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Mentals set to live it up with free show in Gladstone

Iconic Aussie band Mental as Anything.
Iconic Aussie band Mental as Anything. Contributed

THEY may not be spring chickens, but the band members of Aussie pop-rock group Mental As Anything are still as popular as ever in the live music scene.

The five guys are respected veterans, with 35 years of touring under their belt.

Martin Plaza, Martin Cilia, Greedy Smith, Zolton Budai and Jacob Cook are embarking on another tour in 2014, with Gladstone in their sights in May.

Some fresh music will be played, but who can look past the classics?

You might remember the band's hits He's Just No Good For You, If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?, Too Many Times and more.

The1985 hit Live It Up was a song that got all of Australia dancing and is still played on radio to this day.

Live It Up wasn't an easy number to write, though.

Pulse caught up with vocalist Greedy Smith this week, who revealed it was a long work in progress.

"I wrote that on a bus in Canada in 1983, it took me two years to put it together and get it right. That's the longest I will admit to writing a song," he says.

Greedy is one of two original band members; he joined the group in 1977 as a passionate harmonica player.

"After a while, Martin said, 'We don't always want the harmonica in every song', so I picked up the keyboard," he says.

"We bought a wedding reception organ and played it that night at a gig. "It's learning on the job; you don't know the rules and that's the best way to make original music."

After touring for almost four decades, you would think the band would be tired, but Greedy says his love for his job has never faded.

"The longest break we've had off touring was six weeks, when I fell off a horse," he says.

"You learn how to tour well - there's no heavy drinking anymore. I mainly drink tea on stage now."

Aussie rock legends Mental as Anything.
Aussie rock legends Mental as Anything. Stephen Booth

The band released its first song in 1978.

"We are very fortunate in that we still get radio plays; we get a fair bit of play in Europe too,"

Greedy says. "We still write new songs, that keeps us honest."

When the band performs live, the audience knows 95% of the repertoire, Greedy says.

"We are at a point now where we have a very good band relationship and we've reached a height," he says.

"It's really important to get our sound right, we get fussier as we get older and we concentrate on getting our songs as good as the recording.

"The main response from audiences is that we haven't changed a bit. I mean, I look in the mirror and that's changed, but our music hasn't."

Greedy leads a normal life, preferring the country over the big smoke. He lives on a farm outside Sydney with his son Harvey and one horse.

We are very fortunate in that we still get radio plays; we get a fair bit of play in Europe too. We still write new songs, that keeps us honest.

He has lived out of town for the past 25 years.

"I like the country lifestyle; the city life is a bit frightening for me but I don't mind working in it," he says.

In his spare time, Greedy likes to listen to music, cook, walk around the yard and write love letters to his girlfriend, but writing songs is why he was put on earth.

"I like writing songs that people can tie into their own life," he says.

"One time a woman came up to me and said, 'That song He's Just No Good For You made me realise I needed to divorce my husband'.

"I've got to watch what lyrics I write."

Greedy and his gang are familiar with central Queensland, and first played in Gladstone in the early '80s. They also played in 2013 and seem to be drawn to our town.

"It (the 2013 show) was a lot of fun. I think that's why we keep coming back; it's an important part of our tour," Greedy says.

"I'm hoping the people will come away feeling like they've been at a party or one they went to many years ago."

Mental As Anything will play in Gladstone at The Harvey Road Tavern on Saturday, May 17 at 8.30pm. Entry is free. 

BAND TRUTHS

  • Mental As Anything formed the day after Elvis Presley died.
  • Live It Up reached number one on the music charts in Scandinavia.
  • Greedy didn't get his driver's license until he was 31 years old.
  • Greedy got his nickname when the band was at a college function at lunch time and he ate 16 pieces of chicken.
  • Greedy's real name is Andrew.

Topics:  gladstone entertainment harvey road tavern live music mental as anything



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