METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Liz. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Pulp AndPaper. We appreciate it. LIZ WALTON: You are welcome and are obviously bored or very curious to be interviewing me. MPAP: Very curious. So, how are you? How are you doing with 2018 coming to a close? LIZ: I’m doing really well, thank you for asking. Al and I bought a house at the beginning of the year. We moved, released AmeriKKKant, and are wrapping up our third tour of the year. 2018 has been a busy year, but it’s all been positive. MPAP: Some people just tuning in and reading this interview might be like, ok, who is this Liz Walton? Well, let’s fill them in, why don’t we?
LIZ: As the saying goes, 'behind every great man is a great woman'. I am one of the great women who have supported Al Jourgensen along his journey. Currently, I co-manage the band along with Steve Davis and handle the daily affairs both on and off the road. There’s a lot of work that goes into taking a band on the road that no one ever thinks about. Fans only see the show we’re putting on that night in their city but there’s future plans happening behind the scenes as well as tying up loose ends along the way. MPAP: To continue with that, you have for the past few years have pretty much been an essential part of the behind the scenes for Ministry, who is an American industrial metal band founded in 1981 by Al Jourgensen in Chicago, Illinois. Initially, they were a synth-pop outfit, but after ten years or so, Ministry shifted its style to become one of the pioneers of industrial metal in the late 1980s. So, on top of being behind the scenes, Liz works closely with management, concepts ideas, is in the studio for all recording sessions, and helps manage the tour. Is there anything else you’d like to add to that?
LIZ: That’s a lot of information. I love it when people try and spell out the Ministry timeline because it varies so much from the speaker’s point of view. I often get asked about what I do, and generally my response is 'What do you need done?' That’s what I do. A few years ago, a friend of mine described me as the glue that holds the day-to-day Ministry camp together. My IG handle is 'she makes it happen.' That’s what I do. I make things happen. A Jill of all trades if you will. I have a diverse background and have put myself in situations that have pushed my limits and taught me a lot about how to live. MPAP: Sounds like you are definitely one to have on their team. Now let’s talk about the tour? You’re now out on the 3nd leg of it, and it finishes up with two final shows December 20th and 21st in Los Angeles, California at the Fonda Theater. How has the whole AmeriKKKant tour been going, so far?
LIZ: Imagine if Mickey and Mallory Knox traveled the world with a rock band. That’s pretty much how it’s going. AmeriKKKant is a radical album for both Al and myself. We both feel, along with Al’s daughter, that this record is a summary of all of the previous Ministry records from With Sympathy to From Beer To Eternity and ties in the past while still adding modern elements like DJs and electric cellos. We’ve done things on this tour that 'the industry' said would never work, which is a prompt for us to continue to push the boundaries. MPAP: What have been some of the highlights on this tour so far that have stood out?
LIZ: The first show of the year was down in Anaheim, and Bill Burr, Al and myself were the only ones on the bus both before and after the show. (Maybe because no one else could find the bus, but regardless sometimes you just have to trust that things happen the way their supposed to). A lot of laughs were shared, and Bill and Al have a shared sense of humor that is unparalleled. I don’t think I will ever forget standing in the cold waiting for Chris Connelly to show up at the Riviera in Chicago in April. We hugged and walked in as Al was having the band play "So What." They hugged and literal magic happened when they began to sing together again. Everyone in the building could feel the electricity! True performers have a gift that words cannot describe. The history between Chris and Al was palpable. MPAP: That must have been amazing to witness. Now has there ever been a time when you’ve seen the tour itinerary, and you cringe because it’s never fun to drive through certain parts of the United States during certain parts of the seasons, especially during the wintertime? LIZ: Nah, it’s cold, I lived in Chicago for 6 winters and have a warm jacket and drink lots of tea. Toronto last spring was brutal, but it’s a great city, and definitely made up for it a few days ago by pouring some sunshine on us. MPAP: Before we go any further, I’m sure there are a few fans out there reading this that are dying to know, how did you end up meeting Al? You’ve been dating for