Still a party in the Men­tals rock club

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

THE nips may not be get­ting any big­ger, but the good times keep flow­ing for Men­tal As Any­thing. They were fa­mously paid with beer for their first pub gig – now they’re a hit on the club cir­cuit.

It started in the Cell­block Theatre at East Syd­ney Tech on Au­gust 16, 1977 – the same night Mid­night Oil and what was to be­come INXS made their de­buts.

‘‘Our long­est line-up started the day af­ter Elvis died,’’ orig­i­nal Men­tals mem­ber Greedy Smith says.

‘‘We had a gig that night at the art school, we did a few Elvis songs with a big back­drop of the face of The King.’’

It was the time when pub rock bands be­gan to de­fine the 1970s and ’80s.

‘‘It was fairly ex­cit­ing for us,’’ Smith says. ‘‘There were no TV tal­ent shows . . . if you had a few peo­ple who could play you just went to a pub and asked, ‘Can we play here?’

‘‘Video shops re­ally hadn’t taken off at that stage, there was no in­ter­net, there were a cou­ple of rock shows around. Peo­ple felt re­ally close to it, in rel­a­tively small pubs ev­ery night of the week.

‘‘We played six nights a week for years and years and we’ve slowed to 120 now, which is hardly play­ing, just to keep our mem­o­ries go­ing.’’

The band was formed by Reg Mom­bassa, Martin Plaza, Wayne ‘‘Bird’’ Delisle, Peter O’do­herty and Smith – each an ac­com­plished vis­ual artist in his own right. But only Smith and Plaza re­main on the cir­cuit to­day.

Af­ter a re­cent change to its rhythm sec­tion, Men­tal As Any­thing have ‘‘let the records be mu­si­cal di­rec­tor’’ to help re­cap­ture that orig­i­nal sound.

‘‘It’s up and down, up and down,’’ Smith says of the mu­sic in­dus­try.

‘‘We were con­stantly re­minded of be­com­ing no­bod­ies all the time – any time you do get suc­cess or recog­ni­tion you re­ally do bask in it.

‘‘We’re lucky that we seem to have jumped a bar­rier. I don’t know what that bar­rier is but we seem to have peo­ple who know our songs.’’

Men­tal As Any­thing shows in 2012 are like ‘‘some­body in their mid-50s try­ing to tap into some­thing from their mid-20s,’’ Smith says.

‘‘When you start they say: Don’t go into the clubs cir­cuit be­cause peo­ple don’t take you se­ri­ously,’’ he says.

‘‘When we were younger we thought all the old fo­geys went to the club – but now we’re old. I think you have to bring your own party to these places.’’

Men­tal as Any­thing play Cud­gen Leagues Club to­mor­row and Fish­er­man’s Wharf Tav­ern on Satur­day.

En­dur­ing songs make Men­tal As Any­thing a hit on the club cir­cuit.

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