Ugly Dwarf: The Weird and Wild History of No Trend
Back in 1987 the band No Trend proudly handed over its new album More to its record company, Touch and Go. The execs at Touch and Go gave it one listen, returned it to the band holding it gingerly by the edges with their fingertips as if it were something unspeakable like a radioactive monkey head, and in effect told the band, “Won’t touch. Please go.”
Their reaction was understandable. Given No Trend’s previous record they must have expected strange, but this was madness; with songs including the bizarre funk-schlock pastiche “Last on Right, Second Row,” the inexplicable disco-funk romp “Spank Me (With Your Love Monkey, Baby),” and the utterly indescribable 17:53″ rock opera “No Hopus Opus,” More is the kind of album that causes dogs to howl. And I mean while it’s still in its sleeve.
And so appropriately ended, not with a bang but with one final confused scratch of the head, the career of No Trend, one of the most exasperating, brilliant, and willfully perverse bands ever to come out of the hardcore scene.
Ashton, Md.’s No Trend and its vocalist/resident genius Jeff Mentges (aka Jefferson Scott, aka Cliff “Babe” Ontego) engaged in one of the oddest, most nihilistic quests in the annals of modern music, or so it can be argued: namely, to systematically alienate, disaffect, and piss off its own fan base, one exasperated fan at a time. Plenty of musicians have taken stylistic left turns that left their fans befuddled and even angry, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who seemed to do so on purpose.
And not just once, but on every album. If you were a fan of the previous No Trend album, it was virtually guaranteed that you would listen to the new one and say, “What is this shit?” Over the course of its career No Trend mutated from an industrial hardcore band that specialized in pissing people off to an absurdist band with no apparent genre boundaries that specialized in, well, pissing people off. It almost seemed as if No Trend was primarily in the No Trend fan elimination business.
When I asked No Trend’s Buck Parr–who played guitar on several tracks of the Lydia Lunch/ No Trend compilation When Death Won’t Solve Your Problems and cowrote the music on No Trend’s 1987’s Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex–about this theory, he responded, “I would agree with it to a point. Absolute intent is a tricky thing to revisit years after the fact, but ultimately, it’s what actually happened—the band started off doing something different, it alienated some people, and the band embraced that. As the band developed, it mutated in ways that further confused people. Instead of being apologetic, I think the band generally fed off of this. It was within the band’s DNA to be somewhat contrary.”
He added, “There was certainly not a reluctance to come up with music that would not necessarily be enjoyed as ‘songs.’ We wrote some Muzak songs that appeared on Nash-Vegas—it was never like: ‘Oh, what a great tune, people are gonna love it!’ And More includes a side-long rock opera for an audience who held such things in disdain. There was material that was not necessarily meant to be enjoyed on its own terms as good-sounding music. From the band’s earliest incarnation to its last, there was an embracement of Dada. You had to have a Dadaist sense of things to be in the band, or often to even appreciate them. To this day, Mentges regards the group as an exercise in Dadaism.”
If there is an answer to No Trend’s true intent, it lies in the personality of Jeff Mentges, who unfortunately declined to respond to e-mails seeking his input for this article. Kenn Rudd, drummer for No Trend’s A Dozen Red Roses, told me, “[Mentges] was a very funny guy. I think what you call nihilistic I would call assholistic–being an asshole to poke people out of their waking slumbers, which is sort of the point of punk rock. But Jeff also enjoyed just being an asshole, as any Merry Prankster does.” Dean Evangelista, No Trend’s guitarist on A Dozen Red Roses, also described Mentges to me as “a prankster,” adding, “I think his persona while with No Trend was a put-on, and the joke was on the fans.”
