Monday, October 20, 2014


Redoing this one cause this band is personally important to me and the blurb I did really didn't sit well with me.

Mental started in 2001 in Boston. It featured Greg Willmott (founder of Lockin Out Records), DFJ (Mayor of Boston), Dan Ducas (Magic Circle, Snail's Pace, Dumptruck), and Derek Scace (Cold World, Dumptruck). They were heavily influenced by Supertouch & Underdog. Later on Planet Mental they would incorporate Quicksand influences to their sound. After releasing a couple of demos in 2002, Mental released their first EP, And You Know This, on Greg's brand new label Lockin Out.

And You Know This captured Mental for what they were. Strong guitar leads that were in sync with the rhythm section making Mental into a cohesive unit that never failed to get any crowd moving. The music wasn't angry. Willmott's lyrics sounded like the guy who knew something you didn't and he was taking you to school. On the eponymous track "And You Know This", he lectures on the virtues of friendship. On "Sike", he calls out someone for betraying their principles. On "Mental", he offers a declaration of what the band stands for. Mental wasn't about anger, it was about who they were. A lot of bands try to conflate their anger with identity but that's a fallacy. Anger doesn't define you, it is just a symptom of the world coming into contact with your beliefs.

Their second EP, Get An Oxygen Tank, was released on Bridge 9 Records, who at the time were the hegemon as far as hardcore labels go. The record's artwork was treated to the artistic styles of NYHC legend Sean Taggart. This record is angrier than AYKT. The songs tell a story about a band that has been at it for a while now. Willmott talks about work ethic, respect, and personal growth. Above all else, Mental as a band stakes their position towards the world. First on the eponymous track "Get An Oxygen Tank", Willmott calls out the influx of imposters in the hardcore scene and informs them that the "Mental Crew is sick of you". Not one to allow themselves to be overcome with anger, the next song "Chiller Than Most (Still Mental)" reminds listeners about who Mental is: just some guys having fun, don't mind the last song, that was just something we had to get off our chest. Even at their angriest, they still circled it back to earth quickly.

Their third EP, Yo!, was released on Lockin Out Records. This record is criminally underrated, even by the most die-hard of Mental fans. The record almost plays out like a challenge to Mental themselves. Yo! was released in 2004. Mental had been a highly decorated band at this point and well-traveled. The lyrics and sound on Yo! are cathartic in many ways. The sound is definitely harder than most of their previous work. Yo! plays out like Mental are asking themselves if they can still go further, can they still go to another level, and can they still bring it. The result was something different and as far as Mental's thought experiment went, it was a success. They were ready for the next level.

In the summer of 2005, Mental released their debut LP, Planet Mental. They recorded it with NYHC legend Don Fury. The album was different in a lot of ways. Willmott's lyrics had become more developed and displayed a lot of growth from the band's beginnings. Ducas' guitar work had transcended to the same level as his heroes in Supertouch & Quicksand. Scace & DFJ's rhythm work sounded omniscient. They knew every beat and every step that had been played or would be played. The idea of a rhythm section is that they are supposed to be in control of the sound. It isn't often that you actually hear a rhythm section exerting total control. Mental didn't just write another Mental record or another Lockin Out release. They wrote this generation's The Earth Is Flat.

Mental was a lot of things. They were from Boston, they were a part of the Nu Scene, they were a straight edge band, they are the LOC / Lockin Out Records, and they had fun. I think this last point is most important to highlight. No matter what Mental did, they had fun. They never took themselves seriously and they always put their friends first. Even at the very end, 12/12/05 in Atlanta when Mental quietly broke up after wrapping up a tour with Iron Age / Blacklisted and only a few months after releasing their only full-length. Rather than give some heartfelt speech about their legacy or some dog & pony pageant of a last show, vocalist Greg Willmott delivered a speech that personified Mental: sincere, for themselves, and unwavering.

A lot was said about the end of the band, particularly the edgebreak of members, but here's the truth about Mental up to the end: they never stopped being Mental. Everything that was on And You Know This was there that night in Atlanta. The thing people that failed to understand about Mental (something a lot of people to this day still don't get) is it wasn't about straight edge, a LOC, or Boston. It was about four guys. Four friends who played shows as an excuse to hang out with each other and the rest of their friends. As far as motivations to start a band goes, Mental's can be described as nothing but sincere and honest.

"Are you guys having fun? Yeah, alright cool. As long as you're having fun. That's why we started the band to have fun. And we're going out having fun so it's cool. We're not playing a last show in Boston or anything like that, this is really it. Because for us, all our friends seen us enough times, saw our record release... And it's not differences between band members or any shit you read on the internet about Dookie being addicted to heroin... I wish he was addicted to heroin cause then my band would be cool but we're not really that cool." - Greg Willmott, at the final Mental show 12/12/05.

All smiles to the end. That's the story of Mental.

Included here is their entire discography, their famous WERS set, a bootleg set from CBGBs, and some demos (including outtakes from the Dumptruck sessions).

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