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Review: Icehouse, James Reyne and Diesel rock Perth’s Red Hill Auditorium

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By Pip Doyle

If Sunday night was anything to go by, I’m pretty sure we have a new national anthem.

Mental As Anything, Diesel, James Reyne and Icehouse – the concert that, when I asked my plus one if he was keen, he couldn’t text me back a bigger-fonted YES.

The venue, Red Hill Auditorium, is just off Toodyay road and, snuggled among the eucalypts with an incredible view out from the bush to the city limits, it looks as though it just occurred there by natural volition.

Mental As Anything play as the sun sets at Red Hill Auditorium. Photo: Pip Doyle

Mental As Anything play as the sun sets at Red Hill Auditorium.
Photo: Pip Doyle

A smart way of getting there is to catch one of the shuttles that leave from a bunch of locations across the metro area – we hopped on the one which left the Rosemount in North Perth.

A note about the auditorium, if you’ve never been…

  • Bring a cushion. You’re going to be sitting on limestone blocks
  • Slip, slop, slap and slip, slop, slap some more – the only places to escape the sun is in the loos or getting out money from the two ATMs (which, by the way, command a $4 charge)
  • Bring something warm to wear for later. When the sun is up, the amphitheatre can be thermonuclear, but when the sun goes down, it can get pretty chilly

I didn’t do any of these things.

As the sun was setting, the Mentals kicked everything off with Too Many Times and didn’t skip a beat in their set, which lasted roughly 45 minutes. The dance floor kept filling during the classic Live It Up and If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?

Greedy Smith and the boys completed their showcase churning out The Nips Are Getting Bigger, which for some punters, would end up being a fair representation of how the night would pan out.

Seriously, where has Diesel been and why do I not have any of his albums? This performance was dead-set phenomenal. I remember turning to my plus-one saying: this is the sort of music that reminds me of a time before music talent shows like Idol, you know, like the days when E Street was on TV.

Man Alive was on-point pub rock, but it was the baseline of All Kinds of Weather that got the attention of many ladies (and some men)… it was pure sex.

The crowd pleasers were Tip of My Tongue and his guitar work on Cry In Shame.

If this were all I got to see on Sunday night, I would have been one satisfied concert-goer.

And then came James Reyne.

First of all, he is 57 and doesn’t look anything over 38.

Second of all, he still sings like a doctor writes prescriptions, I struggle to understand the words.

But who cares, right? It’s JAMES REYNE, the guy who is behind some of the most memorable songs in Australian culture, so much so I reckon his entire back catalogue should be given to newly-minted Aussie citizens.

I didn’t make the dance floor to show my appreciation for Mr Reyne as it was absolutely jam-packed with people getting down to Beautiful People and the Boys Light Up before slowing everything down with more Australian Crawl stalwarts, Reckless and Downhearted.

Songs from his solo career, such as One More River and his most successful single Way Out West (with James Blundell), didn’t make the set list.

So here we were, under the stars on a balmy summer’s Australia Day eve, surrounded by eucalypts when they walk onto the stage.

Icehouse.

As I write, I’m trying to find my notes for the Icehouse set. I don’t have any. This usually means one thing: I was way to busy having a great time instead of having my pen poised.

All I wrote was “Iva sounds just like David Bowie – amazing” and a shorthand scrawl saying “We Can Get Together, dance floor pumping”.

Iva Davies, with his luscious curly mullet of the 80s now replaced with pure silverfox glory, reunited the audience with their youth with Hey Little Girl, Nothing Too Serious, Crazy, My Obsession and the song that is pure unadulterated Icehouse – Electric Blue.

The most moving song of the night was Man Of Colours. It completely shut the place down. Hearing it live was goose-bump inducing and a borderline hypnotic experience.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get more incredible, the entire amphitheatre stood up for Great Southern Land.

Because of which, I now consider it our unofficial national anthem.

The Mentals’ Greedy Smith on why Perth’s live music scene rocks

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The Mentals’ Greedy Smith on why Perth’s live music scene rocks

Sydney Morning Herald
Candice Barnes  Entertainment reporter
Mental As Anything will play at a special Australia Day Eve concert in Perth. Photo: Supplied

Mental As Anything will play at a special Australia Day Eve concert in Perth.
Photo: Supplied

Perth has long fought the Dullsville tag, but it seems our fair city has a rather high-profile champion in Mental As Anything rocker Greedy Smith.

