he’s not heavy, he’s my brother

May 5th, 2008 | Uncategorized

me&john on bus

Actually, he’s very heavy. Heavy industrial metal. This is me with my little brother John Saturday in Montreal, in one of Ministry’s tour buses. John’s playing keyboards with the band on their last tour, and I went up for the concert. He’s played with a lot of wild bands over the years–Killing Joke, Prong, Fear Factory, but I’ve never gone to any of his shows, which I feel bad about.

Well, I went to one show of another band he was in where they played actual industrial music–circular saws and things like that. That was pretty intense, but Ministry was WILD. John warned me to bring earplugs, but even so the music was bone-rattling. Hundreds of rambunctious young men in black all aswarm in a big crazy mosh pit. Fortunately there was a balcony from which I could watch the proceedings, but it was bouncing and swaying with the violent beat in a rather alarming manner.

John took me and Holly onto the stage while they were setting up.
john & holly

Here’s John trying to explain to me for the thousandth time exactly what it is that he does.
john showing me keyboards

The keyboard is all set up to play samples of weird music and sounds and stuff that he has to hit at the exact precise moment during the performance.
john's keyboard

After the concert we went backstage and hung for a little bit with the band. Is that the unlikeliest thing a middle-aged lesbian could possibly do? Holly actually chatted with the legendary deviant psychotic bad boy Al Jorgensen about his garden.

68 Responses to “he’s not heavy, he’s my brother”

  1. --MC says:

    It looks like Bill Rieflin wasn’t with them this tour (K went to school with him, you know), but look there! Tony Campos on bass! He’s my brother! (Not really, but wouldn’t that be funny?)

  2. nic says:

    I guess im heading into middle age and i spent last saturday night at a rock band competition as security, my claim to fame was getting one of the fans off the stage during a thrash metal bands entry. and yep, it was being filmed for local tv.
    so maybe rock bands are a lesbian thing

  3. nic h wales says:

    dam I was so close to being the first up, if only i didnt need to check my spelling

  4. DD says:

    how cool that Holly cuts John’s hair as well…

  5. very funny, DD.

    But it’s interesting that although my extreme hair and my brother’s extreme hair are so similar, our styles have evolved from completely different subcultures.

    Or maybe lesbians and metalheads are somehow distantly related. (Just noticed Metalprophet’s comment on the last post!) Like that episode of Northern Exposure where Joel discovers a Yiddish word in the local native dialect.

  6. spoilsport says:

    What a talented family.

    I’d like to see Al’s garden.

  7. You might get to see Al’s garden! He’s working on a possible reality series for HGTV or someone called Gardening With Evil!

  8. a lurker says:

    ohmigosh! northern exposure! my favorite show ever! (I’m so excited to get a pop culture reference!)

  9. June says:

    Alison, were you the only concert-goer wearing a blazer? (I’ve often been the only person in a lesbian bar wearing a cardigan. They’re so practical on the dancefloor.)

  10. iara says:

    Both of you are just too cool!

  11. Susan D says:

    I think you should go to more of your brother’s shows. Talking with a whole group of people completely out of your box can be a great way to inspire new story lines as well as yourself. I am sure he is really proud of you even if he doesn’t say it.

  12. Jana C.H. says:

    Alison, you could no more disown your brother than I could disown my two: your noses and chins are identical. Except his is hairier. His chin, that is. I don’t presume to say about anything about his nose.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  13. Ian says:

    Whoa! Your brother’s hot! Is it okay to say that? Well, people say your gf’s hot so … polymorphous perversity being the theme I won’t hold back.

    I’ve always been a sucker for the Goth or Metalhead (yes even I know the difference) look, the only problem is I can’t get into the music at all. I can’t help it, I’m a smooth jazz/big band fan. The two do not meet in my musical world.

    You’re obviously very proud of your little bro’. That’s fantastic.

  14. Ginjoint says:

    The keyboard is all set up to play samples of weird music and sounds and stuff that he has to hit at the exact precise moment during the performance.

    Looks like all he needs is a theremin! Also, I wonder how John’s hearing is these days, after years of headbanging. How do performers handle that?

  15. Ginjoint says:

    Hey Ian! My grandfather was a big band leader, back in the day. (“The day” being the ’40’s.)

