April Jones on “The Mentors: Kings of Sleaze Rockumentary”

  April Jones is a California-based journalist and filmmaker who began her media career doing a heavy metal public access program called Slayed in Oregon. April discovered the Mentors early on when she was younger and ended up interviewing them for Slayed in Oregon. Eventually the Mentors had put out a post on Facebook saying they were looking for a film maker and had received a few emails from film makers. One of them which included April, and they went with her.

  April has taken influence from Penelope Spheeris famous for The Decline of Western Civilization documentaries, and director of the Wayne’s World films. April had gone on a full nationwide tour with the Mentors. She was invited to showcase The Mentors: Kings of Sleaze Rockumentary in Finland at the Night Visions Film Festival and had gotten invited to speak at the U.S. Embassy in Finland.

What was your favorite show from Slayed in Oregon?

  One of my favorites was on Cemetery Lust, just because those guys are so funny but in a serious metal type of way. We filmed the interviews in a cemetery at night. We brought fake corpses and skulls to incorporate in the background. The way I edited it together actually turned into a comedy, it’s pretty over the top. Those guys rock! They just released a new album, Rotting in Piss!

For you what is the most awesome collection or novelty thing that you have of the Mentors?

  We were going through Heathen Scum’s storage and found a notebook of El Duce’s that was hand written with scribbles and art. El used to draw these comics. There were caricatures of Sickie and Heathen Scum, all the characters in there. There were lyrics and song concepts. I don’t own that specifically, but we had some scans of all the images, there were notes and song concepts, and I made those into beer koozies.

What was it about their story that drove you to film a documentary on them?

  Whether or not you get the joke, yeah, it’s funny, it’s comedy, there is some level of intrigue on how they made it this far using the content they had. Or you don’t and you think they are horrible, it can still inspire curiosity as well as how they affected music history. Think about all the famous bands that grew up seeing the Mentors; Metallica and Gwar for starters.

Many people warned you about getting involved with the Mentors, thinking back do you think those warnings were valid concerns about your safety, or simply a disagreement over bad taste?

  Maybe both [Laughs]. I feel like the people that warned me were sincere. Some of the warnings were don’t get hit by a train. We kind of laughed, but seriously though, some of the warnings were surrounded by some of the conspiracies that flood the internet. Even though I get the joke, and get the Mentors, I make sure I am very observant at all times. The concerns were valid, but a lot of it were from people who don’t know the Mentors very well, and just going off the conspiracies and the media type of concern.

Can you point to one or two moments that you really respect about how the Mentors dealt with the PMRC?

  I know the Mentors weren’t at the hearings first hand, I don’t believe they were mad about it. I think they were stoked like, “We’re famous now! The PMRC and Tipper Gore had mentioned us on national television and the news.” I think they took it and went with it. I believe that made them an International band.

How did you get the nickname Rapril?

  We were at a specific house show and I didn’t know the Mentors very well at the time. But my friend Chris Nukes, he knew the Mentors. I was like, “Hey Nukes, get me a shirt,” and Nukes is like, “I’ll introduce you to Mad Dog.” I get taken to Mad Dog’s van about 1 in the morning after the show, Nukes is like, “Hey Mad Dog, this is Rapril.” Nukes gave me that name as a joke.

What types of things would you have hoped to ask Allen Wrench about if he had finished the interview you had with him?

  I try to look at all perspectives. I realize he was friends with El, I’m aware of the conspiracy online. What I was trying to ask him was that he was the last person to see his friend; I was trying to ask about the conspiracy without sounding like I was blaming him. I was going down that route about everything that is on the internet. I had asked him a few times, and he beat around the bush and wouldn’t give me a straight answer.

  Finally, I just asked him what the internet wants to know. He didn’t really like that. I would have pursued that last time with El, the conspiracy with him killing Kurt Cobain, and would have gone down that route a little more. I am not trying to blame him, I am just trying to figure out his perspective and get answers, but I appreciate his time nonetheless.

What was going on with your film that you got mentioned in the Willamette Weekly?

  The Mentors had booked the Anti-Antifa tour, which really pissed a lot of people off, but that is how the Mentors roll. Antifa started messing with the Mentors with threats of violence. There is also a famous feminist book store in Portland, they have been on “Portlandia”. They had something published in the Willamette, talking about the Mentors, and trying to shut them down. The thing that got me really irritated was on their event page on Facebook, they said something like, “Racism sucks, shut down the Mentors.” They obviously didn’t research the Mentors to find out they are an integrated band, and don’t sing about racism whatsoever.

  As a storyteller wanting to capture various perspectives, I sought out the feminist bookstore in the beginning stages of the documentary to give them an opportunity to express their opinion of ‘rape rock’ and the Mentors. They were not into that idea. So, then two to three years later when the Mentors booked the Anti-Antifa tour, they published an article spreading false accusations and rumors about the Mentors.

  While the internet is full of incredible resources, it can also be very dangerous place when people convey opinion as fact. Some of the most influential forms of art have stirred controversy throughout history and The Mentors’ content is no exception. I contacted the Willamette because I felt they needed to know the truth. I wrote a statement about that, basically calling them out on it. The right to protest is essential to this country’s foundation, however, doing so while equipped with proper and accurate information is crucial to the outcome for all parties.

What was it like visiting the Finnish Embassy?

  When they gave me the itinerary and set up a radio interview, an online blog interview, photo shoot, and the U.S. Embassy of Finland interview. I was like, “What?! I am going to be a guest speaker at the U.S. Embassy. Holy shit!” Guess who I went up right after? Gary Sherman, the director of Poltergeist and Vice Squad. It was incredible and I am really thankful I got to experience that. Then I am thinking, what am I going to talk about? Rape rock at the U.S. Embassy? It turned out great. I got to talk about the heavy metal culture, the Mentors, as well as my film work.

What were some of your favorite questions that you got asked in Finland?

  A lot of the questions I got were why the Mentors? They asked if being a female affected the film? The way I look at it, as a journalist, is I try to look at with an unbiased standpoint. Being a female makes me more sensitive to the subject, and the content that the Mentors portray. I also feel that because I’m a female maybe people who are skeptical about the Mentors might trust my word a little more than a male’s perspective.

How much time did you spend in Finland and did you get to do anything besides anything mentioned?

  They set me up with a host to drive me places. A lot of the time we took a cab or train. My friend Alex, who works at the radio station, he showed us around too. He took us to music stores, film stores, art, statues, and the market. One of the guys that runs Night Visions runs a record store called Fresh Garbage Records. I picked up some Finnish metal and a documentary on Finnish bands. I spent three to four days there. We took the boat to Estonia. You don’t really notice things like this when you are living in America, but I didn’t see trash anywhere. It was incredibly clean. It was amazing!

Final Words?

  We are signing with MVD Entertainment for distribution, we haven’t announced it yet. It will be announced in October. We will be getting VOD (Video on Demand) deals on Amazon, etc. I also will maintain 100 percent self-distribution rights to sell DVD’s from the Mentors Rockumentary website, which is really important to me as a film maker. We are planning the first official Los Angeles screening in October/November. Everything will be announced in October.

  If I had to do it all over again, I totally would. This was quite an adventure especially for my first film. I want to give thanks to the Mentors and Dr. Heathen Scum especially. I could not have done this without him. He helped financially and sourcing all the stock footage, specifically, boxes of VHS tapes that we had to digitize one by one. Thank you Nick Perkel for being such a huge supporter of artists. We need more people like you! I’m currently grant writing for some upcoming projects, so keep your eye out!