Interview by Avinash Mittur
Los Angeles’ very own shock rock veterans, the kings of sleaze, Mentors played a killer show at the Key Club in Hollywood recently, along with Ghoul, Dr. Know, Witchaven and a few others. A few days after the show, our man Avinash Mittur caught up with drummer/vocalist Marc DeLeon a.k.a. Mad Dog Duce, to talk about the Key Club show, and various other things. Enjoy this lengthy, no holds barred, unabatedly honest and hilarious conversation below, and visit the Mentors on their official website and facebook & twitter pages for more info.
So you guys just recently played a show with Ghoul at the Key Club- how did you guys go over with the crowd?
I think we got a really good reception. We played earlier than we were supposed to because there was some kind of mix up, but I think we did great.
That was actually my second time getting to see the Mentors, my first time was last February when you guys played after Anvil at the Whisky. You played a little bit of a different set-list this time, it was longer and had a couple more older classics in there.
Yeah, definitely. I wish we could have played some newer songs, but they originally told us that we had 40 minutes onstage and we ended up not getting the full time. We wanted to play some other songs like “Herpes Two,” but that one’s like seven minute long. We’re trying to condense a lot of them into almost a medley of perversion, just so we can kind of touch on all the tits throughout the night you know?
I was actually going to mention that, the Mentors haven’t played a whole lot of newer material in the sets lately. Is that just due to set constraints?
Yeah, set constraints are a factor. It’s almost pompous to say that we have “hits” because we aren’t on the radio, but so many people have so many different favorite songs. We’re constantly being bombarded with “why aren’t you playing this, why aren’t you playing that?” Wherever we go, you got that one guy that tells us to play “Green River.” I’m like “well yeah, okay.” That guy asks for “Green River” once every six months, but I get everything else constantly. I get “Adultery,” “Sleep Bandit,” etc. I know all the songs, I know every lyric to every song. I could play them out the gate you know? The older guys in the band don’t know every song, or we don’t have the time to rehearse those songs. We’re on the road so much that we can’t rehearse! We’ve been steadily playing constantly and even for the Ghoul show our bass player was in India up until an hour before the show!
Seriously? Oh wow, way to spring right into action I guess, damn.
Yeah. He was jetlagged and he didn’t know what fuckin’ time it was. It was a 27 hour flight and he went straight onto the stage which is rockin’ in and of itself.
Well I mean, go him especially considering he’s one of the veteran members of the Mentors.
Oh yeah, he’s the original.
I actually didn’t know this, but the Mentors have had a new guitar player at the shows?
Sickie Wifebeater will always be the guitar player for the Mentors. He actually has this disease in his hand called the Viking Disease for people of viking descent where they get this calcium growth thing in their fingers. He was in constant pain, and two weeks ago he had it removed. He’s going through physical therapy right now, but he wanted to be there for the shows anyway. We were going to have him come out since we were going to play San Diego the next night but I had a legal issue with a female who had put a restraining order on me and claimed that I beat her up. It was proven that it was all false. Sickie wanted to be there, but he’s also living in Indiana. We decided that it wasn’t worth it for him to come out for only one show- he couldn’t miss physical therapy, we felt that was more important. We told him “Sickie, we got somebody badass that will always be there when we need him.” This guy, Tee Sick, he’s a local guy from my area. He’s just an awesome guitar player. He knows of the Mentors through me and he wasn’t sure how tough the songs would be. What’s funny is that guy stepped into the picture and he thought it would be a lot simpler than it turned out to be. He learns songs note for note and he was amazed at Sickie’s original parts. This guy plays Steve Vai stuff, he’s a real metal guitar player. He was like “I’m amazed at what Sickie played, it’s incredible.” We haven’t had a touring guitar player for the last couple of years because of Sickie’s hand and work schedule and other stuff like that. The Mentors don’t really play for the money- I mean I joined my favorite band of all time. For me it’s Kiss, the Mentors and Judas Priest.
It has to be an amazing experience-almost like that of Ripper Owens. You really do justice to El Duce’s vocals though.
Ripper Owens is a really good friend of mine, I think he did an awesome job stepping in for Rob Halford. But yeah, thank you. I’m proud when people tell me that I do a good job because El was a friend of mine and I did know him.
