Ministry

The Industrial Strength Tour

with Melvins, Corrosion Of Conformity

Sun, March 13, 2022

State Theatre

Doors: 6:00pm - Show: 7:00pm - all ages

$39.50 advance
$45 day of show

The State Theatre box office will open 1 hour before doors night of show.

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Ministry

After enduring a year like 2020, no one could have possibly expected Al Jourgensen to stay silent on the maelstrom of the past 12 months. As the mastermind behind pioneering industrial outfit Ministry, Jourgensen has spent the last four decades using music as a megaphone to rally listeners to the fight for equal rights, restoring American liberties, exposing exploitation and putting crooked politicians in their rightful place—set to a background of aggressive riffs, searing vocals and manipulated sounds to drive it home.

As Jourgensen watched the chaos that befell the world during the height of a global pandemic and the tensions rising from one of the most important elections in American history, he seized on the opportunity to write, spending quarantine holed up in his self- built home studio—Scheisse Dog Studio— along with engineer Michael Rozon and girlfriend Liz Walton to create Ministry’s latest masterpiece, Moral Hygiene (out October 1 on Nuclear Blast Records). Anchored by last year’s leadoff track “Alert Level”—which asks listeners to internalize the question “How concerned are you?”—the 10 songs on this upcoming 15th studio album cover the breadth of the current dilemmas facing humanity, while ruminating on the sizable impact of COVID-19, the inevitable effects of climate change, consequences of misinformed conspiracies and the stakes in

the fight for racial equality. And most importantly doing so with the lens of what we as a society are going to do about it all.

“The one good thing about taking a year off from any social activity is that you really get to sit back and get an overview of things as opposed to being caught up in the moment,” says Jourgensen, “and what became inevitably clear is that the times are changing and this past year has been a wake up call—and that’s a very good thing. Because society as we have known it the past few decades has needed to change,” he continues. “Ever since Reagan and the girth of Wall Street, we have become too close to the belief that greed is good. Society has really taken a dark turn and now we are bearing the fruit of that that misdirection driven by the idea that it’s all about me and not other people and to take care of yourself and fuck everything else. We now more than ever need moral hygiene. It’s what we have to return to in order to function as the human species on this planet.”

Moral Hygiene comes on the heels of Ministry’s acclaimed 2018 album AmeriKKKant (hailed by Loudwire as Jourgensen’s own “state of the union” address) that was written as a reaction to Donald J. Trump being elected president—though Jourgensen says this new album is more informational and reflective in tone. “With AmeriKKKant I was in shock that Trump won. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to do something. Because I believe if you are a musician or an artist you should be expressing what’s going on around you through your art. It’s going to happen whether you do it consciously or unconsciously. Moral Hygiene however has progressed even further into a cautionary tale of what will happen if we don’t act. There’s less rage, but there’s more reflection and I bring in some guests to help cement that narrative.”

In addition to recruiting long-time cohort Jello Biafra (Jourgensen’s partner in the side project Lard) for the quirky earworm “Sabotage Is Sex,” other guest appearances include guitarist Billy Morrison (Billy Idol/Royal Machines) on a rendition of The Stooges hit “Search & Destroy.”

There’s also the riotous track “Good Trouble,” inspired by the message of activism and social justice in John Lewis’ posthumously published essay, released by New York Times after the Congressman’s passing last July.

“I remember watching the coverage of his death and the next day seeing this entire letter from him come out and thinking not only is John Lewis a Civil Rights icon but he was so astute to think of how that legacy could fit into the progress of the future,”
says Jourgensen. “That letter was so heartfelt and his words were so much aligned with my own ideals I just immediately knew I wanted to dedicate a song to him. That track really is the moral backbone of this album.”

Another standout track is “Believe Me,” featuring a throwback vocal style from Jourgensen that harkens back to his singing on Twitch and cult classic “(Every Day Is) Halloween.” The song came out of a jam session with Morrison, Cesar Soto and sampling from Liz Walton, and reminded Jourgensen of his formative days at Chicago Trax Studios where communal ideas were constantly informing early Ministry records. “’Believe Me’ had such an old school vibe I wanted to bring back old school vocals. …It’s funny how things come back to you,” says Jourgensen, also reflecting on Ministry turning 40 in 2021.

