MENTE: MY MIND CAPSIZED
BY FRANCIS DIMENNO
On September 5th, 1991, I interviewed Mente at my home and taped the resulting free-for-all for Cambridge Cable Television. The ensuing interview with be broadcast at 11PM on Cafe Cabaret on Channel 55, Thursday October 3r-l, followed by a complete set by BULKHEAD. An hour-long MENTE concert will he aired on Noise Party, Channel 66, at 9:45 PM on Tuesday, October 15th.
NOISE: Were Mente inspired by the film Dick Tracy?
TED WIDMER: Was Spencer Tracy in that film?
MENU:Surely you have another question.
TED: Or you would if you were here.
NOISE:They say you're the worst band in Boston.
TED:Not true. Actually, we're the worst band in the world.
JOHN MURPHY: We were the worst band in Saugus.
GRINGO STARR: I guess that about wraps it up then.
NOISE: It sure does, except that I have about fifty more questions to
ask you. Gringo, you're the drummer. Is that correct?
Noise: Edward Van Mente, what instrument do you play?
TED: I play the electric guitar and sometimes I offer background
NOISE: Ron Bacardi, what do you do.
JOHN: I'm the singer, and sometimes.,.I have a viper guitar...it's
NOISE Yes and I've seen many an amazing guitar solo come out of
MENU Yes, I play bass.
NOISE What do you say to people when they tell you you're going
TED We say See you there".
JOHN "Do you have a handbasket" is what I like to say.
GRINGO What the hell.
NOISE Jim, what are you doing here?
JIM JANOTA I'm probably their only fan.
NOISE Oh, I can think of at least two others.
TED. He was at our first performance.
NOISE: What was your best-paying performance?
MENU: Probably our first one. You can pretty much say our career
has gone downhill since that first performance.
NOISE: How any songs did you have in your repertoire when you played that first set, two years ago?
MENU: Probably about fourteen.
NOISE: And how many songs have you now?
MENU: Over eighty. and growing.
NOISE: So you couldn't say your career hasn't been something of a success.
MENU: Oh, I wouldn’t call it a success.
TED: I would say our career has been an unmitigated disaster. It's really been no fun; our first show was no fun; it's no fun being here right now.
MENU: If it weren't for our fans....
TED: We write a new song for every show. That should be clearly stated. Our credo. We guarantee your admission back if Someone catches us and we haven't played a new song.
MENU: It doesn't have to be a complete, finished song.
JOHN: And it doesn't have to be brand new; it has to be new to us. Those are the caveats to the deal.
NOISE: Of those cover versions which you do do, which ones do you do?
TED: We do "Lonely Days' by The Bee Gees; "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell
JOHN: "We Love You", by The Rolling Stones; we did "Communication Breakdown" once.
TED: "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, recently.
JOHN: Didn't we do the "Brown Sugar/Get Back Jojo" medley?
TED: Which was in a back yard in East Boston. 8-8-89.
NOISE: I've been looking at your careers for quite some time, boys, and I think this music stuff's going nowhere and rather than perform live you ought to be getting into television and do television show themes. Which show would you like to do the theme for?
TED: I don't know, maybe The CBS Evening News.
JOHN: "Stimpy and Ren".
MENU: "The Art Of William Alexander".
NOISE: Which songs do you suppose would be in "The Mente Christmas Special"?
MENU: "The Little Drummer Boy".
JOHN: "Heat Miser",
TED: "Bobby Orr" and "Merry Christmas Baby" by Elvis, with our own words about living on the South Shore. We do write songs for
every holiday, though. We have one for President's Day, we have one for St. Patrick's Day. one for the 4th of July, one for Patriot's Day....
MENU: We were offered a Halloween Show at Bunratty's.
NOISE: If you had to encapsulate the story of your life in fifteen words or less, how would you do so. Or would you?
MENU: Menu plays bass.
JOHN: Can I use his other twelve?
JOHN: Menu plays bass.. and I don't.
TED: 28 years ago, a small child was brought screaming into the world.
GRINGO: Fifteen words? No comment.
NOISE: When people go up to you at parties and say "And what do you do, little man," how do you respond?
JOHN: Don't call me "little man".
TED: I say "Where's the exit to this party".
MENU: Basically, we live off all the royalties from our vast recording contracts and international tours that we are constantly on.
NOISE: Would you ever eat a fat dog?
MENU: Depends how it's prepared, I would think.
NOISE: Do you think dog as a dish is overrated?
MENU: No, not at all.
TED: One of our favorite restaurants in Rhode Island got arrested for serving cat as a food item. They said it was chicken, This was Luke's Luau Hut, in downtown Providence. 35 Eddy Street.
JOHN: Truth is stranger than.. ..They make a good drink, though.
NOISE: Let's talk about the birthplace of Mente.
JOHN: Right here.
GRINGO: Murph's mind.
JOHN: Central Square. The embryo? Picnic table. In back of my mother's house. 1978. We didn't have anything to do, so we drew album covers. And begat the band from a fake album cover.
TED: And me and Mazz (Menu)-we were in high school together in Providence, we had similar ideas about rock bands, in the late 70's.
MENU: I'm the only one in the band who's not from Boston, I'm
we from Providence. India Point. It was a pretty tough neighborhood.
But I made it out.
NOISE: Where are you planning to he buried?
MENU: The city of Providence.
JOHN: I'm a townie. I was born in Charlestown, lived in
Charlestown, and I'm a real big.. bigot.
TED: You look like one.
JOHN: I hate Cambridge.
NOISE: Your eyes look like bull's eyes. You have little concentric
circles in your eyes.
TED: Edward Van Mente was born in Boston.
MENU: So was Edgar Allen Poe.
TED: I lived in Cambridge until I was six. I was actually born in
MENU: That's it. You're out of the band. Loser.
TED: I actually grew up in Rhode Island, which is where I met Menu.
NOISE: Were you trapped?
TED: No, I was never trapped when I was young.
JIM: Were you ever traded?
TED: Never traded. A healthy diet with all four of the major food
groups, grew from a small boy to the strapping young man that I am
NOISE: Where were you born, Gringo?
GRINGO: Mexico City. I've had all this surgery so I look as Irish as
possible, but actually, my hair is black.
NOISE: Well, Gringo. What is your favorite soft drink.
GRINGO: Well, that would be Moxie.
NOISE: That's wonderful, because I was going to ask you to do a
product endorsement for Moxie to conclude the interview!
MENTE'S PRODUCT Endorsement FOR MOXIE
Moxie...Moxie.,.Mock...see.. Moxie Lady! Comin' to get you baby! Here we come!!
In addition to making up product endorsements on the spot, Mente also have available a song made famous by them entitled "Scrod", which is available on DRAIN THAT DIRTY WATER, a local cassette compilation. Look for it wherever fine music is sold.
© 1991 - The Noise - reprinted without permission