Interview: Ministry Main Man Al Jourgensen Shares His Near-Death Experience
Ministry mad genius Al Jourgensen is back in full force in 2012: Not only has he re-formed the seminal industrial-metal band, which will drop a new full-length, Relapse, in March, but he's also releasing the debut from his long-rumored psycho-country project, Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters (you can preview the record right here). One of the 100 Greatest Living Rock Stars listed in the new, 100th issue of Revolver, Jourgensen almost didn't live to see the new year, however. Below, he fills us in on his near-death experience.
REVOLVER You almost didn’t make our living rock star list because you almost died!
AL JOURGENSEN Man, after The Last Sucker [in 2007] I was puking up blood every day. I didn’t know why. That’s been going on for the last four or five tours, though, and I didn’t see a doctor because I just thought that was part of what happens when you’re my age on a rock tour. I didn’t know there was a condition attached to it. I would puke blood and get off tour and it would go away. But this time I got off tour and it was worse. Blood was coming out my nose, my dick, my mouth. I’d stand up and fall over. I lost so much blood, I couldn’t even walk. Instead of calling the doctor, I put on this medieval helmet that I had made in the Czech Republic, and I would quit hitting my head on the tiles, if I put on the helmet. I wore the helmet around for a couple days. I was a tired, run-down, bloated drunk--just a mess. And then I exploded on March 27, 2010, and they had to take me to the emergency room.
How close did you come to meeting your maker?
I had 13 bleeding ulcers in my esophagus and stomach, and the ulcer that burst was over a main artery right between my stomach and intestine. I lost 65 percent of my blood. I was lying there in bed in a pool of blood when my wife called the ambulance. And here’s the other great thing. Fire station 13, it’s right across from my house. The paramedics came and said, “We don’t think we can do anything. We’ll try to get him to the hospital in time.” I was going into seizures. My blood pressure was 30 over 20. I was a corpse. I flat-lined and they brought me back. And those paramedics saved my ass and so did the emergency room people at Providence Hospital in El Paso, Texas. I checked into the hospital under the name Dick Sohard because I didn’t want the attention. They put a tube down my throat for three days and did this laser surgery on me. They had a camera attached to these lasers, and they stuck it down my esophagus and cauterized all the six open wounds. I had six active ones and seven scarred over ones. So I’ve had these things for years and I didn’t know they could kill you. I thought an ulcer just caused bad heartburn.
They finally took the [intubation] tube out and I’m sitting there in the ICU, going through the TV channels. I was kind of cognizant, although they had me pretty doped up. And I realize there’s no fucking hockey channel and the playoffs were about to start. Now I’m the biggest Blackhawks fan ever. I’ve been going to games since I was 6 years old. I know the owners of the team. So I said, “Look, I’ll pay for it, just get me some fucking hockey in my room.” And they said, “No.” So I pulled out all the fucking tubes out of my arm after three days. I was supposed to be in there for a week, but after three days with no hockey, I yanked all the IVs out and walked into the lobby in my hospital robe, you know, the ones with the ass hanging out. Only, I turned it around--so I was full-frontal. I think it’s a cooler look. I did that because they had stashed away my clothes and my cell phone. I went outside to try to get a cab but security stopped me at the front. They said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to watch hockey. The puck drops in three hours.” They said, “We can’t let you go, sir.” And I said, “Fuck you. This is a free country--still, the last time I checked--sort of.” They called my doctor and she came running down. I had a big argument with her. I said, “Look, you either get me the hockey package or I’m out of here.” She leaves and comes back with a shoebox full of pills, and says, “Take these for your stomach.” We’ll let you go, but you have to take these.” So I called Angie and she picked me up.
Can you still drink?
I have a male nurse who weights 350 pounds named Hector. I call him "Hector, the third bottle rejecter." I’m only allowed two bottles of wine a day now. And it doesn’t even get to that. It’s about a bottle and a half, and that seems to be good along with the medicine I have to take every day for the rest of my life. I just went and saw my doctor and she said, “Yeah, you’re actually doing pretty good for being a fucking degenerate.”