MAY 28th 2018

APRIL JONES EXCLUSIVE

 

Independent filmmaker April Jones recently released a documentary that she has been working on for a few years; ‘The Kings of Sleaze’ focuses on the Seattle based act The Mentors. The band is/was extremely controversial, their lyrics could make your most crude of friends blush! April took a few minutes to riff with Metal Titans about the doc, how she decided to make a film about The Mentors and more. Make sure to check out the links at the end of the interview for additional information on ‘The Kings of Sleaze.’

Ruben Mosqueda

Metal Titans: Can you give our readers a little background of your work behind the camera? What peaked your interest to work in this medium? What or who inspired you?

April Jones: My mom was a huge influence on my musical and creative endeavours. Growing up we would make skits and music videos with our VHS camcorder. In high school, I was in theater programs doing acting, scenic art, and even went to work on the set of NYPD Blue for a season. Then I realized I was really interested in behind the scenes. Eventually, I took video production classes and started working with the camera. I started filming my friends bands and doing interviews for class projects. I ended up submitting this collection to PCMTV, for a public-access TV series and it was accepted. Thus ‘Slayed In Oregon’ was born, a docu-series that covered the underground heavy metal and punk rock culture of the great pacific northwest.

Metal Titans: You’re a fan of underground and cult metal acts. How did you decide on The Mentors being the subject of the documentary which would become ‘The Kings of Sleaze?’

April Jones: The Mentors had been a guest on a ‘Slayed in Oregon’ episode, so from we developed a working relationship. One particular time while still in film school, Mad Dog [formerly of The Mentors] had made a social media post about looking for a documentary filmmaker. I had a class project coming up that I had to make, a 10 minute documentary film. Dr. Heathen Scum just happened to be in town at the time so we set up some interviews. After this 10 minute short doc was finished, it blew up on YouTube and I started receiving emails from people all over the world saying how much they wanted a full-length and how much The Mentors meant to them. I had one person open up to me and said that he was sexually assaulted as a child and The Mentors helped him cope with that.

Metal Titans: It must have been difficult to shoot a documentary when the key member of The Mentors, El Duce is deceased. Or am I completely wrong here?

April Jones: I wouldn’t necessarily say difficult, but I had to figure out a way to strategically weave together archival footage so that Eldon would have just as much screen time as the other original band members. So, I did just that. You can definitely tell that the footage is older, but I construct it in a way where he is also telling the story along with the other key members, up until his death.


Metal Titans: How much footage did you shoot for the doc? How painstaking was the editing process?

April Jones: There is tons and tons of footage! I can probably make another documentary from the footage. We have a lot of tour footage and interviews that didn’t make the cut. The editing process was indeed painstaking. I was teaching myself how to edit and of course coming across all sorts of anomaly errors including, corrupted files and the computer crashing. The first computer ended up completely crashing on me and had to buy another iMac to finish the project. That delayed the documentary for sure and Mac’s are expensive.

Metal Titans: Was there anything that didn’t make the final cut that you wish would have? I got an advance screener. I imagine the DVD will have a few extras?

April Jones: Yeah, there were a lot of interviews that didn’t make the cut: select members from The Godz, Potty Mouth, Eat the Turnbuckle, and more. Eventually, I will throw together ‘bonus features’ from unseen interviews. It’s tricky when you have too many people in the documentary. The viewer loses track of who’s who, and the story can get confusing if the viewer is distracted with too many players. So, I had to stick with the where the storytelling with the most relevant people. I have some great interviews that don’t really fit into where the initial story takes us and that’s why I want to do a “bonus/behind the scenes” type of edit. One interview that will definitely make the “bonus features” is one of the members from Eat The Turnbuckle. I’m interviewing him in the men’s bathroom taking a shit. Yeah, gross I know! I don’t think the Mentors had any idea they were dealing with some crazy skateboarder chick. I think you gotta be a little bit crazy to go on the road with the Mentors.

