Paul Barker, also referred to as Hermes Pan, is the former bass guitarist of the industrial band Ministry. Barker had a lengthy role in the band from 1986 to 2003. But many fans don’t know why he left. So, what happened to Paul Barker?
This is what I know:
Paul Barker left Ministry in 2003 after 18 years due to increased tension between him and Al Jourgensen. Jourgensen’s chaotic drug-fueled life lost him many friends, lovers, and band members. Since leaving Ministry, Barker has both produced and recorded and joined Maynard from Tool’s side project Puscifer.
And it’s also worth noting that he’s also toured recently with former members of Ministry offshoot The Revolting Cocks (and they’ve toured without Jourgensen for those tours).
Although the bassist hasn’t been 100% open about what happened or what led him to step down from Ministry, rumors have it that creative differences may have also played a role.
So, did Paul leave on his own accord? Did he/will he ever return back to the group? And is it true that he and Al have buried the hatchet?
Let us dig deeper!
Paul Barker (born #OTD February 8, 1959), also referred to as Hermes Pan, is the former bass guitarist for Ministry. pic.twitter.com/cQRcd6gRFo
— RICK CORDEIRO (@CordeiroRick) February 8, 2020
Why did Paul Barker quit Ministry?
Paul Barker quit the industrial band Ministry because he and the band frontman Al Jourgensen did not share common goals anymore. They wanted to move in different directions, musically. Additionally, Jourgensen’s hardcore partying lifestyle was at odds with Barker’s lifestyle.
Although not clear, Paul and Al’s relationship within the band had begun to strain before the group went touring to support the album Animositisomina.
From a fan’s perspective, Ministry frequently changed its direction and sound more than any other band. Just compare the sound of their 1st 4 albums, and you’ll see each one is totally different.
So initially, the band struggled to find one decisive genre that could perfectly describe them. As a result, Ministry continuously recruited new members as existing members made their exit. All told, more than 50 people have come and gone from Ministry’s line-up over the years!
But was a rotating cast of band members the reason why their sound changed so much?
Luckily, I got into Ministry’s continuous stylistic changes in a recent article. From synth-pop to alternative to industrial dance to metal, I cover it all, including the truth about their synth roots on With Sympathy.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Perhaps not finding a stable genre to keep working did not match Paul’s idea of making music, and he began planning to separate ways.
According to Barker, he told Jourgensen in August 2004 that he “was uninterested in remaining with the group and had been thinking about leaving for some time.”
And while Jourgensen was highly excited about the possibilities of what the band could do, Barker wasn’t. So, he decided to make his exit in 2003.
December 12, 2018
Dallas, TX: Gas Monkey Live
Photos by Corey Smith#MinistryBand #WeAreMinistry #Ministry #AlJourgensen #CarpenterBrut #AlienWeaponry #AmeriKKKant #ministryhistory pic.twitter.com/BBuqME9hZH
— Ministry (@WeAreMinistry) December 12, 2021
Has Paul Barker ever rejoined Ministry?
Paul Barker recently rekindled his friendship with Ministry’s frontman, Al Jourgensen, but has never rejoined Ministry since leaving in 2003. Additionally, in interviews, Jourgensen has downplayed Barker’s role in the band and indicated a reunion would not happen.
Since the duo has been on talking terms once again, and there might be new music on the cards in the coming years, fans will never know what will come up until any of them confirms.
But one thing is sure, millions of Ministry fans are curiously waiting for Paul and Al to get back together and start making some incredible music once again.
They are keeping their hopes high, wishing for rumors to turn into reality soon.
Any diehard Ministry fan would understand that the news is worth the hype. Anyone who has been a fan of the band knows that the real Ministry is when Hermes Pan (Paul Barker) and Hypo Luxa (Al Jourgensen) were together and made the music.
Even today, Ministry is most remembered for albums featuring Barker, such as:
- The Land of Rape and Honey (1988)
- The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989)
- Psalm 69 (1992)
- Filth Pig (1996)
- Dark Side of the Spoon (1999)
- Animositisomina (2003)
Unsurprisingly, these are the albums produced when Paul was with the band. And the fans have missed the psychedelic side of Ministry ever since Paul left.
And Barker aside, Ministry was also best when Mike Scaccia was in the band, which was 1990-2012.
Without them, Ministry’s music, while still not bad, is often repetitive, generic, and at its best is just a retread of the sound from their golden era.
A very young Alain Jourgenson, Paul Barker, William Rieflin (R.I.P.) and Buzz McCoy during the 1987 Twitch Tour in Austin, Texas. Photos by Dwayne Dassing.#Ministry #RevCo #TKK pic.twitter.com/9VNhpTFPVS
— Gray Dales (@GrayDales) November 3, 2021
Did Paul Barker tour with the Revolting Cocks without Al Jourgensen?
Paul Barker did tour with the Revolting Cocks without Al Jourgensen. However, most of their shows were either billed as “The Cocks” or “Revolting Cocks (Big Sexy Land)”. These tours happened between 2011 and 2017 and featured several members from their classic line-up.