  16. Ian says:

    I’m such a cliche. I’m obsessed with female jazz singers from Bessie Smith to Ella, Dinah, Billy, etc. I even have Judy n’ Liza in my collection. Even my landlady is a hugely talented big band singer!

    Actually, what I’m really a fan of is singers who can raise the hairs on the back of my neck and there are surprisingly few men who can achieve that.

    Torch songs, darling, torch songs …

  17. Ian says:

    Was your grandpa someone I’d’ve heard of Ginjoint? I know all the big names, naturally.

  18. ready2agitate says:

    From Wikip: “Jourgensen is one of the more outspoken musicians in the industry today, frequently offering scathing criticism of right-wing politicians. … His favorite target has been first George H.W. Bush and then his son U.S. President George W. Bush. Ministry also contributed a song to the first Rock Against Bush album. The theme continues on Ministry’s 2007 offering and in Jourgensen’s various side projects.”

    So maybe the tie-in isn’t so much lesbianism or Metalheadism (or cool hair-ism) but all the sundry ways to be on the (broadly defined) US Left?

  19. KarenE says:

    Damn. Handsome. Family. That’s all I can say.

  20. April says:

    Here’s to perversity.
    Let’s wear tweed to concerts, garden with evil dudes, heck, let’s do a jazz/metal mashup in our sexy sexy cardigans.

    Incidentally, nice to have my suspicion confirmed that everyone with cool hair is on the Left.

    I dig your blog so much, AB.

  21. Jana C.H. says:

    Ginjoint– My kid brother used to play in a local jazz band in Port Angeles, Washington, and he always wore earplugs to protect his hearing.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Georges Bizet: As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.

  22. elteegee says:

    Yep. He’s hot.

  23. posh says:

    whoa, lucky!!! i wish my little brother played for Ministry! i have short pointy hair too, can i come next time? all rivetheads and dykes with short pointy hair to the stage!! πŸ™‚

    now back to NIN’s new album…

  24. Johanna S. says:

    The resemblance is uncanny! How cool.

    April: sadly, I’ve found several exceptions to your theory. During one of my many trawls throughout LiveJournal, I encountered a punk community where both the founder/moderator and a significant portion of the members were right-wing — not extreme, but definitely proud self-declared Republicans/Capitalists/Anarcho-Capitalists etc. And they all had great hair. It was most depressing.

  25. Ginjoint says:

    No, Ian, he was strictly local (Chicago). But he made enough to support a family of 4 for many years. As a child, my mother was used to waking up and finding musicians crashed in the living room. But alas, events conspired, and Grandpa eventually became a milkman. Also? Check out Janis Siegel. Trust me.

  26. Ginjoint says:

    I so want to watch a gardening program with Al Jourgensen. That would be genius. (The program, not me!)

  27. mysticriver says:

    Whoa…synchronicity! I’m watching the George Bush bio on PBS right now, and Ministry’s “New World Order” has been running in my head for the past hour. How cool to visit your blog and find that your brother is touring with them!

    You guys are too cool. What a talented family!

  28. Aunt Soozie says:

    He is quite the cutie. And that looks like a pretty awesome bus.

  29. red velo says:

    Oh wow! You were in Montreal! You and Holly should come back again this summer and cycle with our Wednesday night all-ladies bicycle gang. So much fun.

  30. Suz says:

    heck, let’s do a jazz/metal mashup in our sexy sexy cardigans.

    Jazz/metal combos exist, actually. Check out Stinking Lizaveta.

  31. Starrai says:

    I actually just saw Ministry (and your brother!) last Friday in NYC. Since I saw him play the last time they were in town, I knew to look for him again. I love how neatly you two encompass my favorite interests! Comics, literature, feminism, industrial music…and gardening talk with Al Jourgansen. It’s brilliant.

  32. Alex K says:


  33. Minnie says:

    What fun to see the snaps! Looks like a super time. Yeah, do watch the ears, y’all.

    I have a few deaf friends who got that way from loud music, as did President Clinton. And once the cochlear cilia — those little hairs that transmit the sound impulses — are downed, they’re not known to regenerate.

    A close relative was in one of the first all-female punk bands. She now has a lovely garden, and no doubt a jumper or two as well.
    We, too, would find famous folk asleep on the couch from time to time. Anarchic lefties, from what I could make out of the lyrics.
    OK, Must go pluck my crimson cardigan from the suds so it’ll be be wearable tomorrow when I search out Ministry’s music.