You played in a Mentors tribute band before you joined Dr. Heathen Scum and Sickie Wifebeater right?
Well, I had a band called the Mantors. I wasn’t trying to do a tribute band, I was trying to do a band based on a band. When I used to hang out with El, he would show me how to play drums and he would stay at my house for months at a time. He would always tell me, “you’re gonna play drums for us and I’m gonna sing.” I was fifteen years old at the time, and I couldn’t get into any of the Hollywood clubs. That foiled that plan. What I did was book shows for the Mentors and if El got drunk I’d sing backups with him and just do fun stuff with him. I wasn’t a serious member of the band, I was more of an associate and a guy who hung out with them.
It’s still cool that you had experience with the Mentors while El was still alive you know?
Yeah! So I’ve played in a lot of bands and I’ve toured a lot and always stayed busy, so I found out that El passed away a bit late. He was a good friend and that news really kind of fucked me up. People didn’t understand what a great man El Duce truly was, and how important his music is. I know the Mentors kept going, but I feel like it wasn’t really a serious thing. I figured that they really needed to be a three-piece, they need a drummer/singer, they need to do this and that etc. Me and my buddy Larry Gregg, a local mortician, we were both big Mentors freaks and we both knew El. I told him “we’re gonna start a band, it’ll be a band based on a band and we’re gonna do our own music and do Mentors music. It’s gonna be called the Mantors.” It was out of confusion alone that I did that and immediately Heathen Scum heard about it through another bass player we knew. One day, Heathen showed up at my tattoo shop in Bakersfield during a Mantors rehearsal and told me “I’m in the band.” I’m all, “Okay, you’re in the band!” He loved it right off the bat. We would play shows with the Mantors, and then both the Mantors and the Mentors played together. What I’d do is come out and do five or six Mantors songs, Heathen Scum would come out and we would do his solo stuff. Over the course of two and a half hours it would evolve into the Mentors with me on vocals. Moosedick, El’s backup drummer for when he would be too fucked up to play, would take over on drums and I would step out to sing. Moosedick wasn’t able to make every show, so I would end up playing in his place. They decided to have me be the full-time drummer/singer. I often get the blame for it, but it wasn’t my decision. I’m happy it went that way though- to get the job you’ve always wanted, sometimes you’ve gotta say goodbye to other people.
Right. But I feel like more than other replacement vocalists, you had a very gradual transition into the Mentors rather than just have it be an overnight thing you know?
Yeah and it was fun the whole time. I do my own shirt printing and everything just stepped up. I do my own merchandise, I’ve been doing this stuff all my life. I told Heathen and Sickie, “If we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna go fully onboard. We’re gonna get a booking agent.” They’re like “Well, we’ve never had a booking agent because nobody will work with us.” I got this guy Keith Rowley from Shred Head, and he works for another guy at a bigger booking agency too. He stepped in, and saw that we were the real deal and that the demand was there. It’s just been getting bigger every year. I’m getting contacted by people and they’re blowing my mind saying things like “Dude, I’m glad you’re doing this.” Celebrities and managers of other big bands tell me those things- even the assistant manager of Justin Bieber. I hear all these El Duce stories from everybody you could possibly think of, and then I run into Wendy and Lisa from Prince’s band, the Revolution, at Amoeba’s record signing day. They’re freaking out and they even knew that I was the new guy in the Mentors. I asked them how they knew of the band, and apparently Prince loves the Mentors! He thinks that Sickie is one of the greatest guitar players of all time. So Prince is sitting there listening to the fuckin’ Mentors! I meet people constantly that love that I’m doing this, and I meet people that hate the Mentors also, just because of what we stand for.
But you wouldn’t be the Mentors unless there was a significant amount of people that hated you!
Well, what people don’t understand is that the Mentors is one of the most important bands that ever existed! All we do is take the piss and vinegar out of everything that’s popular, from Kurt Cobain’ death to glam rock to screamo. There’s nothing sacred, we’re gonna fuck with everything. We’re gonna say anything that will get people mad.
