This Wednesday, May 13th, Theatre of Living Arts will be hosting a one-off double-bill that will surely be talked about by those in attendance for decades (i.e. “You’ll never believe it, but this one time at the TLA I saw Ministry and Laibach double-headlining.”) Yes, for one night only industrial metal godfather Al Jourgensen and his Ministry will be sharing the stage with legendary Slovenian avant-garde noisemaking collective of performance artists, Laibach. Not only is each band celebrating more than thirty years of making music, but each are returning to Philly for the first time in nearly a decade. And in addition to their brilliantly badass sounds, each one is known for exceptional postmodern live theatrics, so it will likely prove to be the best bill the city sees all year in addition to being the actual best “show.” I recently got a chance to chat with Laibach, who released a deluxe edition of 2014’s SPECTRE this April, a music video for their cover of “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” just a few days ago, and who kicked off their US tour just last night.
Izzy Cihak: Last year you released SPECTRE, your first studio album in quite a few years. How do you feel like the album compares to your previous work, both in terms of its sounds and just the process of writing and recording it?
Laibach: When making an album we always follow our instincts and intuitions. The sound (and the form) finds us as soon as we find the content. On this album we were particularly influenced by the events during the past few years of economic collapse, social and political unrest in Europe and the rest of the world, as well as with the disastrous state of music industry and pop culture in general. On top of that, we had this old idea to create an international political Laibach ‘Party’, so all these elements together somehow led us to making SPECTRE, which we see as a natural development and an upgrade from the previous album, VOLK.
Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your most significant influences, whether musical or otherwise? You deal in various artistic mediums and are obviously very inspired by sociopolitical issues; are there any issues or artistic movements that you find to be exceptionally important to pay attention to at the moment? I’m sure there are many in your mind…And since I’m a humanities professor, I have to ask if there are any philosophers, theorists, or “thinkers” of any other variety that you’re especially inspired by?
Laibach: We have always been affected by everything that has reached us in the past 30 years or so, and been inspired by many things. Film has especially influenced us a lot, diverse films and genres. It is hard to make a list but if we have to put down some selected names, we have to mention at least J. B. Tito, Jacques Tati, Nikola Tesla, Marcel Duchamp, Magritte, Orson Welles, Hitchcock, Fellini, Kubrick, J.S. Bach, Wagner, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Serge Gainsbourg, Pink Floyd, Sweet, Kraftwerk… – the list can go on forever.
Izzy: You’ve been on tour for most of 2015 so far. Have there been any particular highlights, whether cities that were really fun to see or audiences that were especially amazing?
Laibach: We make no difference between places and audiences; we gladly and equally accept all of them. But it’s always interesting to perform for American audiences, if that is what you are asking. We had some great reactions in the past, especially back in the ‘80s – but also later.
Izzy: And you’re going to be playing Philadelphia on Wednesday. What can be expected of the live experience?
Laibach: Expect the unexpected, that’s usually the best sort of expectation.
Izzy: At the Philadelphia show you’re going to be sharing the bill with Ministry, which I’m really excited for, since you’re both definitely legends, so I’m curious your thoughts on Al Jourgensen and his band. Were you previously fans of them?
Laibach: Not that we would know. But we like their name and we heard lots of things about Ministry, which is always a good sign.
Izzy: And finally, what are your biggest plans for Laibach after this round of tour dates wraps?
Laibach: Back in Slovenia there is a big exhibition going on right now about Laibach and the NSK movement at the Modern gallery of Ljubljana and we are going to perform a special Laibach show within that context on 20 June. On 4 July 4 we will celebrate 35 years of the band with another special performance in our hometown of Trbovlje, followed by a big party gathering on a nearby Mount Kum. A week later we perform a roof concert at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb and on 21 August we are hopefully going to perform in Pyongyang in North Korea. In the autumn we start working on several new albums, so there’s plenty to do…