Interview: Sin Quirin

Sin Quirin is a guitarist for the industrial metal band Ministry, and has played on the albums The Last Sucker, Cover Up, Adios… Puta Madres, Relapse, From Beer to Eternity, and the recently-released album AmeriKKKant. He also has played guitar with the Revolting Cocks and various other bands.

This interview with Sin Quirin was for a preview article for for the 3/23/18 Ministry concert at the Majestic Ventura Theater. It was done by phone on 3/1/18. (Marie Anthony photo)

Jeff Moehlis: I saw Ministry when you did the New Year’s Eve show in Chicago in 2015. Do you remember that show?

Sin Quirin: I do remember that show. It was freezing!

JM: Being from L.A., I guess you’re not used to the cold of Chicago.

SQ: Not at all, man. I was born and raised in L.A., so I’m cold right now – it’s 60 degrees and I’m cold.

JM: What can people look forward to at the upcoming concert?

SQ: You know, in our typical Ministry fashion, I think people can expect to get assaulted on every level, and on all of the senses. It’s visual, it’s auditory – it’s everything, man. People usually leave our gig like they just got clobbered over the head with a hammer or something. I’m sure we will bring it like we usually do.

JM: My guess is that for most of your fans that’s exactly what they want.

SQ: I believe so. And if they don’t get it by us musically, we’ll stand up there with an actual hammer and do it ourselves.

JM: There have been several times over the years that Al Jourgensen said that a particular album our tour would be the last one for Ministry – and now you have a new album out. What inspired the band to return to the studio to record that album?

SQ: It’s a number of things. One of the reasons… You go through these periods sometimes where you feel like “OK, this is it. I’m done. I’m really kind of over this thing.” And then from whatever event happens in your life you get that creative bug again, and you want to go back into the studio and create something. I think that’s what it was like for Al when he decided for us to go back into the studio. So that, tied in with our political climate, I think, had a lot to do with it. It was just a lot of built up tension [laughs], and I think we took it out on this album.

JM: How did the approach to this album differ from the other Ministry albums you’ve been involved with?

SQ: I have to say this record was done a lot more as a band unit, as opposed to the other records. Al was definitely a lot more hands-on and involved in the studio, in the actual creating of this album. Not that he wasn’t for the others, but for this one from the get-go he was in there. So it was a little bit more hands-on as far as Al’s involvement with it, and he played a lot more guitar on this record than he had on the last few other albums. Which is always great. The more Al is in there and involved, the better, I think, the product is. I think with this one everyone contributed song ideas and parts and whatnot to this album. So that was the biggest difference.

JM: What’s your favorite Ministry album from before you joined the band?

SQ: It would have to be the live one. It would have to be In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up. But if you ask me that in a week it could be Land of Rape and Honey. So it varies. But I always seem to go back to the live one, because I prefer the live versions over the studio versions at times.

JM: Had you seen the band live before you joined?

SQ: Yes. I hated them [laughs]. No, just kidding. I was a big fan. I mean, I was a fan since I was in high school.

JM: How did you first get the gig with Ministry?

SQ: I got the gig because of a couple of people. One was an old booking agent that we shared, and the other guy was Paul Raven, rest in peace, who was in one of my old bands called Society 1. Both of those guys were instrumental in getting me this gig, and introducing me to Al. That was in the early 2000’s.

I had always hoped and wanted to be in a band like Ministry, so it was always something that I aspired to and tried to make happen. So being in the band now – still it’s a real thing for me, at times. And writing a lot of music for the band, and everything that I’ve been able to do because of Al and Ministry has just been pretty crazy to think about sometimes.

JM: What were your early impressions when you joined the Ministry? Was it what you expected?

SQ: In a way, yes. I was on a label with my old band, and we toured. It was back when MTV and VH1… We were on Headbanger’s Ball and stuff. So I had done all those things on that level, but definitely going into this band it was a whole different level. The early impressions were like, “Shit, this is it.” You’ve really got to shit or get off the pot. You’ve got to bring your A-Game or you’re gone. I think that was one of the big eye-opening things early on, at those early rehearsals. I was like, “Shit, this is a whole different level of playing, a different level of professionalism.” So it was a combination of all those things. But it was kind of what I envisioned or expected.

JM: I know you overlapped a bit with Mike Scaccia, who sadly isn’t with us anymore. What was he like?