Though there have been other side projects over the years including Revolting Cocks and Surgical Meth Machine, Ministry remains Jourgensen’s lifetime passion project, and was first established in Chicago in 1981 through a relationship with legendary Wax Trax! Records. In its earliest days, Ministry was identifiable by a synth-pop style in line with the new sounds and technology that were being developed in the ‘80s, no moreso than on the infamous LP With Sympathy released by Arista Records in 1983. Yet as time progressed, so did Ministry, quickly developing a harsher and more stylized sound that found the band and Jourgensen heralded as the godfathers of industrial music amidst the release of seminal albums Twitch (1986), The Land of Rape and Honey (1988), and The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste (1989) that became cultural cornerstones. With Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and The Way to Suck Eggs (1992), Ministry hit an all time high in the mainstream and received its first of six lifetime Grammy nominations. Eight more albums would follow before an indefinite break in 2013, only to be unearthed again in 2018 with AmeriKKKant.

With the release of Moral Hygiene, Jourgensen is more positive than before. “This may sound crazy but I’m more hopeful about 2021 than I have been in two decades at least,” he says. “Because I do see things changing; people are starting to see through all the bullshit and want to get back to actual decorum in society. We could just treat each other nicely and be treated nicely in return. I never thought Ministry would be in the position of preaching traditional values, but this is the rebellion now.”

Melvins

Where to begin with a new Melvins release? August 24, in the year 79 A.D. seems as good a place as any. On this day, citizens of Pompeii emerged squinting from their villas, fell knee-bound and, drawing panicked eyeballs skyward, watched as money shots of glowing lava spewed down upon them, flash frying bodies in suspended animation. Had the Melvins been there on that fateful day they surely would have scoffed, simply cracked free of their lava encasing, belched out a plume of ash and gone on their merry way, refusing to be frozen – or sticking with the metaphor – burned in an instance of time.

It’s not that the Melvins are timeless, nothing so anodyne or sentimental as that. Their latest offering, the acoustic retrospective, Five Legged Dog, finds the Melvins unstuck in time, the musical version of Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, quantum-vaulting between eras and eardrums. At once going forwards and backwards. Is it mere coincidence the album’s epicenter should be a rendering of the Stones’ rocker, “Sway,” with conspicuous keystone lyrics, “ Did you ever wake up to find / A day that broke up your mind / Destroyed your notion of circular time….” There it is, plain as Pompeii.

Move now from 79 A.D. to 1979 A.D., the catastrophic era of disco denim stuffed with schlong, and continue right up to today. Somewhere between those encrusted epochs of banker-rock, a vein of music materialized where ego and orthodoxy were anathema. Of all the lies here told, this is none of them: The Melvins gave birth to that age. Hardcore punk was the semen and heavy metal the swampy bush of this unholy conception. Both an aesthetic and an ethic is what it takes to define an age. And during a near 40-year shelf-life, the Melvins continue to dazzle, confuse and confound. Five Legged Dog is a four album beast, a testament to their unmatched work ethic, their penchant for pushing the envelope, then shredding it to bits. Said Melvins founder, Buzz Osborne, “One acoustic record seems like a joke and two is pretty normal, but doing FOUR?!? That’s like going to war against an army of gorillas on LSD.”

Long before Seattle burned under its own pyrocumulonimbus lightning fires there was Osborne and drummer, Dale Crover, from working-class Montesano and Aberdeen respectively. Multiple (trusted) sources confirm that the two met while rat-holing their way into local opium dens, sidling up to mourning widows and desultory loggers on the nod to relieve them of their pocket change. It was by this method that they amassed enough money to rent their first instruments. But their music initially took a back seat to academia when they were both accepted into the prestigious Bushwood Academy of Technology and engrossed themselves in an emerging field of physics known as T-symmetry, the scientific rule that dictates time runs differently backwards than it does forwards. Imagine an oak tree slowly descending into the ground, or a demolished building heaving upward and settling in full pristine form. Though a career in physics was not meant to be, the principal of T-symmetry had a profound effect on them, and out of this, the Melvins and their musical space-time fuckery, was born. And if this ain’t the truth, pardner, then God’s a penguin. 

 The Melvins rudder has been their love of other bands, always fans of the good shit. They were unabashedly Kids In Satan’s Service. But not just KISS… The Who, Throbbing Gristle, Butthole Surfers, Blondie, Flipper and the unfathomable bathysphere of electroacoustic noise… Melvins loved those bands the way you love your oxygen. And after all this time, they breathe that music still. The more mordant their cover renditions have been, the deeper the Melvins’ sound has plumbed, until all familiars are hidden, then resolved as newly slabbed granite so massive that to dismantle it into its separate sources is unimaginable. Few artists work so hard at exceeding limits, fewer still follow absurdity past all reason and yet, mile upon mile Melvins strike fertile soil of sound and conceptual fury. And with this album Osborne aimed to make a statement. “This a big one. We knew we had to do something massive to prove we weren’t fucking around.”

