Mental As Anything: Album by Album

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by StefanWq, Aug 10, 2021.

  1. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    5 Track EP

    From my point of view as a fan in Sweden, with all Mental As Anything concerts taking place on the other side of the planet, it had been a long time of no new music by the band when the “Shake Off Your Sandals” single was released in 2015. “Goat Tracks In My Sandpit” followed in 2016 (titled just “Goat Tracks” on the front of that single’s cover but using the full title on the back of the sleeve). Both were great, but it also felt a bit meager that there had been just two new songs released in the seven years which by that time had passed since the excellent Tents Up album. It was therefore great news when 5 Track EP was released in 2017, with five songs, half an album, giving the tantalizing hope that a full length studio album of new songs might follow. Mental As Anything had yet another new line-up, but based on the EP it was a superb line-up with stellar musicians and both Martin Plaza and Greedy Smith also brought A grade songs to the new EP.

    Dance With You
    I love the great energy of this song. It has a strong melody, very catchy and the song has a kind of euphoric determined feel. Interesting lyrics, with the narrator sounding head over heels in love but also feeling the woman’s over-protective brothers are getting in the way. As with the later track “The Luckiest Player” I get vivid images of a dance hall of the early ‘60s lyrically, but the music sounds very fresh and contemporary. In particular, the bass groove by James Gillard adds a lot of intensity to the music. Brilliant track!

    Goat Tracks In My Sandpit
    I find this very catchy and immediate. The lyrics, which do mention an old Mental As Anything album title, are quite funny too. If I am not mistaken, The Sandpit is the name of Martin Plaza’s home studio. Great guitar playing on this song and the bluesy harmonica adds a lot of colour. There’s also a banjo thrown in here and there. Almost needless to say, Martin’s singing is excellent, and this song should have been a major hit.

    The Luckiest Player
    A very romantic song with a harmonious, happy feel. In a way it sounds like a song that comes straight from dance halls of the early ‘60s but done with a contemporary production. Greedy sounds so happy singing this and the band truly gels, playing with great empathy. I really like the doo-wop-ish backing vocals and Martin Cilia’s guitar solo which adds to the retro-but-new atmosphere of the song. The animated video clip is very well done too, really nice.

    Shake Off Your Sandals
    This was a very welcome single when it was released in 2015, the first new Mentals song in 6 years. I like how the lyrics portray the bliss of being in the early days of a happy relationship and the intense emotions. The outside world barely exists and the couple are devoted to each other. It’s interesting to listen to the lyrics of Greedy’s three songs on this EP. He has written several songs in the past on the themes of jealousy and unrequited love, but on this EP all of his songs are about a happy relationship. The title itself says a lot, adding a real warm summer’s day feel to the song, both literally and metaphorically. The backing track is quite complex, with lots of details and in particular the drumming is superb, adding some musical drama and making the song very special.

    That Girl
    I like the blend in this song of quite heavy blues-ish rock, a ‘60s pop feel while also sounding contemporary and Martin’s excellent singing. He has always been a top notch singer and here he managed to surpass himself, again. As this EP, released some 8 years after Tents Up, features “only” two tracks by Martin yet both showcase his songwriting qualities, I wonder how many unreleased songs he has written since 2009 and if we might get to hear them some day. Here’s hoping!

    As it turned out, a planned recording of a new full length album in 2020 did not happen due to the sad and untimely loss of Greedy Smith. The EP gives a glimpse of what might have been and it is wonderful to know that Mental As Anything were still going strong, with top quality songwriting and musicianship more than four decades into their career (even if they perhaps could have come up with a more imaginative and creative title for the EP…).
    HitAndRun, drewrclv9 and KangaMom like this.
  2. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Interview with Martin Cilia - part 1

    Martin Cilia, who joined Mental As Anything in January 2014, has been kind enough to take the time to do an email interview for this forum, about his time as a member and also about his life in music before and after Mental As Anything. Thank you very much Martin! !

    I have divided the interview into two parts, with part 2 being about Martin's story of going to China with Mental As Anything in 2016.


    You joined Mental As Anything in January 2014. How did that opportunity arise and what was it like joining the group 37+ years into their history? Were you familiar with the group's repertoire before joining?
    In 2013 I toured Europe with The Atlantics and then took my solo band on a tour of California. Once I came back to Australia we (The Atlantics) got together and decided to retire from playing live. We’d had a good run and decided to go out while the band was still playing well. When I arrived home from that meeting there was a message waiting for me - “Mentals are looking for you”. They needed a suitable guitarist and I was available. I already knew some of the Mentals guys when I joined the band as we had crossed paths at gigs over the years.

    What was your first gig and tour with Mental As Anything like?
    My first gig with Mental As Anything was 26th January 2014 (Australia Day). It was an outdoor concert on the beach with around 10,000 people. About a week before that show I called up Greedy Smith and asked when were we going to rehearse, his reply was “we don't need to rehearse, I’ve seen you play, see you at the gig”. They sent me a tape of their live set and I learnt that. There wasn’t even a sound check, just straight into the first song. The band never used a set list, but I wrote one out for myself for the first gig. About 5 songs in it blew away down the beach!

    From your point of view as a musician, which Mental As Anything songs did you enjoy playing the most?
    There weren’t any favourites really, all the songs are good. My favourites would change from time to time. Although I did enjoy "Mr Natural", "If You Leave Me Can I Come Too" and towards the end a newer song called “We Get To Kiss” which was the last song Mentals recorded.

    In 2015, a year after you joined, the group released the single "Shake Off Your Sandals" which was the first record with new material since the album "Tents Up" in 2009. The single was followed by "Goat Tracks In My Sandpit" in 2016 and the 5 Track EP in 2017. What was it like recording new material with the group and how did the audiences respond to these new songs?
    Mentals brought in legendary producer Steve James (Screaming Jets, Silverchair, Monty Python) in for those sessions which worked out well. He had produced albums for them previously, so he really understood the band. He was very easy to work with.

    Generally whoever wrote the song knew how they wanted it to sound and the band would try and make that happen. Most of us had been session muscians at one time or another, so it was easy for us to pick up what we were given. Occasionally the songs had been played in the live set for a while, so we were familiar with them and could play them together as a band.

    The audience pretty much accepted the new songs positively. As Mentals have so many songs and hits to choose from it was always hard fitting in newer songs but it seemed to work when we did. If they didn't work they would quietly drop out of the set and something else would replace them.

    In Debbie Kruger's very interesting book Songwriters speak. Conversations about creating music from 2004, there are interviews with both Martin Plaza and Greedy Smith. In the book, Greedy was quoted as saying that Martin Plaza and Reg Mombassa "write like they paint. They paint and they write songs all the time." I am aware that Martin Plaza has had health issues in recent years, but has he still been writing new songs during this time?
    Greedy’s and Martin Plazas writing styles were poles apart. Greedy’s demos were detailed, the guitar solo in Live it Up was written by Greedy and played on a clavinet for his original demo. He went into the studio with the full song mapped out. Martin Plaza's demos were recorded on a four track cassette with just the basics and he'd work on them in the studio with the band.

    Martin Plaza continues to paint and was writing until the band retired. The cover of the Goat Tracks single is one of his paintings.

    On the live album At Play there is another new song, "We Get To Kiss", co-written by you and Greedy. It is a really good song, what was co-writing with Greedy like?
    “We Get To Kiss” came out well. The reason for that song was that I noticed there was a spot in out set that need something a bit different and fun. We had tried and rejected a lot of songs for that part. I came up with the concept and played it to Greedy and he put the words down. It was all done quite quickly. Audiences responded to it right away and would always get up and dance when we played it.

