Ministry is a notable band, especially when it comes to industrial music, which they helped to popularize. But like any long lasting group they’ve had their share of problems, which are captured on this film. If you were looking for a history of the band or footage of them having fun backstage before rocking out live you’re in for a surprise. While it does show the guys backstage this film digs into the crazy, unbelievable mind of Al Jourgensen.
Right from the beginning, the movie makes it clear this won’t be a happy story when then drummer Reynolds Washam talks about the “rock star” treatment that was missing from their 1996 SpincTour. It then cuts to a clip of Al Jourgensen in a viking helmet screaming his lungs out. From there, several artists, such as Trent Reznor, Lenny Kilmister, and Maynard Keenan, talk about how Ministry has influenced their own musical endeavors. There are even some bits from the band’s record label at the time and how they were signed and what they thought of the music. Somewhere between these interviews and various clips of the band on stage, it turns into a showcase for how crazy Jourgensen is.
The frontman isn’t shy about expressing his displeasure with touring. He goes on about the people who want to use and abuse you and that the best part about making music is the actual recording of it. He also talks about why record companies suck and how life on the road is tough, especially when you’re sharing a bus with five other guys. He said the same thing about touring in his book that came out last year and as a fan it’s a little heartbreaking to hear. You always want to think the band you’re seeing live is having a good time and when you learn they’re not, you just wonder why they keep going. It’s the same thing with Jourgensen. Throughout the film he’ll address the fans as idiots and various other names making you wonder why he even tours anymore. But this isn’t the most shocking footage. That comes when Al’s drug use is highlighted.
Anyone who has followed the band knows Jourgesen doesn’t hide his substance issues and the same goes for this film. Not only does he openly talk about why he does it, he even shoots up several times in front of the camera. Nothing is left to the imagination as he burns a spoon for another hit of heroin. Spliced between these clips are shots of Dave Navarro and Casey Chaos talking about their behavior on drugs, which is parallel to the way Jourgensen acts. Another thing you learn about the frontman is he is super paranoid. There are shots of him backstage trying on bullet proof vests because he thinks someone is out to get him. There’s even a point where he explains why he wears a top hat (so no one can aim for his skull) and how he has one for everyone in the band. Again, it makes you question whether he should continue to play live if he thinks someone is going to assassinate him.
There are several points in the film that become uncomfortable. Most of them are the shooting up scenes already mentioned, but another one shows Al sticking his dick in a cooked chicken. Try to process that for a minute. It’s not the first or the last time his junk makes an appearance. There’s also a scene where he talks about how groupies are supposed to be handled that’s kind of disgusting. After you’ve seen yet another clip of Jourgensen taking drugs you begin to wonder if the real point of the film was to show the disintegration of the rock star. Whatever the point it’s something you won’t forget anytime soon.
Overall, the film gets 8/10. There’s no doubt the movie is interesting. There are some light-hearted scenes of the guys goofing around backstage, but the entire thing is tinted by Jourgensen’s issues. He comes off as a crazy guy who should be standing on the corner talking about the end of the world most of the time. He’s paranoid, superstitious, and full of drug problems (at least he was in this film). Hearing him talk about touring and his reasons for not doing certain songs is disheartening for fans and leaves you wondering why he even bothers to continue if he hates it so much. It’s an eye opening film that takes you into the mind of the Ministry frontman.