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Great Live Music

A History of Mental as Anything

Posted by on Oct 11, 2015

Mental as Anything will be playing at the Caloundra Power Boat Club on Friday, 18 December, 2015 with doors opening at 8:00pm.

Local Sunshine Coast solo act Peter Allan is playing as the opening support for this show.  Tickets are on sale now from the Club either in person at Woorim Park, The Esplanade, Golden Beach or by calling 5492 1444 and are $30 pre-sold.

Now – let’s have a look at  …a history of…

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A popular urban myth concerns a group of art students who passed themselves off as a band in order to con the local publican into giving them a gig in exchange for free beer. The deception worked better than intended, and the group came to be known as Mental as Anything. Nearly three decades later, they are still irritating the public with their highly listenable, idiosyncratic brand of garage pop.

A self‐explanatory single to reflect their success, The Nips Are Getting Bigger, rose through the charts as did their fundamental understanding of the old adage that ‘for every action there is a reaction’. Ahead lay a very lengthy pub crawl which only the accomplished could survive.

1977‐ 16th August (the night Elvis died). MENTAL AS ANYTHING (Reg Mombassa, Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza, Wayne ‘Bird’ Delisle and Peter O’Doherty) perform together for the first time at the Cellblock Theatre, East Sydney Tech. Start a year long residency at the Unicorn Hotel, Sydney (using the pool table as their stage).

1978 ‐ Move to the Civic Hotel, Sydney, for another year long residency on a larger stage.

1979 ‐ The Nips Are Getting Bigger and the album Get Wet hit Top 20 in Australia. Nips released in UK, reaches indy Top 40.

1980 ‐ Come Around off the album Espresso Bongo hits Top 20. Release another hit single (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet Dec ’80

1981 ‐ If You Leave Me Can I Come Too? & Too Many Times, two of the year’s biggest singles off the Platinum Album Cats And Dogs. Too Many Times goes to number 19 in Canada.

1982 ‐ Tour USA. Release single I Didn’t Mean To Be Mean (produced by Elvis Costello). First single, Close Again, from the album Creatures Of Leisure. Band tours U.S and Canada.

1983 ‐ Spirit Got Lost & Brain, Brain released off Top 10 album Creatures Of Leisure. Also release cover of Roy Orbison’s Working For The Man. Too Many Times hits Top 20 in Canada as the band tours Canada and USA

‐ First Group Art Exhibition, with works by each of the band members, held at Watters Gallery, Darlinghurst (Sydney). Buyers included Patrick White and Elton John. (White later bequeathed one of Reg’s works to The Art Gallery of NSW)

1984 ‐ Apocalypso (Wiping The Smile Off Santa’s Face) the band’s only Christmas single

1985 ‐ Fundamental As Anything – Platinum Best Selling Australian Album

‐ Live It Up Best Selling Australian Single

‐ singles You’re So Strong( No. 8) / Date With Destiny(No. 18)

‐ multi platinum Greatest Hits Vol I goes to No. 2 on the charts

‐ Live It Up received Apra award for most performed work and Countdown award for best single and song writer.

1986 ‐ Live It Up –no.1 in Scandinavia No.2 in Germany and No.3 in the U.K

‐ Band tours UK, Holland, Spain and Italy (Band wins coveted Telegatto award on Italian TV)

1987 ‐ Release Top 20 album Mouth To Mouth. Singles Let’s Go To Paradise & He’s Just No Good For You also enter Top 20.

‐ Also release a Top 40 cover of Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender

‐ Band tours UK again and then N.E. USA and Canada with Robert Palmer.

1988 ‐ Rock & Roll Music from the film soundtrack YOUNG EINSTEIN reaches No. 6 on the charts

1989 ‐ Another Top 40 Album ‐ Cyclone Raymond with the No.15World Seems Difficult and top 5 hit Rock n Roll music.

1990 ‐ Then deputy Prime Minister, Paul Keating, opens second Mental As Anything Art Exhibition with works by all five Mentals attracting huge critical acclaim. It tours Tamworth at the Country Music Festival, travelling on to Melbourne, Lismore, Campbelltown and back to Sydney.

1993 ‐ Release B Sides and rarities album Chemical Travel

1994 ‐ Bicycle EP Tour ‐ limited copies of the EP given away to loyal fans around the country

‐ Radio picks up Mr Natural off the Bicycle EP CD sampler

‐ 1995 ‐ The album Liar, Liar Pants on Fire enters the top 40, to glowing reviews, and the single Mr Natural hits Top 30. Two other singles are released ‐ Nigel, which instantly becomes a radio hit, and Whole Wide World, a cover originally written and recorded by Reckless Eric.

