Lovers Lane
ATT Internet 75

Ministry 3

| June 30, 2006

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But as he said earlier, ideological freedom was the least of his concerns. If he wanted to smoke dope with college kids and protest world trade injustices, he’d move to Portland. Texas has land, perfect for 13th Planet. Having room for his record label complex also helps him find his way home following long nights in the studio, since house and business are on the same piece of property. The curious thing is the timing. “As is typical in my career, I do everything bass-ackwards. I sold out before I started. And here I am starting a record label in the time when the record business is in shit. It just seems to all fit.

“I was just really disappointed with my last years at Warner and my years at Sanctuary, and I just really feel that the record industry dropped the ball. They don’t get it. To make it interactive and make it affordable for people and to do good quality product without just waiting for ‘American Idol’ rejects to sign to million dollar contracts and do all this excess waste. And first-class flights and penthouse hotels and this and that. The whole record business is still living in the ’80s and ’90s when it’s a whole new reality out there. And they dropped the ball.”

13th Planet is intended to be more than a pet project for Jourgensen, even though it has the backing of Megaforce. Unlike Isaac Brock’s Glacial Pace or, to a larger degree, Madonna’s Maverick, he plans to be as involved with the label from a marketing and A&R rep as he will its public face.

“Once I get my quota of things that I still think are viable and that are fun to do [Ministry, etc.], then I’m really really concentrating,” he says. “This is not gonna be just a vanity label. We’re gonna build this up slowly but surely with the right bands that have something to say, very similar to Wax Trax! If you get anything in the mail from our label, 13th Planet, you know it’s gonna be quality. It’s not just gonna be signing flavor-of-the-month bands and shit like that. So, it will be viable, definitely [have] an aesthetic. In fact, also a political-view effect. I want bands with something to say, not just yabbering about how they want to cut themselves and they’re all depressed and all that. I know,” he says, suppressing a chuckle. “I went through that phase, too.”

Almost as much as the presidency, the music-industry model is a burr in his boots. Once brought to the topic, his mouth has trouble forming the words as fast as his mind preps the bilious siege.

“The music business is in complete shambles,” he says, invoking a familiar refrain. “It’s ridiculous. It’s not about art anymore. There is no artist development even, like staffs on labels. It’s sign whoever just got voted off ‘American Idol,’ give ’em huge bucks, put out mediocre product. Everyone’s too afraid to fart in the music business. They’re just too afraid to let out a squeaker even, because they don’t want to lose their jobs. So they play this same card and there’s nothing good coming out on any major label. It’s really just a bunch of crap. And the only person that has any say is the bean counter. At the end of the day it’s the fucking accountant, which is because the labels are owned by megacorporations of this and that. The record department, or the music division of whatever megaconglomerate is almost like a headache to them. They don’t want to hear about it: ‘Just give us fucking money and shut the fuck up.’ There really is no art.”

Almost as soon as you can say “anyone can complain,” Jourgensen brandishes the seeds of his plan.

“To me, it’s really exciting times because the Internet — which I’ve been saying for years and years and years — is the new punk rock. It’s the new fuckin’ Sex Pistols. It’s DIY, a bunch of fucking great punk bands in the garage bashing out great political songs, only now it’s done on the Internet. That’s where I belong. I don’t belong at some megaconglomerate, dealing with that kind of mindset. Look at the Internet! There shouldn’t almost be labels. Cut out the middleman. Do it yourself on the Internet, put it out, if you have something to say people will notice. The only thing about our label that’s different is there is an artist-development program. I’m producing a lot of the bands and working with them. You know what I’m saying? It’s not just about the money thing, which is what’s it’s about as far as the label. The label’s just a middleman. Everyone forgets the artist is the one doing the fucking music, which has something to say, has a point.”

No one should worry when they see Ministry on tour this summer that Jourgensen will be out front, handing out business cards and pitching his ideas. He plans to incorporate as much of Rio Grande Blood into concerts as possible, playing his two sets with as many guests as he can. The future is Jourgensen’s muse now. (He’s considering a winter home in Chicago to watch his beloved Blackhawks — a hockey team with a past so revolting it’s only safe to think ahead.) With a 21-year-old daughter, a wife, a farm, and a record label, he suddenly has a lot to lose. But retire doesn’t mean stop working, or drop vigilance.

“I wear an orange hunting vest when I go out,” he dryly laughs, “in case Cheney’s in the neighborhood.”

Steve Forstneger

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