Jun 20, 2006

Ministry (Tommy Victor) - Interview

By Bob Suehs

www.rocknrollexperience.com

MINISTRY - definition - “that which serves as a means; agency” The word Ministry is usually used as a religious connotation, BUT, ask most industrial metal fans & they will tell you it means Al Jourgenson, & I would tend to agree, because for many, many years, Al Jourgenson has been creating a genre that is as ground breaking studio wise, as it is live wise! If you’ve never seen Ministry live, you are missing one of the most intense & powerful shows you will EVER see! The current touring version of Ministry consists of Mike Scaccia & Tommy Victor (Prong) on guitar, Joey Jordison (Slipknot/Murderdolls) on drums, & Paul Raven (Killing Joke) on bass, & it goes without saying that Al is the centerpiece of the outfit, who sometimes plays guitar, screams through megaphones, & leads this band through a very strong 90 minute + set! I caught the band on June 20 when they were playing Sonar, in Baltimore, Maryland on the “Masterbatour Tour” & it was an interesting show for sure, because you get a double shot of Al Jourgenson, because he not only does a full Ministry set, but he also plays guitar & does backing vocals with his side project, The Revolting Cocks, which features Anna K (Drain STH/Hanzyl & Gretyl), Seven (Opiate for the Masses), Syn (Society One), & 3 vocalists..the band play wacky cover’s like “Physical” by Olivia Newton John, “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix (Mike from Ministry played lead guitar on this song!), & “Do you Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart...for this song, the band was joined by a stage full of interesting women who danced while the band did an industrial inspired cover of the Rod Stewart classic!

I thought Rev.Co. was interesting, but my biggest thing was, I never liked some of those songs, so why would I enjoy a cover? The bands originals were interesting, & I like their cover of “Purple Haze”, but my biggest complaint about their set is that the bury live drummer Seven behind a wall of equipment & you can hardly see him on-stage! Seven would add sooo much to their live show..he’s a flashy, spectacular drummer, & to place him behind amps & stuff is sad!

I kinda panned over them, but Pitbull Daycare opened the show & they were pretty decent, but they had a bad audio mix & it was hard to figure out what the singer was singing most of the time...they closed their short set with a cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” that was interesting...I honestly didn’t even realize it was “Ace of Spades” until I kinda recognized the guitar part! I give Pitbull Daycare alot of credit, they played a good rockin’ set!

Ministry took the stage at around 11:45 & they opened with “Fear”, which was an interesting opener! For the most part, the band has not changed their set much if at all on this tour & every show has been the same set list. I was surprised there was no “Jesus Built my Hotrod”, but I guess the closer “Psalm 69” was a good one to close on. What I have to really point out, & I can’t emphasize this enough....Tommy Victor, Paul Raven & Joey Jordison make this the best line-up of Ministry EVER! Tommy is like a hyper child that rules the stage....Paul is a large, menacing character that demands attention, & Joey is a drumming animal!

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I’m kinda skipping around with this review, & I have no reason to ever sugarcoat anything, so the core of this review/interview is that I got to interview Tommy Victor before the show...Tommy & the entire band was very cool & super nice to me...I can’t thank them enough for everything! I actually got to watch the bands soundcheck to, where they played 3 songs...”Fear”, because Joey wanted to practice it & Tommy told me it was Ministry’s hardest song to play, “The Great Satan”, & they did a little bit of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” which was totally surprising to me, because I wanted to hear the entire song & they just did a little piece of it! Al was not there for the soundcheck, so Tommy & Paul occasionally did some vocals, but the bulk of the soundcheck was complete instrumental versions!

I snapped off a bunch of soundcheck pics, & it was lucky for me that I did, because Ministry’s tour manager got in a huff over what he called “unprofessional” behavior on my part, which was NOT the case & he yanked my photo pass, so I have no photo’s to offer you from the actual show. I told Al what happened & he tried to get my photo pass back, but it didn’t happen, but he made sure I had tix for the show. My soundcheck pics are probably better than what would have been taken during the actual show, because I had good lighting for my pics, PLUS, how many people get to actually take pics during Ministry’s soundcheck?

I could easily bad mouth that tour manager for having a “God-complex”, but you know what, who cares? I know he’s wrong & that’s all that matters! Isn’t there a Ministry song called “Wrong” lol...perhaps that was his theme song for the night...I could go into his “unprofessional” behavior as well, but is it worth it? No!

I was talking to Joey Jordison from Slipknot/Murderdolls before they sound checked, & I asked Joey what was going on with the Murderdolls, & Joey replied, “I’m done with that.” I said, so the Murderdolls are no over?, & Joey replied, “Yes.”