    On your web page, there is an interview you did for J Dubber Music Promotion and it says that there were plans for Mental As Anything to record a new album. Are there any unreleased studio recordings from your time with the group that you think may get released one day?
    At the time of Greedy’s passing he had a number of songs that him and myself were going to work on in preparation for a new Mentals album. That was scheduled for the following year. Nothing was ever professionally recorded. That was going to happen in 2020. Because we hadn't started it's unlikely that anything will ever be released from it.

    Listening to the At Play album, it is obvious to me that this line-up had a great musical chemistry. Do you think you will work together again with Craig Gordon, Peter Gray and Jacob Cook?
    Yes that was a good lineup. We had many road hours under our belt. Jacob Cook plays drums on my solo recordings and I occasionally do gigs with Jake, Peter and Craig. We all keep in touch still. Because of our different backgrounds we've done a lot of different types of gigs together outside Mentals, from 3 piece Jazz combos to full orchestra shows. I like to get together and work with them when I can.

    What is your favourite memory from your time with Mental As Anything?
    There are many but in the last year of the band things were starting to gain momentum again, we were getting new audiences coming out to see us and playing some great festivals. The future was looking very bright. One of the best gigs I remember was the Meredith Music Festival in Victoria. Meredith is a small town in Victoria and the festival is held annualy on a farm. It gets incredibly hot and dusty out there. We were on at the end of the afternoon. There's only one stage, so the full crowd was there - about 15,000 people. It just went off. Everyone knew all the words. At the end we got "the boot" - if the crowd likes you they take off a shoe and hold it up. The crowd was a sea of shoes by the end. We felt very loved.

    SECTION 2: Your musical past, including Dave Warner From The Suburbs and The Atlantics

    How did your interest in music start and was there any particular guitarist that inspired you when you began playing?
    The Shadows with Hank Marvin and The Beatles were my first influences. My father was an electronics tech in England in the 50s and 60s and had a reel to reel tape recorder. He was able to record the audio from TV shows like the London Palladium and other music shows so we had that music playing around the house, The Shadows and The Beatles were very popular at that time.

    One of the first songs I played onstage was Apache. I was about 14 at the time.

    I always liked George Harrison's playing. It was a big influence, but Hank Marvin was probably the main one.

    You were born in the U.K. and moved to Perth when you were about 9 years old. What was the music scene in Perth like when you started getting interested in music?
    The live music scene in Perth was very healthy and the standard of Perth musicians was high. There were some great bands around. Most played in the pubs/hotels and I was too young to get in but still managed to see a few. As I got older and started playing gigs there were so many venues with live bands. There were no shortage of gigs to play. It was a great time for music.

    You had been a member of several groups when you joined Dave Warner From The Suburbs in 1988. For those outside Australia who may not be aware of who they are, how would you describe this group?
    Dave Warners from the Suburbs is a very Australian band with many songs using local place names, terminologies and observations that are particularly Australian but upon deeper listening they’re probably quite universal. The band plays many musical styles but is probably known for its punk/rock era. Dave is known as the "Suburban Boy", the normal guy that everyone can relate to. He's known for monologues that are incorporated into his songs. If he gets inspired a song can go for 2-3 times longer.

    One of his songs "Mug's Game" incorporates an ongoing story about characters Derek, Sandra & Zongo. These have been built on since the song came out in the 70s. He never tells us what he's going to say, so it's just as entertaining for us on stage to find out what they've been up to since the last gig.

    You produced Dave Warner's album Surplus & Dearth and played nearly all the instruments on it. Was this the first album that you produced and in your opinion, what makes a good producer?
    I had produced other things before, but this was probably the first album I had total control over. A producers role can vary a lot, but with this album I was working with a limited budget and the resources we had at hand. I had to realise the potential of the songs and present them in their best light. Starting with the basics, song key, tempo, structure, arrangement. Some of the best parts of it came from the restrictions we had. If a guitar solo was needed we didn't really have time to go back and redo it, so it had to be right first time. I think this is one of my favourites of Dave's albums.

    In 1999 you joined the surf rock group The Atlantics, a group with a very long history. That must have been an incredible opportunity for both you and them. In your opinion, what makes The Atlantics stand out as a group?
    In the late 50s and early 60s Australia was very isolated from the rest of the world. The Atlantics are a very individual sounding group. The band is a power force. The band songwriting style was also very different to, say, the British or American styles but did contain elements of them. There weren't many groups doing this style of music, and especially writing their own material, at this point in time. They remain one of the only instrumental groups in Australia to make it to number one with their own song (locally and internationally).

    Joining the group was a great experience. I had started to write songs in that style, so when I got together and started playing with them it felt like we had known each other for years. It was an honour for them to record my songs and play them live.

    Apart from The Atlantics, which surf rock groups are your favourites?
    Not all necessarily ‘surf’ The Shadows, Dick Dale and some of the later groups like The Madeira, Polo Del Mar & Slacktone. The Insect Surfers are also a really fun band that played at some festivals with us in Europe and America.

    The Atlantics toured Europe in 2013. What did you think of touring Europe and are there any differences between Australian and European audiences?
    The distance between places is far greater in Australia than in Europe and the population is also larger in Europe, so travel was considerably different.
    I was surprised as to how familiar European audiences were with The Atlantics. They seemed to know our more recent songs as well as the older songs.
    The Atlantics were very well received. Some of the bands that supported us even played some of my songs. It's quite someting to travel to the other side of the world and watch a band playing something you wrote.

    The other thing to get used to was how they approached things. We played a festival in Finland and didn't go onstage until was after midnight, because it was still light out. It was an odd thing to get used to. Gigs in Sydney generally start much earlier in the evening.

    SECTION 3: Your solo work

    In 2007, you released your first solo album Revenge of the Surf Guitar. What inspired you to release a solo album and what do you think of this album now?
    The record company ‘Bombora Creative’ approached me and asked “what would it take to get a solo album from you?” And it went from there. The Atlantics had no plans to record at the time, so I thought it would be good to do.

    I wanted it to sound different to my Atlantics approach so I chose a different guitar and amp for the project. I played a Fender Jaguar guitar as opposed to my regular Fender Stratocaster guitar. The Jaguar has a different scale length and sounds different to the Stratocaster. I also used a Fender Vibroverb amp instead of my usual Vox Amps. It was a 2 guitar, bass and drums album, like a 4 piece band would play live.

    The album was recorded and mixed very quickly over just a few days in Adelaide, South Australia. I wanted it to sound as live as possible even though I played all the guitars on it. I think the Revenge of the Surf Guitar album stands up well today and still sounds fresh.

    When you write music for your solo albums, do you always have a specific guitar in mind that you will use for the recording of a particular song? Which is your favourite guitar to play?
    When I write a song I try and get the melody to be strong first and then think about the sound needed for the recording. My go-to guitar is my white 1961 Fender Stratocaster that I’ve had for years (and was my main guitar with The Atlantics), but I occasionally play others. If it’s a full on rock song I might play my 1960 Les Paul Jnr or one of my other old Gibsons. If I need a strong sound I'll use my Gibson Firebird.

    Looking at the discography on your web page, it is obvious you have played on many, many albums by other artists. What is this kind of session work like, does the artists have very clear visions of what they want you to play or do you feel you have a lot of creative freedom as a musician?
    Yes, I’ve played on many varied recordings as a ‘hired hand’. About half the time they have an idea of what they might require, other times I’m there to save their song as it’s not sounding good and I can do something to make it work.

