If ever a grease stain were to transform into a black hole and begin making music, it’d probably sound like The Mentors.
Profane even by punk’s sacrilegious standards, the trio formed out of a Seattle high school in 1976, responding to the Sex Pistols’ brash provocation with an outrageously sexist and hedonistic bombast.
Poised between the poles of metal and hardcore, The Mentors’ malevolent racket underscores tracks that threaten violent, injurious sex (“Service Me or Be Smacked”) and express in lascivious detail their every selfish and sadistic whim or urge. Clad in black executioner’s hoods, they rip through their degenerate slime like Spinal Tap with Tourette’s.
“A lot of the stuff we did write was based on true-life experiences of one of the guys in the band,” said bassist Heathen Scum. “I wouldn’t want to paint a picture of this as some complete fantasy.”
The act moved to Los Angeles to take advantage of the growing hardcore scene in the late ’70s, but was shunned by punk venues for being too proficient with its instruments. It got a big break from Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985, with the kind of publicity you can’t buy: a live reading of their song “Anal Vapors” during a Senate committee meeting on music censorship.
“We went from being a small L.A. cult thing to a small national cult thing,” Scum said.
For a long time, the band’s singer was Eldon Hoke, aka El Duce. A larger-than-life character, Hoke was prone to drunken stupors and extravagant claims. He appeared in Nick Broomfield’s 1998 conspiracy film, “Kurt & Courtney”, alleging that Love had offered him money to kill Kurt Cobain and make it appear to be a suicide. (Scum throws cold water on such speculation, averring that Hoke’s fear of flying, inability to drive, nearsightedness and lack of glasses would make it a near-impossibility to pull off.) About a week after filming, Hoke was struck and killed by a train, but The Mentors forged ahead.
The group’s drummer left last year and was replaced by Marc DeLeon, who had his own homage band, The Mantors, as a kid.
“He gave us a big burst of energy and creativity,” said Scum, citing DeLeon’s influence on their latest album, “Ducefixion.”
The new disc, only the band’s second in the last 18 years, is led by the psych-blues freak-out “I’m a Pervert,” which misappropriates Dr Pepper’s old tagline, and the ominous “Bombs Over Frisco.”
DeLeon offers a fine approximation of El Duce’s gravely vocal howl, and the music’s surprisingly vital and raucous, arguably as good as the band’s ever sounded musically, proving that depravity like The Mentors’ sleeps less than rust, and some wicked irreverence still crackles long beyond its expiration date.
The Mentors with Satyrs and Drunk on Sunday perform at 9 p.m. Friday at The Conservatory, 8911 N. Western. “Chris Parker