PICTURED: Members of Mandex, from left: Lizzy Licks, AJ Deez, Willi Love, Ryder Right, Loosey Bucey. Photo courtesy Willi Love

by Doyoon Kim

Dressed in ’80s-themed clothing, wigs, makeup and spandex while covering bands like Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Quiet Riot and more, Mandex has remained a local fan favorite. The Ventura County-based tribute band has opened for Spencer Makenzie’s The Throw Down Cornhole Tournament for years now and will do so again this year.

With AJ Deez on lead vocals, Lizzy Licks on guitar and backing vocals, Willi Love on bass and backing vocals, Loosey Bucey on keyboard and backing vocals, and Ryder Right on drums, the hair metal tribute band has been an iconic part of the local Ventura County music scene. The band, which started as just a group of friends in Ventura, has been playing venues across California for over 15 years now. While the idea of writing original music as Mandex has always been on the minds of the members, they’ve decided to remain as a tribute band to continue playing music from their favorite acts from the 1970s and 1980s, accurately and faithfully performing these songs and bringing them to life in front of audiences all around California.

The group thrives on live performance and loves the energy of the crowd. Over the years, the band has bonded musically and grown to understand each member’s style. Even when improvising, their energy comes together naturally.

Bassist Willi Love mentioned the feeling of performing on stage with friends and connecting with strangers through song. “These are songs we have connected with our entire lives from our favorite bands. It feels good to share this energy and this show, especially with younger generations who can see and relate to it. It’s important to us that we portray these songs in ways that honor those groups.” 

Fun fact: Only one member of Mandex wears wigs; most of them perform with their natural hair. Locals might recognize some of the band members from other projects: All play with other bands, and two are members of Twin Temple, a satanic doo-wop band.

COVID-19 temporarily halted Mandex performances until July 4, 2021, which marked the group’s first gig since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It went a little dry, we played in a block party in a driveway,” said Love. “When we first arrived, there was nobody in the streets. We originally were just going to practice but when we came out, there were, like, 300, 400 people. Everyone was ready with lots of energy.”
With things returning to normalcy, Mandex is looking forward to this year’s Throw Down, which will take place Aug. 27-29 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds and has an expected turnout of about 5,000 people. The band has a new line of merchandise ready for fans and members are thrilled to interact with people again.

“I’m excited to see the growth of Spencer Makenzie’s. I’m excited to see where they have gone from starting off in the street to now having a big stage to perform in for bigger venues. It’s the most fun with a lot of energy and the biggest crowds,” said Love. 

When asked if the band members will be participating in this year’s cornhole tournament, Love replied, “We can play, we are all pretty good, but no, none of us play professionally. Maybe we will participate in the tournament this year.”


Mandex performs at the Throw Down Cornhole Tournament and Music Festival on Friday, Aug. 27, at 8:30 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. For tickets and more information, visit www.thethrowdowncornholetournament.com. For more information about Mandex, visit the FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/mandexmusic