Like a pedo in a crowded room, they caught everybody’s attention. Then, just like said pedo, they disappeared. Rolling Stone described them as “Maná, Depeche Mode, Julion Alvarez, Madonna, Stevie B., Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks and Stevie Ray Vaughn all rolled into one but different.” Billboard said, “Of all the bands we have ever seen, they were one of them!” Blender ran a double edition dedicated to them entitled, “The Most Important Band of The New Millennium Rocks Harder than Any Band of the Past Millennium.” It was then edited down to a half page article, “These Guys Are Good!” La Opinión best described them as, “Músicos que no chupan!” They are, of course, the one and only Mentiritas!
Just a few years ago, Mentiritas and their “Rancholo” music took the world by storm. Along the way, they collected all types of awards such as a European Grammy for their Narco-Corridos for Kids Album, a Daytime Emmy for their guest appearance on Jerry Springer, and an ESPY as Team of the Year for helping Galavision win Battle of the Network Stars. With so much good fortune, why did they disappear? Did they go Chappelle and escape the anxieties of stardom in Mexico as once reported? Where exactly have they gone? Did their past catch up to them? Does Bigfoot exist? Who really shot JFK? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know but thanks to Jefe, a light can be shed on the subject. However, I must first tell of our chance encounter and their humble beginnings.
I met Mentiritas (right as they were hitting the big time) in Arizona at an immigration office. We were mistaken for illegals by la jura. Dressed in banda suits, I could understand why they were picked up. To this day, I have no clue why I was. My lady says it’s because I have chunti tendencies. No manches vale! Anyways, I hit it off with their bassist and vocalist, Perrón, as we talked about music and hynas. We chopped it up for a bit. He then introduced me to the rest of the group: Ulassass (sax/guitar/mota/vocals); Antonmynuts (drums); Tripas (timbales/keys/tacos/vocals); Walnuts (keys/vocals); and finally the extremely sessy Cavalicious (la reyna).
After exchanging pleasantries with the group, I asked Perrón how they all met. He told me that as illegitimate children of narco-traficantes, they would constantly run into each other at drop off points which, more often than not, would be a paisa night club in Chula Vista. I asked if that is where their love of music began. Ulassass interrupted and said that as teens, they would drop acid and go to the Slauson Swap Meet for their musical education. Perrón shook his head in disagreement then finally conceded to the homie’s truth.
After our release, they invited me to experience a gig or as they called it, Menti-Madness. Ironically enough, it was being sponsored by the Arizona INS at Diablo Stadium. Expecting to hear nothing but banda music, they hit me with a sonic blast that was like Skittles to my ears. Jefe felt like he was watching and listening to a dance-party band playing cumbias, ska, R&B, new wave and of course, banda—all with pounding beats. Their fans, also known as Menti-Sexuals, were groovin’ and movin’ as if they were in an 80’s funk video. Jefe was in heaven as he found his musical soul family.
As stated earlier, Jefe caught them right as they were hitting the big time. It didn’t take too long for the Menti-Magic to set the entire music industry on fire. The world would soon follow. It seemed like the music and party would never end; au contraire mon frere (wacha, Jefe busting out the French – que fancy). It wasn’t just a slow or steady withdrawal or small absence from the public eye. No, they straight went MIA. Jefe took it upon himself to locate their whereabouts as he hit the calles with a crazed purpose. Amazing how much the streets talk when you know where to look and what questions to ask.
I was led to the underground world of narco-traficantes. It was there that I learned the group was dragged into the business of smuggling immigrants and knock off Barbie dolls across the border. Apparently, one of the members (won’t mention any names but it starts with the letter U) had ran up a considerable “tab” with one of Mexico’s biggest cartels and the big boss gave him two options: pay up in full or work it off. As fate would have it, the coyote business proved to be more lucrative than the music game and soon the entire group wanted in. Check out their ad.
I was finally able to locate Mentiritas at a cantina in Juarez, Mexico. Perrón was happy to see me as I walked through the door. He told me of life as a coyote and about getting tips for staying out of the public eye from some veterano named Hoffa. I couldn’t help but ask if he missed the music. He said that they pick up gigs at clubs and resorts along their routes just to stay fresh. Here’s a video he provided of the Menti-Madness. I then asked if they were ever planning on coming back to the states and resume their careers. He said that they only have $30 million left to pay off the debt but that it shouldn’t take much longer. I noticed that Tripas was missing and was told he picked up a side job as a stunt double for some singer, Asdru Sierra. I’ve never heard of him but whatever.
I stayed with them for about a week just observing and of course catching a few gigs. They still have that Menti-Magic and hopefully, it won’t take much longer for the world to join in the Menti-Madness once again.