al was on Dark Side of the Spoon and at that time he was going through a lot of problems with his health, you know, the whole story, whatever. But it was 1999 I think, Ministry and Slipknot were co-headlining these radio festivals and the first time I got to meet him was on that tour. And even as out of it as he was in that era of his life, he remembers me and he became a big Slipknot fan. He doesn’t listen to anything new at all, doesn’t know any new bands, nothing, but he likes Slipknot a lot and became a big fan of my drumming. And so he was doing a press tour for Houses of the Molé over in London when we were playing in London; we were playing two sold out nights at the Astoria and they were on Sanctuary Records at the time which is our management. And Tory our manager was there and took me up to meet Al and we just sat and drank wine and talked music for a long time. Ever since then we’ve been in touch so when it came time for a new Ministry lineup, he wanted me to play drums and I was like, "absolutely dude. I mean any time you need me man I’m there." Because dude, it’s like one of my favorite bands of all time.

Ministry, the tour, working with Al and everything, does this conflict with either your Slipknot or Murder Dolls schedules?
Joey: The Murder Dolls really... I’m not going to say it’s done, but I mean it’s pretty much... I mean we got it out of our systems and we did it, I’m not going to say there won’t be another record, I’m not saying there will be, it’s just way on the backburner. Slipknot just finished a twenty month tour, thirty something countries, I don’t even know how many shows we did. So like Stonesour’s out right now and I’m out with Ministry so we’ll let Slipknot rest for a little bit. We’re in everyone’s faces so much when we have an album out, so it’s time to let it cool down a little bit and then we’ll bring it back up. We’re making another record so don’t have any misconceptions that Slipknot is going away. But right now, I’m fully committed to Ministry.

Rio Grande Blood continues Jourgensen’s fearless attack on the current Bush administration and the global impact of war. Were politics something that attracted you to the group and what is your opinion on the political views which Ministry projects?
Joey: Well I agree with the views that Ministry projects, but I was originally attracted to Ministry because of the music, not necessarily the politics. That’s really Al’s forte and even though I do agree, you can’t really be in this band if you’re really not behind what he’s saying because it would really fuck you up. But for a real good answer on that stuff, it’s really an Al question, but originally it was obviously the music. It’s really cool because people are getting a lot more educated, a lot of these kids don’t know that stuff and now they’re learning a lot more. Just like the album, it’s almost like an educational thing as well as kick-ass music.

Earlier this year, Ministry celebrated a Grammy award nomination for the track "The Great Satan." Revolver magazine has Jourgensen stating that he sent you to receive the award on behalf of Ministry. What exactly happened that night and what was this crazy speech that Al had for you to read?
Joey: Well Slipknot ended up winning, but it seemed like it was either between Slipknot or Ministry. I think if there was any justice in the world, not to degrade my band in any way, we had a lot of nominations, but Ministry should have walked with that thing man if there was any justice in the world at all. And the best thing was I got to go accept an award because he couldn’t be there, he was at the Salt Mine [studio] mastering. And um, Slipknot ended up winning it, but at the same time I was really rooting for Ministry, I really wanted them to win. Even though I’ve gone through so much with my band, it would have been really cool to accept the award for Ministry. And just the fact that he asked me to do that was just, that was mind blowing. I’m like, if they win I’m going to accept this? But he wanted me to do it; he was like "dude you need accept that." He’s great man! I’ve learned so much in like the two months that I’ve been with this band, like years worth of knowledge... it’s been great!

Care to comment on the speech Al had written up?
Joey: He didn’t have a speech. He just said "you say what you want."

The Ministry and Revolting Cocks “MasterBaTour” will be a sixty day tour that kicked off May 5th in Houston and will travel across the U.S. and Canada for about eleven weeks. How has this tour been for you so far and what are your expectations?
Joey: You know we rehearsed for a month, the first week Al was like "the first week we’re going to suck." I was like "what are you talking about, we rehearsed for a month, we’re going to be great." No, the first week we did suck because Ministry’s light show, the visuals, how loud we are, all of that; it’s insane dude, it’s like sensory overload. So like, the first week was a little tough, but two weeks ago we really hit our stride, now it’s almost like second nature. Like I just told you, I’ve learned so much being in Ministry. Say a song like "N.W.O." or "Just One Fix," one of those songs... people think that stuff’s easy. Until you’re actually playing it, it’s actually not that easy, it’s a lot different than you think, because he’s [Al] Cuban so he has a lot of different times that go on. It sounds like it’s straight but a lot of is not, it’s really weird.

Yeah! A lot of Ministry’s music is off beat.
Joey: Yeah like so what right? [drums for a second] A lot of it is like Latino beats, so it’s not as easy it might seem.

For all those aspiring drummers out there, can you give us a brief run through of your current drum set?
Joey: Yeah, I’m using something different than I use in Slipknot. I’m using two 22" by 18" kick drums, a 14" Tom over here on my left, 12" and 13" in the middle, 16" and 18" on the floor, my signature snare that I’m using and I have two pads on each side right below the Toms in the middle for the electronics and then I’m using all Paiste cymbals. 16", 17", 18", 19" crashes, two 18" Chinas, a 14" China, and a 22" Ride.

Preference on the sticks?
Joey: I’m endorsed by Head sticks, Pearl drums and Paiste symbols.

Any drumming tips or anything for the guys out there?
Joey: You know that’s a question I get a lot. The only thing I can really say is... it’s the cheesy way out but it’s the truth... you just gotta work at it man. Don’t try and blaze yourself out right off the bat, start slow and build man. It’s the oldest rule in the book, practice, perseverance, that’s all it is man... that’s how I learned.

Are you self-taught mostly?
Joey: Yes I’m all self-taught.

After this Ministry tour comes to an end, what does the future hold for Joey?
Joey: After this Ministry tour, we’re going to concentrate on writing the next Ministry record, we also have another Revolting Cocks, there’s a Lard record that Al wants to do and Raven’s got a project called Mob Research that Al’s going to produce. So we got like a bunch of different things that we want to do. Also there’s the next Slipknot record too.

Now that you guys have come together and befriended each other, it seems like you’re almost going to be helping each other with one another’s projects?
Joey: Yeah, exactly, wait until you see this lineup... it’s cool for Al man, he’s finally happy touring, he hates touring, hates it! He’d rather be in the studio drinking his wine and creating music in his studio with his dogs, but he’s actually loving this lineup. So he’s loving touring and playing, so it’s a lot different for him. So like, with this lineup, that’s why we all gotta be on the next record. It has to be like that!
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