    On occasion I’ve replaced other players parts, as when it came to mixing the track they’ve realised that the playing was not up to standard and wasn’t working in the mix. This can be a bit sensitive as the producer or band leader generally don’t want the player to know that they’ve been replaced.

    On your solo album Espresso Martino from 2018 there is a cover of The Shadows' "The Rise and Fall of Flingle Blunt" which features Mental As Anything. What was it like having them play on your solo album, was it any different to working with them as a member of Mental As Anything playing Mentals' songs?
    We had been playing "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt" live in our set for some time. So when it came to recording we just had to play it and press record. The Shadows and this song in particular were a huge early influence for me. It was one of the things I liked about Mentals before I even joined. I knew if they liked and played this song they were the right band for me.

    A few years ago when we were playing a gig in Perth, Western Australia, Hank Marvin (the guitarist from the Shadows) was in the front row. We played this song. After the show he came backstage and we had a good chat about how they originally wrote and recorded it. It's not every day you get to play one of your favourite songs for someone who has made such an impact on your life. It was quite a thrill.

    You have just released a new solo album, Everest. For those who have not heard it yet, what's it like?
    The Everest album is more rocky and in some cases heavier than my usual albums, with some funky moments, but it still has songs with strong melodies. It’s certainly not in the surf guitar style. Even so, it's been picked up by a lot of the surf rock and instrumental radio shows across the world. It's good to know they like my music even when it's not so heavily surf influenced. Just this week I found out that the English instrumental magazine Pipeline named it as their Number 1 Editor's pick for 2021.

    For Mental As Anything fans wishing to explore your solo work, which album(s) do you recommend them to check out first?
    All of them, haha. But probably my first solo album Revenge of the Surf Guitar, then Going to Kaleponi and the latest album Everest. Also Surfersaurus as there are a few familiar tunes on there that people may recognise.

    Obviously, the pandemic has affected the whole world, but it must be really tough for all musicians who haven't had the opportunities to play live that much, if at all, in the last 18 months. What are your musical plans when touring becomes possible again? (It'd be great if you were to come to Sweden for a gig, by the way!)
    While we were in lockdown I wrote the score for a short film called "Run, Girl Run" that has been getting some awards at festivals around the world. The director is from New York, so we've only met over video calls. That was an interesting avenue to pursue while I couldn't be out playing.

    I would love to tour overseas again but I suspect that is still a few years away. I’ve just started playing guitar with another legendary Australian band called The Radiators. The band have been on the road almost as much as Mentals, so we became friends, always meeting up at airports and backstage at gigs. They're usually busy touring around Australia and hopefully soon we’ll be able to travel interstate for shows. I'm looking forward to getting back out on the road again.

    What do you think are your greatest strengths as a musician, writer and producer?
    I have a good sense of melody and arrangements and can listen to everyone’s performance objectivity when required. As a guitarist, I know my instrument, have good sounds and can play many styles if required, plus I have a wealth of experience and I'm up for any challenge.

    (bonus questions)

    In 2020, you were part of the group North Melbourne Surf Club together with guitarist Tony Naylor, bassist James Gillard and drummer Geoff Cox, and recorded an album which was produced by former Little River Band guitarist David Briggs. From my point of view as a listener, it sounds like you all had a great time recording this album. Will North Melbourne Surf Club more albums or was this a one-off group?
    The North Melbourne Surf Club came out of David Briggs Production Workshop in North Melbourne, Australia. After finishing a project together, David Briggs and I got to chatting. I mentioned to David that I’d like to meet Tony Naylor. We’d communicated a bit online, but I wanted to meet him in person, as I’d always liked his guitar playing. So David, Tony and I got together one day at the studio. After a couple of glasses of red wine it was decided we should record an instrumental guitar album together.

    We recruited old friends, Geoff Cox to play drums and James Gillard on the bass guitar with David producing. Joe Camilleri guests on sax on Souled Out.

    The band’s name is a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that North Melbourne is nowhere near a beach and is a couple of hours drive from the nearest Australian surf break. This didn’t stop us from making great surf music!

    The album was recorded the ‘old’ way, where the band played live together in one room, 10am – 6pm over three days. In fact, there was possibly more time spent sharing stories of the road than actual recording!

    There are no plans for a second album but, never say never.

    On your new solo album Everest there is a beautiful tribute to Greedy called "Farewell (Mr Smith)". Can you say (write) a few words about the writing and the recording of this song?
    The thing is, in life, you often don't notice the journey as it’s happening. The song "Farewell (Mr Smith)" was written in tribute to my band mate and friend, Greedy Smith, who passed away December 2019. He was a great friend and an enormously talented, larger than life figure.

    This song takes you on a journey.

    If you ever had a conversation with Greedy when he was in full flight you'd find that it wasn't a single idea, it was really 4 or 5 things at once. You'd go away with your head spinning and have to unravel the threads to find your way back to the original idea and then everything that followed from there.

    Listen to the song, go back to the beginning and you’ll experience the journey.


    Part 2 of the Martin Cilia interview will follow in a separate post.
  3. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Interview with Martin Cilia, part 2: Mental As Anything in China 2016

    In this second part of the email interview, Martin Cilia tells the story of Mental As Anything's visit to China in 2016. Thank you very much Martin for sharing this story!


    With Mental As Anything you played in China in 2016. What was that experience like from your point of view?
    Four plane flights, one gig. I’d never been to China before so I was keen to see how things worked there.

    Things were a bit weird even before we got there. An "interview" was published in The Bejinger Newspaper, with quotes from "Mental". We talked amongst ourselves, and even asked management, and it turned out no one had spoken to the paper. It was entirely made up. Greedy was a bit upset that the interview was described as "terse", because that's not at all like the band. (Here's the article if you want to read it: Mental As Anything to Rock Australia and New Zealand Ball January 23 )

    When I found out that a gig in Beijing, China was in the works I thought, how can I play this gig without taking any music gear at all, because it was going to be too hard to take our own gear with us. No guitar, pedals, leads, straps, nothing. Travel only with carry on luggage and no music gear at all.

    My main concern was finding a Fender Stratocaster that played and stayed in tune. I figured if I spent a bit of time setting it up it would get me through the gig. I requested a vintage style Fender Stratocaster with three single coil pickups and no modifications.

    What turned up from the Chinese hire company was a Mexican made guitar with a single coil size humbucker pickup in the treble position. My first thought was “who’s got a soldiering iron?“ Anyway, this was not to happen, no soldiering iron plus it was a hire instrument and the Chinese crew might get a bit edgy if they saw the guitar in bits. The vibrato arm was also missing. A crew member was sent off to obtain one, which he did. This arm needed some ‘bending’ to make it useable.

    Next, the amplifier. With the band we asked for three guitar amps but only need two. That was our insurance policy – thinking there’s a good chance of getting 2 out of the 3 to work OK. Lucky we did. My first choice was a Vox AC30 but when I played it it didn’t sound good. No headroom and I couldn’t get a clean sound no matter what I did. On to the back up amp – a Fender Twin blackface reissue. This amp sounded great straight away so I used that.

    I arrived at soundcheck to find several Chinese crew setting up the guitar rig, pedals included. I don’t think I could have gotten a worse sound out of the equipment that they had set up, even if I tried really hard.

    I had to re-arrange the order of the pedals and adjust the settings, after a few minutes I had a rough handle on the pedals (I’ve never seen these pedals before) we had a very limited time to sound check, so had to be fast. Also the level control on the overdrive pedal was broken and needed a screwdriver to adjust it – not very convenient.

