Paul Raven is the current bassist for Ministry, but his resume doesn't begin there. Over the years he has worked on countless projects. He's been part of the self-proclaimed "Wax Pack" with Wax Trax records. He was part of Killing Joke, Prong, Godflesh and more projects keep coming.
When I spoke with Raven on the phone, he professed a soft spot for the Motor City. He has much love for Detroit, especially as the singer for his latest project (Mob Research) is Kory Clarke (formerly of Warrior Soul), as well as Mark Gemini Thwaite (Mission UK), Benny Calver (also of Killing Joke)t and Legion Davies. The fact that there are all these amazing musicians from legendary bands in his latest project lead to my first question.
RC: The thing that's always struck me with you guys, for lack of a better word, the whole Wax Trax crew, is that it's a really incestuous crowd. How does that all come about?
PR: The Wax Pack, we call it.
How did it all come around?
RC: Yeah, the network you guys seem to have.
PR: You know, that's a tough question in a way. Because where I am now, when I see things personally coming full circle for me, finally working with Al and being in Ministry, we sort of go back to the '80s, when Al was in England, working with Gary Clail, On-U Sound System, Mark Stewart and the Mafia and all those dudes in this whole sort of West London, East London and South London scene that Al got involved in through his engineering in London.
We sort of first connected way back then, and then when I left Killing Joke in 1991, with Extremities, I did that record with Martin Atkins, and every time we'd go through Chicago, we sort of hung out with those dudes, and then when I left Killing Joke I moved back to Chicago and Al actually was one of the few people who embraced me, got me into all the right places, turned me onto music and turned me onto various other people - introduced me to people like Chris Connelly and different people like that. That was my take on the whole thing.
With Killing Joke, we always sort of saw Ministry as our US counterpart in a lot of respects, and we just seemed to cross-pollinate during that period right there with myself and Atkins at the beginning of Invisible and whatnot, and yeah I think it just comes down to like-minded people who are sort of equally driven in a way - That's why we're all still around.
Some people might say that. Some people might just say s**t floats to the top. I don't know - it could be that, too.
RC: You say everything has come full circle for you to be working with Al Jourgenson now, but if you look back, you have worked with pretty much everyone who's ever been in Ministry besides him before that.
PR: (Laughs) Yeah, you know what, and that's funny because I'm actually about to go off to Europe and do the new record with Treponem Pal and Marco [Neves], who was also a touring member of Ministry at one point. We were just talking about that today. You know those guys?
RC: Yeah, Treponem Pal is a name I haven't heard in a while.
PR: Well, we're doing a new record. Myself and Ted Parsons [Swans, Godflesh, Prong] are playing on the record with Marco and his new band the Cohorts. We're going to go record it in Geneva in October, and I'm sort of prepping for that.
I always had a lot of respect for Al and Paul [Barker], and the music and the way that Al makes great records. We always hoped at some point to have Al produce a record with Killing Joke, or at least do some sort of collaborative work. The nearest we got was with Murder Inc., having Chris Connelly involved.
It actually even more incestuous that you'll ever know, my friend, because, well it just is. There's been a few very close friends exchanged over the years.
RC: You're just throwing out names, this is just like a "Who's Who?" It reminds me of going to old industrial shows, where there'd be four bands, but Chris Connelly would be in every one.
PR: (Laughs) Yeah, I've always had a soft spot for Chris. Murder Inc. was an interesting experiment, but in some respects I wish it had gone a little bit further. But things being what they are, it didn't.
RC: What was it like doing stuff with Pigface? That was always one of the most amazing live shows. It's just a jam session.
PR: My introduction to Pigface was kind of interesting because Martin was already talking about putting it together and then asked "Do you want to be involved?"
"I don't know. What do I have to do?"
"You just have to get on the plane with one song you can teach to everybody - and that's what I'm telling everybody. So everybody show up on the first day with at least one song they can teach to everybody, and there's 10 people coming so we should have ten songs by the end of the first day."
(Laughs) That was the theory anyway. So, basically we all showed with a song that had like two parts, or maybe three. As far as playing with those guys is concerned, it was really great fun for me, and I met some people who I consider really close friends like En Esch from KMFDM who I don't see enough of, but I think he's a brilliant guitar player and really, really underrated. And Chris also, and Matt Schultz, who you may or may not know.
RC: Yeah. Lab Report.
PR: Yeah, Matt's another person who's really underrated and under appreciated as far as it comes to public recognition. I love that Lab Report stuff and he's made some great records. He's a sick bastard and the world needs a few more of them to keep the wheels turning.
I had only positive experiences playing with Pigface. It's just that... I'd have liked to have got paid from the records! (Laughs) That would have been nice. I guess that's never gonna happen I stopped worrying about that in like '96. Martin's not very good at paying his bills. (Laughs)