three years or so now, right? LIZ: Al and I used to live in Austin together back in the 90’s. I had an ex-boyfriend, Max Brody, who played drums/ saxophone that I was still locked in a lease with who played in a band with then Ministry drummer, Rey Washam. One day, Paul Barker called and invited Max on tour with Ministry as a sax player and I suggested he go so I could have the house all to myself. Rey and Al got into it on the tour and Rey left. Max finished out the tour as the drummer and was in the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence with the band. When the tour ended, Al decided to move to Austin and needed a roommate. Max and I’s lease was finally up and at the time it made perfect sense to live with Al. If I remember correctly, it all happened over tacos. When Al got divorced in 2014, I was living in San Francisco and Ministry came to town. I was riding my bike up the headlands looking at the Golden Gate bridge when Al called and invited me to the show. When I saw him that night, I saw someone I had known and hadn’t realized I loved. Back in the day, we were both young and on drugs. Love wasn’t something we thought about. I moved to Burbank and the rest as they say is history. MPAP: Almost sounds like that needs to be made into a movie. Quite the story. Let’s go back to something that was mentioned earlier in the interview, concept ideas for Ministry. Tell us about that for a moment? LIZ: Hmmmm… that sounds like something I’ve heard French journalists ask Al before. Concept ideas for Ministry? I’m not sure but the best I can tell you is that Al and I are both dreamers. Sometimes we see something on TV or in a movie or online that inspires ideas, laughs and sometimes gets pushed through to reality. Could be anything from album artwork, t-shirt designs, or stage/ set ideas. We’ve definitely had ideas that may have been better left as just that but most of the time we can mold our ideas into something concrete. MPAP: Most of Ministry’s diehard fans know about Al’s drug and alcohol history, especially after reading his book, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen. To put it bluntly, he’s survived heroin addiction, kidney failure, liver failure, hepatitis A, B and C, and exploding stomach ulcers. Is he lucky to be alive?
LIZ: Yes, of course. We are all lucky to be alive. Al’s destiny continues to confuse people, sometimes even himself. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t have been in the '27 club' along with Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. What I can tell you about Al is that he is not obvious. Dying of a heroin addiction at 27 would have been too obvious. When he turned 60 last month, I compiled a video of friends both from the past and present wishing him so. The most common thought among them all was along the lines that he will probably out live us all. That’s more his style. MPAP: Without getting too personal, did you ever have a drug or alcohol problem as well?
LIZ: You don’t move in with Al Jourgensen in the 90’s if you don’t have a drug/ alcohol problem. I knew a lot of junkies then but nodding off never looked appealing to me, and none of them wanted to share. I smoked crack, snorted coke, did pills and drank anything that was put in front of me. In 2008, I quit drinking, smoking, caffeine and anything that altered my thinking or judgement. In the 8 years that I was completely sober I learned how to live. I discovered what my core values are. I stopped living in fear and judgment of myself and others. I had a lot of free time and cash to spare and began exploring my creative side. I took ballet and tap for the first time, singing, guitar, and ukulele classes, painting and eventually Expressive Arts Therapy.
MPAP: Continuing with the subject, tell us about TheCreative High documentary? This is something very significant to you?
LIZ: Wow, you’ve done your homework! Yes, the film is directed by a friend/ teacher of mine Adriana Marchione. It’s about artists of all types who have discovered how to access a natural 'high' through the use of ART as opposed to drugs/ alcohol or anything else that someone can be addicted to. The film is in the final stages of production and is currently fund raising to help make it so. The film is led by a core women team spearheaded by a woman with a dream who believes in Art over Addiction. I wish more things like this were talked about in the news. People should know about Adriana, her work and about how others have struggled with addiction and found another way. MPAP: I'll put a link at the end of the interview so people can get more info and of course donate to it. Now Al has pretty much seen it all and done it all, and most people would cover their mouths in shock and awe and run, how do you feel about his past? He’s one of a kind, correct?