“Perth people will come out to see a band. That’s why we come over so often because it hasn’t lost much of that, it’s a great place for live music. We know, because we play all over the country,” he said.

The band will be back in the west to play alongside a host of iconic Australian musicians for a special Australia Day Eve concert.

While this upcoming trip will only be a whirlwind visit, Smith said he had been singing the city’s praises overseas as early as 1982.

“Of all the cities on Earth, Perth would have had the biggest music scene per capita – it was just enormous in the late 70s and early 80s.

“When I was in [Los Angeles], I pulled out a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald and they were astounded to see a thousand different musical items happening over the weekend in the Sydney area.

“I told them that’s nothing, Perth has twice as much as that, people really used to go out.”

Despite having recently celebrated his 59th birthday, Smith and his fellow “Mentals” still tour continuously.

“The night before we play Perth we’re playing at the Cronulla Leagues Club in Sydney, so we’re getting around,” he said.

“On Australia Day proper we have a show in Dubbo, so we’ll be flying out early in the morning from Perth to Sydney then lugging our gear over to the other terminal and heading up to Dubbo to do a show there. We’re quite busy.

“We love it, it’s what we do. For us it’s a case of finding as many different types of venue as we can, the variety is really good. You get different challenges, but different rewards from playing at the restaurants, or the stadiums.”

Smith said he was given the nickname “Greedy” after “eating 15 pieces of KFC chicken while playing” in the band’s heyday, but that his on-stage antics had changed somewhat over the years.

“A lot of the time I’m boiling copious amounts of water for my tea machine which I have on stage with me, which is a bit of a change,” he laughed.

“I still go through the ritual of looking at my suit and asking myself if it needs an iron. Am I going to do it? I don’t think so.”

The upcoming concert will also feature the likes of Icehouse, James Reyne and Diesel.

“Playing with Icehouse is great. We did our first two records with Regular Records and it was like the birth of a record label, the birth of two bands recording, so we have a big history with Icehouse going way back,” Smith said.

“The thing we get off on now is playing the songs properly. It’s come to the stage where some of the people who are hearing us now never heard us live in the 80s, they only know the record, so we feel obliged to replicate that sound. We get it right most of the time and that gives us pleasure.”

A number of Mental As Anything’s greatest hits are likely to be on the set list, including Live It Up, a song Smith said he wrote in Canada but “took two years to get the song right”.

It succeeded on the Australian charts in the 1980s, but reached an international audience after it featured in the film Crocodile Dundee.

“I was asked to write some other music for the film, there’s an instrumental in there called Sloppy Croc, then just when they were doing the final cut of the movie Paul Hogan liked Live It Up from the radio so they just put it in at the end,” Smith said.

“Before that, none of the [European] radio stations would play it, even though it had been a hit in Australia, but we put a picture of Hoges on the single bag and Bob’s your uncle, they all play it and it’s a hit.”

Mental As Anything will perform a set at the Australia Day Eve Concert at Red Hill Auditorium on 25 January. Tickets are available here.

NQ Music Press – Greedy Talks

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Despite a somewhat dodgy reputation, the 80s pop scene did throw up some enduring acts, and iconic Aussies Mental As Anything merit comparison with the very best emerging from that era. Some of their deceptively bubbly tunes carry much more serious themes than most, yet as the legend goes, they began with no pretensions of being musicians at all, forming a covers act in order to score free beer. I spent a very enjoyable half an hour talking to the very gregarious and articulate Greedy Smith about their upcoming back-to-back dates playing Vertigo.

Given that the Cairns shows run over two successive nights, I assumed a fair content overlap, but asked whether were there any plans for doing anything different from night to night? “I guess we might put a country and western song in! We’ve got a couple of new songs we will probably put through the set, we’ll have a look at that. Writing new music is interesting, well it’s problematic for everybody, from the Rolling Stones to U2, isn’t it? But it’s good, it keeps you honest. We mainly concentrate on the songs that people know off the radio: “If You Leave Me,” “Too Many TImes, ” “Live It Up,” “Romeo And Juliet,” “Rock And Roll Music.” At the moment, Martin and I have acquired a new guitarist. He’s really sharp, he’s a really good acquisition – we’ve got a really hot band at the moment.”