SQ: Mike Scaccia was one of the most underrated guitar players, in my opinion, ever. And more importantly, he was just one of the nicest guys I’d ever met. He was definitely a guy I looked up to. I toured with him when I was in the Revolting Cocks in 2006. It was Revolting Cocks and Ministry on that tour, and so I got to tour with Ministry, even though I was playing guitar in RevCo. That’s when I first got to know Mike. From that point on he was just very welcoming to me, and just the nicest person to be around.

He was really, truly all about the music. He didn’t care about anything else, any of the other bullshit that goes along with this circus that we’re in. It was just the music for him. You’ve got to respect somebody that is completely in it strictly for the music. You know, he was a great guy, man. I feel lucky that we got to do the record together – we did From Beer to Eternity – and that we got to tour together in 2011 or ’12. I feel that I’m a better guitar player because of him, and all the laughs and all the tour stories we had together is something that I always carry with me.

JM: How would you describe Al as a bandleader? Or is that the right thing to call him?

SQ: More like the ring leader [laughs]. He’s been great. He’s as eccentric and eclectic as people think, but very, very forward-thinking musically. With me he’s been great. All I can say is my experience with him – the freedom that he’s allowed me in the studio and my contributions musically to the band and the songs.

He’s been one of those guys that has always pushed me musically. Even if he doesn’t necessarily know he’s doing it, he has. Oftentimes I’m in the studio tracking stuff, I’ll play him an idea and he’ll hear it, he’ll let me do my thing with it, and then he’ll come in and just say, “Try this” or “Try that” or whatever, in a certain way that gets a better performance out of me. As far as I’m concerned he is a musical genius, and I think as the years go by more and more people are really going to realize that and see just how much he contributed to this.

JM: Al has had several brushes with death over the years, and somehow he has survived. Do you have any insight into Al’s secret to survival?

SQ: God, I don’t know man. You know, he’s one of those guys. He’s up there with Keith Richards. Those guys are just going to outlive all of us. I think he’s just pickled himself so much that he’s preserved. I don’t know, man. He’s like one of the healthiest guys I know [laughs]. I can’t explain it.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician? Say someone just starting out who is thinking about doing it as a career.

SQ: Do not. Sell your gear and get a real job [laughs].

It’s tough, man. I can’t say, “No, don’t do it. It’s too hard” because I did it. I mean, on my level I did it. If you’re really wanting to do this, it has to be a thousand percent in your heart. It can’t come from any other place. When you have a passion for something, you really don’t listen to what people tell you anyway. It’s really just tunnel vision for you when you have a passion for something.

That’s how it was for me. I never listened to anyone that told me that I wasn’t going to make it, or I wasn’t going to do it. Everything I heard was just negative. But my love for music and perseverance was so strong that I didn’t let it get me down. My advice is that if you’re really trying to do it, just make sure that it’s coming from your heart, and if it is, give it a thousand percent and things will happen.

JM: Your answer reminds me of John Doe’s answer to the same question when I interviewed him.

SQ: I love John Doe. I’m a huge X fan. They’re one of the first bands I saw live. The Whisky when I was like 13. We played Riot Fest in Chicago over the summer, and X was on the bill. I actually got to meet them for the first time, which was pretty awesome.

JM: You’re on the same wavelength as John Doe, which is not such a bad thing.

SQ: I guess not. I guess I’m alright.

JM: What’s in the works for you, either with Ministry or otherwise?

SQ: A few things. Obviously Ministry takes priority over everything I do. But in between all this stuff I started this old-school power metal project, and named it 3 Headed Snake. I’ve been in the studio tracking an EP, which we hope to have out in the next few months. It’s like classic old-school power metal stuff, the complete opposite of something like Ministry. So that’s what’s been taking up my time when I’m not doing Ministry stuff.

And I’m always doing stuff on the side, and for other artists as well. I just recently started tracking some guitar for a band I always loved called VAST. I’m really excited about working with Jon [Crosby] on some VAST stuff, which hopefully will see the light of day in the near future.

JM: One request, since you obviously have Al’s ear more than I do. I would love it if the band Lard got back together.

SQ: I tell you, we have about six new Lard songs ready. Honestly, I don’t know when they will see the light of day. I just don’t. It’s strictly just a scheduling thing, that’s all it is. We’ve got these songs with Jello [Biafra]. They sound killer. They’re classic Lard stuff. I hope that they see the light of day soon. I really do.

JM: So you were part of those recordings?

SQ: Of course, man, of course. I wrote some of the music on those Lard ideas, and I tracked all of the guitars and bass already. Keep your fingers crossed, man.


One comment for “Interview: Sin Quirin”


    Posted by Beverly | March 19, 2018, 1:10 pm

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