LIZ: Al’s past is what it is. There’s more to it than what you can read online, and most of the truly interesting bits will never get talked about. He is a private person about the things that are most important to him. I try not to judge people for decisions they’ve made. We all do the best we can with what we have and know at the time. MPAP: Moving forward, Al was one of metal’s most outspoken critics of George W Bush’s reign in the White House, along with his father, George HW Bush. It all began on July 14th, 1992 when Ministry released the song “N.W.O.” Recently George HW Bush passed away, by any chance did Al say anything about it when he might have heard about it on the news? LIZ: We were sitting on the bus in Cleveland with Jason Pettigrew from Alternative Press when we saw the news headlines scrolling on the screen. Al said, "You watch! They’re going to paint him to be a saint even though he was a monster!" That’s exactly what happened. He was praised over for days to come. Sometimes Al is an oracle of the future. He predicts things and they happen, or maybe history just repeats itself and he knows history. The only one he was wrong about was Trump. He really didn’t see that one coming. MPAP: In an October 2018 interview with Billboard magazine, Al revealed that he has begun working on new material for Ministry's fifteenth studio album. He explained, "I have to get as many albums as I can do while Trump is still president, and then what am I going to do: write those crappy albums that I write while Democrats are president?" This is excellent news, correct?
LIZ: Yes, while we were in Europe this summer a studio was built in our house. Our plan is to finish out this tour, and lock ourselves inside for most of 2019 and see what happens. MPAP: Looking forward to the outcome of that. Are there any more details you might be able to spill and tell the world here, of course without getting into any trouble of course?
LIZ: I think Al still has a lot of music left in him despite who’s sitting in the White House. He may be 60 but he’s not slowing down. I think milestone birthdays are very interesting and demand a pause for reflection. Al has said the next record will be less Motorhead and more Portishead. Who knows, maybe it will be less With Sympathy and more With Empathy? MPAP: With the increasing rise of downloading from the internet, and a lot of it being piracy, what do you think about the future of the music industry? LIZ: After seeing the documentary, Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records a few months ago, I hope the community aspect of that era will reemerge somehow in the digital age. There are still old white guys sitting at the top, making money, who don’t know shit about music or what it takes to be an artist. The film industry is starting to clean house. Hopefully the music industry will follow. Digital music is something we are still trying to find our place in. Everyone listens to music in different ways and formats now. If it were up to me, being an artist/ musician would be supported by the government. Alien Weaponry is from New Zeland and gets grants for being artists. MPAP: These days it seems the only way to make any amount of money as a band is you must sacrifice all and go out on tour and sell merchandise? It almost seems like it’s a guarantee that a new group can’t or won’t make it past the first couple of years without going under?
LIZ: You think you’re signing up to be a musician, but really, you’re just a traveling t-shirt salesman. Thank you to everyone who buys our t-shirts! MPAP: Taken from the headlines recently, 'Dad murders wife and kids, then googles the lyrics to a Metallica song'. To go into further detail, Chris Watts pregnant wife and two young daughters had been dead only a few hours when, in the brief window between murdering them and coming under the suspicion of police, he reportedly took the time to look up the lyrics to a Metallica song. The song he Googled was "Battery," according to local TV station KCNC. The track contains lyrics such as 'Smashing through the boundaries, lunacy has found me' and 'Pounding out aggression, turns into obsession/Cannot kill the battery/Cannot kill the family.' Reading a story like this, no matter what situation it is in, it’s just sickening. The media jumped all over this pointing the blame on Metallica and metal music. How do you feel about the whole situation? LIZ: The news media should have a few hours every day or every week where they go dark and take a break. They have salaries to pay and jobs to fill and they latch on to things that will make people talk. Shock value is a big sell and gets people sharing their links and finding ways to validate their own mundane existence. In the song "Lies", Al sings: 'don’t listen to anyone, listen to your head' and then goes on to suggest that you don’t even listen to him, but think for yourself. I agree wholeheartedly and think that is a major piece that is missing is society today. No one has values or knows what their values are. It’s pretty simple, but sometimes the most simple things are the hardest concepts to understand. MPAP: Let’s end this interview on a high note, what’s your favorite Ministry song?
LIZ: I really like the song "What about us?" that was released on the Greatest Fits album and is in the movie A.I. Right now, I’m loving hearing The Land of Rape and Honey every night too! MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Liz, for doing this interview. We look forward to what you and Ministry does to finish out the year 2018 and beyond. LIZ: You’re welcome, and the last surprises will be at the LA shows at the Fonda and not to be missed. MPAP: Before we bring this interview to a close, are there any last words you’d like to tell everyone out there?
LIZ: Thank you to everyone for supporting Al, Ministry and live music in general. The world needs ART now more than ever and we couldn’t do what we do without your support.