The joke was on the fans alright: beginning in 1982 as a band playing the DC harDCore scene, No Trend (which at that time consisted of Mentges, Frank Price–who is credited as the architect of their early sound and nihilistic aesthetic–Michael Salkind, and Bob Strasser) gleefully set out to infuriate the hardcore kids who came to see them, mainly by playing grinding PiL and Flipper-influenced death drones that were impossible to mosh to, and that sometimes went on for 20 minutes or longer. Here all the poor hardcore darlings wanted to do was violently bash one another and shout along to lyrics denouncing conformist society; instead No Trend savagely berated the punks themselves as unthinking conformists to just another form of orthodoxy.
They did this by mocking their own audience with taunting songs bearing titles like “Kiss Ass (To Your Peer Group),” “Mindless Little Insects”–during which Mentges might go into the audience with a mirror and hold it up to people–“Punker,” and “Hanging Out in Georgetown,” a derisory poke in the eye to the Dischord/ straightedge crowd that included such lines as “Hanging Out in Georgetown/ Being an asshole/ Hanging out in Georgetown/ Drinking Coke.” To add insult to injury, No Trend took to cramming flyers reading “No Trend, No Scene, No Movement” into the Coke machines where Georgetown straightedgers bought their soda.
Parr told me, “The band did have a side to it that often appeared as a calculated attempt to alienate people. There was always an element of crowd baiting, from the very beginning. They didn’t mind agitating people, and knew what they were doing.” However, he added, “I don’t think the band existed purely to piss people off—I think they truly believed what they were doing had merit, and they stood behind their material. That some people didn’t like what they did, and saw them as some sort of affront, frankly, did not concern them in the least. I think they delighted in the fact that the ‘right’ people did not understand them.”
In 1983 No Trend introduced itself formally to the record-buying public with the release of the hilarious (if your tastes run to the morbid) “Teen Love” 7″. “Teen Love” featured Mentges coolly dissecting in an ironic monotone the fate of two robotically stereotypical teenage lovers (“They met during social interaction in Algebra class/ She was expressionless at first/ But then “smiled” to indicate submission”) who end up dying horribly in a car accident (“After drinking two beers he was pretending to be drunk/ While the local popular radio station/ Played the newest predesignated youth-oriented Top 40 hits/ He was decapitated in an explosion of flame and glass fragments/ Her body was found crushed into the dashboard”). It was a perfect example of No Trend’s ruthless proclivity towards lizard-cold satire, and believe it or not became a minor college radio hit.
After this cheery “Hiya, hope you die,” in 1984 No Trend released its debut album Too Many Humans, one of the darkest and most relentlessly nihilistic records ever made. While the PiL and Flipper influences are obvious, Too Many Humans easily trumps both bands in the loathing for life sweepstakes, with Mentges’ vocals dripping with undisguised revulsion while the music grinds down relentlessly like a hob-nailed boot on the bland face of human vapidity. Too Many Humans includes such savage examples of untrammeled misanthropy as the title track (which consists of Mentges repeatedly snarling, “Too many humans/ You breed like rats/ And you’re no fucking better”), “Family Style,” a kiss-off to the consumerist American family, and the sneering “Kiss Ass (To Your Peer Group),” which features Mentges singing, “There’s no room for deviation/ Social rules have no negation/ So kiss ass/ So kiss ass/ What else are you good for?”
Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore and No Trend’s manager until 1985, told me, “No Trend was coming from such a dark and negative place. It was, ‘This is what I’m going to unleash on you, can you handle it?’ The aesthetic was assault. It was definitely not pleasurable music. It was, ‘If you want to join us, you’ve got to put up with this.’ If you want to do that as a band, you subject yourself to the margins. Jeff was looking for believers. There weren’t many, but there were some.”
One “believer” who saw No Trend during this period was Jack Rabid, publisher and writer of NYC punkzine The Big Takeover. He told me, “The show I remember best was with Big Black at Danceteria. This was around 1983, 1984; they were playing Too Many Humans. Really nasty stuff.” And what were they like? “So fucking nuts is what they were like. But I didn’t find them torturous, no. I found them a little bit scary. They were nightmarish in all the right ways. They were like the Butthole Surfers in that respect. A misfit among misfits.”