Really sharp is quite an understatement: best known for his time with The Atlantics, Martin Cilia is touted as Australia’s finest surf rock guitarist. The rhythm section touring with originals Greedy and Martin Plaza is also appropriately gifted, and I enquired how the new band members were settled into the Mentals sound, whether they brought anything different? “They bring an incredibly professional attitude! Our bass player played with Richard Clapton a fair bit, he’s a real pro. The drummer, Jacob Cook, was one year old when we had our first hit record and he’s expecting the birth of his fifth child, so it shows how time slips away. Actually we’re saying 60 is the new 30!”

Time does slip away. Last time the Mentals made a public appearance in Cairns was right after Cyclone Yasi smashed the coast in 2011. The gig was on Fitzroy Island and had to be postponed. “Wow, has it been that long? Yeah, I reckon that would be about right – that was a lot of fun, that Fitzroy Island one. Yeah, the show had to be postponed – we got to talk to a lot of the people around there, who copped it on the mainland to the south.”

Everybody loves the Mentals story of starting out as effectively a party covers band and then accidentally evolving into an industry stalwart. I mentioned that we kind of still see that a little bit in Cairns, with the underground scene here. When asked whether he thought that’s still possible in a capital city, with so much opportunity for broad exposure for bands now, Greedy drew an interesting comparison. “That’s an interesting question. The only places you really get to play in capital cities are restaurants, or if you want to make a bit of a racket, it’s the odd pub, and they don’t have much money to pay the band. Or you’re getting run out of town into the big beer barns… But, the only way you can think about it, is not really as an industry. I hear that a lot, “it’s the industry,” but it’s not really an industry at all, it’s opportunism.”

“If you can find somewhere that wants your band to play, if they want to pay you (as a band) then that’s pretty good, but that’s why there are lots of people in duos and playing with .mp3 players, because that fits into the economics of what venues are doing, where people gather. So that’s a hard part of the thing. But if you look at the blues scene in Chicago, a lot of that revolved around the street parties, or there were the clubs. Small clubs, and they weren’t being paid much but there were enough gigs for bands to rotate around. So I think the Australian music scene is now a bit like the Chicago blues scene in the olden days, and from that I think things will flower again. In centres like Cairns it’s probably a pretty accurate reflection of what’s going on everywhere.”

The overriding theme of a Mental As Anything show back in the eighties, and indeed the vibe that the band still brings today, was fun. To me it seems today’s bands seem to be overly serious sometimes – I asked Greedy for his opinion. “Well, there are that bunch who want to have fun in a very seriously professional manner! We got this when we went to America in 82, meeting with record companies. We were talking to other bands, and they were all asking questions like, “do you have a stylist? What’s your career path?” and they sounded like a lot of bands talk today. They have to plot a career path, and they are worrying about their image. I thought at the time, once you start thinking like that you’re dead! But in saying that, after we realised what they were saying, we realised that’s how they HAD to do it… it’s so competitive over there.”

“We were just very lucky, it’s a bit cheeky of me to criticise people having that attitude because we didn’t have any ambition at all! It was someone else’s idea to record us, they started an independent record company and they needed someone to record and they picked us, and it was just luck and everyone liking “The Nips Are Getting Bigger” that started it all off. So we said, “this is easy! We weren’t even trying!” So I can’t really speak from any position of, “this is a plan and we did it!” But it was a hell of a lot easier back then, being in the kind of band we are. Can you imagine us getting on any of the TV talent shows? Or could you see them doing Cold Chisel on those shows (not that they’d play shows like that) Or Midnight Oil?”