According to Crover, “These four albums represent a career retrospective.” Indeed, Five Legged Dog takes a measured sampling of their recorded works, alternating selections from Big Business-era albums, Nude With Boots, The Bride Screamed Murder, (A) Senile Animal, and the tragically under-appreciated Bulls and Bees, and pairing them with ancient pagan favorites Stoner Witch, Honky and Houdini (whose iconic album cover, curiously, depicts a two-headed mutt, no doubt the same rabid bitch that years later spawned this eponymous five-legged dog). Melvins diehards will foam at the 36-song track list which includes “Edgar The Elephant,” “Revolve,” “The Bit,” “Hooch,” “Anaconda,” “Billy Fish,” as well as a no-way-they-can-do-that-acoustically version of “Honey Bucket.”

But know this, the acoustic designation is a misnomer, this is not a lighter, more pensive Melvins by any stretch. No wistful preening. These songs are delta variants, weighty, plangent, cavernous, and often brutal renditions. Not since Townshend, has anyone so successfully transmuted an acoustic guitar into a percussion instrument as does Buzz. On “The Pitfalls in Serving Warrants,” his strumming is precise, immediate and determined. Later Buzz deftly shifts into a roiling version of “Prig,” which would make the perfect complement to an afternoon spent sipping soma in the shade. His guitar strumming often gallops in tandem with Crover, who, for the album’s entirety, decided to scrap traditional wooden drum sticks to compliment the album’s authentic undertones. “I used brush sticks on every track. What a pain in the ass!” But Crover nevertheless manages to blast through tunnels with those brushes. Four-string virtuoso, Steven McDonald, rounds out the trio with his wholly unique bass lines. But it’s McDonald’s ability for vocal harmonizing that contributes to the album’s haunting atmosphere. “We knew the singing was going to sell this thing,” said Crover. However, initially the idea of doing a completely acoustic retrospective was met with McDonald’s raised brow. “But once I got into the concept I was hooked to the eyeballs. I think this came out really great! It’s some of my best bass playing and singing. I got to sing ‘Sway’ by the Stones, and they even wanted to do a cover of ‘Charlie’ by my main band, Redd Kross!”

In addition to ”Charlie” and “Sway,” other covers on the album include a reverential version of Alice Cooper’s “Halo of Flies.” And sticking with flies, Melvins’ staple, “Eye Flys” ends with a slow marching cover of “Woman” by Free. Another highlight, this one tinted with country-western vocal fry, includes past Melvins bassist, Jeff Pinkus wringing undiscovered pathos from the Fred Neil classic “Everybody’s Talkin’.” The song evokes a fleeting taste of The Melvins had they taken up residence in the shit-kicker bars of Bakersfield circa 1952, or rather, if Buck, Wynn, and Hag cut their teeth on punk rock and acid. Buzz agrees, “JD Pinkus does a fantastic job! His kind of insanity fits right in!”

So here we are. A four-album acoustic retrospective that somehow evades nostalgia. Did you expect, something predictable? This is The Melvins, after-all. Keep an eye out for this Five Legged Dog, this frothing mongrel, as it stalks roadside, ready to kill or maim to protect its maggot-covered bone. Unless you’re lookin’ to get down and make puppies.

Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity are reuniting with guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan for UK/European and North American dates. Other than a few surprise appearances, this will be the first time Keenan has toured with the band since 2006. This will also be the first time the “Deliverance” lineup of the group has played together since 2001.

C.O.C. recently emerged from hibernation as a trio and released 2012’s eponymous album and 2014’s “IX” to wide acclaim, but many have been eagerly awaiting the return of Pepper Keenan.

The band were originally an influential hardcore punk/heavy metal crossover act before reaching critical success with a new lineup on 1991’s “Blind” album. That trajectory continued with wider appeal as Keenan took over as primary vocalist on “Deliverance” (1994) and “Wiseblood” (1996).

These two recordings in particular fused the raw energy of the previous albums with some great strides forward in classic rock inspired songwriting and more spacious production and execution, which were often copied but rarely equalled.

This juggernaut gained mass and momentum with relentless touring alongside Metallica, Clutch, Eyehategod and many more.

Eventually following “In the Arms of God”, 2005, Keenan focused all energy on his hometown band Down.

Until now, that is.

Recent internet chatter on the subject of a reunion turns out be true.