That’s the attitude that I love about the Mentors. The first time I saw you guys, I had no idea that the Mentors were a thirty-five year old band. But here you are playing songs like “Donkey Dick,” “Sandwich of Love” and “Four F Club.” I was just blown away that in 1977, there were guys who had the balls to write and play songs like that.
What’s funny is that in Seattle where the band started – you’re hearing this story from me secondhand obviously- El, Sickie and Heathen would go play shows and they would get hired for a night at a club. They would instantly throw on the hoods and come in with “Golden Showers” or maybe “Peeping Tom”- some of the songs from the earlier era of the band. Instantly, they would be told not to play anymore by the club owners, get paid and be sent home. They couldn’t get through half a song. It was a constant thing. It’s funny because there was no 2 Live Crew then. There was Blowfly, but he wasn’t much of a household name you know? 1976: imagine three dorks, dungeons and dragons kinda guys that were into drinking beer and masturbating, just fucking with everybody! It really did fuck with so many people.
I feel like even the supposed “shock rock” acts out there nowadays like Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie don’t take it to the extreme that the Mentors did thirty five years ago.
Well, I’m going to tell you right now, this is kind of a serious thing with the Mentors. El Duce did the best to fuck with people- his greatest creation and also his most hurtful creation was the term, “rape rock.” The Mentors don’t go out and rape people. It’s more of raping rock music like “oh, McDonalds raped my wallet.” It’s like “we rape rock music.” With a label that has rape in it, it really set a whole new level in every country of the world I’ve ever been in. The rape thing has been the main issue. I mean, GG Allin would rape people. El Duce wouldn’t rape anybody, he never raped anyone. It was shocking- that terminology to this day gets people to try to hurt me, even though I’m a later member of the band. Nobody in any genre of music can touch that, I don’t care who they are.
It’s amazing though, in 2012 you’d think that people would be more desensitized by at the same time people obsess over being politically correct.
Yeah, they’re fucked man. I mean, I get the Portland Laughing Horse Book Collective sending me hate messages that threaten me. The hoods are issue still, people are so stupid that they think we’re associated with the KKK. I’ve been attacked with a knife, there’s been death threats- so what? We’re doing it anyway! It’s an issue though.
It’s a testament to your dedication to the Mentors’ image and what the music stands for that you’ll still go out there despite those threats.
It’s pretty funny. I really know who I can fuck with when I’m on the road. I’m a pretty good judge of character. I can pick out the more serious ones, but I’m the kind of guy that loves a good argument. I won’t lose an argument- I will fuck with somebody the entire time. I look for every loophole, every contradictory statement and I exploit it to its fullest extent. It also makes for good comedy, because truth is funnier than fiction with the Mentors.
I think I saw in another interview that Mentors songs are based on real-life experiences. Ducefixion came out in 2009; since then have you had any experiences that have inspired some new lyrics?
Clevaland, Ohio last year. A girl got onstage and basically pissed on my leg.
Oh. Well okay, then. Wow.
That’s actually kind of normal. She pissed on my leg, and she thought she was getting her punk rock credit. So I immediately went below her and caught her urine in my mouth. I’m thinking “this bitch ain’t gonna show me up, she thinks she’s badass.” So not only did I do that, I raised my arms up and pushed her down into a doggy style position. I spread her ass cheeks and blew her own urine back up in her asshole.
Dude, you can’t even make stuff up like that.
She kinda sprayed some stuff back out and I caught it in a water cup that was next to me. I got the microphone, and lifted the cup. People were holding up their cellphones to take pictures, but they weren’t even taking the photos because they were frozen. I held up the cup and said “Dimebag Darrell had the Blacktooth Grin.” I drank from the cup and said “this is now called the Browntooth Grin.” I’ll tell you right now, I immediately spit it out.
I hope for your sake that you did.
I’m not stupid.
That already sounds like the name of a future Mentors song: “Browntooth Grin.”
I hope the families of Dimebag don’t think that the song will be about them. He had the Blacktooth, we have the Browntooth you know?
I think someone like Dimebag would have had the sense of humor to appreciate a song like that. Did you ever get the chance to interact with him at all?