    We opened our set with “Too Many Times” and the crowd were with us from the first note, dancing and singing along. The audience was made up of mainly Australians, New Zealanders and Chinese people who had lived in Australia and returned to China.

    All in all a fun night was had. The crowd were still partying as we headed back to our rooms to catch a few hours sleep before heading to the airport at some ungodly hour.

  4. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    At Martin Cilia's comprehensive web page (Home - Martin Cilia - Australia's Premier Surf Rock Guitarist ), he has his own blog and in 2016 there were three blog posts, with several photos, about the trip to China with Mental As Anything.

    Part 1: China, part 1 - Martin Cilia - Australia's Premier Surf Rock Guitarist

    Part 2: China, Part 2 - the guitar - Martin Cilia - Australia's Premier Surf Rock Guitarist

    Part 3: China, Part 3 - the gig - Martin Cilia - Australia's Premier Surf Rock Guitarist
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  5. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    5 Track EP
    I want to first up apologize for my absence from the thread. Bring back in Australia for the last 3 weeks pretty much meant that it was difficult to do some intensive listening of albums.
    In any case I’m now waiting for a plane so plenty of time to listen to this EP!
    Dance with Me
    I do live the kind of surf guitar vibe on this track and the dramatic lean of the chorus. This is a very good Greedy song and a nice nostalgic take on romance.
    Goat Tracks in My Sandpit
    I do really like this blues feel song by Martin. Whimsical and it sounds like it was live take off a jam. The lyrics are quite funny. I wonder if this is some allusion to his recording studio?
    The Luckiest Player
    I think this is a pleasant song but it veers dangerously into schmaltz. I think it more or less stays on the right side of the line but it bothers me a little. And yet it is very catchy…
    Shake off your Sandals
    This is a lovely song. I think the lyrics paint a fantastic picture of those heady days of romance. And yet it’s really very sweet (as compared to say lustful). This is really well sung by Greedy and I really like that middle section of lyrics. It seems to be about reacquainting with a crush.
    That Girl
    This is a bit of a highlight on the EP. Just a great feel to the entire song. Love the guitars on this track and it just has a kind of lazy blues/rock feel which I really like. Great vocal by Martin.

    I do think this is a good set of songs and it’s a shame that a full length album didn’t appear before Greedy’s untimely death.
    In many ways I think this is a return to a more typical Mental as Anything sound. In particular, there’s a real joy to the whole album. There’s a bit of a retro feel to the entire album but I can’t quite pinpoint the era. I want to say mid 80s but that’s not quite right and of course it’s balanced out by the blues flavored songs written by Martin.
    I’ve only hastily skimmed the intro post for this EP but I like the guitar work on this release - there’s a bit of clarity to the sound which definitely recalls surf guitar for me (that would be Martin Cilia’s influence I guess).

    I’m really glad to listen to this EP. I think there are 4 solid tracks here and I’d say they fit nicely into the MAA canon.

    (apologies for any formatting/typos. Stupidly trying to write an entire long post on a phone…)
  6. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    This is a very cute video clip. Who did the drawings and who came up with the concept? It really suits the song and it’s unique.
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  7. drewrclv9

    drewrclv9 Forum Resident

    Dance With You
    This is a very solid little new wave track. It actually sounds like what the band may have been doing in 1983 had they followed the likes of Duran Duran or The Fixx.

    Goat Tracks in My Sandpit
    Not my favorite style of music; it's all a little too similar sounding. Martin sounds very good though, and this is a very clever track.

    The Luckiest Player
    Pretty good track. This is very late 80's Mentals. Kind of cliche lyrics at times, but the backing track and chorus are very good.

    Shake Off Your Sandals
    This is my least favorite track so far. Not that it's bad per se, but it lacks any interesting pieces and has a Motown sound that doesn't particularly excite me in any way.

    That Girl
    This is quite good. Maybe a little repetitive, but the sound Martin's got going on here is great. I hope he isn't done making music just yet!

    Overall this is a solid collection of tracks, though it does lack a big standout song. Greedy's tracks are mostly good here, and I'm glad he was able to put out a few more solid tracks before he passed. Overall I'd give this a 3.7/5, with "Dance With You" and "That Girl" being the highlights.
    KangaMom, HitAndRun and StefanWq like this.
  8. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Stefan, that was a great interview with Martin Cilia. What an interesting career he has had. And good to read that he still is making music and heading out on the road with The Radiators (another blast from my teen days!). I'll have to check out those recommended solo albums because I quite like surf guitar music...

    Thanks for setting up the interview and for being so skilled in getting Martin to open up about his influences and experience.
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  9. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    5 Track EP

    I'm not sure I've covered every song posted on this thread recently. I'm going to go over 5 Track EP now, and hopefully catch up over time for the other tracks. EDIT: Though, I wrote that earlier in the week and now there is less time :( :( :(

    Here are the songs.

    Dance With You

    I enjoyed the more rocky MAA on the two albums with Duck and Mike. This is Greedy definitely getting into that mode. With suitable and interesting lyrics to match the music. Great song, and very enjoyable. Sung well by Greedy and arranged well by the band. I may be a bit lost by the new members and like the songwriting credits on this EP I'm focussing in on Greedy and Martin. But, the band still sounds instrumentally strong and this song has a good arrangement.

    Goat Tracks in My Sandpit

    I was initially a bit confused as I thought we had heard this song before. It was released as a single earlier, but have we discussed it? In any case, it's another very good song, arranged well by the band, and with a welcome infusion of harmonica.

    The 'nonsense' vocalisations by Martin work well. Sometimes when I hear things like that I guess that they were planned to be replaced by horns, but I like them as they are/.

    I'm not sure I've followed the lyrics correctly, but I wonder if Martin is somehow commenting on other band members making a mess of his studio.

    The Luckiest Player

    Even with just five songs, we're getting a good range of styles here. This sounds like another song which is 50s influenced with an updated arrangement. Bits of the song sound a bit familiar - I'm reminded of Madness's 'It Must Be Love' in parts. But, there's enough ingredients in the pot here that the result is good. I like the line about his romantic partner squeezing him like a lemon until the juice ran on the floor. There is quite a lot of drama in the arrangement and performance, with perhaps a Phil Spectorish touch in places.

    Shake Off Your Sandals

    Another Greedy song. Interesting to see him doing the majority of the songs here. This song, like The Luckiest Player, seems to include a number of sonic references to other songs in the arrangement. I'm not sure which songs are being referenced, but small bits of the riffs sound familiar. This is a similar style to The Luckiest Player, and sounds a bit like it's referencing Motown girl band songs in parts. The middle 8 initially doesn't sound impressive until the second line when that descending guitar line comes in. I think that throughout all MAA eras and with many MAA guitarists, there have been a lot of interesting guitar lines and riffs really adding to songs. This is one such example.

    That Girl

    We end with the second Martin song. This starts off with a bluesy rock vibe that contrasts nicely with the Greedy songs we've just had since Goat Tracks... When I heard this earlier in the week I thought it perhaps sounded like it could be refined a bit more. But, now I'm more used to it and it's sounding good. Perhaps Martin's vocal could be a bit more powerful and the production a bit clearer. But, this is a good song to end on, since all good things must come to an end. And, this is a good song to end on. It perhaps mirrors slightly their simpler production on the first two albums.