If Too Many Humans was “torture,” as Price called it, it’s practically a Pepsi commercial compared to No Trend: Early Months, which consisted of nine early demos and ten live tracks that were recorded in 1983 but didn’t see the light of day until 1995, when the folks at Teen Beat Records must have suffered a collective brain hemorrhage and released them like a pack of wild hyenas onto an unsuspecting public. With songs like “Cancer,” “Death,” “Human Garbage” (“You’re the cancer/ You’re the parasite/ You’re the new construction site”), and the pleasantly titled “Mass Sterilization Caused by Venereal Disease,” No Trend: The Early Months set new lows (or highs) in bile and vitriol, although it does contain the innocuous instrumental “Purple Paisleys Make Me Happy,” which prefigures the band’s future forays into schlock rock.
After Too Many Humans, Mentges fired Frank Price. Blush thought then—and still thinks—it was a fatal miscalculation on Mentges’ part. He told me, “I think Mentges firing Price was a tragic mistake. It was his downfall. Like PiL when John Lydon fired Keith Levene. I knew in my heart it was a bad idea to get rid of Price; No Trend went from a quasi-industrial band to a quasi-Frank Zappa band.”
Why did Mentges fire Price? Parr told me that Mentges was “musically omnivorous,” and that “there came a point after a couple of years that some—I think Jeff, mostly—were becoming bored. [Mentges] told me recently that he didn’t want to put out ten records that sounded exactly the same. They were No Trend, after all, which at its core was always about progressing, and doing things differently.”
He added, “Price’s departure allowed things to go in many directions at once. People had become accustomed to the sound that Price instigated, so when the [post-Price] material came out, a lot of people were completely confused: this was not the No Trend they thought they were getting. The band’s attitude was largely: who cares? No Trend was always going to do what it wanted to do, in spite of any perceived audience, or what that audience might have wanted.” Jack Rabid agrees: “They were just determined to do what they were going to do. They weren’t aiming to please.”
If any proof were needed that Mentges felt it was time to change musical directions, No Trend’s follow-up to Too Many Humans, 1985’s A Dozen Dead Roses, largely abandoned the PiL and Flipper influences of the Price period for a sound that Rudd, obviously unclear himself about what he’d been playing, described to me as “primitive/ garage/ indie/ punk/ whatever we were.” While Evangelista, tongue in cheek, told me, “I think we were mostly influenced by the Bee Gees.” The sessions featured keyboards, saxophones, and blazing metal guitar leads by Evangelista, especially on the uptempo “For the Fun of It All”—blasphemy all for those fans partial to No Trend’s earlier PiL/Flipper doom drone.
The sessions also featured Mentges’ new girlfriend Lydia Lunch, who sang on four tracks. (According to Blush, Mentges contacted Exene Cervenka, Anna Domino–the Tokyo-born indie rock artist–and Lunch about working on the project. Lunch loved the idea.) And worst of all for Too Many Humans fans, instead of his earlier blitzkrieg assaults on human puerility, Mentges, likely due to his burgeoning romantic relationship with Lunch, turned his attention to… romantic love. “It was punk love,” Rudd told me, adding, “The most poignant moments [of the sessions] were when Jeff and Lydia let down their facades for just a moment and showed some actual tenderness towards each other. But don’t tell ’em I told you so.”
Tenderness? Romance? Love? No Trend? Horrified old fans were left flabbergasted by the band’s new direction, which included the shockingly sincere-sounding “Heartache” (“I need you/ You need me”) and the Lunch vs. Mentges caterwaul–imagine a particularly ugly lover’s spat set to music–of “Who’s to Say.” “Your Love” featured Mentges spitting out lines like “Your love is the beauty of death/ Your love is a dozen dead roses,” while the fast-paced “Tear You Apart” had Mentges and Lunch both singing, although hardly in what you could call harmony, “Sometimes I love you so much/ I want to tear you apart.”