Lucky the five-piece may have been, but infectious hooks, high-energy shows, and even a name that would roughly translate into today’s idiom as “Sick as Fuck!” (sorry Greedy and any kids reading!) show a lot of thought and behind-the-scenes work have always gone into success. I said that I think it’s a great reflection of Australian music that having that attitude, that lack of pretense, genuinely doing it for the love of what you are doing, did flower for so many bands. “See, publicans would give you the work, that’s the thing: there was the work, and now there isn’t it makes people a bit more reflective… “Oh, there must be something we’re doing wrong.” And they’re probably not doing anything wrong, probably doing everything right and having fun, but it’s nice to be recognised for it.”

With the light pop treatment given to all their songs, I told Greedy I always liked they way they dealt with potentially dark themes… and how alcoholism seemed to be a recurring theme… “Well it brushes past our band quite closely… haha! I drink a lot of tea on stage these days, a lot cheaper and less damaging than the whisky, which is a habit you pick up in America because the beer doesn’t work!”

“Well we had to pull our heads in a bit, Martin and I, just to keep doing it; I think when Reg and Pete left around the turn of the century one of the reasons was they couldn’t keep living like that. So they turned straight back to art.  Also, you get a lot more reflective about what you do, and when someone new joins the band, you get a chance to return to the original material, the original recordings. We’re a bit more thoughtful on trying to reproduce that, because a lot of the people who come to see us, they’re another generation on, they don’t know us how we played like maniacs in the ’80s, they’re reference is the recordings, so you want to reflect that a bit. For many years we did well over 200 shows a year and things just change, and you have to be vigilant to reference the originals, and when when you bring new people in it’s a great way to do it. We don’t play everything exactly as the record, but it’s a lot closer, and in general it’s worked for us.”

Turning to the modern day Greedy, I asked what he listens to in the car. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to hear names like Nicky Minaj from the pop icon, but again there’s a lot of depth behind the scenes: “I’ve been listening to “The History Of Atlantic Records,” and it’s really interesting to listen to ’47-’52 and ’52-’54. It’s all by black artists, but then everything became hits in rock ‘n’ roll once Elvis came along. It just shows you the origins of a lot of that kind of music, and the different feels, and the way things are. But I listen to all the Burt Bacharach stuff as well, Born Free by Matt Monroe, bloody Roger Whittaker, all that horrifying stuff. Relistening to the Rolling Stones again – I’m a pre-Exile On Main Street guy, and pre-Live At Leeds by The Who!”

Finally, I sought any tips he may be able to offer emergent bands.
“Don’t sign anything! These days there is no need to sign anything!”

“Write your own songs… well, if you enjoy writing your own songs, write your own songs and play them. But play other people’s songs as well too, because if you play other people’s songs that you like and then you introduce your songs into that, then people get a context. It’s a good psychological way to get people on side for the songs you’ve written, if you can couch it with similar songs. So many musicians now are too specialised and all their songs sound the same. We used to do from Perry Como to full on, almost punk stuff, to really old Country and Western, and I think variety is really good because you get you chops up. Plus if you’re playing to people who don’t really care who you are, they’re not interested in the band initially, they’ll be interested in your repertoire, because everybody has got their bloody ipod mentality and they go from one song to another. And if you can play shows like that, well you might get them!”

I reckon he’s dead right. And I’ll be searching the cupboard for a shirt with big lapels ahead of the Vertigo 31st October/1st November shows, to see why basically having fun on stage for over three decades with your mates is rightfully recognised as legendary. Sick as, oops I mean Mental As Anything, play Vertigo Fri 31st and Sat 1st. Shows are absolutely free!

Jon Niehaus

Original article: http://www.nqmusicpress.com/news/interview-news/mental-anythings-greedy-smith-talks-songs-scene-success-stories/

McDonald’s Milk Bar Music Makes Me Mental As Anything!