My interview with Tommy Victor was amazing...Tommy is a very down to earth, mellow, cool guy, who’s been around the metal world for a long time, & I must say, this was definitely one of my favorite interviews I’ve EVER done...it’s nice to talk to a rock star who isn’t full of himself, who genuinely loves the music he is playing, & who is sincere..sometimes you interview rockstars who are full of themselves, or are assholes..this is NOT the case with Tommy...Tommy is the same onstage & offstage...he’s a very friendly, caring, & nice person & he had alot to say, so I’ll shut up now & let you read it for yourself!

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Rock N Roll Experience: So how has the Ministry tour been so far?

Tommy Victor: It’s amazing..it’s really alot of fun.

Rock N Roll Experience: I have been watching the Pantera home videos alot & the Pantera guys were huge Prong fans...did you hang out with the Pantera guys alot?

Tommy Victor: Absolutely...I mean right before Dime died I hung out with him out in New York...I went there for a wedding & they were playing & it was kinda fucked up..Dime has been the most positive guy I’ve ever met in my entire life, like he’s always been like, fuck everything, I’m fine & everything is good...he didn’t give a shit, like he was throwing money around, but he was just like in the worst mood...he said things weren’t going good, I don’t know where my life is going...he got really weirded out, but we hung out all night & on that Dimevision DVD there’s a whole bunch of pictures of me & him on there which was kinda cool...I was like, oh my god, I mean we lost track of each other, because I quit (music) for a long time...I wasn’t doing shit for years & then when Prong got back & I was playing with Danzig, Vinnie (Paul) is a big Danzig fan, so Vinnie would come down to shows everytime Danzig was in Texas..Vinnie would come out & we’d hang out..I’d go over his house, we’d try to jam & nothing ever really happened, but we would play alot of air hockey together..that was our big thing, so...Rex lives in LA now & I see Rex alot...I haven't talked to Phil in a while, but I always got along really well with Phil (Anselmo)..we always hung out & talked about alot of music...Phil knows his shit..there is not a band that he doesn’t know...it’s the same with Joey Jordison, he knows alot of shit...I know what gets fed to me, I’m not like a searcher, where those guys are...Phil was amazing...we did a bunch of shows with Danzig & Super Joint Ritual, so we were hanging out together alot.

Rock N Roll Experience: What did you think of Super joint Ritual?

Tommy Victor: I always thought they were cool...I thought that Danzig & Super joint was a really good tour. The 2 icons, Glenn & Phil.

Rock N Roll Experience: When you played with Danzig, you played a black Jackson Flying V, & I noticed that there was something covered up on the body of the guitar..what was that?

Tommy Victor: Originally, it was an American flag. I recently sold that guitar...I really liked that guitar...I just didn’t wanna have a locking tremolo anymore...I was using that as a crutch for alot of things that I can do by bending the neck, so I got rid of that..I sold it. It was a nice guitar...I loved that one, but I have so many guitars laying around that I don’t use...that one I was using with Glenn (Danzig) though...he (Glenn) didn’t like it though...Glenn likes it if you play like a black SG (Gibson) or something...he was like, No to the Schecters & I had a black SG that I was using with Danzig for a while, but it got stolen so I was like, I’m not paying another $1,500 for another SG & you have to get a bunch of them, because you need spares, & now I have Schecters that I am using & they are fucking amazing...they are like SG’s, I mean there is not really that much of a difference, so..

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Rock N Roll Experience: What happened with Danzig...why were you let go, or did you quit?

Tommy Victor: Initially I was let go because supposedly I was complaining too much & Glenn misinterpreted that, like we were just fucking around alot & there was no hard feelings or anything, Glenn hears things & people tell him stuff & then they wanted me back & because I was doing the Ministry thing there was a time problem with it, but I wouldn’t mind doing it again..I loved playing with Danzig..I miss it alot of times, I mean this is great (Ministry), I love playing this, this is really easy, but Danzig is alot more challenging & it’s a tough gig & I really liked it alot...I miss it now, but we’ll see what happens, I mean he doesn’t gig that much, so I mean he’ll do like a 3 week tour & then he’ll take off for like 2 months, so it was very sporadic, so it was hard fitting Prong into that whole thing, so I sorta had a problem keeping Prong going for like 2 years while I was doing Danzig...plans were always changing & stuff, so...

Rock N Roll Experience: Is Glenn gonna retire now?

Tommy Victor: I don’t think he will...I think that he needs the fix to be onstage & I think he will come back out & wanna do it again...he belongs onstage & making records...I mean he is getting up there (in age), but we all are....so is Mick Jagger & he’s still onstage...Glenn is great man...he needs to fins a producer like Rick Rubin to do a really good Danzig record & then he’ll be back in business.