Needless to say, this abrupt shift from adamantine satirist of human stupidity to lovelorn romantic disenchanted a good many Too Many Humans aficionados, who were still busy congratulating themselves on having discovered a band that reflected both their nihilism and their superiority to the hardcore herd. Reaction to the album is best summed up by a fan on a No Trend message board: “I remember being totally shocked to hear A Dozen Dead Roses… I thought, ‘What the fuck?’ Heartbroken ballads with stale sax and screaming.”
Rudd, for one, has no patience with such sentiments. He told me, “Perhaps Jeff, who is a very smart guy, saw that something else was coming and our album with Lydia was an attempt to try something different, but it was mostly about his punk love with Lydia, an archetype of the contradictions inherent in punk love. We were a good band with good tunes and a very heartfelt”—hardly a word one would associate with Mentges—”delivery that people liked. Hardcore fans bitch about everything. ‘Sellout’ is their lifestyle. A very angry crowd. Life is not so sweet to them.”
It wasn’t too long after A Dozen Red Roses that Blush—who told me, “As powerful as [No Trend’s] music was, I doubt it ever would have gotten out of Jeff’s basement if it weren’t for me”—departed as No Trend’s manager, his dream of Mentges approaching “PiL and Flipper from a redneck perspective” in ruins. Unfortunately, he failed to calculate Mentges’ constant desire to move on to the next radically new thing into the equation. In 1987, the next radically new thing was Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex, an album so far removed sound-wise from Too Many Humans and A Dozen Red Roses that I defy anyone to guess both albums were the work of the same band.
If A Dead Dozen Roses was a radical departure from Too Many Humans, Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex—which marked No Trend’s first tryst with a major label, Touch and Go—was nothing less than a full-fledged foray into the absurd beyond. This time Mentges wasn’t fooling around; in addition to your basic rock unit he brought a keyboardist, three saxophonists, a pedal-steel guitarist, a trumpet player, and a cellist into the studio, and set them loose. And instead of the romantic themes of A Dozen Red Roses, Mentges arrived accompanied by a set of lyrics so bizarre and hilarious they make Frank Zappa look like the low-brow satirist he always was.
The results include the uptempo jazz skronk din of “Space Disco,” which has Mentges whining, “There’s a dead animal on my street/ No one cleans it up/ It’s been there for weeks!” And the bizarre slow blues “Fred Reality,” which features a deadpan Mentges delivering such sarcasm-drenched lines as “Are you stupid/ Or are you dumb?” and “If you’re not part of the solution/ You’re part of the problem/ Yahahahahaha!” over a cheesy Clarence Clemons-style sax before the band segues into a guitar/ sax freakout over which Mentges shrieks, “I think it’s your dandruff shampoo!/ It leaves your hair dry and unmanageable!/ It’s getting worse every day!”
Meanwhile, the instrumentals “Bel-Pre Rising” and “One Under Parr” are catchy Muzak (!) numbers, while “Cry of the Dirtballs” features Mentges singing in an indecipherable cartoon croak to the accompaniment of pedal-steel guitar and more saxophone. My personal favorite is “Without Me,” another broken-hearter featuring ringing bells, great guitar, and Mentges wailing, “Somebody’s got to fall in love with me!/ Girllll!/ Come fall in love with me!” And last but not least there’s the scathing assault “Overweight Baby Boom Critter,” which includes a great horn section and features Mentges singing in a demented snarl, “Hey flip-flop man/ Got your cocaine and David Crosby/ The job market’s all yours/ Haven’t a care.” Only the sinisterly slow guitar grind that is “Angel Angel Down We Go” is present to remind people that this was the same band that gave us Too Many Humans.