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By Nicky – August 30, 2011
http://heltersmelter.com/

20110830_Mentals-Current-Promo

And they truly were spoilt. It seems almost impossible to imagine this same scene today, with so few venues offering live music; but more astoundingly to have the likes of The Mentals with their bright poppy sound and stage presence- on a Monday night! Unheard of today with all the rules and regulations regarding noise and so on… And the fact that the pool table was being used as a stage to, ‘free up floor space’ as recorded in some pieces on the Mentals; is it telling us it was a small venue or that there was a large crowd? Would you go and see a band on a Monday night? Or are you too used to hunkering down day after day waiting for the weekend…waiting for the music… And if it feels like this for me, then I cannot even begin to imagine the irritation this must cause both budding and stalwart musicians alike! Greedy concurs,“It is really frustrating for young musicians and to see such talent and energy under-utilised. I think it probably relies on people being a bit DIY with it in terms of playing parties, charity shows and educating the odd publican here and there. Everything is so regulated these days it is so hard to get away with being spontaneous. Maybe its time for rock to return to the milk bars of the early 60s. The McDonalds circuit perhaps?”

Glocalized Jamm’n at McDonald’s; does it come with a free PA? Shaker fries, ahmmm I mean, Mixer too perhaps?  I appreciate the irony in Greedy’s words- it’s exactly this type of quirky humour that makes the Mentals great. Greedy suggests that budding song-writers and bands out there who yearn to achieve the success, longevity and notoriety akin to that which the Mentals have acquired, should embrace a similar approach; “Do it for fun, for ego and for other people. While you make your own luck worrying about it will not make it happen. Create everything and it will be yours to share. Write songs and if it’s not your thing encourage others to write. The cover versions you select create a setting for your originals. It’s about people getting on together and the rest is up to fate.”

20110830_Mental-as-AnythingFor the Mentals, as evidenced through their earlier more formative years, there was a strong presence and connection to ‘creation’ and ‘sharing’, via art and the art scene. This philosophy propagated numerous Art Exhibitions opened by such notorieties as Paul Keating (1992) and Gough Whitlam (1997). Their artworks have also been purchased by prominent entities Elton John and famed Australian artist Patrick White to name but a few. “Being an art school band playing to an art school crowd we took great pains to be as unserious and unarty as possible. Reg was cross-pollinating between his art and music but I think he was the only one. We had old art school connections who contributed greatly to our covers and clips. I think our exhibitions were mainly to distract us from our continually heavy touring schedule at that time.”

Art became more than a distraction for some members, eventually resulting in bass player and songwriter Peter O’Doherty leaving the band to become a full-time artist in 1999, and in 2000 Reg Mombassa following suit. By 2005 a new line up was born and the Mentals released “Plucked”- containing acoustic versions of familiar Mentals tunes. This recording session was the impetus for the band to record a new album, as Greedy explains.“It takes longer to record if you are doing it for yourselves and we were delighted when Warners offered to release Tents Up just after our Essential as Anything greatest hits CD/DVD. We had to sandwich writing, recording, mixing etc… between a reasonably full touring schedule.”

Four years later and there was another change for The Mentals; in 2009 their entire back catalogue became available for digital download on iTunes.“I love itunes. I didn’t understand it for years but now I’m onto it. It’s like going to Grace Bros and buying the latest single for $1 back in 1970. I think it’s great for hit singles and for hunting down your musical past. My gripe is they don’t have “New King Jack” by Sekret Sekret. I don’t know if albums will continue to be as important as they were because of the iTunes format. Vinyl sounds better and I love the 1958 Humber Super Snipe but that doesn’t mean they’re practical today.”

What’s that you ask? What’s a 1958 Humber Super Snipe? Yes it’s a car which was manufactured until 1967, with four-cylinders and a 2.6 litre, 2,651 cc, six-cylinder overhead-valve engine- perhaps not too practical in today’s environment? Are you being sarcastic Mr Smith? What’s with the practicality? It’s not even about vinyl necessarily sounding better either- its just that it has a certain presence that is unlike digital music; it’s really hard to play vinyl in the car, or whilst walking down the street….

During the 1980’s The Mentals also toured quite extensively overseas- visiting the US, Canada, UK, Holland, Spain and Italy; winning the coveted Telegatto Award in Italy. “We had chart success in Canada and touring was easy there but as soon as we crossed the border at Niagara Falls into the US everything changed. It must be the Commonwealth sense of humour. The Yanks didn’t quite get us. We supported Men At Work and Robert Palmer there but never broke through. Europe was different again with the success of Live It Up in the UK Germany and Scandinavia. While we did TV in Spain and Italy we didn’t really translate for the Latin audience though the food was unbelievable.”