    This wasn't planned to be the last release of new music by MAA, and I may be wrong in thinking there were no singles after this and the next release would have been the planned album that was halted when Greedy sadly passed on. There are only five songs here, but I'm definitely a glass half full people and we're lucky that we got this EP with a few extra songs over the already released singles. Like many bands of long history, there aren't really any career highlights here, but the songs are all enjoyable and quality wise could easily fit on previous albums. I'm happy to get what I get with this EP and wishing there could be a bit more doesn't diminish my pleasure of listening to what we have.

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  10. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Here is another clip from this tour, from the TV show Sunrise on Channel 7 in Australia. It's a medley featuring representatives from the bands on tour. Mentals were represented by Greedy, Martin Cilia and James Gillard, and together with Joe Camilleri, Vika & Linda Bull, Tony Floyd and Paul Gray (The Black Sorrows), Deborah Conway they performed a medley of the touring bands' songs (the absent Colin Hay was represented by one of his songs).

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  11. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Here is a clip of Greedy Smith and Martin Cilia performing "Live It Up" on the charity festival Farm Aid Telethon at the Dubbo Showgrounds on August 20, 2018, as broadcast on Channel 9 in Australia.

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  12. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Mental As Anything - At Play (2019)

    This week’s album is Mental As Anything’s live album At Play, recorded at Surfersaurus in Sydney in October 2018 to mark the 40th anniversary of Mental As Anything’s first release Plays At Your Party. The video recording of the concert streams here:

    Mental As Anything At Play | Moshcam (

    As a bonus, the concert was also released on CD, in a cardboard sleeve, by Legneds on January 25, 2019. The packaging is very basic - on the front cover there is only the band name and the title, while the back cover has the song titles and songwriting credits. There are no photos or musician credits.

    There had been one final line-up change before this concert was recorded. In 2017, soon after the 5 Track EP was released, bassist James Gillard left the group and was replaced by Peter Gray. Thus, the line-up which recorded At Play was Greedy Smith, Martin Cilia, Craig Gordon, Jacob Cook and Peter Gray.

    Craig Gordon and Peter Gray have very kindly agreed to do email interviews about their time with Mental As Anything. Thank you very much Craig and Peter! These interviews will be posted in separate posts - watch this space!

    Track listing:
    Too Many Times (written by Greedy Smith)
    Let’s Cook (Martin Plaza)
    Berserk Warriors (Peter O’Doherty)
    Spirit Got Lost (Greedy Smith / Reg Mombassa)
    Date With Destiny (Greedy Smith)
    The Luckiest Player (Greedy Smith)
    Come Around (Martin Plaza)
    Live It Up (Greedy Smith)
    Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
    If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too? (Martin Plaza)
    Shake Off Your Sandals (Greedy Smith)
    Let’s Go To Paradise (Greedy Smith)
    Mr Natural (Martin Plaza)
    Goat Tracks (Martin Plaza)
    Mountain of Love (Harold Dorman)
    He’s Just No Good For You (Greedy Smith)
    Concrete and Clay (Thomas Moller / Brian Parker)
    Just Like Romeo and Juliet (Bob Hamilton / Fred Gorman)
    You’re So Strong (Greedy Smith)
    The Nips Are Getting Bigger (Martin Plaza)
    Working For The Man (Roy Orbison)
    Dance With You (Beautiful) (Greedy Smith)
    We Get To Kiss (Greedy Smith / Martin Cilia)
    Rock’n’Roll Music (Chuck Berry)

    Greedy Smith – vocals, keyboards, harmonica
    Martin Cilia – guitar
    Craig Gordon – guitar, vocals (lead vocals on "Folsom Prison Blues", "Mr Natural" and "Goat Tracks")
    Jacob Cook - drums, vocals
    Peter Gray – bass, vocals (lead vocals on "Mountain of Love")

    The song "We Get To Kiss" was previously unreleased. No studio version of the song has been released.
    "Folsom Prison Blues" was first released by Johnny Cash as a single in 1955, reaching top 5 in the States. A later live version, from the album At Folsom Prison, was released in 1968. The song has been covered by numerous artists.
    "Mountain of Love" was first released by Harold Dorman as a single in 1960, becoming a hit in the States and selling over a million copies there. It has also been covered by several artists, including The Beach Boys.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2022
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  13. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Here is "Dance With You" (from the At Play concert) available on YouTube:

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2022
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  14. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Interview with Craig Gordon

    Craig Gordon began playing with Mental As Anything in 2013, first filling in for Martin Plaza on a temporary basis before later becoming a permanent member of the touring line-up. Craig has very kindly taken the time to do an email interview about his time with Mental As Anything. Thank you very much Craig!


    What was your musical background before joining Mental As Anything?
    Early on it was playing around the Sydney pub scene in a band called Thundering Mullet inspired by the likes of Radio Birdman, The Ramones etc . We went on to record a double A side single at Trafalgar Studios which inspired my interest in recording which, in turn, led me to working as an engineer in Tracking Station Studios in Sydney. Not long after Mr Breeze was formed and continued to play the circuit, festivals and the odd tour for the next 25 or so years..

    How did your interest in music start and were there any particular guitarists that inspired you to become a musician yourself?
    I guess growing up hearing my father’s extremely varied record collection belting out, or the cassette tapes in the car on road trips with the constant tap of his ring on the steering wheel must have instilled music into my blood. As far as inspiration to become a musician goes, I clearly remember dropping into a party one night and seeing this guy Casey Tanner playing. He was the reason I bought a guitar. Over the years inspiration has come from the likes of Steve Edmonds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roy Nichols, Pete Anderson, Steve Gaines and the list could go on and on.

    Were you familiar with Mental As Anything’s music before you joined?
    I obliviously had heard and seen Mental as Anything on radio and TV but I think the only records of them I had would have been the odd track on those compilation albums that were pumped out every summer. Of course Nips was a favourite at parties and I do remember seeing them on Countdown and being intrigued by the different characters in the band, and particularly as a guitarist, noticing a very cool Martin Plaza.

    What was your first gig with Mental As Anything like and where and when was it?
    I actually had a couple of first gigs with the Mentals.
    From memory, the first gig was filling in for Martin Plaza back in 2013 just out of Melbourne at a private corporate function to about 100 people which was great… the perfect rehearsal for the following night which was at Kardinia park in Geelong to 10,000 people.. and I don’t really remember the Sunday gig... but that was a fun and interesting weekend!
    Not long after Martin’s return I got the call from Greedy to replace Mike Caen who had decided to leave after many years. One week later, and after a bit of intense reprogramming, I was in Perth for a 4 show weekend, the first being Friends Restaurant in Perth to a lovely and very intimate crowd. I must admit, it was a bit of fun playing Reg’s guitar bits..

    From your point of view as guitarist, which songs did you enjoy playing the most and what made those songs special?
    I pretty much enjoyed playing all the songs, probably because it was a departure from what I was accustomed to playing. Great well-crafted pop songs generally don’t have wailing leads solos or the room to freely improvise. A couple of favourites though… Come Around, which is such an interesting chord progression, has great energy and lots of quirky guitar parts. I loved playing Alien Abduction, although Greedy wrote this on the keys, it’s a great guitar song. Dance With You was great to play, both the rhythm and lead parts were fun to play, probably the closest to those wailing solos I mentioned… I could go on and on, Date with Destiny, Berserk Warriors, Too many Times (fun solo)... Mr Natural has so much energy live… where do I stop?

