Mental As Anything

Aussie pop legends with hit singles in Australia from late seventies and right through the eighties and into the nineties.

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 two 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


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 – Tour UK

1999 – Bass Player Peter O’ Dougherty leaves the band after 22 years to concentrate on his painting. He is replaced by the Exponents’ Dave the” Duck” Barraclough.

1998 – Band plays in Vietnam. Reg Mombassa leaves the band after 24 years to concentrate on his painting and his artwork for Mambo surf wear. While touring heavily around Australia. Mentals find the time to record Beetroot Stains.

1999 “Fine line” single is given high rotation on Triple J. Album Beetroot Stains released followed by the Borscht EP. Band plays London, Glasgow and Dublin.

2000 Kiwi Guitarist Mike Caen (Credits include Dragon, Margaret Urlich and Jenny Morris) joins to replace Murray Cook. Late in the year the Roadcase album is released.

2001 – Roadcase tour of Australia. Twenty sixth anniversary show at the Basement in Sydney is recorded for a live DVD release.

2003 – Band records Basemental DVD at the Basement

2004 – Band finishes recording “Songs The Lord Tortoise” it is a toe- tapping collection of some of the classic tunes that have inspired the Band. Includes favourites like Ruby (Don’t take your love to town), Lonesome Train, Hangin Five and many more. To be released in late 2004. Band releases The Basemental DVD in May.

2014 – Mentals sign with Universal Music.
Guitarist Mike Caen leaves to concentrate on a solo album and his Bar Tones band. He is replaced by Martin Cilia who after ten years has just finished the last tour of legendary Australian surf band The Atlantics (with their international hit Bombora). He also played in the eighties with Dave Warner’s From The Suburbs.

2015 – Mentals sign with Demon Music ( part of BBC Worldwide) for U.K. and Europe.
Bassist Zoltan Budai leaves and is replaced by James Gillard who has played with Mondo Rock, Casey Chambers, Lee Kernaghan and Jimmy Barnes. Late in 2015 release of first single for many years “Shake Off Your Sandals”produced by Steve James.

2016 – Release of second single “Goat Tracks In My Sandpit”
Shows in China and NZ amongst busy Australian touring schedule.
Martin Plaza off the road for long periods while dealing with chemotherapy. Mike Caen and Craig Gordon take turns to step back in to cover Martin’s guitar parts. October Martin back in but has to pull out after a month and Tony Adams (ex Riptides and Cyberia) joins to finish the year. While Martin has been out all the shows have been extremely well received and the Mentals are at the top of their game. The audiences have been united in sending healing thoughts to Martin. As of Christmas 2016 he is responding very well to a new chemotherapy treatment and sitting on a fresh batch of songs.


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