1996 ‐ Marianne, the final single from Liar, Liar…, is released and the band retreat into the studio to work extensively on their new album., An appearance at the Mountain Rock Festival in New Zealand, followed by the Australian Tour with Chris Isaak and a tour of New Zealand with The Exponents.

1997 – Release Garage LP. Mentals III art exhibition opened in Sydney by ex‐ PM Gough Whitlam. This exhibition then tours Australia continuously till late 2002.

1998 ‐TourUK

1999 ‐ Bass player and songwriter Peter O’Doherty leaves the band to become a full time painter. He goes on to win numerous art prizes and continues to this day to have very successful exhibitions around Australia and abroad. He is replaced by Rockhampton raised David Barraclough who had spent the previous seven years as guitarist for New Zealand pop rock idols The Exponents. He decides to switch to bass for The Mentals.

2000 ‐ Mentals play Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam on Australia day. Soon after, Reg Mombassa leaves the band to concentrate on his art. He is a major designer for the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. He also continues as a major designer for Mambo Surfwear and he continues to have sell‐out exhibitions of his painting, drawing and print making, both in Australia and overseas. Both Peter and Reg will continue to successfully perform and record as Reg and Pete’s Dog Trumpet. Meanwhile back in the Mentals, Reg is replaced on guitar by Murray Cook, a gifted multi‐instrumentalist who has played with Midnight Oil, Warumpi Band, Mixed Relations, Marlene Cummings, Leah Purcell and Lock, Stock and Darryl. Recorded ”Beetroot Stains” album produced by the band, recorded by David Barraclough, mixed by John Haeny, Andrew Beck and Jonathon Burnside.

2001 ‐ Video clip for “Stretchmarks” directed by Mark Hartley.
Walkabout Club Shepherd’s Bush, London; King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut Glasgow, and Whelan’s Pub, Dublin. Short but successful OS tour. More touring across Oz.

2002 ‐ Murray Cook replaced on guitar by Mike Caen in March. Originally a New Zealander, Mike is a most talented guitarist, songwriter and composer (recorded by Darryl Braithwaite, Dragon and Marc Hunter among others) and has played with Dragon, Jenny Morris, Margaret Urlich, Pink Slips and Street Talk. He keeps in the band that bit of Kiwi sensibility from Reg and Pete.“Roadcase” album recorded and Australia toured.

2003 ‐ Release of ”Roadcase”. Recorded and mixed by David Barraclough and the band. Continued touring in Australia. Mentals drop Cranium Management and appoint Grant Bartlett as manager of Mental As Anything touring.

2004 ‐ Continued touring. September ‐ David Twohill aka Wayne de Lisle aka Bird is asked to leave. He is replaced by the charming and talented Robbie Souter, drummer with the Dynamic Hepnotics and then Slim Dusty for the last fifteen years of Slim’s career.

2005 ‐ Release of “Plucked”. An album of acoustic recordings of familiar Mentals tunes for Liberation Blue. This shows Mentals classic repertoire in a thoughtful mood. Produced by the band, mixed by John Haeny (Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat and The Doors). This gives the new line‐up a taste for recording to be realised with the sessions for a new original studio album.

2006, 2007, 2008 ‐ The Mentals head into Electric Avenue Studios in Sydney to lay down tracks for “Tents Up”. This is the most satisfying recording experience for the band in a long time, but it turns out due to legal issues, it will be a long time before it will be released. Most of the tracks are mixed at Rocking Horse Studios, Federal in northern NSW, by Steve James (“Rock n’ Roll Music” producer) and mastered by Aussie Leon Zervos at Stirling Sound, New York. While this is going on, the band is constantly touring Australia with detours to Shanghai and Macau and a short tour of Port Moresby in early 2007.

2009 ‐ Warner Music Australia discover they have Mentals on their roster and plan to relaunch the greatest hits. The revamped collection called “Essential As Anything” contains “Close Again” and Martin Plaza’s solo monster “Concrete n’ Clay”, and as a bonus Monumental 1 & 2 ‐ 37 of the Mentals video clips on DVD for the first time ever. The band’s back catalogue is now made available for digital download on iTunes. The Mentals started out on vinyl records and have ended up on the net. What next?