    I’ve read about the APIA Good Times tour in 2017 with Mental As Anything, Colin Hay, The Black Sorrows and Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier. From the reviews and reports I’ve read, it seems to have been a fun tour. What are your favourite memories from this tour?
    My memories around the Apia tour are interesting… whilst not actually being on that tour, it did play a part in my return. Tony Adams, who by this time had replaced Martin Plaza had suddenly become unavailable and Mike Caen was called back in to cover Tony’s absence for the rest of the tour. After that tour Mike was quite busy with other commitments as well, so for a period of time, both myself and Mike filled the roll, alternating when available until such time it was clear Tony would not be returning at all. With Mike happily committed elsewhere, I found myself back in the band.

    In 2018, Mental As Anything celebrated the 40th anniversary of the group’s debut EP Mental As Anything Plays At Your Party with a gig at the Surfersaurus Club. This gig was documented on the At Play streamed video and CD. What was that gig like from your perspective?
    The At Play project was basically Greedy’s idea of capturing the live show “as it is now” considering the last live video was from The Basement somewhere around 2000. From memory the plan changed a few times, with different venues being thrown around from a studio in Perth to Lizottes in Newcastle but eventually landing at Surfersaurus. There wasn’t much preparation, it was basically just another gig in our schedule, just plug in and push record, barely any post-production, and mixed down all within a couple of weeks. Looking back now it is interesting to see how the band evolved musically over those years.

    The line-up at this gig /on this album were Greedy Smith, Martin Cilia, Jacob Cook, Peter Gray and you. From the sound of it, this line-up had great musical chemistry. What was it like working and touring with these persons?
    I consider myself pretty lucky to have worked with numerous line-ups with the Mentals and can say that all the variations had their own dynamic and chemistry, and were all a pleasure to be a part of. From the first lineup of Greedy, Jake, Zoltan and Mike then to Greedy, Martin Plaza, Jake and Zoltan, next was Greedy, James, Jake, and Martin Cilia and then through to the last lineup of Greedy, Pete Gray, Jake, and Martin Cilia.
    As you point out in your question, there was definitely a musical chemistry between us that grew and continued to grow till the end and I guess the fact that we all got along so well on the road definitely helped with that. Plenty of late lunches and guitar safaris were had, many bakeries scoured to find the best vanilla slice or scallop pie, the constant quest to find the best (or worst) coffee and dark ale. Also we were always looking at ways to improve the show musically. Constant discussions in the van on road trips about this part or that part of a song… just a great bunch of guys to hang and play music with.

    The band had quite a few new songs around this time – the ones on 5 Track EP and also the song “We Get To Kiss” which is included on At Play. Of these new songs, which one was your favourite and why?
    Hard to pick a favourite, but I’d probably toss up between Dance With You and We Get to Kiss, both great to play on guitar but it was Greedy’s delivery that made it for me. I don’t think anyone else could pull those off the way he does.

    If you had to pick just one, what is your favourite memory of your time with Mental As Anything?
    Again, hard to pick just one favourite memory, but musically speaking, we played a show at Meredith music festival to 15,000 which stands out. The band was right on and everything just sat as it should... hairs on the back of the neck stuff.
    But the favourite memory for me, looking back, is Greedy. He supplied most of the memorable highlights both on and off stage. A bloody legend!

    In the past two years, the whole world has been affected by the pandemic, with lockdowns and restrictions. It must have been tough for all musicians as touring and gigging has not been possible like before. What have you been doing musically during this time? And what are your musical plans for 2022?
    Indeed, the last few years have been tough on all fronts, musically speaking, after a string of cancellations of live shows, I’ve been spending most of the time in the home studio working on stuff I’ve tucked away over the years and have also been working on a few other recording projects for other artists.
    Moving forward, it will be much of the same, but hopefully with the prospect of getting back on stage again at some point when the uncertainty wanes.
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  15. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    I love how both Martin Cilia and Craig have picked out the Meredith Festival as a highlight of playing with the Mentals. I grew up not far from Meredith. It really is farmland/paddocks and incredibly dry (at least in the summer), so I have a really good visual of what this must have looked like. I also love that memory of "getting the boot" where everyone holds up a shoe!
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  16. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Interview with Peter Gray

    Peter Gray, who joined Mental As Anything in 2017, has very kindly taken the time to do an email interview about his time with the group. Thank you very much Peter!

    What was your musical background before joining Mental As Anything?
    I was very ensconced in the jazz, funk scene, playing festivals around the country. Basically I was a gun for hire. I had a bunch of work backing touring Vegas show acts as well. This meant sight reading. I also did sessions for local acts doing their albums. Jingles for advertising companies. I wasn’t fully involved in the Australian rock scene. In addition to all of this I lectured at Newcastle University in jazz studies.

    How did the opportunity to join Mental As Anything arise and were you familiar with the group’s repertoire before joining?
    I was incredibly familiar with the group’s repertoire. I grew up on and loved the Australian pop and rock scene. The music was second nature to me. Wow, what a set list the Mentals had! Greedy was looking for someone who could bring the group's particular swing to life. So he was seeking a quirky player that drew on outside influences. A mutual friend recommended me. I was sitting in my tutorial room, the phone rang and I recognised that unmistakable voice on the other end. Greedy and I chatted for an hour and hit it off immediately. It was more about friendship, he was an amazing individual.

    When and where was your first gig with Mental As Anything and what was it like from your point of view?
    So I was instructed to get the group’s greatest hits albums and learn it exactly. Twentysix tunes in all! I also had to learn the backing vocals lines. I really enjoyed singing the harmony parts with Greedy. My audition was to be a local gig in Newcastle NSW. A three hundred or so capacity venue. That was it! I came out on stage to a capacity crowd going berserk (warriors!) and I had to sink or swim. Nothing could really prepare me for the next 80 minutes. Greedy’s onstage antics, the boys playing up a storm and of course the die-hard fan base, who were hanging off every note!

    During your time with the group, which of the songs were your favourites to play?
    Too Many Times, Romeo and Juliet and Mr Natural. We get to Kiss was special as it was written by Greedy and Martin C in my time, so I had input.

    The line-up during this time was Greedy Smith, Martin Cilia, Craig Gordon, Jacob Cook and you. Based on the At Play live album and video clips on YouTube, it is obvious that this line-up had great musical chemistry. In your opinion, what made this line-up special?
    That’s amazing you should notice that chemistry. Hmmm that’s hard to answer. I think we never stopped touring. A lot of acts these days do a select number of huge gigs. The Mentals chose the path of doing many smaller venues. We criss-crossed Australia. Flying to one major centre then jumping in the van and driving ten hours. We did this anywhere up to 5 times a week. The group bonded during this time. We poured over the original recordings, discussing and dissecting the music. We were all devoted to Greedy and the original band and representing as best we could. In the band there was also a fickle and slightly dark sense of humour, so we were often in hysterics. We hung out in between gigs too, never really lost for conversation. Quite a family really.

    Martin Plaza wasn’t a part of the touring line-up during your time in the group, but has obviously made a huge contribution in the past. What are your thoughts of him as a songwriter, singer and musician?
    Martin was always mentioned in our conversations. Firstly as a terrific performer and pop star. More importantly, a great singer and interpreter of songs. He could write pop music with the best of them. His bond with Greedy was unique, maybe the Lennon and McCartney of Australian pop? An extraordinary band, where every member had a unique personality.

    What are your favourite memories of Greedy as frontman, band member and person?
    Oh, that’s a huge question (thank you). As a frontman? Incomparable! Loved by every member of the crowd no matter what age. Hilarious too, utterly zany. The very unrock’n’roll act of pouring a cup of tea mid-set and splattering the front row in herbal Earl Grey was a scream. He was also a trooper. The show went on no matter what… he never flagged or shirked his responsibility.

    As a band member? A great musician with a finally tuned pop sensibility. He taught me so much about being a pop bass player. Don’t forget he had four individuals who had all been band leaders in their own right. He had to bond this bunch of cocky knuckleheads together and succeeded! He was a great singer and keyboardist, but his harmonica playing was next world! Sensational and his solos were exciting.

    As a person? The kindest. He really cared about his band. He treated everybody exactly the same. He had time for everybody. A terrific intellect. He could talk on any subject. He was incredibly well-read.

    If you had to pick one, what is your favourite memory from your time with Mental As Anything?
    The touring... the boys... Greedy. So much sadness there. Gig wise? … Meredith music festival 2018. It was an alternative music festival. There were 13,000 manic alternative music fans packed into a small paddock. There had been two days of current independent music acts and Mentals were provided as the retro “here’s the music your Mum and Dad grew up on” type band. We really felt up against it. The band hit the stage at full ramming speed, Greedy gave a performance that was simply remarkable. We played a 45 minute set of wall to wall hits, finishing on The Nips are Getting Bigger. The crowd was left screaming for more. It was something! The lineup put itself on the map that day.

    How do you think Mental As Anything will be remembered by music fans?
    They won’t be forgotten. The fans are a family. The music is woven into the Australian culture. Bands still cover the tunes. Live It Up never fails to pack the dance floor. Berserk Warriors featured in the movie Animal Kingdom. Live It Up was a hit again in Britain last year. It’s still alive and breathing… especially with fans like you Stefan. Thank you!

    Mental As Anything was an active group which had plans for 2020 until the untimely loss of Greedy Smith. And soon after, the pandemic hit the whole world, with restrictions and lockdowns for a very long time. This must have been a very challenging time for you as a musician, how did you cope with all this happening so closely in time?
    It was incredibly challenging. We were grappling with the loss of our brother and cobbling our incomes back together. Then the pandemic hit. My university cut funding for music. So my life totally changed. You know it’s funny, you don’t cope but you do survive. That’s the thing about being a journeyman musician. It is all just a series of ups and downs your whole career. Why we sign on for this career path beggars belief!

    What have you been doing musically since Mental As Anything retired and what are your musical plans for 2022?
    Well, it went dead quiet. You see if you’re touring with a major act it takes you off the market. People don’t know you’re available. The phone stops. However, I used the time to catch up on personal bass practice. First and foremost I’m a bass player. It’s who I am, my work is my identity. Recently, I’ve been doing a bunch of work with Symphony Orchestras in concert halls. They’re doing tributes to acts like Queen, Elton, The Beatles etc …. So things are picking up.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2022
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  17. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Ahh, that explains a lot. The Mentals (courtesy of Pete) have always had a kind of jazz/groove bass line and so this must have been ideal for the live lineup.

    This is a really lovely comment about Martin. And I guess it's really the first time I've read something which talks about Martin's talent for interpretation. Earlier upthread there's a comment about Martin being the man for the cover version (and they are all awesome in my opinion). I'd never really thought about that actually being a skill set since I'm not musical at all myself. But I guess that's why his covers always sound so good...

    Stefan, thanks for another awesome interview! I'm sorry to read about Peter's university position being essentially cut. His wasn't the only uni to decide that music degrees/training were surplus to requirements. Totally shortsighted in my opinion...
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  18. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Holy Cats, that Meredith Festival gig must have been something!
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  19. Sandals

    Sandals Well-Known Member

    Greedy did the clip entirely on his phone, drawing with his fingers.
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  20. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun - The Classic Recordings of Mental As Anything

    In October 2019, Universal Music Australia released a new Mental As Anything "best of" album, this time as a double vinyl album (a limited edition CD was also released). The album was titled Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun - The Classic Recordings of Mental As Anything and sports a very distinctive cover painting by Reg Mombassa. It's a gatefold sleeve, with a painting by Peter O'Doherty inside the gatefold sleeve and a painting by Martin Plaza on the back cover. (Greedy Smith was credited with "Concept" as well and Next Episode was credited with Design). The Australian release in 2019 was followed by the album being released internationally by UK label Demon Music Group in February 2021, pressed on 140 g vinyl with one of the records on red vinyl and the other on white vinyl.
    Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun: The Classic Recordings Of Mental As Anything | Discogs

    Track listing:
    The Nips Are Getting Bigger
    (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet
    Come Around
    Too Many Times
    If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?
    Berserk Warriors
    Let's Cook

    I Didn't Mean To Be Mean
    Close Again
    Spirit Got Lost
    Brain Brain
    Working For The Man
    Apocalypso (Wiping The Smile Off Santa's Face)

    You're So Strong
    Live It Up
    Date With Destiny
    Let's Go To Paradise
    He's Just No Good For You
    Don't Tell Me Now

    Concrete and Clay
    Rock'n'Roll Music
    The World Seems Difficult
    Mr. Natural
    Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun
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  21. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    This is kind of fascinating to me…maybe because I struggle to text let alone draw in a phone!
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  22. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Interview with Jacob Cook

    In 2012, Jacob Cook joined Mental As Anything as their new drummer. Jacob has very kindly taken the time to do an email interview, both about his time with Mental As Anything and his musical life before and after that. Thank you very much Jacob!


    Section 1 – Mental As Anything

    How did the opportunity arise for you to join Mental As Anything? Did you audition for the job or did they contact you?
    The band’s manager had suggested a new bass player, Zoltan Budai, and he was asked which drummer he would like to play with and he suggested me. Then I got a call from Greedy.

    Were you familiar with the group’s repertoire when you joined?
    Definitely... along with other Aussie bands from the 80s, it was the soundtrack to my childhood!

    By the time you joined, the group had had a huge number of hits and released a dozen albums. How did you approach the task of learning all the songs you were going to play at concerts?
    I charted all the songs out and then began playing along with the recordings. I had one week before my first show.

    Which songs were your favourites to play?
    It changed over the years but ‘Berserk Warriors’ was a constant fav. Others were ‘Too Many Times’, ‘If You Leave Me’ and ‘Working for the Man’.

    Where and when was your first gig with Mental As Anything and what was it like from your point of view?
    It was at a dodgy pub in St Mary’s NSW, and someone from the audience tried to pick a fight with me before the show!! It was all a bit of a whirlwind.

    What surprised you the most when you began touring with the group?
    How loud it was! Also... how many die-hard fans still came to shows. Although a little odd at first, it was great to get to know these people and see them pop up at shows all over Australia.

    What are your thoughts of Greedy Smith and Martin Plaza as songwriters, singers and musicians?
    Both great songwriters, quite quirky, funny and engaging. I really love how they recorded ‘Too Many Times’ and ‘If You Leave Me’. Very unique. Martin has a great voice and a nice relaxed feel on the guitar and Greedy’s harmonica playing was top notch.

    As part of the band’s rhythm section, you worked with three different bass players in Mental As Anything – Zoltan Budai, James Gillard and Peter Gray. In your opinion, what are their respective strengths as musicians and what makes a great rhythm section?
    Zoltan has a great relaxed sound and feel, James’ straight 8ths feel is 2nd to none and he sings like an angel and Pete is a monster who can play anything! If the bass and drums are listening and working together, to play ‘for the song’, then you’re on the right track.

    What do you think of your predecessors David “Bird” Twohill and Robbie Souter as drummers?
    I’ve never met “Bird” and I never saw him play live so I can’t really comment on his playing. The recordings he played on sound great! Robbie was a legend of Australian music and an amazing player! R.I.P.

