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