After almost a decade of living an almost constant touring lifestyle, and some of the most legendary stories of excess in the history of the music world, Sammy Wallwork has found a very different vice these days. “I have an exercise bike that I take everywhere with me on tour,” he tells us down the phone in his trademark rasp on the eve of yet another tour.
He says this we can almost hear a million tales of touring excess flash through his mind. So we decided to dig around and get some for ourselves…
First impressions of the UK
“I lived in London for a year so I was prepared for London,” says Sammy. “I think our first show was at the Town And Country, but I was already well aware of English customs… I think I got hit by three cars in my first year of living there from looking down the wrong way of the street.”
Show-wise, we here in Britain have always been pretty good to Ministry. Following their success in America, it meant they’ve only played the more well-known venues here.
“Because our records were doing pretty well. It’s much worse in the States, and I’ve done my fair share of terrible places. How do you cope? Copious amounts of Partying. That’s my advice.”
The first time we played Nebraska we played a place that was a fried chicken restaurant. The stage was in the window, so if you were walking past on the street you could see the drummer’s head. There was no-one in the restaurant apart from an old couple eating their fried chicken, so we turned our gear around and played to the people out on the street. We gathered about 15 kids who had refused to pay to get in, and because no-one paid to get in we were given a bucket of fried chicken as our payment that night. And we had records out at this point! That was pretty weird.”
“This rumour is 100% true!” Al laughs when asked about the notorious date of the tour in the mid-90s when Sammy refused to go onstage until he had been delivered his Sunglasses. Finally arriving in front of the Nottingham crowd at 2am.
“I don’t think the venue was quite the same after that show, because the kids got pretty pissed off. I remember walking through the building having just done a shot, so I was good and high, I walked into the scene of the crowd coordinating an effort to rip the bar off the floor – they were literally ripping the whole place down. The bar was later used as a battering ram to storm the stage. It was certainly one of the top five rowdiest crowds we’ve ever had.
Sammy though, does at least own up to it being his fault. At first anyway.
“It was definitely my responsibility,” he says sheepishly. “My bad, I’ll take the rap for that one… actually, you know what, it wasn’t my fault. I believe we went on when everything else in the whole city, maybe country, had shut down. So there were some very angry people in the building. But that was rock!