Formed on a whim by a group of bored art students in search of free drinks, Australia's prankish Mental as Anything went on to forge a career spanning several decades, their tongues remaining planted firmly in cheek throughout the duration of their existence.
Debuting in 1978, the Sydney-based group included singer/guitarist Reg Mombasa (born Chris O'Doherty), his bassist brother Peter O'Doherty, lead guitarist Martin Plaza, keyboardist Andrew "Greedy" Smith, and drummer Wayne Delisle; their first gig was held at a nearby hotel, with a pool table serving as a makeshift stage. Their early shows proved surprisingly successful, and soon Mental as Anything had earned enough of a cult following to record a single, 1979's "The Nips Are Getting Bigger"; it was a Top 20 hit down under, and when their debut LP, Get Wet, achieved similar success, the group was off and running.
Mental as Anything resurfaced in 1980 with Espresso Bongo, which generated two more hit singles, "Come Around" and "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet." After 1982's Cats and Dogs achieved platinum status on the strength of the smashes "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?" and "Too Many Times," Mental as Anything began attracting worldwide notice, and in 1982 they mounted their first tour of the United States. Fan Elvis Costello produced the single "I Didn't Mean to Be Mean," issued later that same year, and in 1983 the group issued its fourth LP, Creatures of Leisure, another Aussie Top Ten hit. Also in 1983, Mental as Anything launched their first group art exhibition, featuring works from each of the bandmembers; among the buyers was Elton John. In 1985 they returned with Fundamental as Anything, their biggest hit to date; the single "Live It Up" was a smash throughout much of the globe, reaching the Top Five in the U.K. and Germany.
After their 1986 collection Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 fell just shy of topping the Australian charts, Mental as Anything returned the following year with Mouth to Mouth; after 1989's Cyclone Raymond, they mounted a touring art exhibition that traveled across the country, but for the most part, the quintet was out of the limelight for the early part of the next decade, instead focusing on personal lives and the occasional side project (including the O'Doherty brothers' collaboration Dog Trumpet). A Mental as Anything B-sides collection, Chemical Travel, appeared in 1993, and in 1995 the band's first new studio LP in six years, Liar Liar Pants on Fire, returned them to the Top 40 on the strength of the hit "Mr. Natural." In 1997, Mental as Anything celebrated their 20-year anniversary with the original lineup still intact; the LP Garage appeared the following year. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi