March 5, 2018 Interview – Tony Campos of Ministry
As a kid, Tony Campos had a furious love for Metal music. Engulfed in the underground scene, Campos was raised on steady a diet of Hardcore Punk and Thrash Metal, before being turned on to the world of Industrial Metal. A style that would become a passion, he would go on to become a key component in the success of Static-X before joining forces with some of Metal’s most elite acts over the years ranging from Soulfly to Fear Factory to Prong as well as the mighty Ministry.
Working with Ministry’s Al Jourgensen for years now, Campos reconnected with the Industrial Metal hero on the no holds barred new album AmeriKKKant and will be hitting the road for an exciting 2018 world tour. Recently we caught up with the upbeat and all-around good-guy bassist to talk his career in Metal, working with Ministry, the upcoming tour, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in Rock and Metal for a long time now. From Static-X, to Soulfly, to Ministry, you have accomplished a great deal. First, tell us, what has the ride been like for you?
Tony Campos – Professionally, I have been playing for 19 years, I think. It has been fucking incredible! After Static-X fell apart, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Things just fell into place for me. I went from one gig to another and I got really lucky that most of the gigs I had were with bands/people I would have chopped my left nut off to play with. (Laughs) It is sort of like a full circle moment that keeps repeating – I keep playing with my heroes and get to play some of my favorite music. It has been a hell of a ride, let me tell you!
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it! Your name has been associated with many big acts through the years. As mentioned, you have been working with Ministry for some time now. You have appeared on three studio albums, including the soon to be released album, and toured everywhere with the band. What has your time been like in Ministry?
Tony Campos – The Ministry gig, in particular, is that really big full circle moment. My old band Static-X, the two bands it ripped off the most, was Ministry and Prong. To get to play in both of those bands is a huge thing for me. (Laughs) I think I first started working with Al (Jourgensen) since 2008, and I have been working with him on and off since.
At the time, in 2008, it was supposed to be a farewell tour, so there was no way I was going to say no to that… to be Ministry’s last bass player, that would have been awesome! Then 3 or 4 years later, Al came out of retirement and wanted to do it again. By then, I had already been working with Soulfly, so I couldn’t do that tour. I think then, in 2016, was when I worked with Al again, at that time I was still playing with Soulfly, and Max (Cavalera) took some time to do the Kill Be Killed record, did some touring with those guys. Al just happened to call me and said, “I need a bass player.” I told him, ‘I’m in!’
It’s kind of been like that, going in and out. Unfortunately, Al doesn’t tour a whole lot, so I can’t make waiting a couple of years for the next tour. It has been an on and off thing, but I have been lucky enough to be able to work with him several times. I am really feeling fortunate that I get to this next year with him. I think, with AmeriKKKant, there is a lot of really cool, old school moments on the record. I think a lot of old school fans are going to be pleasantly surprised with it.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, AmeriKKKant is Ministry’s fourteenth studio record set for release Friday, March 9th. It does have a old school feel, and is also a highly politically charged record. What was the recording process like?
Tony Campos – I really don’t know. I think I played on 2 song on this record, “Wargasm” and “Antifa.” I was just hanging out with Al one day, we went to a restaurant, had food, got drunk, went back to his place, drank some more. He was letting me listen to some of the record, a track came up, and he said, “Hey, do you want to play bass on this?” I said, ‘Yea, sure!’ (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. As you said, you have worked with Al on and off for many years. Is it safe to say you guys have a good working relationship?
Tony Campos – Yea! Al is one of my favorite people to hang out with. He also has to be one of my favorite musicians, he has made some of my favorite music. It’s a pretty cool thing when one of your buddies just happens to be one of the heroes you grew up with.
CrypticRock.com – That has to be a pretty awesome feeling. Much like other Ministry releases, there is a groove throughout the album.
Tony Campos – Yes, I have listened to it several times and I think it’s awesome. It’s definitely a voyage from top to bottom, it takes you different places. That’s really cool.
CrypticRock.com – No doubt. There is also a plethora of guest collaborations on the album including Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory and Joey Jordison. Were you around when other guests came in.
Tony Campos – I was out on tour a lot during the time he was making the record, so I didn’t get to see a whole. When I was home from tour, I would go over and he would let me listen to what he had so far with the record. I was in Fear Factory with Burton C. Bell, so it was not like I didn’t get to see him. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – Right. Are you still an active member of Fear Factory at this point?
Tony Campos – Technically I never left, but the band isn’t doing anything. I’ll see how things work out if and when they decide to start touring again. I will see where I am, and if I can keep playing with them, I will because they are a great band.
I do this side project with Dino (Cazares), a Death Metal/Grindcore thing called Asesino. We have been doing a few gigs here and there around town, doing shows.