June 12 ‐ Release of new original album “Tents Up” on Warner Music ‐ the culmination of all the effort, blood, sweat and tears of the past most tempestuous five years in the life of Mental As Anything.

2012 ‐ August ‐ Saw the departure of David the Duck Barraclough and Robbie Souter from the band. Duck had been Mental for eleven and Robbie for eight years. Duck has contributed enormously on bass and vocals, songwriting and also recording the band over the past decade. Robbie joined at a time of great upheaval and succeeded in steadying the ship with his rock solid beat and impeccable touring manners and concern for the welfare of his fellow band members. Unfortunately the heavy touring schedule has taken a physical toll on these stalwarts and the rhythm section has had to be renewed. Joining on bass guitar and vocals is Zoltan Budai, 45, Z,……..Zoltan John Budai,……..Wal,…..

Whichever way you look at it,…. it amounts to a Big, Bouncy, Bottom‐ End, Bass Maniac,…. Wedged under a bunk on a slow boat from Budapest at age 4, Z was finding it hard to escape a looming career as Hungary’s next accordion sensation. Still, there was something about that left hand bass line stuff that was cool as shit and needed further investigation…..Years of feigning interest in squeezebox, piano, and guitar lessons and secretly only hearing bass patterns led to the inevitable purchasing of the first 4 stringer at age 14. Around the same time, he thieved his fathers oldest cassette player and taped himself a bootleg of the Ramones ‘Rock’n’Roll High School, …. which conjured up enough guts and rebellion to start his first band within a year, ……appropriately titled, ‘Bad News’,.. (before the ‘Comic Strip’ was ever conceived) From this point on, all other adolescent meanderings took a backseat to the desire to become a teenage ‘Bass‐Lord’. A diet of Aussie Pub Rock, mixed with a glut of sounds from the Kinks, Mingus, Bootsy Collins and Frank Zappa, all add up to Z being a perfect addition to Mental As Anything,…

The face and the bass may be familiar already, cavorting around the stage for the last 20 years with the lakes of Brian Cadd, Richard Clapton, Russell Morris, Damien Leith, The Coasters (yes, that’s right, Yakety Yak), And now finally Z can get to play his “favourite bass line ever”,….”you know the one”,….. with Mental As Anything.

Joining on drums is Jacob Cook.
Jake has drummed with Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges, internationally recognized RnB vocalist/songwriter Vassy, Robert Susz (Dynamic Hepnotics), Bob Spencer Blues Band, Sirocco and Harper. He has recorded drums with The Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun), Sirocco and Harper’s “Live At The Basement” ABC 2002 and” Way Down Deep Inside” Core Records 2003
Jacob has also recorded drums or produced/ co‐written with the following people:
Vassy: Single “Cover You In Kisses” co‐written and co‐produced ABC/Universal 2004
Vassy: Album “My Affection” co‐write/produce 5 tracks including the single “WannaFly”ABC/Warners 2005.
Vassy: “Loverman” coproduced for 2005 Ministry of Sound compilation. Bluejuice: “The Good Luck Pig” produced three songs including “Unemployed” ( high rotation on JJJ 2004
Bluejuice; “Here We Go Now” remix produced co‐wrote (high rotation JJJ) 2003.
Jacob keeps up a hectic schedule of performance and teaching and the Mentals were lucky to grab him!

Come and hear the band with this new line‐up. You will be pleasantly surprised!

…. take a Mental note:

At one time Mentals held the record for most Top 40 hits in Australia by Australians.

The original video clip for the Mentals’ “Let’s Cook” was exhibited in the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Elvis Costello produced “I Didn’t Mean To Be Mean” for the Mentals.

The Mentals painted and illustrated a tram that operated around Melbourne Australia for several years

One summer in the 1990s Mentals Martin Plaza operated a one‐man weekend oyster bar at a Sydney ocean swimming baths. Doing this while singing every weekend with the band.

Mentals staged three group art exhibitions between 1982 and 1999. The last two of which were opened by future or past Australian Prime Ministers: Paul Keating and Gough Whitlam.

Mental As Anything have sold more records in Germany than Australia.

Mental As Anything had their first overseas hit in 1981 with “Too Many Times” reaching 19 on the Canadian charts.

“Live It Up” was kept out of the number one spot in the UK by two re-releases of old hits being used in TV ads for jeans!