Metal Titans: The Mentors are a polarizing act for those that are aware of them; did you have any apprehensions doing this doc? At the present it seems like people are very sensitive to certain issues and that people might not appreciate such a project? The term ‘Rape Rock’ is going to be looked at as favorable period, but in 2018, it will get you raked over the coals.

April Jones: I definitely had friends that were absolutely not OK with this documentary being made. I also had several friends who were afraid for my safety. One friend said “don’t get hit by a train!” Despite my opinion of The Mentors and their music, I came into the project unbiased.

The way I look at it is I’m a journalist, a storyteller, and a researcher. I seeked interviews from all perspectives, even those who actively speak out against this type of music, like the feminist bookstore. And of course the bookstore wanted nothing to do with being interviewed for what they stand up for. It wasn't til years later, their threats and false accusations became public on social media. I respect people

speaking up for what they believe in, we all have the right to do so, but doing so with accurate information is so crucially important.

Metal Titans: There’s varying theories on how El Duce died. One was that he had been drinking he was walking along the railroad tracks and heard some kids call his name. He tried crossing the tracks greet the kids and there was a mishap. He was struck by the train.

In Nick Broomfield's documentary ‘Kurt & Courtney;’ El Duce claimed that he knew who killed Cobain, but said he would "let the FBI catch him.” He also claimed that Courtney [Love] solicited him to kill Kurt [Cobain]. His statement has lead people to believe that El Duce was a victim of foul play.

April Jones: This was a tricky topic to dig into because it seems that the band has had conflicting opinions regarding El’s death. The last person to see El was Allen Wrench who was also very difficult to get ahold of and difficult to work with. He was stubborn in answering certain questions, even innocent “back in the day” type of questions- he refused to answer. The interview didn’t last long because he just decided he had to go. I tried to dig into the fact that he was the last person to see El. He didn’t have any visible sadness towards his deceased friend. I tried to dig into the conspiracy and all that. I captured what he told me and what he refused to answer almost made him appear he was hiding something. Either way, the interview was left un-ended. You’ll see that in the documentary.

Metal Titans: What’s your go to album by The Mentors? I’m partial to ‘You Axed For it!’

April Jones: Yes, ‘You Axed For It’ and ‘Up The Dose’ are my favorites.  One of my favorite songs though is “Oblivion Train.” El’s vocals almost has a Stooges feel to it. I started learning the main guitar riff too. It’s fun! Man, Sickie’s playing is epic! Speaking of “Oblivion Train,” It’s interesting that throughout El’s entire childhood, there are trains. You’ll see the visual symbolism throughout the doc. I don’t want to give anything aways, but trains are always there. It’s almost as if his fate was written, ya know, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Metal Titans: What other projects do you have looming on the horizon?

April Jones: I do have something coming up.  First, we’re trying to finalize a distribution deal at the moment. Which haven’t been announced, so stay tuned.  I will let you know when I announce my next ROCKumentary! Though, I had announced The Mentors doc way too early, so when I was barely starting, everyone was like, “Is it done yet?” and I’m like, “ I haven’t even started editing yet!”

Metal Titans: What’s some classic metal records that you’ve been grooving on?

April Jones: Recently, I’ve been writing more music than listening to, but I always enjoy a classic thrash album: Hirax, Overkill, Exodus. I love the energy and rawness of it all. I’ve been really digging The Dwarves new album! It’s killer! Sometimes, I rock some Howlin’ Wolf, or some Country Joe and The Fish, “Electric Music For The Mind and Body.” Such an amazing album!! 60s/70s psychedelic classic rock. I’m a sucker for obscure classic rock. I was named after April Wine by the way.

Metal Titans: What’s some under the radar/gems acts out there that you think our readers should check out and why?

April Jones: Thrash metallers BAT. Great energy, great musicians, and great live! Portland band, Soul Grinder is killing it right now. Super artistic and creative in their writing, videos, and stage presence. They put on a very visual performance. As an artist myself, that is very important. Also, instrumental prog rock band, Alizarin. A band that appreciates a balance of melody and calculated technique. And being an instrumental band, their music really tells a story. It’s absolutely beautiful!

https://www.mentorsrockumentary.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MentorsRockumentary/