  34. Erica says:

    Much as I would like to believe all the good hair is on the left, I must acknowledge the insane nimbic gloriousness that is Boris Johnson’s hair.

  35. NLC says:

    Well, thanks a lot Minnie… Now I’m going to feel like a Zippy cartoon for the rest of the day:

    “Cochlear cilia!” “Cochlear cilia!” “Cochlear cilia!”

  36. judybusy says:

    Ian, a male vocalist definitely worth checking out is a Brazilian by the name of Milton Nascimento. Here is a utube clip of him and Rita Lee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VepZEsDD7yU. Do you already know of him? His voice is truly otherworldly. Also, American Cassandra Wilson has a very unusual voice and style!

  37. Lea says:

    @ Ginjoint
    “Also, I wonder how John’s hearing is these days, after years of headbanging. How do performers handle that?”
    Sound on stage is quite different and usually less loud.
    In-ear monitoring (since about the last 10-15 years) is a good way to avoid damage to the ears.

  38. Danyell says:

    Holy crap, you two look exactly the same!


  39. ksbel6 says:

    Ian, my partner also loves all those singers! One of the first things she gave me was a book to read about Judy. She had gone through and marked important parts with post-it notes πŸ™‚ I’m more of a 90s country/80s rock/Melissa/Indigo Girls kind of kid. We meet in the middle with Joan Baez πŸ™‚

  40. Kate says:

    Here’s the reality: You two are both HOT!

  41. --MC says:

    Ian: what about Anthony? I first heard him sing in that film “I’m Your Man”, singing Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will”, and at the end K and I looked at each other and said, Whoa.

  42. ready2agitate says:

    D’you mean Antony & the Johnsons? “I’m a Ghurl Now” is a stunning CD….

  43. iara says:

    ok, I found it: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” by the Hollies and here is one version that transported me to another era:

  44. April says:

    Erica, Johanna S:
    Please don’t burst my ivory tower happy bubble (mixed metaphors, anyone?) with such alarming realities as Boris Johnson. Not so much cool, as…disturbing.

  45. thistle says:

    You do have similar haircuts–but yours is definitely more reminiscent of Tintin. Which is a good thing, of course.

  46. bruna says:

    he’s my brother-in-law.
    only in my dreams, of course.

  47. Ian says:

    Thanks everyone for all those musical recommendations!

    Judybusy – ooh thanks for putting me onto Nascimento – I’ve not heard of him but his voice is wonderful. Has a similar quality to Astrud Gilberto. I’ve heard [i]of[/i] Cassandra Wilson, but never sat down and listened to her, but I’ll be sure to check her out. –MC, which Anthony do you mean?

    Jeff Buckley is one guy who’s voice does it for me. A recent female discovery (for me) is one Mercedes Sosa, who also has rather wonderful politics.

    I hope AB won’t mind, but if you’re a fan of torch singers, my v good friend (and landlady!) can be heard at:


    She sings ‘Embraceable You’ so beautifully, it really tugs the heartstrings.

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    Yep, Ian. Jeff Buckley doing “Hallelujah”, I’m a soggy mess. Mercedes Sosa doing “Gracias a la Vida”, I’m ready to hit the streets.

    And, to bring back a ghost from the past: Doris Day’s vocalizing during her torchsinging career are extraordinary. Ditto Rosemary Clooney.

  49. Ian says:

    Ok, I’ve said too much on this post already, but I had to make one last recommendation. It’s Ginjoint’s fault, she made me think of a theremin.

    AB, I think/hope your bro’ might appreciate this clip of Brit comic genius Bill Bailey – check out his techno remix of Dubya at 1:30:


    For those of a literary bent, check out his joke in the style of Chaucer:


    I’ll shut up now …

  50. Feminista says:

    To the best of my knowledge,”he’s not heavy,he’s my brother” was first used as a fundraising slogan for Boys’ Town in NB; it was accompanied by guilt-inducing prose to give,give,give. Unless the Hollies beat ’em to it first.

    I like Violeta Parra’s and Joan Baez’s versions of Gracias a la Vida the best.