Meanwhile, touring seems to have been a torment. In the More liner notes (which were written by Jack Rabid), Eric “Leif” Leifert, No Trend’s guitarist on Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex and More, recalls, “Every tour we had incredible catastrophes, we were doomed. Once in Wisconsin, we pulled up at a record store, and there was someone at the counter trying to return our record! They said, ‘It sucks!’ and they wanted a refund!” In the liner notes Mentges adds, “We played Pittsburgh, and some guy came up to us at sound check and said, ‘Is it true you guys play until people beat the shit out of you?’”
This brings us to the infamous More, which still inspires controversy. Evangelista, for one, is a fan, telling me, “More is a masterpiece. It’s probably the most unusual No Trend album and to some fans unlistenable, but I love it.” Whereas Andy Coronado, formerly of Monorchid and Skull Kontrol, described More in the LA Press as No Trend’s “Ultimate ‘Fuck You” [to its fans] and “that terrible final album they shit out for Touch and Go, which was intended to fuck with their audience’s expectations and managed to do so quite effectively.”
Parr disagreed, telling me, “I don’t think it was made as a ‘fuck you’ to the band’s fans—that seems a little more malicious than the band’s real intent. That particular band was a superior group of musicians with chops well exceeding that of a normal ‘punk’ band, and they were all interested in many types of music. They weren’t limited to the scene in which they played, and weren’t interested in becoming well liked, necessarily.”
He added, “But they weren’t blind; they knew [More] was going to mystify some people. It was supposed to come out on Touch & Go, who were putting out Big Black and things like that, and it had horrible funk songs with jingle singers on it—there was an orchestra. It was completely outrageous to make something like that, but that was kind of the point. They knew what they were doing, and how it would probably be received. But they also liked it, and were proud of the music that was on it. It was what they wanted to do. And it is quite impressive in its own way.”
Finally he told me, “There was a concept within the band known as ‘ugly dwarf,’ which was sort of an absurdist/ Dada mindset. Beginning with Nash-Vegas, there was a desire and effort to bring this more out front. So, a lot of what came to color More was the band actively embracing its ugly dwarf.”
I have no idea how many musicians Mentges brought to the studio for More–Buck Parr told me, “I don’t think you’re gonna get a list of the musicians that were on More–there were a million of them. Brian King Nelson [who was working on the album as a school project] got all these people from the Berklee College of Music.” But I do know the line-up included a 40-piece orchestra as well as a young nobody named Paula Cole, who would go on to stardom with 1997’s insufferable “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone.” (I’ll give Paula a clue; they’re all at a Wyoming gay bar called The Crowing Cock, comparing horse sizes. Hasn’t this woman ever seen Brokeback Mountain?)
More opens with a hilarious “Intro” by “Cliff Ontego, your friend, vocalist and host,” who in a friendly voice delivers such howlers as “It [More] falls into a category of music rarely heard–it’s called honest” and “While listening to this album your favorite chair gets softer, the hearth is warmer, and life and memories become much sweeter.” “Intro” is followed by the kickass ska-rock number “Fuzzy Dice” and “Sorry I Asked,” which starts out slow and sweet with a beautiful bells and trumpet passage only to take a rabid turn with a bitter Mentges singing “Just another grave to be filled/ Just another counterculture/ Just another waste of time.”
Then there’s the inexplicable James Brown parody/ homage “Spank Me (With Your Love Monkey, Baby)” which I couldn’t believe was a No Trend song and which almost caused me to get off the No Trend bus. It’s a full-on disco-funk number, unencumbered by obvious irony, and features Mentges singing “Spank me!” to which a female chorus responds “Love monkey, baby” to the accompaniment of a funky bass, a full horn section, and a stuttering guitar. Mentges delivers a few Brown-like howls and an emphatic “Good God!” followed by a ferocious and long sax solo backed by a full horn section before the song comes to a close with Mentges saying lasciviously, “You know what I’m talking about” to a female singer (Paula Cole, perhaps?), who responds breathlessly, “Oh, Clint.”
