The beer-bellied Mentors, who unashamedly go shirtless and wear executioner hoods, joined forces in the late '70s, combining heavy metal and punk with crude, offensive and sexually explicit lyrical content. Despite losing one of its highly visible components, namely original singer-drummer El Duce (he was struck and killed by a train outside his residence in 1997), the Mentors persevere with a revamped line-up.
"We have nothing better to do and the fans demand that we carry on the rape rock tradition set by our Lord, El Duce," says singer-bassist Heathen Scum (aka Steve Broy). "Did Christians stop being Christian when Jesus was murdered? Hell no. That is exactly the same situation here. We are the apostles of the Church of El Duce, carrying on the righteous work of our Lord, El Duce: getting high, slut fucking and playing rape rock."
Formed in Seattle in 1976, as punk was just breaking in the States, El Duce (aka Eldon Hoke), Scum and guitarist Sickie Wifebeater (aka Eric Carlson) played a primordial version of heavy metal that was influenced by a thriving do-it-yourself punk ideology. They added the gimmick of wearing executioner hoods on stage and writing songs of a distasteful nature covering a wide array of sexually depraved topics. Check out these PMRC-friendly love ballads that had Al and Tipper Gore in a Senate hearing uproar back in 1985: "Anal Vapors," "Clap Queen," "Golden Showers" and "Wine You, Dine You, Sixty-Nine You," to name just a few.
Scum says the exploitation of the crudely cut black hoods was the idea of horror movie fan El Duce. "He particularly liked those (horror flicks) and wanted us all to have a common look--sort of like Kiss," explains Scum.
"Initially, myself at least, reluctantly went along with it, but later it had a lot of advantages. We conceal our identities because we're sort of like the Lone Ranger," he adds. "When we leave town, people ask: 'Who were those righteous masked men?'"
Given the enduring trend of violent and misogynistic gangsta rap that all the kids adore today and that seems tolerated by most of mainstream America, can the Mentors be as offensive and threatening as they were 20 years ago?
"When we first came out," announces Scum, "We had the raunchiest lyrics around and nobody even came close. It was shocking, but we really concentrated on making the heaviest tunes, the best riffs and rocking grooves. That is why we are still around today. We are PG-rated compared to this rap bullshit. The stupid rappers have us beat by far, but they have no music and what little they have they steal from others."
Somewhat mysterious circumstances surrounded the violent demise of the boozing and perpetually perverse 270-pound front man, El Duce. Early in 1997, he made national headlines by claiming that Courtney Love offered him $10,000 to kill husband Kurt Cobain. Love never acknowledged the allegation, but they both had frequented the same Seattle punk clubs before the Pacific Northwest grunge explosion of the early '90s.
Some believe a drunken El Duce was lured to the railroad tracks behind his California home and either pushed or dragged on to the path of an oncoming locomotive. Most, including Scum, believe it was just a tragic accident.
"El Duce was not going to live to be 80 years old," he says. "That was obvious. His party animal lifestyle did not support a long life. That being said, it wasn't a Tupac Shakur type of situation. It was basically a tragic end to a great life contributed to by the demon alcohol."
The revamped Mentors are currently recording a new album to released on (what else), Rape Rock Records.