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 that only the accomplished could survive.
In 1977 on 16 August (the night Elvis died), Mental As Anything – Reg Mombassa, Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza, Wayne ‘Bird’ Delisle and Peter O’Doherty – performed together for the first time at the Cellblock Theatre, East Sydney Tech. Things moved on from there.
Everything from world tour and top 40 hits and line-up changes has kept the band busy. In 2006 the Mentals headed 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 that because of legal issues it will not be until June this year that the album will be released. The record is the culmination of all the effort, blood, sweat and tears of the past most tempestuous five years in the life of Mental As Anything.
You can get Mental this weekend at the Cabarita Sports Club on Friday and on Sunday unplugged at the Coolangatta Hotel.