THE MENTALS continue to Live It Up
“Woh-hoh-oh, the nips are gettin' bigger...” When Mental As Anything first heard their song lyrics blaring over Double Jay (now Triple J) in 1979, they realised their time playing just for free drinks was long gone.
The group of art students, including Curl Curl brothers Chris and Peter O’Doherty, had hit the big time, and it all started with Martin Plaza’s catchy drinking song.
“We had three songs on our EP (Mental As Anything Plays At Your Party) and one of those was The Nips Are Getting Bigger. Double Jay started playing that and all of a sudden we couldn’t get any work because people thought because we were on the radio we’d be too expensive," Greedy laughs.
"But that song started the ball rolling and after that we put out a single every three or four months for the next 10 years, probably even longer."
Mental As Anything followed their breakout hit with If You Leave Me, Can ICome TOO? and Too Many Times, which got to number four and six respectively on the Australian charts in 1981.
But their most successful single was yet to come, and it took place during the group’s tour of America.
"I started writing Live It Up on an overnight run from Calgary to Winnipeg, which is like going from Perth to Adelaide on a bus. You get bored pretty quickly so it's what we did to pass time, and with that particular song. I had the basic melody and the words in about 45 minutes," Greedy tells Peninsula Living.
The song, which was recorded two years later in 1985, rose to number two in Australia before bringing the group international stardom on the back of the success of Crocodile Dundee.
"I‘d been asked to write some music for that film and I wrote an instrumental called Sloppy Croc, which is in that scene where Paul Hogan wins a bet by kissing the guy to make the beer fall off his head,” Mr Smith smiles. "And when they finished the film and were putting together the final edit, Paul said Live It Up would go well in a big party scene in the movie and they put it in.
"It was interesting because just before the film came out, we'd been touring to promote it in Europe and the UK and we couldn't get anyone to play it, they weren’t interested in it. But after Crocodile Dundee, our London record company guy said, ’Hey, let’s see if we can use the film’s poster for the single and we'll resubmit it to the radio station’. And so we put it in. Overseas radio stations then started playing it and it was a huge hit.”
In total ’The Mentals' have had 12 singles reach the top 20 of the Australian charts and their contribution to the industry was recently celebrated with their induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
Of the original band members, only Mr Smith and Mr Plaza remain, but if you are lucky enough to watch them at the Twilight at Taronga concert on March 21 with Ross Wilson, you will still see a world-class band playing their most well-known tracks."The only thing that’s changed is what I drink while on stage. I do most of the gigs now while drinking a cup of tea. It helps the throat. Some people think that I'm drinking hot whiskey like back in the day. If people like to think that, that’s fine by me,” he laughs.