“Last on Right/ Second Row” is an almost indescribable funk schlock pastiche: a bass plays a repetitive funk riff, Mentges sings in an indecipherable cartoon voice that dissolves into the occasional full warble, a no wave guitar spits out shards of discordant notes, women breathe heavily, and the band plays a snippet of an R&B number I recognize but can’t name. Meanwhile “Bel-Pre Declining” is more cheesy Muzak, but pretty tasty cheese at that.
Finally there’s the full-blown rock opera “No Hopus Opus,” one of the most ambitious rock songs ever recorded. It opens with some sinister sounding prog guitars, a full choir joins in, and the song turns into a full-fledged rocker before segueing into a kind of metal hoedown. Then things comes to a full stop, a horn and strings commence to playing a lugubrious classical passage, and Mentges (and another growing chorus of vocalists) repeat the lines, “The best things are free” before Mentges breaks into a great white trash monologue (sample: “I’m living in a vodka bottle for the past seven years/ She’s been working at the all-night donut shop/ After the divorce she tried boiling her kid on the stove/ Now she dabbles with lesbianism/ And drives a school bus with the county”) while a chorus sings “It depends on how you look at it.”
The song then evolves into a warped C&W number, with Mentges saying matter of factly, “Things really aren’t that bad/ It depends on how you look at them, you know?” before the song once again returns to its beginning, only to morph into a proggish and spacy jam complete with freaky guitars, followed by lots of whispering voices saying “Dark Side” to which Mentges adds, “You can’t win.” This is followed by a fast-paced free jazz blowout that comes to a slow, crashing halt, after which a very Led-Zeppish riff commences and to the sound of a wild guitar Mentges sings, “Ride pony ride/ Ride pony ride” and whispers a lot of unintelligible stuff, which is in turn followed by a choir singing “The worst things in life are me” over and over again.
Then the whole shebang again returns to the beginning while the choir sings and the song finally fades out. Only there’s a lot more in there that I that I didn’t get. Frankly, you’ll have to listen to it yourself.
There is an alternative—and perhaps more plausible—counter-argument to the one that had No Trend in the No Trend fan elimination business. Namely, that Mentges was simply adapting too fast, musically, to take into account the confusing effect his radical and lightning-quick genre shifts were having on his audience. Not that he would have cared, particularly. As Blush told me, “When everybody was hardcore [Mentges] was post-hardcore. Jeff was a very smart dude. One thing about smart people is they get bored really fast. If there was one problem with No Trend, they were moving too fast for the world. And if you ask me, that’s the definition of great art.”
So that in the end, what appeared to be a deliberate effort to alienate fans could have been nothing more than a form of musical ADD on Mentges’ part. He was a genius, after all, musically omnivorous and always restlessly on the lookout for new genres to explore. If his audience was too slow—or appalled—to follow him, too bad.
Which is not to say that Mentges wasn’t interested in achieving success in the music business. When I asked Rudd if No Trend was out to alienate anyone who ever liked them, he replied, “Hell no. Mentges had stars in his eyes!” He went on: “Jeff was a businessman. I think he deliberately provoked his audience because he thought it was good business.” This is borne out by what Mentges says in the More liner notes; namely, “All this negative fanzine press worked in our favor, it brought people to the gigs. People wanted to see if we were really that horrible!”
How fast was Mentges moving at this point? Buck Parr told me, “Right after they finished recording More, No Trend had already moved completely beyond it. Even as Touch and Go was considering taking More, the band had stopped playing the material at shows. It was incredible. The record had not yet been accepted, let alone put out, and they’d already largely abandoned it, moving onto something else equally mystifying and extraordinary. Nuts!”
Adds Parr, “They had a whole slew of other material, a lot of it funk-based with big horn parts, and a tightly choreographed stage set. They were the tightest band in the world at that point, and their songs (like “Right Between the Cheeks,” the theme song to a porno movie by the Dark Brothers) had all of these intricate stops and starts, false endings, etc.”
