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They first started in 1976, when the three original members attended Roosevelt High School together in Seattle, WA. Guitarist Sickie Wifebeater (aka Eric Carlson), bassist Heathen Scum (aka Steve Broy), and singer/drummer El Duce (aka Eldon Hoke) became fast friends and started to play a primitive version of heavy metal that was influenced by the punk ideals coming out of the underground at the time. They came up with the gimmick of wearing black executioner hoods in concert, and started writing songs with offensive lyrics dealing with sexual topics. They played the Northwest, developing their sound and crafting a public image that was more-than-a-little degenerate. The band decided to move to Los Angeles after playing their native Washington for a while, bringing their roadies with and sharing a one bedroom apartment in Hollywood. They played the Los Angeles music scene for three years, further crafting their image and getting much better publicity in the populated entertainment center.
They got a record contract through Mystic Records, and by 1982 they had their first EP, The Trash Bag. The following year they released Live at the Whiskey/Cathey de Grande, a combination of two live performances. It was around this time where they were first noticed by the media, leading to their first television appearances. El Duce slowly became the unofficial spokesman for the group, making outlandish statements to further create a mystique around the band. They began to tour the country, and Death Records (a division of Metal Blade) signed the group. It was during this period when they enjoyed their biggest mainstream exposure, as the You Axed for It album was released nationally in 1985 around the same time as the PMRC hearings in Washington. Senator Al Gore and his wife Tipper actually read the lyrics to the Mentors' "Anal Vapors" during the proceedings, giving them the notoriety they had been craving since their inception. The group made one more album for Death Records, following it with more touring and various projects outside of the band.
The half-live Sex Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll came out in 1989 on Ever Rat Records, and before they could tour behind it they were contacted by Ministry's Al Jourgenson about possibly touring together. This led to the Mentors scoring the opening slot on the Revolting C**ks tour, a supergroup made up of industrial artists such as Trent Reznor, Jeff Ward, and Jourgenson. The tour was an exercise in debauchery, and the group was more than ready to further that image. Two more self-released albums followed, but oddly enough they would stop recording new material after 1992 despite staying together. El Duce was kicked off the drums during this period, as his drinking was beginning to hinder their live performances, and was replaced by various friends of the band. He did get to keep his job as their singer, and began incorporating live sex acts on-stage since he was free from behind the drum kit. Each member worked on various other projects throughout the mid-'90s, but the band stayed together for live performances.
By 1997, El Duce looked as though he was ready for a media comeback, as he made headlines by claiming that Courtney Love offered him 10,000 dollars to kill Kurt Cobain. Love did not even justify his comments with a response, but they did know each other from the Seattle club scene. In January of the same year, he had a memorable appearance on The Jerry Springer Show where he brought out an underage groupie, took credit for the sexual assault of an audience member, and was condemned by fellow Springer guests Gwar for his pro-rape comments. But on April 19 of that year, he stepped in front of a train behind his California home while intoxicated and was killed. Most believe the incident was an accident, as El Duce was legendary for his drunken exploits. The band was unsure if it could continue without the 39-year-old singer, but Heathen Scum decided to take over the singing and the band continued to play live. Permanent new drummer Moosedick (aka Clark Johnson) signed on, and the band continued to perform their brand of filth rock for their cult following throughout the '90s and into the next century. The group may never be recognized for making quality music, but they certainly will not be forgotten after a career of controversy that few other bands can match. ~ Bradley Torreano