The Revolting Cocks- a group originally founded by trio Richard 23, Luc Van with Al Jourgensen. In 1985, the group released their first single, No Devotion, followed by their first album Big Sexy Land (1986).
Due to creative differences, Richard 23 left the same year and started a rotating cast of band members similar to what happened in Ministry. Barker joined The Revolting Cocks (also called Revco sometimes) shortly after that first album.
The reunion shows where Jourgensen was excluded generally featured Paul Barker, Richard 23, Luc Van Acker, and Chris Connelly, all of whom were part of the “classic” lineup of Revco.
And for many shows, including the one I saw, they were also joined by Phil “Phildo” Owen of the Skatenigs for his Revco classic “Beers, Steers, and Queers”.
Owen, of course, was a sometime member of the Cocks who did lead vocals on that song, which many consider to be their best.
Unfortunately, Van Acker wasn’t able to tour in 2017 due to poor health.
In 2018, Jourgensen claimed to be working on a new Revolting Cocks album, but that never materialized, and he may have just made that claim to try and kill the momentum of the band that had reunited without him.
Having seen them in 2017, I can attest they were fantastic, and Jourgensen was not missed. And that show was easily as good, if not better, than when I saw them in 1988.
But I’ll always remember the show from ’88 as I lent 2 of my guitars to Al and Luc, and got to watch Al smash my guitar onstage! It was a terrible guitar so it wasn’t missed. But since it was cut in the shape of a devil’s head, I knew Al would love it.
Happy 57th Birthday to @puscifer‘s own Paul Barker ! pic.twitter.com/qfIvwwhT0i
— #FearInoculum (@ToolPusciferAPC) February 8, 2016
Is Paul Barker still in Puscifer?
Paul Barker does not appear to still be active with Puscifer. He was never a full-fledged band member but a guest musician. He primarily worked on “V” Is for Viagra The Remixes, which was a 2008 remix of the band’s debut album, “V” Is for Vagina.
Instead, Barker has been keeping busy recording new material and producing other bands too.
Barker’s post-Ministry life has been quite busy. Since 2003, Barker invested time recording new material, producing acts such as “I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness”.
He also collaborated with other artists like Stayte, the band U.S.S.A. with former Jesus Lizard member Duane Dennison, and a former bandmate of mine, Max Brody, who also drummed for Ministry from 1999-2004.
My band with former Ministry drummer Max Brody was called Masquerade as Angels. Check us out on Apple HERE.
But according to Puscifer’s main man, Maynard James Keenan, the supergroup was humbled and grateful to Paul for carving out time to work as a guest musician for “V” is for Viagra.
The work featured remixes by Paul Barker.
And while many know that James Keenan also fronts two more side projects other than Puscifer (Tool and A Perfect Circle), I was curious to know which of these three bands of Keenan’s is better.
So, I covered that in my recent article. Just click that link to read it on my site.
June 26, 2001
Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City
Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker at the movie premiere for A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) #MinistryBand #WeAreMinistry #Ministry #AlJourgensen #PaulBarker #HypoLuxa #HermesPan #StevenSpielberg #StanleyKubrick #ArtificialIntelligence pic.twitter.com/98Zuvw2zYo
— Ministry (@WeAreMinistry) June 26, 2021
Are Paul Barker and Al Jourgensen friends?
Former bandmates Paul Barker and Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen rekindled their friendship in 2018 after both were invited to work on a documentary film about Wax Trax! Records, the label that helped launch Ministry.
Beginning as a touring bassist, Paul Barker became the only constant in the band aside from Jourgensen and Scaccia. However, due to their strained relationship, Paul silently made his exit in 2003. Ever since leaving the band, Barker had distanced himself from Jourgensen.
The two hardly ever had anything positive to say about each other.
In 2015, when asked if he would ever work with Jourgensen, Barker said: “I’m fairly confident we will not work together; we have zero relationship now.”
However, three years later, the pair got the opportunity to re-establish their friendship, thanks to Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records, a documentary about the band’s original label.
Paul Barker and Al Jourgensen reportedly “buried the hatchet and rekindled their friendship.
Barker spoke to Billboard, expressing that coming on to speaking terms with each other was long overdue to dissipate all those barriers that interfered in continuing their partnership.
Well, all I can say is that fans hope to hear some good music once again as Ministry was Ministry because of Barker and Jourgensen.
The bass guitarist from Ministry stayed with the band for 18 years. He started on the Twitch tour and worked on some of the band’s iconic albums, starting with The Land of Rape and Honey up until Animositisomina.
However, after working for so long, Paul quit Ministry in 2003 for personal reasons. But Ministry’s fans sorely missed their classic sound after Paul left. According to fans, the real Ministry was when Paul and Al were together.
But a recent article by Billboard mentioned that Paul and Al had rekindled their friendship, and the duo might have some plans about making music together.
Millions of fans got excited to hear the news and curiously waited for their favorite artists to get back together. But there is no information about any upcoming music as yet.
So, for now, fans can only wait.
Photo which requires attribution:
Infest 2017: Bands: Revolting Cocks by adam w is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a larger inset and text overlay added.