“The last show I saw them play was at the Pyramid Club in New York City for some CMJ-sponsored event. No Trend came out—in band uniforms—and played an astonishing set that left everyone in the audience standing around slack-jawed, wondering what the hell it was they were looking at. No one had any idea at all how to react to it, but people were riveted. They’d come to hear “Teen Love,” or whatever, and got THIS!”
After the Touch and Go fiasco, No Trend shopped More around to everybody they could think of—SST, Dischord, Caroline, Enigma—but never heard back from any of them. The album might as well have been a rabid dog. Then a band member quit to attend college, there were van and insurance payments to make, and continuing on seemed like more trouble than it was worth. And that was it: No Trend was finis.
As for More, it didn’t see the light of day for 14 years, when in 2001 Morphius Archives saw fit to finally release it. As for Mentges, he says in the More liner notes that the band didn’t intend for More to sound completely out of kilter compared to the band’s previous work: “I want to emphasize we didn’t intend it that way. It was a progression without effort. We did what came natural. If we’d only had a few chances after that, we could have been better appreciated. Unfortunately, we were cut short.”
Blush, for one, sees Mentges ultimate failure to go all the way as a tragedy. He told me, “I felt like he dropped the ball. When we were working with Lydia, she was working with Nick Cave and Thurston Moore; Jeff had the world open to him. I saw greatness in him. It was 1985 when I stopped working with him and if you’d asked me then I thought he’d be as big as them. The part about No Trend not becoming legendary is the part that hurts most. I think he got scared and I don’t think he really wanted it.”
Blush also claims that a box set is about to come out on a major label, but that “some of the masters don’t exist because Mentges burned them.” Blush thinks that Mengtes is playing a long waiting game, anticipating that No Trend will one day receive their due as a great band. Blush told me, “I talked to Lydia Lunch about two years ago and she told me ‘[Mentges] didn’t want anything released.’ What is he waiting for? I’ll tell you. For No Trend to finally achieve the level of fame he knew the band would ultimately receive decades later, which they may or may not ever attain…”
And afterwards? Sadly, Frank Price committed suicide in 1989. Both Evangelista and Rudd went on to play with the great “outsider band” Butch Willis and The Rocks, who brought us such classics as “Pizza on My Jeans” and “The TV’s From Outer Space,” and Evangelista continues to play for the band Steelbluez. Eric “Leif” Leifert plays bass for Bossalingo, a Brazilian/ Afro Cuban/ American roots/ jazz fusion band. The other members of No Trend are harder to pin down, although several members ended up in the impossible-to-find-information-on Penguin’s Exploding Octopus, along with members of The Enzymes, Mission For Christ (for whom Price briefly played guitar), and Tony Perkins and The Psychotics. Good luck finding them on YouTube, although a label did evidently retrospectively release an album of their art punk.
As for Mentges, he abandoned the music business but continued to radically reinvent himself as if his life were just a continuation of No Trend. First he attended film school, and in 1990 spent his every last dime to make Of Flesh and Blood, a low-budget biopic based on the Johnny “Wadd” Holmes story that came out long before “Boogie Nights” and “Wonderland.” He then abandoned film-making and moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland with his wife and two children. His friend, writer/ comedian/ filmmaker Dave Nuttycombe, who appeared in Of Flesh and Blood, described Mentges to me as “a kind of a good ol’ boy, far removed from the punk scene. Then again, No Trend was always an anti-punk kinda operation.”
Rusticity must suit Mentges, who appears to have morphed from unremitting nihilist into concerned, eco-conscious citizen: In 2010 he told The Washington Post, “I spend as much time as I can being a part of the whole ecological community of the vast saltwater marshes of the Shore.” Still, who better to deliver the final, perfect words on No Trend but Mentges? To wit, “We didn’t even listen to the music we played.”