And there it is again, the reason for Andrew Greedy’s Smith’s pseudonym raises its head – apparently he has an insatiable appetite. And it appears that this appetite is not limited to food and art and music in general but also to Australian music specifically such as The Dynamic Hypnotics, The Exponents (NZ) and Vtribe“Great music that could only come from this part of the world.”

So come get a piece of Australian New Wave Pop when Mental as Anything party at Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club this Saturday night 3rd of September. If you are too young to remember or be part of that Mentals feeling, then why not come down and get a taste of Australia for yourself; Live it up, why don’t you?

Original article: http://heltersmelter.com/2011/08/30/mental_as_anything/

Rock Club 40: Interview – Greedy Smith – Mental as Anything

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After 32 years in the business, Aussie music icons, Mental As Anything, finally have the recognition from their peers that they so richly deserve with their recent induction into The Aria Hall of Fame. We spoke with frontman, Greedy Smith, about the band’s reaction to the announcement and got a history lesson in the birth of the Australian Pub Rock Scene.

“It was a bit of a shock because we haven’t had one before” Greedy was, of course, talking about the band’s induction into The Aria Hall of Fame. “And when you get asked, it’s a big deal. There was a lot of organisation involved in the weeks leading up to it. It’s a fairly frantic month. I think, by the end of it, we realised that it’s a time for reflection, looking back, and it was a time when we gathered up a couple of our old players: Reg and Pete. (Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty).  It’s the first time we’d played with them together since Ho Chi Minh City on Australia Day in 2000.”greedy2009

Clearly, it was a very special moment for everyone and Greedy smiles as he recalls the night. “My 10 year old son was there, and my wife, and it had a lot of resonance in that way, and in terms of what we’ve done for the last 35 years. It was good because, often, with our work, we tend to play in clubs. We’re not like these other bands; we don’t do all the huge festivals where there’s lots of bands together. We tend to play at a club or a pub or a restaurant or whatever. And so we don’t get to see any of the other bands and singers so it was good to catch up with a few of them.”

Reflecting on the many changes he has seen in the Australian music industry over the years, the singer remarks:   “I think one of the reasons why we’re here, why we’re still playing is because, at the time that we started, the music would be on Top 40 radio and there’d be a few TV shows like Countdown, Sounds… the TV shows would give you the gossip about what bands would do and would feature a lot of overseas but also a lot of Australian music. But also it was a simpler time. Because there wasn’t so much music everywhere else, people really treated their music quite seriously and they were wanting to see bands live. That was the thing to do. So you get to this thing where all these bands were playing and they’d just ask the publican ‘Can we play in your pub?’ and they had all these big rooms left over that were designed for the old ‘6 o’clock swill’.” (Note: For those of you who aren’t painfully aware of this sad part of Australian history, that is when all  pubs would shut at 6 o’clock at night. Hard to believe, but true! ) so they had to sell as much beer as they could in the hour between 5 and 6 so they’ve got these rooms with a big bar down one side – they were big rooms – and then they changed the licensing laws and the place would be basically empty and then bands like us came along and said ‘Can we play here?’ and I think that’s how a lot of the Australian music evolved.”  Aahh  yes… the birth of the Aussie Pub Rock Scene.

Greedy nods. “They (bands) would be playing six or seven nights a week in all these places all around Australia. They were such a great grounding. Everybody needed to play and to put out records. There was a lot of Australian music being played on the radio and record companies were really supporting Australian bands because it was working. I think that things were simpler. I think that we were much more fortunate than  bands that sold a lot more records than us in the 90’s… all the music around then was music in shampoo commercials and films started taking off … we had songs in films but not where films were sold on the songs. That was a new thing. Because of that, when radio stations go around doing surveys and they play the songs that they like to hear, they instantly recognise ours on there and they say ‘Oh yeah’. It reminds them of the time when there wasn’t so much music around. Because there wasn’t so much music around, songs that they did hear then are more special to them.”

