Greedy Smith (front) leads the way on keyboards and vocals with the new Mental As Anything line-up, minus founding lead singer and guitarist Martin Plaza.
Greedy Smith (front) leads the way on keyboards and vocals with the new Mental As Anything line-up, minus founding lead singer and guitarist Martin Plaza. Contributed

Iconic Aussie band to play Ipswich Festival

MENTAL As Anything stumbled on to the Australian music scene in the late '70s with a cheeky sense of humour and a rare gift for penning a catchy tune.

For many die-hard Mentals fans, it would be difficult to take in that it has been 40 years of hard touring since the early line-up of Martin Plaza, Greedy Smith, Reg Mombassa, Peter O'Doherty and David Twohill starting making waves in Sydney.

Many things have changed since. While the Mentals have undergone multiple line-up changes, their fans have gone away and had families, watched the kids grow up, and in the process introduced a new generation to a golden era of quirky Aussie art rock.

In between lugging his keyboards in and out of a studio in Sydney, the only original member of the Mentals still touring, Greedy Smith, said he had noticed an interesting phenomenon at more recent gigs.

"At licensed venues now you'll see some of the older faces in the crowd, and they'll be really rosy cheeked and happy, and then standing somewhere behind them will be their children," Greedy said.

"My theory is that it is payback time. Those children have just got their licence and they are acting as designated drivers while their parents have a night out. It's good for us because it is introducing a new generation to our music. They would have had to listen to a few Mentals songs before coming to the show."

Despite a battle with cancer that has resulted in him withdrawing from touring, lead singer Martin Plaza still features on the band's latest EP, which is simply titled five-track EP. Greedy said he was not sure if his long-time band mate would ever be able to return to touring, but he still hoped to write songs and record with Plaza in the future.

For the time being, Greedy not only sings his own classic Mental As Anything hits, but also Plaza's old signature tunes including The Nips are Getting Bigger and If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?

"Martin writes his songs so beautifully that it is easy to work your way up to the higher bits," Greedy said.

"I really think that performing his songs has improved my singing."

Ipswich fans young and old will get to see the Mentals live in action as part of the Ipswich Festival's Heritage Bank Street Party. The Mentals have been regular visitors to Ipswich over the decades and Greedy said the town's love of rock 'n roll hadn't gone unnoticed.

"It's a bit of a rock'n'roll town - rock'n'roll and rugby league," he said.

"People just want to get out and rock regardless of the setting."

The Mentals will perform as part of a free outdoor event at d'Arcy Doyle Place on April 14 from 7-9pm.