He definitely knew of the Mentors. But you know, he’s one of the only ones that I never got to meet. I’ve interacted with people from Slayer, Exodus, Kreator, Death Angel, Mayhem- their singer actually told us that our lyrics were a little silly and that the Mentors should be more satanic. I told him “well man, if you ever got some pussy you would stop singing about the devil.”
I don’t know man, they did kill one of their own members and another of them killed himself.
Yeah, whatever! He said it in front of people, so I had to react. In Mentors fashion of course- “If you’d get some pussy once in a while, you wouldn’t sing about the devil anymore!” He was just a random guy to me and somebody tells me that guy’s from Mayhem. I’m all, “okay…” I don’t keep up with a lot of black metal and death metal. Being as busy as I am, it’s hard to keep up with all those bands.
Well, one thing I feel like you brought to the table for the Mentors was a heavier sound. The songs sound a lot heavier and faster live than the original studio versions, with some extra double bass drumming in there.
El did a lot of double bass actually. Up the Dose has a lot of it in there like in “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em” and “Adultery.” I forget which, but one of the songs has double bass all through it. The later stuff had more double bass but the recordings don’t do it justice and it’s tough to hear. I think they still only had one microphone to mic the kick drum and left the other one alone! I try to do a lot of double bass, not that it’s my favorite way to play because I’m more of a solid Bonham-esque drummer. I try to make it as heavy as I can, but a lot of the time rolling double bass to me isn’t as heavy as a powerful, doomy seventies rock beat. I try to throw in the double bass here and there, I do it in “Sandwich of Love” and it works well in a lot of the old songs that had double bass to begin with. I’m a different drummer than El though, he was more of a Buddy Rich guy. If anyone knew El Duce when he was sober, they knew that he was a top-notch drummer. He’d take a drink and it would be all gone of course.
I’m a drummer too, so talking about this stuff is actually a lot of fun for me. I noticed you played the drum solo to “Wipeout” by the Ventures in the live set somewhere, but I can’t remember which song it was in though.
That was actually in the original song! That’s from “When You’re Horny, You’re Horny.” That was the actual El Duce-written drum part for the song. I started just yelling “wipeout!” in the middle of the song. One day Heathen Scum looks back and me and realizes “Hey, that is ‘Wipeout!’” Everybody’s got their influences and I’d rather take them from the Ventures than some other random metal act.
I noticed you only play with one rack tom as well, that’s rare for a rock/metal drummer.
That’s more because of touring. We still tour in a van and we show up and use whatever equipment is there. Just out of the necessity for space I play a four piece. At home though, I have a Gretsch kit that looks like Nicko McBrain’s kit! All my other kits have one rack tom and two floor toms but my big main kit is a Gretsch kit from 1980 that has everything on it from 6 to 16, 18, 20 inch floor toms to 24 inch kick drums.
I actually really like seeing talented drummers play on smaller kits though. It shows how creative they can be with only a limited amount of pieces, you know?
Yeah, but I’m not so talented!
You said that there’s been some recent inspiration for new Mentors songs- are we going to see a new Mentors album any time soon?
We’ve got a live album coming out soon, I only want to do a vinyl and digital release. I feel that CDs are pointless because if you want it digitally you can download it and vinyl is the thing to have because it’s rock ‘n roll. We have a studio album that may come out soon, we’re still working on the titles. We don’t know if we’re gonna call it Band of Perverts like Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys. I don’t want to give away all our possible names because the other names are so good that we don’t anyone else to jump on them before us!
You mentioned that Sickie’s had some hand pain though. Will he be able to play on the album?
I hope so! I’m pretty sure he will. I know he’ll show up and start breaking shit if he doesn’t. Sickie Wifebeater is an amazing guitar player, but he is also a fucking nut ball. Nobody can play like him.
That should be a requirement to join the Mentors: “Must be skilled at instrument, must also be a fucking nut ball.”