So what is happening with Mental As Anything these days?  “The line-up we have now has been fairly solid for about the last 5 years now. It’s exciting looking back but then we’ve got to look forward because we’ve just put out two albums and we’re concentrating really on playing our songs… trying to play as well as we can. For this century, that’s been our guiding light, to play the songs as well as we can. Martin and I particularly feel very grateful for the fact that we can go to lots of places around Australia and people will know our songs. They mightn’t know that we’ve recorded them or whatever, but then they recognise it, and they go ‘Oh, that one!’ They have a recognition for it. And it makes it very easy for a band to do that because we have been playing in the band for all these years and we know what it means for people to identify with music. We don’t want to let that go. We think it would be silly to let that go.  We’re very fortunate in having that. What it means is that people know our music. That’s why we want to keep playing it because people seem to find it ‘special’ and it’s very flattering!”

Aria awards aside, Greedy counts the time he first heard ‘Nips Are Getting Bigger’ on the radio as one of the highlights of his career. “That was a major thing. That was huge. That was a pretty good feeling.”  But there was a downside to fame. “Because we had success on the radio with that song, we couldn’t get any work anymore because people thought we’d be too expensive because we were on the radio, so we had to go from the advantage of being an Arts School band and having this ready made crowd to go back into the pubs and play to people we didn’t even know. So that was an important time that I remember.”

He ponders for a moment before adding “And I remember when ‘Live It Up’ went to No. 3 in the U.K… that was a special moment.  It had been a hit in Australia but nobody was interested over there and in Europe. Then, when Crocodile Dundee came out, our record company over there said ‘Let’s put the poster on the single pack. After that, it was a huge hit. So we were very grateful to have a bit of a go around there.  And ‘Too Many Times’ was a hit in Canada back in 1982. It was an unexpected hit. It was popular with the college kids and after that, because of that, we tried to get on a tour over there and Men At Work kindly put us on their tour and we toured Canada and America in 82 and again in 83. We’ve done a lot of that sort of touring.”

While touring North America gave them some great exposure, Greedy has some reservations about the band’s acceptance in the U.S.A. “America’s too big to swallow. I think our sense of humour’s not quite understood in America.”  He believes, though, that  the Canadians are on the same wavelength as us.  “It’s the Commonwealth sense of humour .. they just know .. they just know it… but then I think that we did learn that, sometimes, it’s good not to be hugely successful because all of the rock and roll excesses that seem to go on and these really long American tours, playing 6 or 7 nights a week and driving long (distances). You can kill yourself! So we’ve never spent more than two and a half months overseas. And we’ve only done that three times that I can remember. The rest of the time we’ve come home to our families and the way the music industry is, it’s just mainly weekend stuff. You might get some work during the week but it’s mainly weekend stuff. It means you can have a bit of a family life and then you pack the bag and get in the car or on the plane on the weekend and I find it’s quite a sustainable lifestyle.”

This year has also seen the release of two new albums for Mental As Anything. “Essential As Anything” is a greatest hits collection and includes a DVD featuring 37 clips of the band. Greedy explains that they had to redo the sound on many of these clips as the quality had deteriorated over the years. “The strange thing about that, I was looking at You Tube because they’ve got the Hall Of Fame stuff on You Tube somewhere and I was looking at our clips and they had one that had ‘Enhanced Sound’ and I thought ‘They’ve already put it on You Tube to replace the other bootleg they’ve got on there.’”  He shrugs his shoulders in feign defeat. “But, what can you do?”

The band’s first studio album for several years, ‘Tents Up’, was also released in June. Why did this album take so long?

“Because we still do about a hundred and thirty shows a year so we’d do it in between until it was right and then one record company we were on was swallowed up by another record company and that’s been happening for years.” Greedy explains, “But also we wanted to make sure it was right because we’re getting a bit older now, getting a bit fussier about promoting songs because people expect to hear the songs that are played on the radio and we’re quite happy to give it to them but it’s good to do some new songs. But what we feel is that, if we feel confident with them that people are going to accept them in some way. That’s a challenge though.”

Last updated by Sharyn Hamey Sep 21, 2009.

Original article: http://rockclub40.ning.com/notes/Interview_-_Greedy_Smith_-_Mental_as_Anything

Cooper ‘in wrong theatre’ for ARIA Hall of Fame

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Cooper ‘in wrong theatre’ for ARIA Hall of Fame

Updated

aliceRock legend Alice Cooper made a special guest appearance at the ARIA Hall Of Fame event in Melbourne on Thursday night.