    During your time as a member, Mental As Anything played in China. What did you think of that experience?
    I enjoyed it! Martin Cilia and I booked a tour to the Great Wall of China and I went to the Forbidden City. The gig was cool too, we played well!

    The group toured extensively around Australia. What did a typical year look like for the band in terms of touring? Did you have any particular favourite places and/or venues to go to?
    We usually stayed in St Kilda when we played shows around Melbourne and we used to go to The Dogs Bar in St Kilda. They do a great Beef cheek ragu w/ Gnocchi and have a great selection of beers. We did a lot of great gigs but some of the best gigs were down in Victoria. ‘Memo’-St Kilda RSL and ‘The Flying Saucer’ were great. The best gig we did was Meredith Festival, Vic. We played a 45-minute set of hits to about 15,000 screaming punters. The audience raised their shoes when we played ‘Live it up’ to signal that we had got ‘The Boot’. Meaning that we were the best act so far that day.

    In 2015, the band released their first record in many years, the single “Shake Off Your Sandals”, which was followed by the “Goat Tracks In My Sandpit” single the year after and the 5 Track EP in 2017. Of these new songs, which was your favourite to play?
    ‘Goat Tracks’ for sure. I played drums on ‘Sandals’, ‘Goat Tracks’ and ‘Luckiest Player’.

    In 2017, Mental As Anything were part of the APIA Good Times tour with Colin Hay, The Black Sorrows and Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier. From what I’ve read about it, it seems like it was a fun tour for all involved. What was it like from your point of view?
    It was great! Getting to hear The Black Sorrows w/ Vika and Linda Bull and Colin Hay each night was a treat and they’re all nice people too. It was cool to get to know Tony Floyd (great Aussie drummer). I got to play the last song for each show, “Friday on my Mind”, with everyone so that was fun.

    Based on the At Play live album, it is very obvious that this line-up of Mental As Anything – Greedy, Martin Cilia, Craig Gordon, Peter Gray and you – had great musical chemistry. What made this line-up so special, in your opinion?
    We all wanted to make a great recording so we did our homework and I think it sounds pretty good.

    In 2019, Greedy Smith and Martin Plaza were inducted into the ARIA Songwriters Hall of Fame and Mental As Anything performed at that event. What did this induction mean to Greedy, Martin and the band?
    I think Greedy was quite pleased to be part of it. We played well. I’m pretty sure the ARIA Hall of Fame happened around 2010ish. 2019 was the Australian Songwriters Association or something. (I checked this up and the full name is in fact Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame, so between Jacob and me we got it correctly - Stefan's comment)

    What are your favourite memories of Greedy, both as a person and as a band member?
    Greedy was the eternal optimist! He was always trying to find a silver lining to everything. He was always very supportive of my playing and he absolutely loved playing music. He wanted to continue for at least another 15 years. Seeing him do star jumps out front of stage and speaking gibberish to the audience are probably my best memories of Greedy as band member. On a personal level, we spent many hours in the car driving to and from the airport so I got to know him quite well. He was a highly intelligent man, and could talk about anything. The trouble was trying to get him to stay on a single topic!

    If you had to pick just one thing, what is your favourite memory from your time with Mental As Anything?
    Our gig at Meredith Music Festival. We played great and the audience was very enthusiastic. Probably one of the best live musical experiences I have ever had.

    Section 2 – Before and after Mental As Anything

    How did your interest in music start and were there any particular musicians that inspired you to become a drummer?
    My dad is a muso so I was around it from a young age. Local blues drummers from bands my dad played in inspired me to play the drums. As soon as I hopped on a kit I sort of knew what to do. When I was a kid I loved The Police, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

    When did you play your first gig and how old were you?
    I used to get up and play with my dad’s band when I was around 8/9 but I didn’t play a gig until I was 17. Must have been 1992.

    Prior to working with Mental As Anything, you had played with American blues artist Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges. How did your collaboration with him start and what was touring with him like?
    I started playing gigs for Eugene when his normal drummer couldn’t do it, and then after a while I started getting more work with him. He is a great singer, songwriter and guitar player. I started doing a few gigs with him again when the Mentals stopped and then Covid hit...

    You also worked with dance music singer Vassy as producer, musician and writer. She has enjoyed huge success in many countries for many years. What was it like working with her at the beginning of her recording career and do you think you will work together again?
    I met Vassy when we both played for Deni Hines. We had some similar musical influences so we started writing together and found that it worked well. She won a reasonably big prize with a song we wrote and that started her career/record deal. She reached out a few years ago to see if I wanted to write something but I wasn’t really into what she was doing at that time. If I end up making some dance stuff I might see if she likes it. She deserves all her success, she is a super motivated and talented lady.

    Musically, Vassy and Mental As Anything are poles apart and career-wise, she was an up’n’coming artist when you worked with her whereas Mental As Anything had been active for over 30 years when you joined them. What are the respective challenges for you as a musician when working with new vs. well established artists?
    With Vassy I was tour manager as well so I had to work out the logistics of touring etc... it was a lot of work. Although she had reasonable airplay, exposure etc it was hard to get gigs and not many people came to shows so that was a bit disappointing. Mentals did 100+ gigs a year so the challenge was all the travel.

    Another artist you have worked with is Inga Liljeström, also very musically different to Mental As Anything. What was she like working with?
    Inga was great to work with. She let me do whatever I wanted as long as she liked it I re-did quite a few songs. I’m proud of the work I did on that album. It’s pretty creative.

    You have toured with several artists of different musical styles, you have been a session musician in the studio with The Sleepy Jackson among others, you have been producer for hip hop group Bluejuice and have done remixes and you were a long-time member of Mental As Anything. Clearly, you are very versatile as musician. Apart from this, what do you think are your greatest strengths as a musician?
    I’m a supportive musician, meaning that I’ll do what is best for the song, and not try to play inappropriate parts to show off my drumming ability.

    From afar, I am guessing that the past couple of years have been a tough time for you as a musician, with first the untimely loss of Greedy followed by closely in time by the pandemic affecting the whole world with lockdowns and restrictions for a very long time. How do you cope as a musician with such challenging times?
    I started Mountain Biking! I love it. I got to hang out with my family! Also, I am studying music (BMUS) so I could get creative with that for some units. But I won’t be making a living from music anymore, the 2nd Covid lockdown was the nail in the coffin for me.

    What have you been doing musically since Mental As Anything ended and what are your musical plans for 2022?
    I started doing a ‘Beatles Orchestrated’ show with Pete which has been great! Also doing some other cover/tribute bands-Linda Ronstadt- Eric Clapton. I also play the banjo and have written a bunch of country songs which I’ve nearly finished recording. My best song is a tribute to Martin Plaza.
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  23. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Here is a clip showing Greedy's speech when he and Martin Plaza were inducted into the Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame on October 30, 2019 (Martin Plaza's health precluded him from being present this evening):

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  24. Stephen J

    Stephen J Forum Resident

    Austin, TX
    I gave you a "like" because I learned something, namely that Mental As Anything had, well, an actual career. Before this thread, my only knowledge of MAA was a whisp of a memory from circa maybe 1982-1983, when Men At Work were massive in the USA, and there was talk of other OZ bands maybe breaking through and IIRC their name was sort of mentioned in that discourse.

    But to my knowledge, I've never heard a song of theirs.
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  25. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Welcome to the thread! Yes, Mental As Anything had a very successful 43-year career so there is a lot of great music by them to discover - enjoy!
    HitAndRun, KangaMom and Stephen J like this.

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