Rock N Roll Experience: Did you see the Danzig/Northside Kings thing where Glenn got knocked down?

Tommy Victor: Yes...I was there.

Rock N Roll Experience: Was it a set up or did it actually happen?

Tommy Victor: No, it actually happened, but I was trying to cool Glenn down...it was kinda like a weird experience the whole day & I don’t blame him, like for his decision on the whole thing, he’s just got to learn to walk away sometimes...you don’t need to confront everybody, you know? I think he knows that he doesn’t need to do that anymore & why get involved...if somebody talks shit, just walk away.

Rock N Roll Experience: How did you get involved with Ministry?

Tommy Victor: I’ve known Al for a really long time...I didn’t know that he has been following Prong...Prong, Killing Joke..the bands that have been sorta in that genre...KMFDM...he’s been following & then I ran into Mike Scaccia & said Al is looking for another guitar player & I was like, I’m in! Ministry, to me, is like the ultimate! I said I wanna do it really bad & I he just called Al up & Al said, if you wanna do it fuck yeah, what are you kidding? So I went in, did the record & it’s been great man...Al is one of the greatest ever, so now I have like Glenn (Danzig) under my belt, Al...hopefully, but I don’t wanna..maybe the only other thing I could say would be playing with Killing Joke would be my favorite....other than that, I am done...there is nobody else I would rather play with. Raven has been talking about, that if something happens, I am the first guy to come in with Killing Joke, so that would be cool..we’ll see what happens

Rock N Roll Experience: Which is more challenging to you..Prong, Danzig, or Ministry?

Tommy Victor: Prong is definitely the most challenging because I’ve gotta sing & play & the parts are not that easy to begin with...alot of times I write the song & then I’ve gotta figure out how to sing on top of it & so alot of times I am in the studio there by myself with the music going, trying to figure out how to sing & play the stuff...It’s pretty hard, especially like the “Cleansing” material was really hard to sing & play, because we wrote it & then I sang over it in the studio & “Rude Awakening” too, so those records were really difficult...I had to really practice doing it....as far as the guitar playing end, Danzig, strictly the guitar playing is hard, because I’m doing alot of John Christ solo’s & I don’t wanna be disrespectful to him so I had to slow everything down in Acid..figure them all out & like...I’m not gonna bag on Todd Youth, but Todd never did that & like, I do the solo to “Am I Demon” like John Christ did & I wanted to do that with my own style a little bit, but to like make something up completely on top of it is ridiculous, so like with “Mother” too...I wanted to do the “Mother” solo so it’s not my solo, so it’s harder to do. Ministry does have alot of different styles, but it seems real easy for me, it’s just enjoyable...like with Danzig, like how the guitar starts out, you have like “How the Gods Kill”...it’s like, you make one mistake in that song & your dead..it’s all over, it’s so highlighted & like “Sistina’s” & those songs, like you fuck up, everyone can hear it & especially Glenn (Danzig) & he will fucking freak out! Ministry you can hide a little bit more, but you have another guitar player, a bunch of samples, so.

Rock N Roll Experience: When is the new Prong record coming out?

Tommy Victor: I don’t know yet...like Joey (Jordison) has been bugging me to play drums on it, so we wanna do that.

Rock N Roll Experience: Would Joey Jordison play drums on the Prong tour?

Tommy Victor: I don’t think he would come because of the way we travel...it’s the grungiest of grunge, like I did most of the driving on that last Prong tour..I was like, I’ll get behind the wheel & drive the van...the next time we need to get someone that drives all the time though, but for the most part I don’t think Joey would go for that situation, but there are other drummers..I don’t know what Aron is doing right now, but Mike (bass) will still be in Prong & then we’ll get another drummer if Aron doesn’t wanna do it anymore...maybe Joey will do it, but ultimately of course, we’d love to get Ted Parsons back, but Ted has some health problems

Rock N Roll Experience: Is Ted okay?

Tommy Victor: Ted had brain cancer & we were trying to get him back in for a while & he lives in Norway, so we can’t really do it

Rock N Roll Experience: I know that you were involved with the Marilyn Manson “Antichrist Superstar” record...what did you play on that record?

Tommy Victor: Well, it’s hard to say, because they told me to come out & like I know I played on like “Beautiful People” & a bunch of shit & then they said it got scrapped, but I mean, I don’t know, I mean we were pretty fucked up most of the time, so it was like, I was there for 2 weeks & I played on alot of shit..I don’t know what was used..I really don’t even remember & there’s been a couple of records that I’ve worked on like that...I just don’t remember, but they wanted essentially, I brought my guitar rig out...Trent (Reznor) wanted me to bring my guitar rig out & they used that sound for most of that record...they used my rig..it was just laying over there for a while, so that’s the way it is.