The singer, who is currently touring Australia, arrived on stage at the start of the show to congratulate the five iconic Australian artists being inducted.

“The ARIA Hall Of Fame show. How embarrassing, I’m in the wrong theatre,” he joked.

“To Mental As Anything, Little Pattie, Kev Carmody, The Dingoes and John Paul Young, congratulations on your induction into another Hall Of Fame that I’m not in.”

The show, at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre, opened with a performance by Mental As Anything who overcame technical problems to perform some of their biggest hits, including Live It Up.

Old Countdown sparring partners – host Molly Meldrum and singer JPY – reunited for the annual event, where Meldrum inducted Young.

Meldrum affectionately described Young as “the thorn in my side”, while Young said he counted the hat-wearing music guru as one of his oldest friends.

“I think, back in the early days, Molly was kind of used to getting his own way and I wouldn’t take it,” Young told AAP.

“So I used to stand my ground and throw the insults back.”

Young said he had mixed emotions about being inducted into the Hall Of Fame and looking back on his 37-year career.

“I’m nervous… and emotional,” he said.

“It’s pretty mind-blowing stuff.”

Meldrum said the Hall Of Fame event was a very special one on the Australian music calendar.

“It started in America with the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and became such a major thing,” he told AAP.

“I always felt that artists in Australia, as they grew older, were never really recognised for what they were worth.

“Since this started, I treat it as just as important – if not more important, sometimes – than the ARIA Awards.”

The show will be broadcast on VH1 on Friday August 28 at 8:30pm AEST, followed by an encore airing on the Nine Network on Saturday August 29 at 2:00pm.

AAP

Original article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-08-20/alice-cooper/1408044

Chuffed as anything to be in ARIA’s Hall of Fame

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Chuffed as anything to be in ARIA’s Hall of Fame

Mental as Anything: (front row, from left) Chris O'Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa), Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza and Peter O'Doherty. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Mental as Anything: (front row, from left) Chris O’Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa), Greedy Smith, Martin Plaza and Peter O’Doherty.
Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Patrick Donovan
August 27, 2009

IN RECENT years, there has been a slight bias in the ARIA Hall of Fame towards unheralded artists and rock bands that write “serious” songs.

In the hallowed hall, it seemed, there wasn’t room for a band with a name as silly as Mental as Anything, led by a singer called Greedy Smith who wrote novelty songs and made quirky video clips. But that would be overlooking the band’s knack of writing lots of catchy tunes — it is second only to INXS on the list of the most hits — and enduring popularity.

Three decades after its first hit The Nips Are Getting Bigger, those endearing attributes will finally be acknowledged tonight at the Forum Theatre when the band is inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame alongside the Dingoes, Kev Carmody, Little Pattie and John Paul Young.

“Lightweight pop music is supposed to be here today and gone tomorrow, so it’s nice that we have been remembered,” said Greedy Smith.

The band proved it had lost none of its chemistry when it played with the O’Doherty brothers (Chris, aka Reg Mombassa, and Peter) for the first time in 10 years at rehearsal yesterday, powering through songs that are etched into Australia’s psyche: The Nips Are Getting Bigger, If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too and Live it Up.

Certainly the band never expected to be taken too seriously when it started out as an art-school party band in 1976.

“We just started for a laugh. To meet girls and get free drinks,” says Martin Plaza.

Mental as Anything is used to being the odd guy out in a country with a preference for loud guitars and damaged frontmen. Its recent album Tents Up opens with a hilarious song about being the odd band out at a blues festival where “everyone stinks of patchoulia [sic]”.

“People were a bit confused by us,” said Peter O’Doherty. “We straddled different genres — we weren’t rock or lightweight pop. We were like bowerbirds with four songwriters — it was an eclectic mix.”

From tomorrow, the Arts Centre will display memorabilia from this year’s inductees.

Patrick Donovan is a Hall of Fame committee member.

Original article: http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/music/chuffed-as-anything-to-be-in-arias-hall-of-fame/2009/08/27/1251001975371.html

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