Remember When: Ministry protested against robots in ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’?

Posted by on July 5, 2016

A.IIt’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.

Sometimes, bands end up in major motion pictures after they get hired to contribute a song to its soundtrack (corporate synergy at its best). In Ministry’s case, though, it was the opposite way around.

Frontman Al Jourgesen claims that the band ended up in 2001’s scifi drama A.I. Artificial Intelligence thanks to the film’s original director Stanley Kubrick (who died shortly after handing off the project to director Steven Spielberg). However according to producers, Ministry was cast as the unnamed band that plays during the film’s anti-robot rally “Flesh Fair” because… well, they looked like the type of band that would play for a bunch of humans who hated robots. And it supposedly wasn’t until after they were cast that the band wrote a song specifically for the film, “What About Us?”

As hard as it still seems to picture Ministry in a Steven Spielberg film, it turns out that Jourgesen ended up becoming very friendly with the legendary director… after an awkward first introduction, that is. As Jourgesen put it:

“We were there for two days and he wouldn’t even come near us… I think it was because of the way the band looks… Finally, Spielberg’s handlers set up a meeting. We had to line up, all of us in a row single file, like we were meeting the fuckin’ Queen! Spielberg came down greeting everyone and shaking hands, ‘Good to have you here . . .’ They put me down at the end of the line, like they were hoping I might give up and walk away or something. Finally he gets down to me and I snarl [nasal voice], ‘Hey! Steven, David, look! The band’s gotta quit. We can’t do this film. All of us are walkin’ out right now!’ He’s like [gasps], ‘What?! Why?’ And all his handlers are scribbling down notes an’ shit …

I said, ‘We were told A.I. was a porno film that stood for ‘Anal Intruder,’ and what is all this shit? We were told it was a porno film, and fuck you!’ (In the film, there were a bunch of teddy bears runnin’ around; like, what is this crap?) And they all went running … Spielberg immediately grabbed his heart and ran, with all his other people…

So when he ran off, I had to go after him and I was in my full dress costume where I had on all my metal; I couldn’t even run. I yelled, ‘Hey, I was just kidding!’ [laughs] So every day after that, at the beginning of the day Spielberg would come up to me with a new ‘porno’ title for A.I., like: ‘Ass Intruder,’ ‘Animal Instinct’… And then he started wearing my hat and jamming with us onstage. So we ended up getting along great!”

During his Swearing Words In Glasgow special, Anthrax’s Scott Ian talked about the time he himself met Spielberg in Germany, and how the director didn’t show interest in the conversation until Ian mentioned he was friends with Ministry (spoiler: Spielberg had fond memories of Jourgesen).

While Ministry continue to come in and out of retirement (next up: Chicago Open Air), and Jourgesen keeps busy with Surgical Meth Machine, check out the music video they released for “What About Us?” (which though is made up of footage from their cameo in the film, did not actually appear in the film’s soundtrack) below.


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Categorised in: Columns, Remember When