Rock N Roll Experience: So Twiggy didn’t actually play all the guitar parts like they claim?

Tommy Victor: No..Twiggy didn’t play the whole record, no

Rock N Roll Experience: Did Trent play some of the guitars on that record as well?

Tommy Victor: I don’t know man...we were doing this thing called Tapeworm & Ironically enough, Phild from Rev.Co, he wound up with some of the sessions on his harddrive for some weird reason & he’s got some of it & I was like, Oh My God, listen to this shit! We were working on that for 2 weeks...I was in on the Manson session & then doing Tapeworm at the same time, so I was back & forth, like playing guitar all day & doing tons of fucking Coke & shit & I kept going back & forth & then I don’t know what happened, like the Tapeworm thing never happened & Trent used some of those riffs for (Nine Inch) Nails...the problem is, you don’t know where that fuckin shit is..he chopped shit up & I don’t really know what happened, so..

Rock N Roll Experience: How involved were you with Tapeworm?

Tommy Victor: Trent called me & said, I wanna do something, I wanna do something, & Trent goes, I’m flying you out, bring your guitar rig, throw it on the plane, & I went out there, I stayed with him & then...he was working on that... Tapeworm & The Manson record at the same time, so it never came to fruition & nothing ever really happened with it, but I was kinda pissed off about it, because I dedicated alot of time in doing that...the same thing with Rob Zombie...I dedicated alot of time with that.

Rock N Roll Experience: Did you actually play with Rob Zombie?

Tommy Victor: Yeah...briefly. I was involved with the first record...I was writing songs with him & he sorta paid me off...like that song, “American Nightmare”...I wrote that song with Rob & Clouser took some credit with that too & I was in his band at that time...like he came out with “Private Parts” (Howard Stern’s movie)...I was with Zombie at that point.

Rock N Roll Experience: Did you ever play any live gigs with Zombie?

Tommy Victor: Yeah...at the Private Parts premier

Rock N Roll Experience: Didn’t you wear a mask onstage?

Tommy Victor: Yeah..I wore a mask & they had me all hooked up & so....

Rock N Roll Experience: Are you wearing ear plugs onstage playing with Ministry?

Tommy Victor: No, I don’t...I tried & I can’t do it

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Rock N Roll Experience: But Ministry is one of the loudest bands...how do you stand it at the end of the night?

Tommy Victor: I don’t know man...I tried using them...Al always makes fun of me because one time when they were trying to get the levels of the samples together during rehearsal, when it came out, it was so loud that I thought I was gonna die! It was like, out of a nervous reaction, I put my head in Raven’s bass amp to get away from the sample sound & Al was just laughing & rolling on the floor in tears laughing, like I was just running around, looking for...the samples were so loud that I ended up having my head in the bass cabinet & not to be funny or anything, but I’ve gotten used to it & I’ve been tuning out that frequency..I was concerned about that too, because the songs are long & like, where do I cue off of for the changes, & I thought that maybe it would be the samples that I did that from, but I play basically off of Joey (Jordison)..I try to get in touch with him...Joey plays off of J.B. who runs all of the samples & he’s got everything down with a click, so it’s running in that chain pretty much

Rock N Roll Experience: Is it intimidating to play with this line-up of Ministry, because everyone on that stage is a rock star.

Tommy Victor: Well, at first, like Joey (Jordison) is probably more intimidating than anyone because of the status of Slipknot, what they mean, but now I just give him the shit just like anyone else...I bust his balls more than anyone probably...I think he liked that too, because he’s the boss in Slipknot & now he’s with guys that don’t kiss his ass all the time, so I think he likes that a little bit.

Rock N Roll Experience: Is there anything else I haven't asked you that you’d like to add?

Tommy Victor: Go to www.myspace.com/prong & then there’s www.prongmusic.com that nobody goes on anymore...everything is on myspace..we have some new songs on there & we’ve been answering the mail, & Prong are gonna put out a new record, probably on Crash Music & next year we will do another Ministry record & I’ll do Prong & then maybe another Danzig record & tour....Hopefully we can work that out.

Rock N Roll Experience: Is it true that the next Ministry record & tour will be the “last”?

Tommy Victor: No..that’s not true...don’t tell Al I said that...we are probably gonna tour a little bit more & then do a new record...everyone says that, & Ozzy did the same shit..like, “Oh, we’re not doing it anymore” & then you sit home, & what are you gonna do at home? He’ll produce a couple of records & then he’ll get bored & wanna go out again...I’ve been trying to quit Prong for fucking 15 years now & I never do..I say, I’m not doing it anymore, I’m not doing it anymore and....