Jesus Built My Hotrod

Songfacts®:

  • This Speed Metal classic features vocals from a very drunk and disoriented Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. When he was in Chicago for the first Lollapalooza tour, Al Jourgensen of Ministry brought him in to add vocals to this song. Jourgensen told us: "Gibby came down completely drunk off his ass. He couldn't even sit on a stool, let alone sing. I mean, he was wasted. He fell off the stool about 10 times during the recording of that vocal. He made no sense and it was just gibberish. So I spent two weeks editing tape of what he did, thinking it still was better than what I was thinking of doing with the song."
  • Ministry was signed to Warner Bros. Records, who made the mistake of giving the band $750,000 to make the album. "We, of course shot it all up our arms and put it up our noses and didn't have a single song to show for it," recounts Jourgensen.

    With the budget blown, the band had just this song to show for it - and it didn't even have vocals. "I didn't know what to do with this song. Because it was a crazy 5-4-7-4 beat," said the Ministry frontman. After bringing in Gibby to put the vocals down, they had the completed song, but nothing else for the album. The record label had to make a decision. Said Jourgensen: "We sent Warner Bros. that and they had to figure out if they wanted to double down and give us another $750,000 bucks or whether they wanted to cancel the whole project. Like, get rid of these guys, they're useless. Because we were. We were useless.

    So they doubled down and they released 'Jesus Built My Hotrod,' which to this day is still the hottest selling single on Warner Bros. in history. But they had to do that to make their money back, because they'd already put about 1.5 mil into us. And we got one song. By the end of it, we finally got our act together and we created an album. But the first song was a complete accident. This shows the power of the record companies, because they hated it. They were like, What is this? This is stupid. I thought we hired Ministry, instead we get this bing a bang a bong bing bing bing bing, you know, this hillbilly stuff. And they hated it. But it started selling, surprisingly. Because that was released about 6 months before the album was completed. It started selling as a single because they tried to make their money back on anything; they didn't think they were going to get anything else out of us Psalm 69 so they released 'Jesus Built My Hotrod' with Gibby, blithering idiot, talking s--t, just screaming into a mike and falling off his chair.

    And they sold it. They sold like 14 million copies of it or something like that. And so then they doubled down and we were able to finish the record. We knew we couldn't shoot the rest of the budget up our arms, so we went in there, rolled up our sleeves, not only to shoot up, but also to work, and finished the album. But that was quite an auspicious beginning to a multi platinum album."
  • Car racing was big part of Al Jourgensen's childhood, as his stepfather was a mechanic for the famous race car driver Dan Gurney. Said Jourgensen: "In 1965 I went to the Indy 500, and my dad worked in the pit crew. And what struck me most about the whole thing was not about the car racing, but about the volume and the noise - it freaked me out. So I was like 6, 7 years old, and the volume of Indy Car drove me into music. Because the sound was so loud I couldn't believe it. And Ministry is the loudest band in the world. I mean, I've even had Motorhead tell me that, so it's pretty much confirmed."
  • The single contained two versions of this song: the 8:15 "Redline/Whiteline" mix, and the 3:45 "Short, Pusillanimous, So-They-Can-Fit-More-Commercials-On-The-Radio Edit." The long version contains dialogue sampled from the movies Blue Velvet and Wise Blood.

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