CrypticRock.com – That is exciting news. Speaking of being on tour, you are set to hit the road with Ministry in support of the new album on March 22nd. At this point, there is so much material Ministry can offer fans. What can we expect from this forthcoming run?
Tony Campos – I haven’t seen the setlist, or at least the final setlist, it can change at anytime. I think there are around 3 new songs on the setlist and then just songs from different records. I think it’s going to be a good mix. It will be kind of like what I did with Al on the last tour – a mix of songs from a bunch of different records.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds good, as said, there is so much material that can be offered.
Tony Campos – Yea, the combinations are pretty limitless.
CrypticRock.com – There is no question. You had mentioned this will be a year long run. Is the possibility of more dates to be announced?
Tony Campos – Yea, that is all possible. I just told Al, ‘Whatever you have going on this year, sign me up.’ The US and European tours are booked, but I know Al wants to do some more overseas stuff such as South America, Australia, and Asia. I’m sure second US and European runs are not out of reason. There’s a lot of stuff happening.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it could really be a massive world tour, which is wonderful. Since you have worked with so many acts, you have experienced many different personalities and work ethics. What are some of the more important things you have learned from your experiences?
Tony Campos – Well, you know everybody has their own way of doing things – how they like to work in the studio, how they like to tour. The one common thing that guides me through any situation is to just be chill and have a good time. There are plenty of guys out there and go in and play whatever. When you tour, you have to live with people and if you go in with an attitude and big ego, it doesn’t make for a good relationship. If you can’t be cool, it’s only going to cause problems.
CrypticRock.com – That is pretty true in any walk of life, right? Check the ego at the door and enjoy yourself.
Tony Campos – Yea! Just have a good time. People get so caught up in all the bullshit that is in this business and you forget why you are doing this in the first place. I started playing music because I love music and I love having fun. Always keep that in mind and don’t let your ego get out of control.
CrypticRock.com – Obviously, a good personality pays off. Everyone wants to work with you, so that is great.
Tony Campos – Yea, I must be doing something right because people keep hiring me to play bass for them. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) That’s the truth! As someone who seems to really love music, what are some of your influences?
Tony Campos – When I was a kid, I was into Hardcore Punk, Metal, and Thrash. I was pretty underground for a lot of youth. I think around my junior year in high school a friend of mine made a mixtape for me, yea a mixtape, that’s how old I am. (Laughs) He put on there “Deity” by Ministry and I said, ‘What the fuck is this!!’ It totally blew me away and that opened the door for Industrial for me and led to more electronic sounds.
Fast forward to when we started to do Static-X, and we were looking for something to do, we ended up settling on ripping off Ministry and Prong. We were like, “Yea, I can get into this!” (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – It is fascinating to see how things developed for you. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Metal.
Tony Campos – Totally, there are so many different ways of interrupting it. It’s all fucking really cool.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and you were with Static-X from the beginning. Then you bowed out of the band, and as you mentioned, it kind of fell apart. When things were going right, do you have fond memories of your time in Static-X?
Tony Campos – Oh yea! Fourteen of my fifteen years in the band were great! It was just that last year when shit fell apart. I try not to dwell on that year now and try to remember the good times I had. We did have a lot of good times. We accomplished a lot more than any of us thought we would do.
I remember having this conversation with Wayne, back when we were a local band, and he was talking about buying a Chevy Dually Pickup truck and a trailer, so we can tour in it. That was the height of our expectations, to tour in a pickup truck. (Laughs) We accomplished so much more, it’s crazy.
CrypticRock.com – You never know what is going to happen. Static-X did accomplish a lot and it is great you can keep the good memories in the front of your mind. Sometimes things happen that cannot be helped. The past is the past, right?
Tony Campos – Yea, you can’t change things. You can either focus on the negatives or focus on the good things. I rather focus on the good stuff. Thankfully, the majority of that time was great.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, and now you have plenty of great things going on, like Ministry. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Tony Campos – Of all-time? Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Pumpkinhead (1988), The Exorcist (1973), and The Shining (1980). I fall asleep to those movies, that is how much I love them. I just throw them on and close my eyes, because I already know the scenes word for word. I can close my eyes, picture the movie, and I just listen to it while I fall asleep. That is how much I love those movies. I think those are my top 4 Horror movies right there.
I recently saw Winchester and I wasn’t expecting much, but it was actually quite good. It had some pretty good jump scare moments in it and the story is pretty good.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. Have you ever actually been to the Winchester Mansion out in San Jose, CA?
Tony Campos – No, but my girlfriend has and she says it’s fucking crazy. She said they actually did a very good job of replicating it in the movie.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly is wild. There are doors that lead to nowhere, etc. So, you have some interesting selections there. Especially Hellraiser II.
Tony Campos – Yea, what I loved in two over one is actually going into hell and the labyrinth. That whole thing totally captured my imagination.