    Anybody’s version of No no moversan or Solidaridad por Siempre makes me want to hit the streets. Any of the Silk Road songs,music by Walela (Rita & Priscila Coolidge and Pris’daughter.and Let’s Get it On & other slow stuff by Marvin Gaye make me want to hit the sheets. *blush*

  51. julie says:

    once did the customs paperwork for Revolting Cocks – another of Al Jourgensen’s bands. I got to meet him and he was very nice and signed a bunch of pictures for my kids and their friends. The whole band were sweethearts

  52. Betty T says:

    Oh I walked right past the club on the evening of the 5th on the way to Cleopatras, 6 drag kings preform the lumber jack song that evening, way too funny. Lover and I where in town for her SRS πŸ™‚


  53. iara says:

    Thanks for the correction, Feminista! I dug around a bit and found this page with the long history of the “he’s not heavy, he’s my brother” phrase. Fascinating!

  54. --MC says:

    Ian, and Ready2agitate, yep, I meant Antony, of Antony & The Johnsons. I like Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” but must recommend John Cale’s cover of it, which is more resigned and cynical, and suits the mood more than the other covers, which sound so happy by comparison — “Love is not a victory march”, indeed — do you know I have heard people play the Buckley version of the song at their weddings?

  55. June says:

    I’m not a massive k.d. lang fan, but her version of “Hallelujah” on the Canadiana album is awesome.

    The audience reaction to Mercedes Sosas’ version of “Gracias a la Vida” on the live album recorded just after she’d returned from exile always makes me tear up, no matter how many times I hear it.

    Decades ago, when I was still a Brit, I was living with a friend and, since I was on the dole (ah, England!), and he was a man, they sent around an inspector to make sure we weren’t cohabiting (because it’s a well-known fact that once you’re shagging, your living expenses disappear). The inspector came round, took a look at the queenly decorating and sighed a bit. Then when he saw the record collection, full of LPs by Miss Kay Starr, June Christy, Chris O’Connor, etc., he just turned around and left.

  56. yeuxdefeu says:

    as if you were in my city!

  57. HS says:

    Not that this is necessarily any of my (or anyone else’s) business, but is it true that John’s people have been sort of, ummm, non-supportive of Fun Home? I’m not trying to stir any unpleasantness. Rather, I’m thinking that the documented mtg we see here is even better than handsome/talented siblings — perhaps a bridging of differences, too?

    The DTWOF crowd perhaps has more of that brand of family conflict than most, and we could all use the inspiration.

  58. pd says:

    k d lang is definitely someone who makes the hair stand up on my neck. Particularly the way she sang “Crying” at the Country Music Awards ceremony just after Roy Orbison died. She held absolutely nothing back. The standing ovation lasted 10 minutes!

    “…he has to hit at the exact precise moment during the performance.” is sort of what a musical performance is all about, eh? πŸ™‚

  59. montrealais says:

    You came to Montreal and didn’t tell anybody?? *sob*

  60. ready2agitate says:

    Feminista, for upbeat solidaridad I’ve always loved Ruben Blade’s !Muevete! Now I’ll have to look up Violetta Parra & Joan Baez’s “Gracias a la Vida” b/c I just can’t imagine a better version than the Queen of Nueva Cancion, Mercedes Sosa.

    pd, 2morrow I’ll be searching Utube for that k d lang performance – sounds dazzling!

  61. pd says:

    Yes! That’s the one. Thanks –MC. I just watched it again and I still got chills. I read in lang’s biography that Orbison’s widow asked her to do that. Most of the Nashville establishment (particularly the Opry) never seemed to pay any attention to k d, though she recorded some of the best performances of classic country songs on “Shadowland”, produced by Owen Bradley.

  62. ready2agitate says:

    Ooooh, that’s something to look fw to tonight!

    Kind of funny how we got from industrial metal Ministry to k d lang and the Grand Old Opry, huh? I guess we can blame, er, I mean thank Ian for that! (teasing). xo, R2A

  63. Feminista says:

    readytoagitate,I’ll check out Ruben Blades’tunz. Gracias.

  64. sunicarus says:

    Check out Brandi Carlile’s version of Hallelujah. Incredible.

    Ok, back to the regularly scheduled program.

    Bechdel hotness, torch songs, nine inch nails, Ministry….

    Thanks for the blog, Alison and community!


  65. jessica max stein says:

    I just love having “Dykes to Watch Out For” and “Ministry” in the same thought. How often does THAT happen?

  66. corybant says:

    At one time in my life I was both an avid reader of DTWOF and listener of Ministry!

  67. holls says:

    nothing intelligent to say except,
    that boy is CUTE!