Flash Metal Suicide: The Mentors

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“The smell is getting very sour/the infection is growing by the hour” - Herpes Two

What if some lady-slaying 80’s glam metal band – I dunno, let’s day Danger Danger – were, in fact, a bunch of paunchy, middle-aged, balding, alcoholic psychopaths? Nobody wants that. If the guy from 50 Shades of Grey was a pervy part-time security guard who lived in a trailer park instead of a kinky billionaire, nobody would buy that book. Sure, most flash metal bands were pretty gross – all those groupies and beer and pizza and records called “Slide It In” and “Cherry Pie” - but they had nice hair and wore a lot of make-up and satin shirts, so nobody cared. But there was one band back then who told the truth. They were like flash metal’s own Dorian Grays, a peek into the crushing ordinary horrors that awaited every hotshot Hollywood shredder after the money and the fame runs out and all that’s left is cirrhosis and child support payments. They were, perhaps, the most honest flash metal band of all time. They were the ugly, bald, stark reality behind the be-wigged glamour. They were The Mentors, and they were fucking disgusting.

First, though, let’s talk about Death Records for a moment. In the early to mid 80’s, Metal Blade and Megaforce were the preeminent heavy metal labels. You could trust them (sort of; Megaforce got wonky pretty quick with rap-metal novelty act The Lone Rager) to deliver the goods. And the goods were leather, spikes, chains, Satan, and guitar solos. But then Anthrax showed up at the Megaforce offices with the Stormtroopers of Death record, and everything went full-tilt bananas. Punk and metal were queasy cousins and nobody wanted to change sides, but a lot of hardcore bands were suddenly growing their hair long and playing squeal-y guitar leads, and the lines started to blur. SOD was punk and metal all at once. What the hell were we supposed to do with that?

Metal Blade honcho Brian Slagel sensed the coming wave of crossover and formed a subsidiary, Death Records, to accommodate. That way, if there’s a backlash, hey man, it’s not on Metal Blade, right? He snapped up COC and DRI, and we were off to the speedcore races. I’m not sure it mattered much in the end, since the whole “crossover” movement fizzled pretty quickly, but it was exciting stuff at the time. Long-haired punks! Who could imagine such a thing? Aside from giving COC a breather on their way to becoming a boogie-rock band, Death Records also gave a home to no-haired punks The Mentors. For two weird and glorious years, the utter shame of Hollywood had a semi-legit home. Naturally they destroyed it and wandered off into an alcoholic fog, but what could you expect?

The Mentors formed in Seattle in ‘76 but are most well-known for their early 80’s LA incarnation. They wore executioner’s hoods and showed off their sagging pot bellies and played thrashy garage-rock with x-rated lyrics about sodomy and toilet sex. They called it “Rape Rock”, and it was awful. Then they signed to Death Records, played thrashy garage-metal, and released 1985’s You Axed For It. Nothing really changed except at this point the PMRC was in full-swing and various senator’s wives in the US were hoping to get them thrown in jail or in an asylum forever so that they’d stop perverting America’s youth with songs like The Four F Club (“Find her, feel her, fuck her, forget her”) and Sandwich Of Love (“She’s a woman without a soul/she’s got a man in every hole”). You’ve got to understand that the target audience for all these records, from Kill ‘Em All to this porno-comedic sludge, was teenage dirtbags like yours cruelly, and if there’s anything a 16 year old boy likes, it’s a rock n’ roll song that mentions “anal vapors”. The Mentors scratched a really dumb itch.

In 1985 during the height of PMRC mania, the lyrics to the Mentors’ epic Golden Shower (“All through my excrements you shall roam/Open your mouth and taste the foam”) were recited on the Congressional floor and it suddenly struck everybody how ridiculous all this heavy metal witch-hunting was. I mean, you can’t come back from that one. So there’s a pretty good chance that The Mentors saved rock’n’roll. Not that it did them much good. Founding Mentor Eldon “El Duce” Hoke descended further and further into third-stage alcoholism as the decades wore on, and in 1997, he wandered onto some train tracks and died when a freight train hit him.

Just prior to his death, he was interviewed for the shock-doc Kurt and Courtney where he claimed that maybe Courtney Love paid him to assassinate Kurt. But you wouldn’t hire this dude to make a sandwich, never mind orchestrate somebody’s murder. The surviving Mentors – guitarist Sickie Wifebeater and bass player Heathen Scum – have carried on Duce’s important work and have released many more records. Their last one, 2009’s Duceifixion, has songs like Bring on the Sluts, Lickin’ Ass and Takin’ Names, and Be a Pervert. So, you know, El Duce would be proud. No one else would.

Also it should be noted that they still wear hoods, so nobody really knows who’s in the band these days. I’m not saying it’s any of the Danger Danger guys, but who can be sure?

Next: Leather Angel Came to Kill (Nobody died)