Well yeah. That was the case with Tee Sick, who filled in for Sickie at the Key Club. He’s such a good player, but he’s a fuckin’ weirdo too! In Bakersfield, this guy is really well known and he’s a great songwriter who’s worked with a lot of bands. But a lot of people won’t play in a band with him because they don’t know how to handle him! He is a perv. He is such a fuckin’ weirdo recluse and he’s into the weirdest shit. Nobody else can handle this guy, but for the Mentors he’s pretty run of the mill and he’s a great musician so he’ll work. Sickie though, he likes to party. He likes to do speed, he’ll drink anybody under the table but he’s not like a boisterous party guy. He is to himself, and you’ll catch him in the corner smearing chicken all over the walls. Like baked chicken, all over the carpet and all over the hotel room and make the fuckin’ funniest noises. The weirdness has gotta be there. If you listen to a Mentors recording and you ask “oh, why did they do that?” it’s because Sickie wanted it there. So yeah, he might be kicking and screaming but the motherfucker is gonna be there for the next album.
It sounds like you guys should have someone filming this whole process for a documentary or something.
You know I love the Anvil movie, Spinal Tap is great but filmmakers have really dropped the ball. I mean the Pentagram movie is sweet, but if someone wants to make a statement, they need to recreate the life of the Mentors in film. There won’t be a movie long enough to do it right. Other people would take it and probably ruin it with their interpretations. If there could really be a documentary on what the Mentors were and how they evolved and what they became- it really needs to be documented. Like I said before, the Mentors are one of the most important bands in rock music, just because we’re the only ones still banned from certain countries over lyrics! They’ll try to tell us a song like “Donkey Dick” is the reason we’re banned and I’ll ask them what’s wrong about it. They say “Well, you’re advocating rape.” In “Donkey Dick?!” Maybe “Sleep Bandits” because you’re talking about fucking a drunk girl! I’ve hard this argument so many times. “Four F Club” advocates rape- where?! I’m waiting for someone to tell me to play the songs backwards and you hear “rape rape rape.” Oh sorry, what was I talking about again?
No worries Marc, I’m loving every bit of this conversation.
Oh, just so you know I’m getting my dick sucked right now.
She’s a 22-year old virgin whore. Say hi honey! A muffled voice says hi.
Oh, hello. Well, are there any future plans for the Mentors that you want to mention?
More tours, bigger shows- we’ll be at the Whisky on Dec. 6, we’re doing Portland, OR on New Years. We’re doing some Northwest shows around that time. The Mentors have a certain thing about us: we find a club and even when we outgrow it, we don’t care. We’ll still play there just like we still do house parties. We’ll play the Key Club and the next night we’ll do a fuckin’ house party just because we love playing. Those shows in the winter are in smaller clubs, but they’ll be packed and fun. We like the chaos and the uncertainty of how the show will go. We never want a show to go too smooth. Bigger shows are nice, but we only like those if we’re on a package deal like the one with Dr. Know and Ghoul.
That really must have been a trip opening for a band like Ghoul where you can so obviously see the influence from the Mentors.
Oh really? I would never have noticed! What’s funny is that we just played a metal festival and direct support for us was Midnight. The first thing I gotta say is that people are obviously confused because the new fans don’t know if they just saw Midnight or the Mentors! I say “I gotta hand it to those Midnight guys, they’re really good and they look kinda familiar!” It’s funny because we play with bands like Pottymouth who wear the costumes and put on a fuckin’ show. Even rockabilly bands like the Cold Blue Rebels who also wear costumes- any time we play with bands like that, I always have to throw in my protest about bands that wear costumes when I get onstage. I always complain that good bands don’t have to wear things on their heads to hide their faces. What’s funny is that if we don’t know the band personally, they actually get offended! I’ve had to tell people “Are you really that stupid? We’re more making fun of ourselves than you guys.”
Marc, thank you so much for talking with me and best of luck with the upcoming Mentors shows.
One more thing- we’ve got a new Mentors tribute album out called For Those About to Rape We Salute You. It’s out on Casablanca Records and it has two brand new Mentors called “Rape Rock” and “My Hard-On Has No Conscience” and it has all the other hits covered by 17 other bands. It’s available on iTunes or you can get the hard copy from us. Oh and everyone be sure to join us on Facebook.
Well Marc, have a good night and enjoy your dick sucking.
Oh, I’m not sucking dick!
Oh of course. Alright man, take it easy.
Related: LA gig review