In 1992, Ministry enjoyed success with its fifth album Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs. The album contained such hits as "Jesus Built My Hotrod," "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix," and went platinum in 1995.
Despite the success, frontman Al Jourgensen tells Revolver that himself, his then-wife, and guitarist Mike Scaccia blew Warner Bros.' initial $750,000 advance for the record entirely on drugs. That's Black Sabbath-level drug spending.
By the time Ministry were done touring for their 1989 album The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste, Jourgensen, his ex-wife Patty and guitarist Mike Scaccia were all nursing voracious drug habits. "I was shooting up, smoking crack and drinking Bushmills laced with acid," Jourgensen says. "And it was a cycle that I'd repeat 10 times a day, at least."
The addictions cost the band about $1,000 a day, which they happily paid for with their $750,000 advance from Sire/ Warner Bros. for the follow-up to The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste. At the time, Jourgensen was fed up with the protocol of the music industry and felt he had fallen into a creative rut.
"What I was doing wasn't art anymore," he says. "It wasn't fun. It was procedure. Since I wasn't enjoying what I used to love I decided to rebel harder than ever and push the limits to their utmost extremes. Mikey and I were shooting speedballs, blending smack and coke in the same syringe so you don't nod off and you don't get wired. And then we'd sit around and record walls of white noise for hours on end."
Jourgensen says the only thing he had to show for all that money was "Jesus Built My Hot Rod," which featured an insanely drum Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. Haynes was so drunk that Jourgensen says he spent days editing all the gibberish together into something useable, and ended up getting the label to cough up another $750,000… which is insane.
"It was like pulling a diamond ring out of a septic tank," Jourgensen adds. "I edited the song on my two-track at home and I spliced so much tape to make his gobbledy-gook sound like words. Even in my fucked up state, I had the rock-steady hands to conduct delicate brain surgery. I cut tape all night long and three weeks later it started sounding pretty good. I added these samples about drag racing, put in these crazy backwards effects, racecar sounds, a thrash beat [guitarist] Mikey [Scaccia's] riff. Mikey added these wild blues solos, then I added the nonsense spoken word intro to go along with Gibby's moronic lyrics."
When Ministry's record label started getting anxious and pressuring Jourgensen about what he and his bandmates were doing with their $750,000 advance, he delivered his collaboration with Haynes — now christened "Jesus Built My Hotrod" — because that's all he had.
"They hated me to the point of viciousness," Jourgensen says. "They had given me all this money and this was all I had to show for it. They became hell-bent on my destruction. I got this phone call: 'We gave you $750,000 and you send this nonsense back to us. What are we supposed to do with this?' They hated it. I was like, 'Well, either double down or not, man. Cut us loose now if you want. I don't care.' So they took the bait and doubled down, which was cool because we actually got the record company to pay us $1.5 million to make this fucking record!"
So there you have it, kids. You could spend $1.5 million dollars on a record back in early 90s, and while it might've pissed your label off, they just might be down to do it.